Merri at Lucha Bella taught me what healthy skin feels like, took 10 or more years off my face and had more more relaxed than I’ve been since my last intimate adult encounter which was quite some time ago.
And my skin feels energized and as fresh as soft as a baby’s.
I felt so good I stopped at Wawa and treated myself to a Fiji water. Because I had no idea my facial would come with so much massage and I could feel my body asking for the water. So I gave it fancy water.
Shall I back up? I’m just so overwhelmed by the whole experience that I want to write everything before I forget. Because oh my goodness gravy— we all need this.
I expected her to clean my face, apply some product and maybe address some stray hairs.
I was very, very wrong in such a good way.
She asked me to take off my clothes, put on the fancy Velcro towel and crawl under the covers. Well, while that seemed a little strange, because I didn’t expect to be going to bed during my facial, but I never miss the chance to curl up in some clean sheets.
What happened over the next hour transpired like you always see at spas as they are represented in the movies.
I didn’t ask questions because I wanted to feel the experience rather than dissect it. As I will be working with Merri on her marketing, I’m sure I will learn more about the process.
And the sensations were lovely. I don’t accurately remember the correct order, but she gently wiped away the grime of the day and applied some lovely feeling product I suppose to clean my skin. She waxed my upper lips and my chin.
I normally wax my own upper lip. And I have had my eyebrows and my bikini waxed professionally. Nothing beats a professional wax. And the hot wax they use is just feels good against the skin. And the way they prep and follow up with the skin minimizes irritation.
Merri came over with a super bright light so she could tweeze whatever she couldn’t lift with the wax. And she cleaned up the shape of my eyebrows.
There were lots of hot towels wrapped around my face. And the back and forth between hot towels and cool lotions felt so good.
She even had these little loofa like brushes. And I imagine they helped take off the dead skin.
And as if that wasn’t enough — she gave me the Bella facial which included massage on my face, neck, shoulders and arms. I keep all my tension in my neck and shoulders. Her attentions felt heavenly.
The facial massage is also good for sinus pressure.
I’m literally glowing.
What makes all of this even more amazing is that I ended up running from event to event all day, and giving myself to Merri’s treatment really did relax and revive me. She tried to talk business after, but I struggled to think!
And during much of the service, I felt my mind go blank. I envisioned sunflowers and daffodils and magenta petunias.
Why haven’t I done this before?
My day was hectic from the get go; I never even finished putting on my makeup!
Regardless of how my day went, when I left Lucha Bella, I felt soft, empowered and refreshed.
I know a lot of people that work hard and that aren’t afraid to hustle and get the job done.
My step mom is one of the hardest working women I know— and she has two businesses that she thinks about all of the time.
My mother-in-law ran garment factories, and while she probably would never consider herself a shrewd businesswoman she was. She kept her factories going and fixed other factories’ mistakes when the garment manufacturing industry declined here in the United States.
Now I want to launch a public relations business (We are Thrive Public Relations) with my partner Darnell but I’m also looking for positions to pay the bills as we get our initial clients together.
My neighbor Sarah has a friend who opened her own independent skin care salon. Merri has a unique vision of a skin care oasis— a place of rest and restoration inside and out.
For all of us women, especially women of a certain age accustomed to giving so much of ourselves, we need that kind of rejuvenation.
Merri has asked me to help her with her marketing and, since we are both women in a troubled economy starting businesses, we will exchange services instead of cash.
There are elements of every week that feel harder than the previous week.
I think I have determined that if I don’t move enough and I sit at desks and in similar circumstances my spine cannot handle it. Perhaps I am a candidate for a standing desk.
I spent yesterday cold and in pain, rotating my chores with cuddling kittens.
The teenager went with her uncle today to build a cat litter box for her room. She’s on her way home so I’m anxious to see how it went.
I was trying to determine what to do with my day when I got an email from my friend Gayle— yes, the same Gayle with whom I walk and who is designing ASPIRE to Autonomy’s annual report— “If only you lived closer…”
And me being me, I said “I’ll be right over.”
What was her dilemma?
Filming how to video mini lectures for her classes in the graphic design department at Northampton Community College.
It was fun to help her discuss magazine layout, master pages and style sheets in one video and cutting and scoring in the next.
Then we went for a walk. Gayle had new shoes she needed to break in before her 9-mile walk on Friday. And my back did just fine on the 4,000 step promenade.
She took me for a walk to Fountain Hill, past the house where she used to live. We stopped to talk to Violet who used to feed all the stray cats and I noticed a pretty cool stick. And I stopped at Dunkin on the way home as the Eagles were playing so I got a $1 iced coffee.
Second week of Band Camp for the teenager and somehow I not only volunteered to drive her and the marching baritone to the high school but I also conned my good friend Nan, my crazy blind compatriot, into breakfast before our regular work session.
So I got up at 7:10 a.m., after the teenager did all the work with the menagerie, slapped on some clothes, took my last antibiotic and headed out the door by 7:40 a.m.
The routine with Nan is simple, yet deliciously complex, I pick her up and we drive to a shady spot in the parking lot of her apartment building to peruse coupons and loyalty deals on the various apps.
Now, Nan loves chai. We both love food, the worse for our health, the better. Okay perhaps that is a joke. Maybe. It’s free coffee Monday at Dunkin. And we have coupons for $2 off a breakfast combo at Wendy’s.
I plot a plan.
I really want to try the chicken biscuit at Wendy’s. Nan and I know we love the seasoned breakfast potatoes at Wendy’s.
So, our first stop was Wendy’s. We ordered a chicken biscuit with honey butter combo, making the potatoes a medium (which honestly was too many potatoes even for the two of us) and an unsweetened iced tea. The bill was $3.70. I had $3 cash and Nan had the 70 cents.
Now, I know, that’s only breakfast for 1 person. We then headed to Dunkin for my free medium iced coffee and to see if they still have chai— you see they took it off the menu.
We got the iced tea in case Dunkin really didn’t have chai.
I used the Dunkin mobile app to order the 2 for $3 sausage-egg-and-cheese wraps because Nan likes them. They are easy to eat in the car. And then I could get my free coffee. So that was $3.18. We saved the last egg wrap for the teenager.
Then at the speaker of the drove-thru we asked if they still had the chai, and they did. We ordered a medium hot chai and a cup with ice so I could ice it for Nan. That cost $3.79, as they had to charge us for the second cup.
They total for all the food was about $11 and we had breakfast for three people.
I loved the chicken biscuit with honey butter.
Phase One of our morning complete. Nan and I returned to my house to submit some essays and strategize future creative endeavors.
And then our friend Joan joins us. Neither one of us has seen Joan in a decade. Joan is another wickedly smart and multi-talented woman, dabbling and exploring the so many ways to express the beauty of this world: short stories, photography and music.
Joan, Nan and I all met as members of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group when the teenager was still “the baby.”
A lot of my good friends came from that group.
And Joan also brought the sweetest, ripest smelling melon I have held in my arms in months. Did she notice how much fresh fruit cup I ate in the hospital?
The teenager came home for lunch break (from band camp), Joan departed and we crated our three male fosters for neutering tonight. Except Zeus looks like a girl now.
Apollo and Hermes both still have infected eyes and coughs so we were told to bring Artemis instead since she was ready for a forever home.
I went into the teenager’s room and Hermes had escaped his crate!
I let Apollo out, and cleaned cat boxes while on hold with Capital One Auto Financing to finish my application to refinance the last 40 months of my auto loan and drop $50/month from my payment without extending the life of the loan. I owe $7,690 and some odd cents.
With my auto loan approved, I slipped sweet little Artemis into the crate. Remember if she charms you, you can apply to adopt her through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.
On the way to Artemis’ rendezvous point, I received a phone call from Capital Blue Cross, my medical insurer. This was my second medical phone call of the day as the hand specialist overseeing my case called me to request a follow-up even though my hospital discharge instructions said I only needed to see my family physician at Medical Associates of Bethlehem.
I have that appointment scheduled for Wednesday, and now the hand specialist for the following Monday. On the phone was my case manager from the insurance company. She sounded pleased that I was healing well and on top of everything. She will call again next Tuesday.
Upon delivering Artemis and retrieving the teenager, we came home and I finally had Brussel sprouts. When I was admitted to the hospital last week I had missed them by a couple hours as part of the Monday lunch special.
I don’t feel like writing right now. I don’t feel like doing much of anything but sleeping.
No one prepared me for how weird it would be to transition back into everyday life after 72 hours plus in the hospital.
It’s a lot like jet lag for similar reasons— your sleep schedule is screwed up and your routine in general is topsy turvy.
And I had neither major illness nor invasive procedures.
I got home on Thursday a little after 11 a.m. The cats were aloof but Nala was glad to see me.
I took one of the longest showers I’ve ever taken in my life. And I put on a pretty dress, just because I could.
And when I got out of the shower I discovered a text that alerted me to a cake on my porch.
I immediately texted my neighbor in the other half of my house and asked if she wanted to have coffee and I would bring cake.
Knowing I haven’t had decent coffee since the previous weekend, she started a pot immediately.
I left from there to go meet my daughter at the high school and help her carry her marching baritone home.
This is where I have to give my daughter all the props. Monday was her first day of high school band camp. If you don’t already know this about the teenager, she is in her fourth year of playing low brass in marching band.
So when I wandered off to the ER at 6-ish a.m. Monday morning, and was texting her “I’m not coming home.” Well, first she thought I was dying and then she suddenly became responsible for her own meals, her own laundry, and the care of 3 parakeets, 1 cockatoo who won’t go to sleep without someone in the room, our four cats and five foster kittens.
And we had a tropical storm.
And she handled it all.
Our neighbors offered an amazing support network, as did my friends, especially Gayle who brought me t-shirts so I didn’t have to wear a hospital gown.
I took several walks that first day home, including one for my medicine at CVS. I was ecstatic to see I only had a few days of Augmentin to take.
And the hand has improved every day.
My dad and stepmom came down to visit and take us to dinner at Three Mugs Pub. That almost made me cry because on Wednesday, after the doctor told me he couldn’t discharge me yet, all I could think of was a Shruty’s burger at Three Mugs Pub.
When Three Mugs Pub was still Shruty’s, my husband and I were the first people to order the Shruty’s burger when they debuted it. It’s a really good burger topped with pepper jack cheese, shrings (tempura battered deep fried banana pepper rings) and Texas petal sauce.
In my opinion, this burger is one of the best in the Lehigh Valley, on par with the much pricier peanut butter bacon burger at Two Rivers Brewing, another favorite of mine.
And I had a Guinness to celebrate my arrival home.
They had a new appetizer on the menu— a hot buffalo chicken dip. We tried that too.
The teenager declared it her new favorite chicken dip, better than her father’s. I respectfully disagree. Her father’s is extremely good. I prefer it.
After that meal I slept 10 hours.
Now, on Friday, yesterday, everyone kept contacting me or stopping me to ask how I was doing and then Darnell stopped by to inform me of all the things that had happened while I was gone.
And everyone wanted a piece of the coffee cake Janie made me.
And then my neighbor Jan let me watch a movie at her house, cuddling with her dog, and she even gave the teenager and I a bag of brownie M&M’s. The teenager thought they “just tasted like M&M’s” whereas I thought if you piled enough of them in your mouth at once it was like having a mouthful of brownie batter.
Not that I’ve ever eaten a bowl of brownie batter.
Or an entire pint of ice cream with brownie bits.
And then I slept 10 hours again.
I rolled out of bed a little after 8, expecting to have the last slice of Janie’s decadent coffee cake, after all, I need the food to take my antibiotics.
But then my mom told me she was bringing sticky buns.
So I made my morning coffee and as the espresso machine started steaming, I got on the scale.
I’ve gained two pounds since I got home from the hospital.
Lunch was a business mixer with the Easton chapter of the Lady Boss Women’s Entrepreneurial Club at Sogo Asian Fusion in the downtown.
A random young black women yelled at us from her car, “You guys look so pretty.” So I asked the teenager to take some selfies before our arrival. The teenager had just given me a haircut. I thought my hair looked untamed because of my hospital stay. I was wrong.
That random compliment from a stranger meant a lot to me as I still feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.
The teenager and I had the Out of Control roll, Fire Mountain (with scallops! and it really was a mountain, and it was so amazing) and a Philadelphia roll. The teenager squealed with delight and the staff at Sogo gave me the rubber-banded chopsticks because I was using a fork.
I guess the teenager will have to teach me to use chopsticks.
The remainder of my afternoon was spent cleaning, walking with my neighbor, and trying to earn the trust of our foster kittens.
And now, I’m feeling a little nauseous and I wonder if it’s because of all these penicillin-family antibiotics in my system and the fact that I had so much more water in my system in the hospital. Every time I had an adverse reaction to the antibiotics in the hospital, they increased my IV fluids. So I’m trying to drink more here at home.
And a few minutes ago, my mom texted. She got bit by a friend’s cat today.
I spoke with the teenager early this morning and asked for some pet updates throughout the day and this is what I can tell you:
Zeus and Artemis are allowing the teenager closer. Hermes doesn’t do more than a token flee when the teenager administers his meds.
Misty has taken to sleeping in my purse, which is balanced on a stool.
Good news: Ortho, the department supervising my wound care, has released me to go home.
Bad news: My attending physician will not release me until I have 72 hours of normal blood draws just to ensure that there is no infection lingering in my system.
When I got to the ER on Monday morning, my blood work drawn at 7 am was normal, my blood work drawn here 24 hours later was also normal. So, and the attending physician specifically said this— If they draw my blood tomorrow at 7 am and it is also normal, I can go home.
This explains why I unexpectedly had another IV bag of antibiotics. Last night I slept well enough to dream and my brain transformed the chime from the IV pump in the room neighboring mine to Diana Ross’ “I’m coming out.” I dreamt I was dancing in a disco.
Upon hearing the news that my discharge would be delayed, I’ll be honest… I cried. Not in front of the doctor or my favorite nurse but I did cry.
Then I called “the meal hotline” and told them I was stress eating dinner tonight. I ordered a garden salad, cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and ranch dressing, broccoli, tator tots and a fruit cup.
Speaking of food, I tried the pancakes for breakfast with turkey sausage (that had a bite) and the chicken salad on rye for lunch. I promised the teenager I would try the sugar cookies.
Good news: The pancakes tasted as good as a diner. I was craving honeydew melon and it was so delicious. And the chicken salad also hit the spot.
Bad news: The breakfast was too small for me— if I do that again I am going to have to get scrambled eggs as that was not enough food for me and I was physically shaking by lunch.
Now that my meals are situated, I FaceTimed my cockatoo. That always cheers me up. I don’t have any clean clothes, except for a pair of jeans, so I asked Gayle to bring me a t-shirt and some dental floss.
She said yes and offered to stop and get me Dunkin so I placed an order. First I got her an iced tea and then I ordered munchkins. I checked out and realized I forgot my order. So I placed a second order.
Apparently that Dunkin’ closes at 2 and they were no longer accepting mobile orders— even though I had placed one one minute earlier.
And they were out of munchkins. So we got doughnuts in the munchkin flavors.
When Gayle left, it felt so good to wash, floss and put on the closest thing I had to an outfit.
My daughter brought extra dry erase markers so we could have fun with the nurses and my care team. Yes, as the a patient with cellulitis from a kitten bite I drew paw prints all over my board.
Today was my second day in the hospital at St. Luke’s Bethlehem/Fountain Hill and also the day that Tropical Storm Isaias wreaked havoc in the Lehigh Valley.
This is the only unplanned hospital stay I have ever had and will also be the longest. My other other experience in the hospital was giving birth to my daughter.
There are only two parts of this experience that I have disliked: IVs, though I have learned to ignore them, and collecting my urine so everyone can monitor my fluids.
Everyone on staff has been kind, and most downright enjoyable and intelligent. But Nurse Michelle has been my favorite.
Michelle finally arranged all my IV tubes into a double Dutch arrangement so they don’t have to keep swapping them out on my arm. She labeled everything meticulously. Attention to detail is the perfect trait for a nurse.
The hospital has lovely old architecture and picturesque views.
I started betadine soaks today. I’m tickled that such basic medicine still works well. I also feel like I’m hanging out with Marge from the Palmolive commercials.
If you look at my last few entries, you will read about the tiny, little cat bite that sent me to urgent care and then to the ER at St. Luke’s Easton Campus. I never expected what happened next,
Right away, at 6:40 or so a.m., the doctor in the emergency room explained my options. They preferred to start IV antibiotics, then transfer me to one of the larger hospitals in the network.
Which would require an ambulance.
So I asked, “Could I just go to the hospital myself?”
And he explained I could, but he would be discharging me against medical advice, and then I would start over in the other emergency room. Which might mean two separate emergency room charges. And not being monitored. And losing my spot in the triage line.
And he recommended asking for removal of the transfer charges.
Now they have drawn on me with surgical marker at this point and i can see my finger swelling and my infection spreading. Two knuckles are completely swollen and angry.
I want to get this treated ASAP. So I agreed.
I’ve seen every episode of House MD, I know infections that spread are bad.
That was an attempt at levity. I don’t think all doctors are like House.
This is only my first real hospitalization— unless you count childbirth.
Now, Easton Hospital has a long history in the small community where I live. When I moved here, Easton Hospital was still a small, independent hospital. A few years ago, the Steward Group bought it and made it a for-profit hospital.
Which, for the sake of trivia, increased the tax base in our borough.
But over the course of the last year, Steward closed down entire departments. When Covid-19 hit, Steward threatened to close the whole damn hospital if the state didn’t offer massive financial support.
In May, St. Luke’s University Health Network bought the hospital. My doctors are all affiliated with this network so when the urgent care suggested going to the emergency room, this one is about 600 steps from my house.
I didn’t know that in the transition, the hospital has not fully rebuilt its services and wasn’t equipped for my care. I would have gladly driven to the larger hospital. Oh well.
By about 10 a.m. my ER nurses have given me a second antibiotic (the urgent care had given me oral Bactrim), hand x-rays, and fluids. They also swab me for Covid as a safety precaution prior to transfer. That was squiggly. The hospital where I must go is full, so I have to wait for another patient to be discharged.
And it is the full moon.
I have my own triage room in the ER. At about 11:30, my neighbor, Sarah, comes and brings my phone charger, iPad, teddy bear and my favorite sweat shirt.
We talk, play cards, watch TV and learn that I am not allowed to eat. My hand may need surgery. The nurse apologetically offers me clear fluids but also offers me a milk. I ask for the ginger ale.
Lunch was Shasta. It was a perfectly tasty and cold Shasta that hit the spot.
The Easton squad arrives at 2:20 p.m. for my 2:30 transport. I am happy to report that my blood pressure has been good. I joke around as they strap me on, which this is really the silliest medical transport ever.
My morning routine involves feeding my menagerie, cleaning the kitchen, working with the Roomba to pick up my room. And a cup of coffee, some cockatoo cuddles, and a few rounds of Words with Friends.
This morning I retrieved some clean laundry that needs to be put away, and while I was chasing the Roomba the laundry basket fell. All my clean laundry was now unfolded on the floor.
I used it as an opportunity to pick it up one piece of laundry at a time in a wide stance squat and move into a calf raise as I piled it on my bed.
I ate super well last night, and wore work out clothes yesterday, but today I WILL work out.
While we were eating dinner, I got a text message from Stephany, our contact with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. She has kittens for us to foster! We pick them up today in about 90 minutes…
Newkittens need homes
The teenager is thrilled.
We will pick out their names and anyone that is interested in the group or adoption— because you will see soooooo many pictures— can click below for details on the organization.
Cats are fully vetted and microchipped (and socialized!) before adoption. The adoption fee is $110.
They have four feral cats right now that need barn homes and they usually like them to go in pairs so if you know anybody with a farm or any kind of situation where someone has property and would like a couple mouse catchers let them (or me) know.