Adventures with Nancy and leaving Midnight Society

Tonight was the last official night of “Midnight Society” at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy and they closed the warehouse at 7:30 p.m.

I say last “official” night because I just heard from my supervisor (at least until the new shift starts Sunday) and my favorite security guard/philosopher that there are a handful of people who can’t transition until after Christmas— and Stitch Fix will let them continue working their traditional hours until then.

That was a really nice move on the business’s part. Too nice in my opinion. I have squeezed a couple months of doctors appointments, tests and physical therapy into two weeks. So part of me is a little jealous.

We start our new work arrangement Sunday.

In other news, my blind friend Nancy and I both had physical therapy today. And Aîné and Brigid of the Celtic Pride got spayed so they are ready for adoption!

But back to physical therapy. Nan and I went together. She’s having issues with her shoulder and numbness in her finger.

I have pain in my spine and fall a lot.

I had to ride a stationary bike for eight minutes. She warmed up on a hand contraption.

I did my Cobra poses, and my physical therapist did that thing where he presses on my spine as if pushing it back into place.

I did deadlifts with a 20 lb kettlebell. I had to lay on my stomach and bend my leg at the knee and lift it off the table. That was harder than it sounds.

I stood on a soft cushion square and moved my leg out using my hip while keeping my knee soft. I also did that kicking back.

I did bridges.

I took a giant ball, held it to the wall with my back, and squared as low as I could.

Meanwhile some teenager stood on a balance ball on one leg, tossed a ball onto a trampoline and caught it ALL while standing on one leg.

I can stand on one leg for nine seconds.

On the floor.

This kid was standing on a ball meant to destabilize you.

And throwing a ball.

I am in total envy.

Meanwhile Nan was teaching the staff to read Braille and how to use a white cane.

And the staff was heartily confused at the fact that friends would come to physical therapy together.

After physical therapy, I turned to Nan. “You what to come to my house for grilled cheese?”

Her answer was a hearty yes. I made hers with Colby Jack, Cheddar and Lebanon Bologna and mine with habanero cheddar and Vevan vegan mozza-melts.

The mozza-melts taste and melt like real cheese, but sadly they have no protein. At all. So while they are a cruelty free version of cheese, they have no nutritional value.

Another day seeking answers

This is another in a series of posts about trying to learn about my cerebral palsy and improve life in my body in general.

As sometimes happen, I woke in pain. I took two Tylenol PM last night so the pain didn’t keep me awake though my cat kept trying to intimidate one of my fosters so that made the six hours of sleep I got rather restless.

I woke to an alarm at shortly after 8 a.m. as I had to be at a doctor’s appointment at 10:05ish and the office is 20 minutes away.

To read about the connection between my gynecologist and my novel, visit the Parisian Phoenix blog.

Today was the rescheduled appointment to get my Mirena IUD that will hopefully reduce my heavy menstrual bleeding and my back pain from menstrual cramps. I had another new-to-me doctor today, and this one had an amazing sense of humor.

She was also the first doctor to ask me, upon hearing I had cerebral palsy, if there was anything she needed to do or be aware of to help me. In my case, the answer is no. But if I had worse issues with my flexibility and lower limbs, this would be a good question.

This is my third IUD, although my first Mirena. So nothing unexpected happened during insertion.

There was a pinch here and there and the doctor told me to take ibuprofen for the initial cramping. And to be prepared for a period that might be weird for the next few months. Every woman reacts differently but I may see my periods lighten or even skip cycles.

I did experience some light cramping and spotting but nothing to require OTC painkillers.

But, once I got to work, my right leg seemed to be impossible to control with my quad and knee burning. My ankles also started to burn. My lower back just throbbed, regardless of whether I was twisting or standing still.

By the end of the night I struggled to reach forward or to lift the pile of clothes.

I only QCed 92 fixes. That’s almost 71% of goal. Now granted tonight we were in the men’s Hizzy for the first time ever. It took me 4.5 minutes to do fixes that in women’s takes less than 3.

And they have such nicely organized work stations with drawers.

While listening to my first podcast of the night— 60 songs that explain the 90s— i discovered that Weird Al donated the profits from “Achy Breaky Song” to the cerebral palsy foundation.

My British colleague asked why I’m not on disability. That made me wonder how bad I must look if she says that to me.

In good news, let me regale you as I drink my last pins colada lemonade gin cocktail, the teenager is very excited about the new soap dispenser she bought.

I did a thing and did a soft launch on a Parisian Phoenix podcast on Spotify. I thought my blind friend, Nancy, would like it.

And if you want some fun pet items:

Nala the cockatoo plays in the shower.

Bean Dog tries to get bone out of tire.

I walked into the teenager’s bedroom and the kittens of the Celtic Pride were all in her laundry.

Fitness update: Where did that leg go?

Last week, I moved my follow up bloodwork from Friday October 15 to yesterday in part because I am planning a trip to DC over the weekend.

The morning yesterday started in a discombobulated fashion as my mornings generally do. I was so mixed up by the time my appointment rolled around that I drove right by the office.

The events of the morning had my anxiety on high, and revisiting my past issues with anxiety has not been fun. I even find myself fighting some of familiar behaviors, like stressing about how much money I have in savings and going over budget on food.

At the same time, I had a lunch appointment with my mother who recently lost a brother to cancer and anticipates losing another to the same cancer.

And I’m feeling my body thinking — my right leg isn’t working. I woke yesterday in no pain whatsoever yet something felt very wrong with my right leg, like maybe it was too close to the left one or pointing the wrong way. Very disorienting feeling.

I asked the teenager to take a look and she confirmed that it indeed look “very wrong” so we called Back in Line so my chiropractor Nicole Jensen could take a look.

This meant the whole day involved running from place to place which led to more stress, which increases the tension and the cerebral palsy stiffness in my muscles.

Nicole adjusted me again and aggressively stretched my hips. She also commended me for trying to know my body.

And at work I felt it. Keenly, painfully. Started in my hip, then my spine, then the left side of my lower back, and then the right. Everything hurt. I finished the night at 92% because of the pain.

The pain bothered me all night, and I woke up with it, and believe it or not struggling to carry the 80 lbs of cat litter I needed upstairs may have helped— by relieving tension.

Thank goodness for the gym, as my trainer Dan at Apex Training is very cognizant of how I am moving and has catered my workouts to my health levels.

I’m struggling emotionally right now, and I am physically in pain across my lower body. I can’t afford to stay home from work and I fear tonight will be worse than last night.

This morning, my bloodwork returned. My TSH is normal. My iron is creeping up way slower than I had hoped. My vitamin D was increasing but it hasn’t budged in four months.

And I also got an email with the results of the Artful Dash— officially Gayle beat me. Which she did not. I was a clear two feet ahead of her in the finishing chute.

Dahlias from a friend

Friday update: some health news and some silliness

Yesterday must have been “doctors return patient messages” day because I heard from both my primary care physician’s office and my gynecologist’s staff.

But before I get to that… because that info will primarily be about the female reproductive system and how my issues in that area are compounding the impact of my cerebral palsy (and I know that’s an exciting topic), let me start with the humor in this beautiful Friday morning.

But perhaps the humor started last night with the fire drill at work. The fire alarm itself sounded like crickets chirping in a field. I supposed the sound gets lost in the depth of the warehouse.

The Bizzy Hizzy released us at 9:30 p.m. last night, which is fantastic for my aching body that is still trying to figure out what the hell happened to my hip. (Read about that here.)

I got up this morning hoping to be well-rested and pain-free. I woke up a cuddly Khloe and another phone call from my gynecologist— but I’m skipping those details for now. Let’s just say I have an appointment with them on October 22 and the person who made my appointment has a cat named Mr. Doodlehead.

Khloe

I go downstairs, let the dog out and noticed the Met-Ed truck at my neighbor’s house. The noise of the bucket truck scares the dog. We go inside. I put coffee in the Keurig.

The power goes out.

The bucket truck drives away.

Our own neighbor tries to chase down the crew. Another neighbor starts pacing the sidewalk. A third guy— yes all these people are men— stands in the yard and stares. (He’s the apparently live-in boyfriend of the resident. It’s a weird situation because they met on the internet and I was told it didn’t work but now he appears to be living there after two dates.)

After a little while, I realize I don’t want to open the fridge but I really should have breakfast so I’ll go out. My leg and spine still feel weird after Wednesday’s rather dramatic adjustment— I veto walking to the teenager’s favorite mini-mart gas station. Besides, they might not have power either.

At this point, the dog brings this from the kitchen:

Poop in a can

As if the cat food can wasn’t delectable enough, the teenager must have tossed a bag of animal poop in it. Poop in a meat can! What a treat.

I put on my shoes about to take the dog to Dunkin’ and I realize— I have no idea how to open the garage door manually. So I sit back down and work on the memoir I am proofreading.

But I need food.

So eventually I brave it.

The dog had tried to convince the kittens to play and lost that battle so she needed a pick-me-up, too.

The trip was uneventful. Except I had to drive around the building an extra time because I got to the speaker before I had my order ready. You can see me feed the dog a turkey sausage, egg and cheese wrap here.

And when I got home I realized—

I have no idea how to reconnect the garage door opener.

Now the health stuff…

I am on day three of taking CBD oil.

I am recovering from anemia caused by stress and heavy menstrual bleeding. My menstrual cramps hit me in my spine every two weeks, first for ovulation then for the actual bleeding. My spine already has issues with my SI joint because of all the years of walking crooked due to cerebral palsy. Despite my history of an active lifestyle and my current training program, the pain is getting worse and harder to treat.

CBD cream has been very successful in relaxing tense and spasming muscles in my back.

The gynecologist ordered some blood tests — I go Monday — and the PCP won’t see me until November 2 and I have instructions to follow up with my gynecologist in the meantime.

They requested and I got abdominal and transvaginal ultrasounds which revealed small growths (a benign cyst and a fibroid) in my uterus (looks like adenomyosis) which due to my age will probably cause more pain until menopause.

To alleviate this, they are going to give me the Mirena IUD in two weeks. Which is funny, because the proposed treatment for my back pain is a contraceptive device when I’m 46-years-old and haven’t been that kind of intimate in more than two years.

Fingers crossed that it helps. And that insurance covers it because it costs a thousand dollars.

I had two copper IUDs (Paragard) in the past. The first one lasted the whole ten years. The second was so painful I asked them (honestly begged them) to remove it after the first year.

Are disabled athletes more mindful?

Barbells might be my new obsession. Remember my new shirt from the Fitness Tee Company in Michigan?

“Let’s hit the bar.”

I bought it after my first bench press with the barbell. I have always wanted to lift barbells. I’m fascinated with power lifters, and admire women like Meg Squats. She recently had a baby, but to stay on topic, here is one of her lifting videos: 5 things I wish I knew before I started lifting.

So when my trainer first put me on the bench with a barbell, it was in part to evaluate me. What he didn’t know was my secret burning desire to do it. And it did not disappoint.

Those first couple lifts I learned so much— about form, about using “power zones” in the body, and how a simple bench press uses most of your muscle groups. Fascinating. To see other people do it hints at the complexity, but to do it yourself is a true lightbulb moment to the depth of the interactive mechanics of the human body.

Today I did my first one plate barbell deadlift. Pretty much because my trainer said, “You could totally lift that,” and pointed to the barbell on the floor.

And I said, “I’ve always wanted to.”

You could totally lift that.

Dan, my personal trainer at Apex

So he let me deadlift the one-plate (on each side) barbell. I mimicked his form, which appeared to be underhand and it was a totally different kind of effort from the dumbbell deadlifts I previously completed. Those seemed very concentrated in the butt and legs, these included more of the body in a fluid way.

I did three in that first set and returned to my dumbbell circuit— 10 lb dumbbells in a swing style motion up to a press, 10 reps, followed by 10 bicep curls— before back to the bar. This was my cool down set of the day. And I did 3 more additional sets at the barbell— a set of five, another circuit with the dumbbells, then eight at Dan’s urging, another circuit, and he asked for another eight, but I tapped out after five.

I determined that I prefer underhand grip. Overhand grip puts too much stress on my lower back. Mixed grip is awesome, too, but I think that may require some work before I can up my weight. Mixed grip forces a certain instability and requires more focus on balance, which as a balance exercise would be stellar.

But what does any of this have to do with athletes and disability— the idea I propose in the title?

I have no athletic talent what so ever. My coordination is awful. I tend to walk “all done f*cky” when my health is poor or I am fatigued. I also deal with a myriad of aches and pains from walking crooked and associated issues with my S1 joint.

But my trainer often comments on my form, well, once he reminds me to point my toes for a squat or perfect that lean for a row. He’s even commented that I’m “built for that” while we do certain exercises. That once I correct manually what my brain can’t make my body do automatically, that I use a very deliberate form.

As I’ve mentioned before my weight training is very meditative for me because I am counting (something my trainer and the teenager were discussing because she said even with a decade of band she can’t count) and my trainer said I was good at keeping count, but that many of his clients needed assistance. I am also thinking about control in every motion of the exercise— from each body movement, to pace and control.

And on top of that, I try to note feeling and body function. Though that is touchy. In a “leg day” session a week or two ago, Dan said he noticed something strained about the lift I was doing. He wanted to know if it were legs or back bothering me.

I had to do an extra rep of the exercise to answer him. Because I hadn’t noticed.

“Ankles,” I answered. “My ankles are stiff and shaky today.”

All of this makes me think, and question, how those of us will a mild physical disability like cerebral palsy might be better athletes because we don’t have talent or physical advantages. But we know our bodies and we are accustomed to acknowledging the details of our bodies and their functions.

Does the fact that I am required to concentrate on every motion make me more prone to perform that motion closer to perfection than someone who can breeze through it without thinking about it?

Compelling idea.

Stress, leg day, wins for the cat cafe, taste testing and EZ Pass Drama

In 45 minutes, I need to leave for work. It’s Thursday and I feel like I haven’t stopped moving all week. I’m behind on my own commitments and starting to feel panicked.

The pop up kitten cafe fundraiser for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab is this Sunday.

Although it has required effort from many people, in the last few days this has become my baby.

In the last 24 hours, we received commitments from Just Born candy and Target #2536 (the same Target where I used to work and that experienced a fatal shooting in the parking lot last weekend).

This brings our list of supporters to:

  • Many individual bakers
  • Easton Baking Company
  • Philly Pretzel
  • Wawa
  • Wegmans
  • Giant Food Stores
  • Keystone Snacks
  • Chocolate Works
  • Target
  • Just Born

Today the teenager and I will be heading to Keystone Snacks to get the Veggie Chips donation.

So that’s the fundraiser but meanwhile real-life goes on. I haven’t worked on William Prystauk‘s upcoming novel in his Kink Noir series, Bondage, in several days. Our personal cat, kitty cancer survivor Opie has a very goopy, wet eyes. This is very unusual for Opealope so I gave him a couple treatments with a chamomile tea eye wash for cats grown and prepared by our fellow foster, Granola Cat Lady.

Despite all this (and only 5 hours sleep from sharing my bed with the teenager’s dog, F. Bean Barker), I still made it to Apex Training for leg day and some warm-up core work. My body was very stiff after that, not really from the workout but because my period is late and doing things to my body.

Although I have to admit I fell on the way to the gym and broke the screen to my iPhone. After 3.5 years I now get to test my SquareTrade insurance.

The other big news is that the teenager installed a new toilet seat in the upstairs bathroom. The old one had screws so stripped it kept falling off while you were sitting on it. Bad news is: our bathroom is 1950s Flamingo Pink. The new toilet seat is white— the only one they had. I hate white toilet seats on colored bowls but I also hate “falling in.” And now that she’s seen it, the teenager agrees.

I finally tried my Emmi Roth cheddar cheese snacks from Hungryroot which were supposed to be for tuna artichoke melts but I couldn’t bring myself to use such fancy cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich. A colleague and I were talking about snacks & cheese so I brought her some and we tried it at the Bizzy Hizzy.

She loved it so much she googled where to buy it. Apparently it’s only available in Wisconsin and Switzerland. It literally melts in your mouth.

After work I went to Sheetz and ordered a pina colada lemonade with immunity boost with my bonus points. It tasted like candy, too thick to be refreshing but definitely very summery. I added some mango vodka when I got home. (Here’s a video if you want to see me talk to myself in a parking lot at midnight.)

And finally, not sure if I mentioned it on the blog, but I’m another step closer to resolving the great EZ Pass Drama of Summer 2021. Did you ever procrastinate something so long it bit you in the ass?

Yeah, so that’s what happened to me.

So, our Nissan Ultima (oh how I loved that car) died suddenly. My husband and I were still together and only had one car. He replaced the Ultima was a used Nissan Juke— a car he had wanted for a while. We moved everything from the Ultima into the Juke.

I had ordered an EZ Pass when I started work on my master’s in world history at West Chester University and was driving down the turnpike at least once a week.

So I knew that the EZ Pass was connected to my car— the Ultima— but I never really used it. I forgot about it. And then I bought my Jetta because I hated the Juke. Our family didn’t really go anywhere. I worked retail so I never really got time off. I had stopped working on my master’s as money got tight and my marriage continued to fail.

I neither returned nor updated the EZ Pass.

My husband returned the box of random things from the Ultima and I, with other things on my mind, tossed the transponder in my car hoping to remember to update it.

I never did.

At this point, I don’t even remember how to access my EZ Pass account.

This summer, the teenager took her grandmother to Cape May. She pulled up to the first toll booth and the toll collector yelled at her for trying to pay the toll.

Being a dutiful child, she trusted the toll collector who told her she had an EZ Pass.

Two weeks later, we get two violations from NJ EZ Pass. $30 in missed tolls and $55 in administrative fees. My daughter and I send a check, but I also send an email stating that I understand I hadn’t updated the EZ Pass, but my daughter had tried to pay the toll and the toll collector yelled at her.

They cashed the check.

Then a couple weeks after that I get a letter from PA Turnpike EZ Pass stating I had insufficient funds in my account and they were threatening to ticket me. Now, my EZ Pass was on a credit card. That credit card expired one month before my daughter’s trip.

I call the number. Because I don’t know my account pin or my transponder number, I am forced to leave a message and they say they will call me back. That was Monday.

A couple days ago I get another letter from NJ EZ Pass. They claim I didn’t pay one of the two violations. I send another email and send them a screen shot from my banking app of the cashed check.

It’s now Thursday. I go to PA EZ Pass and try to remember all my account info. I easily succeed. I look at the “insufficient funds.” $5.37 cents. They also demand $35 to load my account fully. Even though I haven’t used it in three years.

And you can’t just pay what you owe.

I then go to the “manage vehicles” tab, add the Jetta and delete the Ultima. That took five minutes. Had I done that years ago, I could have avoided the whole drama.

Week Four of Physical Training at Apex and more thoughts on Disability

When I turned up at the Apex Gym today for my first session of the week, I was accompanied by the teenager and her dog. They were both impressed— and in the dog’s case confused— that my trainer Dan was wearing his baby.

I am always impressed with the different bodies I see at the gym and the attention both trainers give to their clients.

There was a woman at the gym finishing her session when I arrived. She was working hard with some dumbbells, with her back to me. She was older than I was, and overweight, probably at least obese by BMI standards (because I am overweight by BMI standards).

But she was uneven, with 80% of her excess weight in her legs.

And just like with me, Dan supported her and challenged her as if we were athletes. You could tell she was proud of herself, and I was proud of her.

And I couldn’t wait to tell my trainer Dan that I can already feel my body moving better. In his eyes, he calls it “a little increased mobility” and to me, I feel like my knees are moving the correct direction.

I told him that I got to pick at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy and covered about 6,000 steps and pulled 216 items in less than three hours. Now those aren’t stellar numbers, but I haven’t left QC in months. And I didn’t hurt.

If this Apex experience doesn’t teach me to participate in exercise and strength training daily, nothing will.

Today’s workout t-shirt was “let’s hit the bar” by The Fitness Tee Company and my trainer Dan let out an enthusiastic battle cry. We did hit the bar, and we added weight to it. I really enjoy bench press.

In other news, I listened to the latest podcast from the NYT Daily Sunday Read, “The Man who filed 180 disability lawsuits.” It looked at the “industry” of people hired by lawyers to find non-ADA-compliant businesses. And sue them.

I need to digest this more, but the reporter interviewed a small restaurant that almost lost everything because of such a lawsuit, in what seemed a situation where a new restaurant just had everything go wrong.

But the reporter also interviewed the litigant who said businesses have a responsibility to know the law better (my note: it’s almost 300 pages) and that being disabled is expensive so these lawsuits help pay for his equipment and care.

Link to the podcast on Spotify.

Luau luncheon at the Bizzy Hizzy

Changes are brewing at work. Tomorrow I learn the infamous mailer machine and QC Valley 0 has been transformed into a test site to see if QC centers can prep their own boxes as they fold each fix.

I’m terrified of this. I have a really awkward relationship with packing tape.

Middle of the Night Ruminations Providing Insights and Honoring Success

First, the exciting news of the day… our new gym shirts from The Fitness Tee Co arrived a day early. The teenager presents an unboxing on YouTube here.

I couldn’t resist the doughnut tank and the other witty slogans. They were about $20 each and there was a BOGO 50 % off sale on the day I ordered. Shipping was $10.

Update on the progress with Apex Training: As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my trainer, Dan, and I worked core and lower body hard. (Read that here.)

Today my thighs and maybe my hamstrings hurt. Everything hurts. But when I went to work in QC tonight, I emptied every fix from the carts with the same squat form I would use if he were watching. That’s more than 125 times. And here’s the tidbit to consider about my quest to learn more about my body and my cerebral palsy, even though my thighs and hamstrings hurt, my knees moved much easier than I recall. Is it true? Or just my perception? And I came home without any back pain.

Three cheers to my trainer Dan at Apex.

In other Bizzy Hizzy Stitch Fix news, my supervisor has asked me to learn mailer machine. This is a work center only a few people in each shift know how to do. I have heard stories of the finicky and evil mailer machine. But, of course, I said sure.

As my supervisor walked away, I started to get a panicky feeling inside. Yesterday I was moved from my normal spot in QC to a position on the warehouse floor consolidating items in the flat pack bins. Then I got moved from that to men’s returns processing.

On Wednesday, I trained a brand new temp on women’s returns processing.

And now next week the mailer machine?

A few weeks ago it was a brief exposure to style carding.

My insecurity flared— thanks past employers— and I wondered “do I perform so poorly they keep moving me around to a place where I fit?”

And I chastised myself because I know the metrics, I’m not a bad employee. I hope they see I am reliable, flexible, smart, and enjoy learning.

To calm my insecurity, I texted my talented and lovely friend Joan. She retired from a place you might know, Martin Guitar. She worked, I believe, in human resource stuff. And she has some fancy jargon to toss around like Sigma and stuff.

I asked her, texting on my final ten minute break of the night: “I consistently achieve 96% of goal. They constantly train me for new things— spending a day here and there without mastering anything.
Am I someone they can rely on?
Or are they trying to find something I can do?”

I could hear Joan’s sigh across the night.

She replied, “They recognize that you are smart, and they don’t want you to get bored. They are cross training you to keep you flexible… They know you will catch on fast and do your best, even if it’s not 100% against their numbers. Does the job get done fast and well? Can they rely on you to do it? Of course!”

Everyone needs a friend like Joan.

Tell your insecurities to go f*ck themselves

The wise and effervescent Joan Z

She goes on, “Remember, they’re putting you where they need you. You are a willing pair of hands and pretty good at it. As I used to tell the people at the guitar factory, the more stuff you know how to do, the more valuable you are to the company.”

But here’s my favorite advice, “Tell your insecurities to go f*ck themselves.”

So a big thank you to Joan!

Training Update: Finishing Week Three at Apex Training

My body turned to me as I went to my car after work today, and as I fiddled with the radio (calling up Natalie Merchant on Spotify singing Space Oddity), my body said to me,

“Jesus, woman, what are you doing? We need to talk.”

But seriously.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? But we can’t spend too much time on all this as it is 1:30 a.m. and my aching body craves sleep.

The teenager was up fairly early today so I suggested she and our almost 1-year-old pit bull/mastiff/black lab puppy walk with me to the gym, about 5 blocks away.

Now if you’re new here… I’m 46 years old, a former newspaper reporter. I have an amazing 17-year-old daughter. Her father and I separated two years ago but he lives nearby and is still an important part of our household. I have cerebral palsy. He has a club hand. I have recently started a quest to learn more about my body, restart my bodybuilding commitment (I was really into it six years ago) as an alternative to traditional physical therapy, and hopefully lose the 20 pounds I gained stress eating to cope with the toxic workplace of the last nonprofit I worked for.

So, the teenager, the dog and I walked up to the gym. F. Bean Barker is learning new manners everyday and the guys at the gym thought she was a beautiful dog.

And then the focus changed to leg day. Now, on upper body day I get to train like a normal person. On lower body day, my poor trainer has to balance my physical deficits with my desire to kick ass.

Or maybe I’m just as awkward both days, and I just never noticed.

Today was session six. It’s the last week of two sessions a week and next week we increase to three.

Please note: I have been in gyms lifting weights since college, which was about 25 years ago, and in recent years I’ve been in physical therapy to learn to walk, for balance, for the strain of my lumbar region caused by trouble with my S1 joint and my broken ankle. Every body is different. Every ailment or disability is different. It is a quest to balance what works for you, what your body needs and what hurts.

I firmly believe that nothing fixes the body like the right exercises. But for people with disabilities or health issues, it’s hard to recognize what pain you need to work through and what hurt is bad. As a weight lifter, I know muscle recovery pain. As a person with a disability, I often experience burning pain.

As a society, I feel like we invest so much money in medical tests, mental health, drugs, organic food, but we don’t want to pay for a trainer.

My trainer is getting to know me. He knows how to observe me. He asks questions about my mobility. We test exercises by going easy at first and adjusting them based on my performance.

And he reads me well.

There are times I can tell he’s afraid of pushing me too far and then I do the exercise and he makes it ten times harder because I surpassed his expectations. This makes him a good trainer because it means he’s testing my basic form and strength so I don’t get hurt. And he reads my body language to see how I’m doing— not relying on my words.

A good trainer has to push you out of your comfort zone. But he also has to make sure everything’s executed for best impact and in a way that you don’t get hurt.

I have to admit, I hated him a little today. But I also love his full body approach. But when he tells me to do sumo squats with a 15-pound dumbbell and my toes pointed out AND make sure my knees “follow” my toes… I don’t know whether to cry or punch him.

It’s the gym— both those feelings are valid.

But let’s examine the issue. My knees face in.

This means to perform the motion he has requested, I need to move one foot at a time carefully into position. I need to really concentrate on balance. As I move, I need to keep my head up, focus on stretching the knees to position in line with my toes (which is not the way they go) while holding a weight and trying not to fall.

I was dripping sweat by the end of this session— before he hands me a kettle bell to end the work out with kettle bells swings.

When I got home, I made a massive high protein vegan pasta. See me make it here (this can also be my official “before” video.)

I ate 90% vegan today. Only animal products I had were half and half for my coffee and a pack of beef jerky at work. I almost had iced tea with local honey but the teenager spilled it when I left it on the dog crate.

This was dinner:

Speaking of dinner— tonight at the Bizzy Hizzy my team competed in the Stitch Fix olympics. We won the gold medal in the egg toss. I was relieved they weren’t real eggs.

In other news:

  • I almost started editing William Prystauk’s latest novel in the Kink Noir series.
  • My Poppy Z. Brite books have arrived.
  • I hurt. I hope it’s the good hurt.
  • My friend Joan not only brought us old linens, but scored a cat carrier and animal crate at a yard sale.

Level unlocked: Bench Press

I have been strength training on and off for the last 20+ years. It definitely makes my muscles easier to manage and allows me to fight the control issues and long range effects of cerebral palsy.

Today I did my first bench press in my session with Dan of Apex Training.

And that’s my first bench press ever.

At other gyms, with other trainers, we never did bench press. At home, I never had the equipment to bench press.

I found it exhilarating— I never realized how much coordination and full body balance a bench press requires. I always thought it was purely upper body.

I can’t wait to do more.

We did various upper body exercises including some newer movements I hadn’t seen before but I am perpetually pleased with Dan’s knowledge. And he has chickens and we share some tastes in food.

Occasionally during the workout, he asked if I could do one more.

I can always do one more.

That isn’t bravado — that’s my mentality for life. That’s how I survive my disability. I have to push my body to do what it needs to do.

My success and “feel good”-edness continued through my work day. I QCed 132 fixes (goal is 130).

I suppose there are two ways to approach life with a disability… One is to do nothing, and give up.

The other is to do one more. And grow stronger.

I chose one more.