Unexpected

Yesterday was the first day of my second full week back to work since having had Covid-19. It was also the first week of mandatory overtime at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy.

I left home feeling disconnected and anxious. I had volunteered for a 1:30 p.m. to midnight shift, assuming I would be well rested and up early enough to get to work at that time. Some of my peers had taken on a 12-hour shift— 1:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.

They had so many people in the building some of us had to go to pick, which is my favorite role. I haven’t “picked” with any gusto since before my illness.

It felt amazing to be on the warehouse floor. I was peeling off layers and picking at about 21 minutes per cart of eight fixes. Again, not the fastest but decent. I walked 6,000 steps in that 2 hours and there wasn’t a moment of struggle or discomfort among them.

But when I peeled off my top layer, I discovered my tank top was inside out. I had a sports bra on so I decided to fix it. Except I got all twisted up in the pretty straps.

So my wardrobe malfunction impacted my times.

After first break at 3:30 I found myself in QC. I had a hard time getting organized and started— so it was probably 4 p.m. by the time I got rolling. I folded and packed 74 fixes. Which averaged to about 5 1/2 minutes each. I need to get that under 4.

I had told my trainer my goal was 80. I said that because Friday it had been 75 and I hit it. And I felt sluggish on Friday so logically 80 was doable.

My trainer didn’t care. My numbers have been consistent and I feel like my fixes are getting neater, my wraps better and the whole process seems to have a rhythm now.

Thanks to my time in pick, I walked more than 9,000 steps yesterday. I ate deliberately, trying to balance high doses of protein with refined sugary treats so I could get the buzz I wanted.

I took a Tylenol (just one) at one point as I did have some spinal pain. At the end of the night, my favorite nurse commented that I “looked good” and indeed I felt good— not like someone recuperating from a virus and working an 10-hour shift in a warehouse with a malfunctioning body (thanks cerebral palsy). I honestly felt good.

I weigh exactly what I did yesterday after several days of losing weight. I still need to lose at least 15 pounds. Or buy new clothes.

Life in Valley 2

Forgive me if this post contains typos or other errors as it is literally 1 a.m. and a wage of fatigue just washed over me. I think I might be too tired to write this.

Last night, the work center board at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy proclaimed that I would work QC.

QC is the quality control work center. Once the fixes are picked, the QC team inspects and folds the pieces and prepares them for the shipper.

It is the most stationary, sedentary work center I have worked in so far at the Bizzy. But I like it—except it kills my spine. It causes me a lot of pain to stand still for 8 hours. And yes, the give us mats and offer a variety of table heights to make it more comfortable.

After our two hours in training, I packed 36 fixes at a rate of 8+ minutes per fix.

Tonight when I arrived at work, scheduled for QC again, my favorite nurse asked how I did in QC last night. I told her it was hard on my S1 joint (she already knows I have cerebral palsy) but I liked it. But then I like to learn new things and face new challenges.

Now I don’t remember her exact word choice, but she commented on my good attitude and the fact that I am “always happy.”

I fought years. “Thank you for seeing that, as I’m having a hard time right now.”

And she offered me prayers.

Then she commented on how I try to do everything, and I shrugged and reminded her that this was my whole life— that I’ve always had a disability so things never come easy.

And then she pointed out that in her line of work she’s seen people give up facing less.

With that pep talk, I headed to QC valley 2. Now tonight I was on the right side of the valley and liked it. I QC’ed a total of 59 fixes at a rate of between 5.9 and 7.2 minutes per fix. Only two of my boxes were returned and both were do to issues with the paper. A supervisor told me nice folding! And I even tried to highlight whatever was pretty in each fix/folded item.

On first break I took 400 mg of ibuprofen to help prevent back trouble. And it helped! Or maybe I just really am getting stronger post-Covid.

At the end of my shift, I was hungry for chocolate so I grabbed a chocolate chip Pop Tart. As I was walking out, my favorite nurse offered me a cookie.

I didn’t want to touch her cookies, so she piled some into a tissue while using a tissue as a glove.

Best thumbprint cookie ever

And I never tasted anything quite like that thumbprint cookie. I haven’t had thumbprint cookie in years.

I went out to my car and found one final surprise; my mileage was 33399. I like numerical patterns and that number sequence was super cool.

33399

So the day that had a rocky start had a strong finish.

Farewell 2020 wish

It’s 12:05 a.m. and I still have to open my journal. My morning started merely five hours after I went to bed with a series of foibles that are normal in my life… so let me appease anyone waiting for my next blog post with this little post I made on Facebook:

Some of our challenges in this household for 2021 include:

  • Reassure teenager #2’s male cat that he is safe. The other cats feed off his insecurity and terrorize him which leads to urination outside the box.
  • Eat healthy again.
  • Each member of my household has some sort of fitness goal. Mine is the inevitable lose weight, but I am going to focus on strength training. Strength and endurance to me are the key to building a healthy body.
  • Raise healthy kittens and enjoy my budgie chicks.

Update on chicks video

The joys and lessons of 2020

I know 2020 dealt a lot of people a bad hand at cards, so to speak, and I know so many people have suffered— loved ones lost, food insecurity, unemployment, instability, break-ups.

I naively believe every year will “be a good year” or a better year… but let’s talk Turkey for a minute: I have a disability (cerebral palsy), I come from a certain socio-economic bracket that has made it difficult (but not impossible) for me to achieve long term financial stability, and my own job choices have often valued community, family and altruism over traditionally-defined middle class life.

2019 was the year I resumed my professional career after taking ten years “off” to raise my daughter. (I worked for Target for those 10 years and they gradually increased my part time hours to full time and so I opted to get paid a professional salary versus a retail wage if I were to put that many hours in.)

My husband and I separated in 2019. That was a huge change after 20 years, and it still pains me. My husband is one of the kindest people in the world, and while I still lament that we couldn’t fix our problems, the end had to come.

So what were the joys and lessons of 2020?

Let me share.

  • Cats. December 26, 2019 through late January 2020, the teenager trapped the feral kittens born under our neighbors porch. We kept two of them. Taming feral kittens gave us so much reward. And led to us working with FURR. Our fostering career has involved 12 kittens so far, in seven months. And I cannot tell you how much I love having babies around all the time. On days I don’t want to get out of bed, I do for them.
  • Birds. I met Nala on December 28, 2019 and brought her home in mid-January. By dealing with this obstinate Goffin’s cockatoo, I learned a lot of patience. And the best way to top being “a crazy cat lady” is to be the crazy cat lady with birds. And my parakeets had babies for Christmas 2020. I have three chicks that I have seen grow daily.
  • Professional and personal growth. I found myself crying at my desk more often than I like to admit in 2020. It became apparent by the end of January that my boss was an incredibly toxic person. At the same token, I learned so much from her that when she dismissed me during the pandemic, I could use those new skills to help a young nonprofit grow. Between my original job and my volunteer work with new nonprofits, I showcased this knowledge to steer these organizations to grants. And the success rates for grants, publication of an first-ever annual report, and various media placements throughout the Lehigh Valley was exhilarating.
  • Expanding family. As my faithful readers may know, I have a second teenager staying with me. This teenager has turned our lives upside down, but has shared in our joys and tribulations during the last four months. I always wanted a larger family— and I got it this year: a menagerie of birds, cats and teenagers. It’s been amazing to share our joys and traditions with someone and see my daughter react to no longer being an only child.
  • New attitude toward challenges. I am always the person you can count on when you need someone. So people don’t realize that I am often terrified and insecure. Being “alone” and a single custodial parent has gotten me over that. I had five months with no income and I lived on the $4500 I had in savings. I ended up in the hospital with a cat bite during that time period and it was such a great learning experience. I learned a lot about myself, my neighbors, my friends, and how amazing teenager #1 really is. And then I finally get unemployment after I get my new job at Stitch Fix. I promptly use it to pay off some of my medical bills and a few living expenses I had put on my American Express.
  • We will move beyond Covid. I finally got a job and three weeks in, I contract Covid-19. That whole experience was something, but again— I learned to ask friends, neighbors and family for help. And that GrubHub gift certificate I received during the summer months sure came in handy. This whole pandemic world has me mapping out whom I would recruit for my squad in a real catastrophe.

Maybe I’m just weird— but I see a lot of hope and triumph emerging from struggle. Cheers to 2021.

Accidents (or the four letter word that starts with S and means ‘poop’) happens.

It’s been a hectic couple of days.

The teenager is pet-sitting for our FURR foster godmother. So she’s in and out of my house several times a day.

I have misplaced Fern’s adoption paperwork, which is totally not like me. Luckily Fern went to a friend of mine so I can asked her to send me a photo.

Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, has been upset and stressed and plucked her flight feathers off her one wing.

It’s really sad to see the confusion in her face when she tries to fly and just falls.

Speaking of Nala, I met her a year ago today.

We had a devil of a time containing Boo-boo last night but since we did Wink and Yo-yo seem much more relaxed as parents. I think it was the right call. Video: catching Boo

And here is a video of the parakeet chicks: Budgie babies!

I also finally got a good picture of Loki:

Sir Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey

While three out of my four cats were cuddly and cute.

Back to Front: Opie, Oz, Fog

Then I headed out to work for the first day since Covid. I stopped at Dunkin for a coffee and discovered there were no more good deals. So I didn’t get my coffee.

No one explained the protocol for my return so I don’t have the proper paperwork from my doctor. I’ll try and get that started— already called the doctor— but am waiting on their end of the paperwork.

I’m annoyed— mostly because I was ready to go back but also because I don’t know if this lack of communication will mean I lose income. With it being the holiday week, I probably won’t get rapid cooperation from the medical folks. And part of that is because there are people sicker and needier than I am.

After everything I’ve been through this year, I won’t complain.

It gave me time to do some grocery shopping and cook for the other teenager.

I even helped her make a smoothie.

One more week of 2020.

Morning Fog

Routines in this house have changed since I contracted Covid.

Today I have completed the 10-day isolation period recommended by the CDC and can now leave the house. I want the teenager to take me to the Dollar Tree and Petco.

It’s 7:40 a.m. Because of my job on second shift and then my illness, I haven’t been up this early in probably months.

Loki and Fog

My room is typically a cat free zone. Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, and my three budgies (and now three budgie eggs) are in there.

But the Norse Pride ended up with me— in part because the teenager worried the Roman Pride were making them nervous and in her words they were too small to bother the birds.

The kittens, after a month in my room, decided they want to be with the big cats, so when I come in and out of my room, Vale leads a charge.

Because of this I leave my door open more soon they can come back. And now my cats and Teenager #2’s cats like to gather here. Her cats want to watch birds. My cats want to enjoy a warm bed with me and watch the birds.

Now dear Fog was my bed mate before cockatoo and before kittens. He and the three-legged old man liked to rest in my room and minded their own business.

And now Fog has taken to opening my bedroom door and joining me in bed in the morning, which confuses the Norse Pride kittens who don’t understand the magic of how a cat opens the door.

He doesn’t like the kittens— but he wants to be with me as I have my morning coughing fit. He’s got to be checking on me.

But the kittens are fascinated and confused by him and run to me. And it’s been a while since I had an 11+ pound cat in my bed. So it’s a jarring way to wake up.

I’ve also missed my Fog cuddles.

Snow Shenanigans

Greetings from day 9 or 10 of my Covid life. We had a pretty sizable snowstorm yesterday that reminded me of my childhood.

If you look carefully in that first picture you’ll see a cute little Nissan 4-door. It had North Carolina plates and like a real Southern Belle the owner tried to drive over all the snow.

My teens are now out back shoveling the garage and I’ve exhausted myself loading the dishwasher. My main Covid symptom today is extreme dizziness. I’m sick of every beverage I’ve been drinking — 1-2 liters of seltzer a day, 32 to 64 ounces of herbal tea and 1-2 cups of coffee.

And while my appetite is fine, I have at least one bowl of soup a day so I can get even more liquid.

Yesterday the teenager asked her dad to bring me a good old-fashioned NY style pizza which I ate for lunch, dinner, midnight snack and breakfast.

The teenager also asked me to record different cats’ reactions to the snow.

Misty: Misty fights the snow and Misty goes for a walk in the snow

Opie: Opie says no to snow

Vale: Vale explores snow (to apply to adopt Vale— visit Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Vale’s adoption page)

Fog: Fog in snow

Venom et al: Swarming the snow

In other fun news, the Roman Pride explored the snow from the safe confines of their room: Fosters try snow

And if you’re curious how the Romans are progressing— Romans in the morning

Hopefully these cute tuxedoes will be ready to adopt soon.

And Loki of the Norse Pride acts like a little puppy: Loki plays with the cockatoo (to apply to adopt Loki… Loki’s adoption page

Day 4 of Covid isolation

Sunday. Next Sunday at this time my isolation period will be over.

I feel stiff and exhausted, and I have a weird rash that makes my hands burn and itch like crazy but all-in-all Covid symptoms are minimal today.

The most exciting thing we did today was play with foster kittens.

Vale got to wear a sweater.

For information on adopting Vale, click here.

Vale and his brother Loki are both available at Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

Some fun kitten videos:

Harness training Vale

Hermes and Vesta

The Roman Pride and Hermes

This is really a good amount of fun for me, but as we got Vale into the sweater we got a text that my dear cat-loving former world colleague was bringing her homemade egg nog.

The teenager has taken a liking to eggnog, but as of most of the younger generations, she’s never had the real thing.

I had had some fruitcake for breakfast— her great-grandmother’s recipe made by my mother-in-law. My in-laws have a really delicious fruit add. I brought some to work last year for Mr. Accordion and he shared it with the office Christmas party, a decision he make have regretted.

And now this.

And I used some more of Bill’s gift card to order wings from Deux Wings on GrubHub. I am not a fan of wings, but the teenager is. I rather enjoyed the mac and cheese and amazing French fries.

From Deux Wings, great food

On TV today, I started My Mad Fat Diary and Ink Master.

Shake and Bake, confetti dessert, holiday cheer and a Covid test

I have hardly gotten out of bed today — I’m exhausted, my body is achy, my joints are locking up, I am lightheaded and my eyes burn.

This could be the ramifications of sleep deprivation and forgetting to take my allergy and blood pressure meds for two days. It could be a cold. But it could be Covid.

The teenager made authentic straight-from-the-box Shake N Bake chicken— which she thought was novel but paying $3.50 for a plastic bag and some breadcrumbs struck her as ridiculous.

On the other hand, the no bake confetti dessert I bought at the Grocery Outlet was scrumptious.

The animals, as they tend to do, noticed I didn’t feel well.

I called my doctor and they asked me to go for the Covid test at the hospital— there’s a drive through tent outside. Only 3 cars were in front of us. The attendent did a great job of swabbing my nose. Now if I have Covid, a doctor will call me Saturday. If I don’t, no one will contact me.

And of course I will need some sort of note to return to work.

And the two teens decorated the tree and to celebrate they started their 12 days of Christmas advent calendars a little early.

Some silly videos:

Unboxing

Opening the first day

Hunting the pickle

A taste of withdrawal

Yesterday was crazy difficult.

On Tuesday morning, I got up early and took the Norse Pride to the vet for a post-ringworm follow-up.

I forgot to take my medicine and vitamins. I have taken Zyrtec just about every day since this pandemic started. I am allergic to pollen, mold, dust, and just about everything else including cats.

During the coronavirus shut down I started taking my medication because spring was blossoming and I didn’t want people to think I had Covid.

Around the same time, my doctor had prescribed a low dose of Lexapro for my stress-induced high blood pressure.

So on Wednesday a.m., when I got home from work, I cuddled the animals and watched some more of the Crown. I got to bed a little after two.

Somewhere around 7:30 a.m., I heard the school bus. I rolled over to go back to sleep and — no exaggeration— a jackhammer started opening the street two doors from mine with a ferociousness that shook my house.

Thank you, UGI.

So five hours sleep.

And again because my routine is off I forgot to take my medicine.

I only picked 120 last night and I was terrified about the state of my health.

I was experiencing allergy symptoms (after all I now have 14 cats in my house), exhaustion, every muscle and joint in my body was aching. I couldn’t think. My forehead was sweating but my hands were cold. My hands and feet were tingling randomly as if they had fallen asleep.

I started the night strong with just about 40 fixes picked by first break, but at the end of the night even the ones that should have taken 15 minutes took me 30.

Every break my joints locked up and it took me time to get moving again without pain. And my numbers kept dropping.

I started to worry that maybe I had a fever and the nurse didn’t notice because I tend to have a low temperature. One thermometer earlier in the day said I was 94.5. That is impossible.

Luckily, I had some chili from a friend for dinner and a $2 latte from Dunkin.

Somehow I still managed to walk 24,000 steps but man— that brief episode of withdrawal scared me. A lot.

I came home and took all my vitamins and my medicine and slept about 7.5 hours. Hopefully that will put me on the mend.

Note: I found out later, these were Covid symptoms.