Second, let’s celebrate that it’s sun-shining gorgeous out.
Third, let’s celebrate that that damn race between Dr. Oz and John Fetterman is over. Talk about two bad choices.
But it sure was exciting to take my freshly-minted 18-year-old to vote and even more exciting to hear her rant about international politics after she took my out to dinner.
M and I took her to Paris, Moscow and Kazan the summer she turned 12… and while it was a whirlwind visit, she had the brain-expanding experience I hoped she would have.
Because she knows how little of the world she’s seen, but also knows how little she can trust depictions of other cultures perpetuated by the mainstream.
I often wish I could see Russia how she sees Russia. I imagine it’s similar to my view, but also very different because I have seen parts of North and East Africa and even Yemen. But just that little pop of Russia six years ago altered her perceptions forever.
So, last night, The Teenager took me out to dinner— at Applebee’s, she loves the fiesta lime chicken— and we tried the Cheetos cheese curds and the slamming reindeer drink.
The cheese curds were strange, super greasy and very addictive.
Other foods I have taste-tested recently include the cookie butter doughnut at Dunkin which I mention here and some new flavors of delicious Blue Diamond almonds which we bought at QuickChek, video here.
I ended up calling out sick from work today— in part because of my hip and in part because I didn’t get to sleep until 3.
I see my specialist today, and my body is definitely stiff and angled but I’m not in pain. What a thing to say— but I wanted to be in pain to explain how I feel to the doctor.
I’m trying to motivate myself to give up sugar and do a 30 day elimination diet via Whole30 as I think reducing food-related inflammation in my body could go a long way. And there are others who would like to see me try medical marijuana.
During one of my recent doctor visits, I think it was at the end of August, my physician asked how my strength/fitness personal training sessions were going.
I told him my coach Andrew at Apex Training put me through some demanding stuff so I was in agony pretty often.
My doctor laughed and said that if Andrew was doing his job well I should hate him.
Well, today was the closest I ever came to thinking he might kill me.
Now, if you are new here, please note I have diplegic cerebral palsy (which basically means that my brain and my lower body muscles don’t communicate well, which has led to some structural issues in my hips, legs, etc.
I work out three-times-a-week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Andrew has his full-time job, which is primarily an overnight shift, and I work at a warehouse Sunday through Wednesday, 10-hour-shifts.
Mondays are always interesting. I am 50% through my workweek and Andrew is usually sleep-deprived.
By some miracle, I work 6:30 am to 5 pm and head straight to the gym, and Andrew comes to the gym, often having not slept for almost 24 hours. But he shows up and so do I.
Tonight was a full body workout that felt twice as intense as my normal routine, but it felt amazing to push myself and even more amazing to succeed.
And because Andrew knows what I’m feeling — not only as a person working to better myself physically but also as someone still grieving the loss of her father— he forgave me for eating half a cake for my dad’s birthday.
But I also asked him if some people had stopped working out three times a week. He say yes, that several of his clients were sporadic. One changed work schedules and hadn’t committed to a new time. And two of us were regulars.
I get life being in the way. I know it’s hard. I know it’s expensive.
But I encourage you to stick to it.
I started at Apex in August 2021. Somehow despite a tight budget, I find the money.
And for all those people who can’t stick with it— I promise:
You will see mental and physical changes in yourself.
You will feel better.
Your body composition will change.
Your fortitude will grow.
And you should also see changes in your balance, stability and coordination. The things you can do, whether stamina on a long walk or moving furniture, will improve. Your confidence should increase.
And some days it will feel grueling. Some days you will be exhausted or achy and not want to do it. On those days, tell your trainer how you feel, but show up for the workout and do your best.
Andrew, my strength and fitness coach at Apex Training, has reached new levels of sadism.
I said that (partially) in jest because I love to see his face get that pensive squint when he’s digesting my regular updates of how my body feels and what my other professionals report about its function.
I feel like since my finger recovered from my burst tendon, I’ve reached new heights in stamina and my own strength. Last week, I hit a PR (personal record) with a 35-lb dumbbell row.
And things just feel like they are moving better. I’ve stumbled more than usual, but caught my balance 90 % of the time. I have less pain and I think I understand the pain better.
I’m working out three times a week and doing movements, with support Andrew has designed, like split leg squats that are torture (in a good way) and that I never thought I could do. I even work out after my ten-hour shifts at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse.
It’s hard, and exhausting, but I really think it helps get blood flow into all my aching parts and aids my sleep and ultimate recovery.
And today Andrew let me beat the big tire with a mace.
Speaking of Stitch Fix, the company has opted to move the Sunday to Wednesday 10-hour cohort. We get to choose which of the remaining shifts we want to transfer to and I’ll be putting in for the remaining 10-hour cohort, Wednesday to Saturday.
Frankly, the idea of working 5 days a week is horrifying. And I’m not thrilled with the prospect of losing my current shift.
But a warm gluten-free brownie sundae with Ben & Jerry’s cannoli ice cream softened the blow.
I put my underwear on backwards today. All day I kept wondering why my underpants felt so uncomfortable.
This week has been a roller coaster— but isn’t that just the way? People have been telling me I look like I’m loosing weight but I don’t know if that’s true.
The teenager took the dog for a rainy walk at Lafayette College the other day. She sent several very lovely photos.
I have many odds and ends making life out of the ordinary from little foster kitten Jean-Paul Sartre to my dear friend Nan moving from my neighborhood to a senior community.
I ordered a kitchen scale off Target.com to measure Jean-Paul’s growth. He’s up to 1 lb 5 ounces. That was after a big breakfast of pate and kitten milk. He has a hearty appetite and screams for food like any baby does every 4 hours.
He is super inquisitive and smart. He carries tiny toys around in his mouth and plays with our dog, Bean. (Here’s a video.)
Meanwhile, guest fosters Coffee Bean & Pinto Bean are having fun in my room. Khloe and Louise do not like having babies around, but the cockatoo Nala sure does.
For some humor, let’s mention that the Teenager recently discovered that the Morningstar Farms breakfast Pattie’s I have been feeding her for almost two decades are vegetarian. She called her dad to find out if he had been in on this secret.
We never hid that they weren’t real sausages from her and she’s been able to read for a long time. The shock was real, and she’s still talking about it days later.
She didn’t have a chance to go grocery shopping for her nights in the kitchen. I suggested using my Hungryroot ancient grain gluten free pancake mix and the Morningstar sausages. It was a lovely, hearty breakfast-for-dinner. And like she had accused me of when she first discovered my fake breakfast meat, “It was all a lie.”
The teen also got her first fix from Stitch Fix and it came from the warehouse where I work, the Bizzy Hizzy. Click the photo to see her unbox.
Speaking of work, I took voluntary time off on Monday and my stats were 100%, 88% and 98%. Andrew at Apex Training has been working be hard with exercises like split leg squats. My quads feel it. My balance is improving, my aches and pains feel like muscle fatigue and not deeper pain or joint issues. I have caught myself almost falling several times, and can sometimes feel my leg scissoring or even notice my left foot dragging behind before it trips me.
Even my chiropractor, Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center has made comments about how well my body is moving and how things are improving. Today she said my right side was locked up, when it’s usually my left, and that everything went back where it belonged easily.
When I hopped off the table, she told me to look at myself. “I have never seen you stand up with your feet so firmly planted and your poster straight,” she said.
And I felt it, I felt really solid.
So I don’t know if this is where I confess I tried the new Wingstop chicken sandwich. Most of my diet lately has been vegan. But last night I hadn’t had dinner, it was 8 pm and my body was devastated (in that good way). I could barely move after my shower. I considered skipping dinner.
But then I thought about my food intake for the day:
4:30 am: Supercoffee dark roast with half and half
5:30 am: Wawa coffee con lèche (it was a bribe to make myself go get gas)
6:30 to 8:30 am: 20 oz water
9 am: Kind Peanut Butter Breakfast bar and about 3 oz cranberry juice cocktail
9:30 to 11:30 am: 20 oz water
12:15 pm: quinoa with roast zucchini, white beans and my home canned roasted tomatoes, 6 oz Diet Pepsi
2 to 5 pm: 20 oz water
5:30 pm: sunflower seeds
6 pm: 12 oz cucumber water
I thought a chicken sandwich would be good for protein and I saw the commercial for Wingstop’s new chicken sandwich on Hulu. It was good, not as big as I thought a sandwich from a chicken joint would be— but to be able to slather any sauce from their menu on our was really cool. I had a mango habanero sandwich and a side order of the honey hot rub boneless wings. It hit the spot.
It’s just about to turn 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The last 48 hours have been emotionally difficult, and those are internal challenges I have resolved within myself but now I need to “make right” in the world.
My good friend Joan (the talented photographer) had quipped that the moon is in “Frustrato” phase and perhaps that is accurate.
Sometimes it’s nice to blame the universe instead of accepting our part in the mayhem. Because even good intentions spark fires.
I heard a podcast yesterday; I believe it was an economic one, that asked if one host was “a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of guy.” He replied, “it’s just half.”
That’s too much enigma and philosophy for pre-dawn hours. Blame the fact that my trusty espresso machine only filled half my mug.
The teenager and I had 14 kittens in the house Saturday, Sunday and Monday offering temporary lodging for these babies whose official Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab foster families have gone on summer vacation.
They were so much fun to have around, but 11 went home last night. This led the Teenager’s officially adopted foster fail Mars of the Roman Pride distraught that his friends had gone. He screamed until the Teenager released him into “gen pop” where he plopped himself down in front of the remaining visitors.
On Friday, I had a rather grueling session at Apex Training with my coach Andrew. We did some intense work on balance and single leg muscle stability. On Saturday, the communication between my brain and my lower body felt rickety (for lack of a better description) and it was challenging to move. By Sunday, the movement felt smoother but my phone was registering spikes in walking asymmetry. But something very interesting happened Monday— I could not only stand on one leg, but I could also hold my leg in a few seconds of a quad stretch.
Yesterday, I visited the Stitch Fix employee store, which resulted in a good news/bad news scenario. I bought myself jewelry on an impulse and discovered my second holes could still accept earrings. As someone who really grew up in the 80s and graduated high schools in the 1990s, I have three sets of holes in my ears.
I bought the Teenager some new things, including some warm hiking style boots for fall and her dog walks. I bought myself an adorable pair of shorts, and I picked one size up from my pre-existing Stitch Fix clothes and they were too small.
Obviously my efforts to reduce my recent (as in pandemic era) weight gain have been not sincere enough. Sigh. I’m trying to eat better and move more without falling into a strict/restrictive mindset.
But I did eat an entire medium pizza from Domino’s the other night. It was a medium hand-tossed crust, light on the cheese, light on the garlic Alfredo sauce with red peppers and pineapple.
On the way home from work last night, I noticed that the furniture store looked abandoned— and that the sign merely said urn.
In the background of all of this, the ‘cat book’ from Parisian Phoenix has hit some unexpected difficulties prompting a delay in its production. But my quick thinking, after a few hours of pondering, have inspired an interim release of a mini cat book featuring advice and stories about the care of cats. The larger book will come later, perhaps in early 2023.
In the meantime, I am very puzzled why my sweet tripod foster Louise has decided to crate herself.
And the most surprising item of the day was receiving my first catalog for Parisian Phoenix Publishing— Uline junk mail!
I suppose the last update is that the people at Susquehanna Service Dogs have cashed my check for the application fee. I’m anxiously awaiting contact.
To say life has been hectic feels like an understatement.
Tuesday already. If I had not taken voluntarily time off this week, I would be three-quarters of the way through my work week and asleep in preparation of my last day before the weekend.
Instead I slept until a leisurely 6 a.m., did some kitchen cleaning and some laundry while I waited for my coffee to brew.
I did some work on my own essay for the As the FURR Flies cat fundraising anthology — “The Unfortunate Cat Bite Hospital Vacation.”
Spoke with the teenager and headed to visit Gayle, the Parisian Phoenix Art Director, and my longstanding (and upstanding) friend. First I had to remove a tire toy the dog inserted into my purse. We had plans to scan the ink cartoon our friend Rachel had done for the anthology.
Then we went for a walk. I told Gayle not a long walk as my right hip just didn’t feel right and I felt like I had to march to avoid tripping myself. That I had not only fallen on Sunday night, but out of the damn bathtub while taking a shower yesterday.
I bought her a beverage at Déjà Brew, an eclectic local coffee shop/cafe, and nearly fell on my face because the damn floor has a massive bubble down the whole thing. I can’t even describe how huge and high this ridge was. I felt like someone had parked a tree under the tables.
Lunch was pita with hummus and harissa. Then the teenager went to visit a housebound senior to try and help her clean up a bit.
When we finished, I took the teenager to the auto parts store where the Amazon driver left her new Apple Pencil, bought us both discount Diet Cokes at McDonalds and then we headed to a place she’s wanted to visit for a long time— Exotic Dreams and Lingerie— and their neighbor. We bought some anatomically styled sour patch candies and let’s just say our dress form Esther might be donning some knotted red ropes in the future.
The wounds I acquired last Monday falling through the screen door (yes, there is a blog on that) have mostly healed, except where Bean Dog accidentally scratched off my scabs. The teenager tells everyone it looks like I had a fist-fight with a bear. And we had a family debate over Indian food– the teenager, her father and I, over whether I won or lost. Consensus was I won. (The Indian food came from Nawab in south Bethlehem, who were gracious hosts despite us not knowing that had converted to reservation only for dinner.)
On Saturday, I went to the gym and hit a new personal best with Andrew at Apex Training. I think it was 110 lbs on the barbell for three reps in box squats. My torso, my thighs, everything could take the weight well, except my knees. My knees kissed as I stood up with each rep. It didn’t hurt. It quivered a little, but I definitely had to plant my feet, balance the weight, lead with my thighs and hips and force those knees slowly out. The weight didn’t bother me. My own knees terrify me.
On Sunday, I performed 111% at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy, which means I shipped 555 items. Goal is 500 for a ten-hour shift, but as I reached higher numbers and saw that 555 was possible, I went for it. After all, both 111 and 555 are lovely numbers. Three prime numbers in a row, twice. Patterns and numbers comfort me. They offer a reminder that while a million permutations might exist, that there is underlying order in the world.
Yesterday I started my shift with refixes at the table in QC that has been assigned as mine for about three weeks. My table, line 4b, table 6, has a manual conveyor line on my left, which is great for my balance but bad for my finger. I hit 162, the daily minimum expectation, but barely.
I was achy, with sore feet and a sore spine, but nothing unusual for a person standing for 10 hours a day. I notice on my phone that around 4 p.m. that my walk was asymmetrical by 1%.
I have averaged six hours of sleep lately, with borrowed kittens and the high heat, so I opted to take a muscle relaxer and sleep versus push myself at the gym. My chiropractor has suggested my recent issues with falls and lack of control in my right leg might stem from overdoing it.
Between the heat wave, the full 10-hour shifts, the general aches and stiffness and the inappropriate levels of sleep, I opted to postpone the gym, take one of my muscle relaxers and sleep. I slept much better, but I could use a solid 8 hours or more.
I’m slowly learning just because I can push myself doesn’t mean I should.
Monday. I slept pretty decently last night despite the oppressive heat. I had performed 105% in Freestyle on Sunday in the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse, folding and shipping clothes while dreaming of new sundresses for myself.
I came home a little stiff and achy, a trend that seems to be back-sliding on the recent physical progress I made but the finger held up to its first day out of the splint at work.
I also came home early, as the Teenager planned a movie night for blind friend Nan to watch How to Train Your Dragon, a movie I have not yet seen despite the fact that I made a Toothless stuffed animal at Build-A-Bear.
Nan and I were to stop and pick up dinner at Wawa and the Teenager had made homemade ice cream (that honestly was on par with Cold Stone Creamery). And everyone got their desired dish from Wawa— except me— as I wanted a pre-made salad from the grab and go cooler and apparently the cooler was broken. The employees were removing all the food and the floor around it bore wet floor signs.
So I ate leftovers out of my fridge.
The audio-described version of the movie was intense. The poor man doing the description didn’t have time to breathe.
I was in bed by 8 p.m. The cockatoo had issues at 2 a.m. But all-in-all a good night.
At work today, I was tired, hot and a little bored at my regular table in QC. I did 101%.
I’m still have issues with a strange burning and tightness in my right thigh, and dealing with that is causing lower back pain.
I got home from work and tentatively poked my head around the corner in the garage— checking to see if dog was in the yard. She was not.
I walked up the stairs from the car bay to the main room of the garage. Walking across the big open space in my garage, I tripped over my own foot and fell. I did some sort of corkscrew dive and fell backwards through the screen door to exit the garage then skidded across the floor. I scraped my hand, my knuckles, my elbow and I think my leg and knee.
But then I still went to the gym. Under Andrew’s careful eye at Apex Training, I did my workout. I felt better than when I arrived, even if I am still a little stiff and achy, but such is life with cerebral palsy.