3/4 of the year: The August medical update and ‘the feels’

Yesterday Nancy (my blind friend, poetry editor and my sassy mentor/ partner in crime) and I were in her bank. The other local branch of this big name bank had had some sort of building emergency. That office was temporarily closed, so the customers were lining up with us. The bank was understaffed (the man in charge had a lovely amiable personality and told us all if we wanted a job he needed two tellers immediately. I turned to Nan and asked if she wanted to apply. She laughed).

We were fourth in line, with a small brown man with an accent in front of us. He overheard me tell Nan something indirectly about my weight (the fact that I had worn jewelry made me jingle and I had on heels so I was unusually tall). And I said something about finally having the mindset to make an effort even if I hadn’t lost any of my stress-induced pandemic weight.

The man in front of us softly said, “you look great” (and when we left I got cat-called so it had to be true, I suppose). A few minutes later the man mentioned that seeing Nancy reminded him of the story of Jesus healing the blind man.

Now, before I continue this story, picture us in the chaos of an old-fashioned bank building, the arched ceilings and the old mega vault. Picture the long line, socially-distanced. Picture awkwardly-gaited me and the little old lady with the white cane on my arm.

I have heard the stories of disabled people dealing with religious folks who want to pray for them or with them. And this man muttered something about blindness being a blessing. And Nan mentioned something about disability teaching lessons to those around us and reminding us to have patience.

“It’s a blessing,” the man said.

Easy for him to say. It reminded me of something I heard on a podcast interview with a martial artist who has cerebral palsy. “I can do anything anyone else can do,” he said.

I mean, it’s the crap we always hear. And we can do anything anyone else can. But we also can’t. There’a footnote to that statement no one ever told me: you can’t expect to do it the same way they do it. You won’t look like them or necessarily achieve the same things in the same order. The able-bodied will never understand how different simple tasks that come easily for others can feel impossible to us. I spent my whole life trying to do what everyone else did, they way I saw them do it. But I didn’t understand that the physics of my body is very different from anyone else’s.

My legs and arms are often covered with brushes and scratches from bumping into things. I stumble and fall. But, I haven’t had a serious fall since August 3. That’s exciting. My average since the mallet finger has been every two weeks. I’ve now made it almost three. Today, I have my follow-up with my doctor, and I had called his office when I started the application process for a mobility dog through Susquehanna Service Dogs.

I’ve blogged about this most recently here. I connected some of my earlier posts about the process and decision here.

I asked his staff if he could fill out the medical form, because if he didn’t think he was the right person I could call my neurology physiatrist. She was/is amazing but I only met her once, two months ago. I have been with my primary care physician for 14 years.

His staff checked with him and they assured me that he not only fill out the form but that he would do it at my already scheduled appointment today. I normally see my doctor twice a year, in winter for my physical and in summer to review bloodwork and health issues that may pop up during the year.

When I ruptured my tendon in April, I visited him because my entire system was thrown off balance with the injury and although the specialist had allowed me to return to work (rightfully so), my hip was in pain and I was falling all the time. He signed me out of work for a short recovery leave of about three weeks, so I could work with Andrew, my strength and fitness coach at Apex Training, my occupational therapists at The Institute for Hand and Upper Extremity Rehab, and my talented chiropractor and physical therapy guru Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center.

I have documented this journey and have started writing my cerebral palsy memoir, Gravity is a Harsh Mistress with clever title by my estranged but still strange husband. Blog posts with connections to cerebral palsy are listed here.

My primary care doctor followed up with me after my specialist visit and allowed me to return to work at the end of May, even though my finger was still in a cast. We made this decision because the effort I gave Andrew had paid off and my hip was no longer bothering me. In addition, I had my first meeting with my physiatrist a few days later and I wanted to see how I felt after a week back-to-work to relay that information to her.

Anyway, point is, I haven’t seen my primary care doctor since May. He hasn’t seen my healed finger. He hasn’t heard about some of my rather dramatically majestic recent falls.

My weight today was 155, which is more than five pounds less than what it was at the gynecologist’s office last week.

I arrived early. I was in my exam room before my appointment time. My friend Gayle was bringing me her laptop so I could work on the cat book edits. I told her to put it in my car as I didn’t have time to run to her house and didn’t know how long my appointment would be. She ended up at the wrong medical practice. There are two similar St. Luke’s affiliated family practices in neighboring buildings.

I was texting her and making notes waiting for the doctor. I noticed my phone buzz again. My mom had sent a photo via text. That’s odd, I thought to myself. Mom hasn’t said much to me since the Teenager and I surprised her companion on Father’s Day. She didn’t even text me when she went to Florida to visit family. So, what was this?

I opened it.

I shouldn’t have. It was my father’s tombstone. My mother, despite having divorced more than 30 years ago, visits my father’s grave regularly. She’s grieving him, as many people are, and she is also grieving two of her brothers who died in the weeks before my father.

I couldn’t hold back tears. I have not visited my father’s grave since the funeral, and even then I did not get out of the car. I don’t see the point. The funeral had alienated me, and I didn’t feel like I “belonged,” and that’s not due to my family. But my father wasn’t there anymore. It was a corpse. And I had no need to see it formally placed in dirt. He was gone. And no ceremony will change that. Even now, I’m crying again.

Several times I regain my composure and several times I lose it, until eventually the doctor knocks on the door. So, I had to explain.

I mean, I suppose I didn’t have to, but it seemed only fair.

That meant we spent the first ten minutes of my appointment talking about boundaries, grief, and therapy. I’ve been with my psychologist even longer than I’ve been a patient of my doctor and the two of them know each other and speak so sweetly and kindly about each other.

We moved on then I think first to my recovered mallet finger. We reviewed my bloodwork. I told him I had to go get more iron, as my previous bottle had run out and I was using a different iron that didn’t seem to be working as I told Nan yesterday that I “almost bought a pair of potato chips.” Now, when you’ve had a history of iron issues and anemia, word confusion is a symptom. And I have been using wrong words in speech for at least a week. So either the iron is dipping or I should be screened for early onset dementia.

I almost bought a pair of potato chips.

I used this opportunities to ask if there were any other adjustments he wanted to make to my vitamin regimen. He suggested sticking with the 2000 ius of Vitamin D3 (which I take with calcium).

Next, we tackled the form for the service dog. Much to my relief, he thought the dog would be extremely helpful for me. And he also commended me for the work I do to take care of myself. In the evaluation for the service dog process, I was telling stories from the gym and mentioned how my ankle finally popped for my chiropractor Wednesday night, and how after my last fall I asked the Teenager to evaluate my walk, then she told Andrew this info at the gym, and he monitored my movement, until the next day I went to the chiropractor and she had to maneuver my hip back where it belonged.

She said I needed to do more single leg muscle stability work, which I then told Andrew, and I relayed to the doctor the horrible exercises Andrew made me do. And my doctor chuckled.

He once told me that he doesn’t worry about me because he knows if he tells me to do something I will do it. And I think Andrew and Chiropractor Nicole see the same commitment in me. My doctor today said this is why I am in better shape than many of his patients, despite my issues.

He handed me the completed form, which is the type of thing the office signs decry “requires 7-10 days” and payment of form fees. I am so grateful for my team, their respect and their guidance.

Meanwhile, while I am setting up my annual physical for February 2023, I see a text from Gayle. Remember Gayle? Apparently, she forgot my current car was a Volkswagen and was wandering in the parking lot looking for a silver Nissan. (My last car was a red Altima.) I didn’t have my Stitch Fix parking permit on my mirror. The car was clean because The Teenager has her own vehicle now. And there were four silver cars– none of the Nissans– in the parking lot.

She meandered around so long that a staff member came out and asked if she was sick or needed help. When I left the building, Gayle was next to my car. I had been with the doctor for an hour.

“You’re still here?” I said.

“I’ve been out here 45 minutes,” she said. “So when you replied to my text I figured I might as well stay and say ‘hi.’ What’s five more?”

Only you, Gayle. Only you.

11 weeks in with mallet finger: Discharged from hand rehab

This week marked my 11th week in treatment for my mallet finger. Almost three months caring for this injury. 9 weeks in a cast. About 9 days in a splint 24/7. One week in a splint most of the day, taking it off 5X a day for an hour.

This morning was my third had rehab appointment since the cast came off. They also did the casting so I had two previous visits with them.

Typically, I go in, they make me bend my fingers and they measure everything, tell me the following week’s directions and send me on my way.

Today I went in, the had me heat my hand for 15 minutes and then I got a finger massage. The therapist measured my finger and made me a new night-time splint and told me I no longer need to wear the splint during the day.

Because I do so much work with my hands, if it starts to droop or just bothers me, I can splint it here and there for an hour.

I have another appointment with my hand surgeon July 27, so although the general guidelines say I only have to splint at night for 2 more weeks, it is recommended that I wear it until I see my specialist.

Other wisdom from my therapist as we chatted today:

  • Completely immobilizing a mallet finger for six weeks is the minimum in his opinion.
  • The finger can continue healing for an additional six months after splinting is complete. He recommends using individual judgment and awareness of the finger to decide how long to splint at night.
  • Massage the finger, especially the joints for five minutes several times a day.
  • Understand that the finger may never resume its former shape/posture/movement but that the end of the finger itself doesn’t have that big of a role in hand function.
  • Keep bending the fingers several times a day, gradually working into a fist.

Mallet finger update: I’ve had it with this splint

Today was my last official day working with a disability accommodation in the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse. It’s Sunday, tomorrow is the Fourth of July, and I had a helluva time getting out of bed when the alarm went off at 4:15 a.m.

So I didn’t.

I was in the middle of an anxiety dream where I was with an old friend that cut off ties with me a decade ago… and I think a few people I’ve lost were in that dream.

I reset my alarm for 4:45 and started my day a little off and then the Keurig decided I only deserved half a cup of coffee. As. If.

Today was my first day working in my new splint. (If you didn’t know I lost the first one in my car, you can read that story here.)

I’ve suspected since Friday afternoon that my new splint was too tight, but I didn’t confirm it until I started to see marks on my finger, deep ridges, yesterday.

During work today it got pretty unbearable— so when they let us out early I came home, heated the teapot and dropped the custom splint into a bowl.

I poured the boiling water into the bowl and reshaped the plastic. It’s not nearly as perfectly molded as the professional job, but it doesn’t pinch my finger.

Mallet finger: week 10-ish

I had an 8 a.m. appointment with my occupational therapist at The Institute for Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation. I cannot say enough nice things about them.

I arrived around 7:50 a.m., and ended up walking into the building with my therapist. The receptionist wasn’t there yet. My therapist grabbed my file and started my appointment before her computer fully engaged for the day.

I told her the story of losing my splint. She made me a new one and I didn’t even have to pay extra.

For more info on losing my splint, click here.

The finger is “holding up” and this week, when I take the splint off to do my exercises five times a day— which I might do seven, just based on my routine— I can leave the splint off for one hour five times a day.

It sounds like if my finger maintains its posture through this week that I am more-or-less out of the woods. It’s very exciting.

Why do I do my exercises seven times a day? For exercises like these— physical and/or occupational therapy exercises that require little bits of effort multiple times a day— I find attaching them to logical parts of my routine helps.

So in my case:

I left my appointment at 8 a.m. They are so efficient!

4:15 a.m. Wake. Remove splint. Use bathroom. Wash hands. Start coffee. Do exercises. Replace splint.

6:15 a.m. Use bathroom at work. Check hair. Remove splint to wash hands. Return to main cafeteria to chat with friends. Do exercises as warm-up for the intense folding of clothes to come. Retape splint. Head to time clock.

8:50 a.m. Remove splint. Go to bathroom and take morning break. Do exercises. Have morning yogurt. Replace splint. Fold more clothes (about 175 pieces of clothing every two hours). Yes, I fold and package clothes. I work for Stitch Fix doing Quality Control for the subscription boxes. My side hustle is my book company, Parisian Phoenix Publishing.

12:10 p.m. clock out for lunch. Remove splint. Use the restroom. wash hands. Do exercises while heating lunch. Eat. Replace splint.

3:10 p.m. Final 15. Remove splint at work station. Go to wash hands. Do exercises while enjoying a cup of coffee or snack in the main cafeteria.

5 p.m. Clock out of work, remove splint, wash hands, stretch fingers, replace splint.

5:30 p.m. Get home from work. Fight off very excited large dog. Remove splint. Wash hands. Do exercises. Replace splint.

7:30 p.m. Remove splint. Shower. Gently use fingers to wash hair. Do exercises in shower. Dry off. Replace splint with fresh tape.

And this way if I miss one, it’s okay. Or if my hand isn’t doing as much in one session we make it up in the next.

For more about my injury, click here.

Apex 100, the strawberry Frosty and a makeshift splint

I wept tonight. I nearly wept myself into a panic attack. My guts are still fluttering. And I flung things down the stairs.

But that’s the end of the story. Let’s start at the beginning.

On Monday night, after the teenager’s car accident, I went to Apex Training for my 100th session at the gym since I started about ten months ago.

Because it was my 100th session, the my trainer picked out 6 exercises for me to do 100 times, at my own pace, breaking them into sets as I saw fit.

I was a little stiff the next day, which was yesterday, but I still managed to do 100% according to the metrics at work. But my the end of the day my right leg was unsteady.

Today I woke up very stiff, with my muscles in my lower body so tight I struggled to bend and I had even less control and stability in my right leg.

I only made about 90% today.

By the end of the day, my right quad had this dull burn to it, but it didn’t really hurt. But it was getting more and more difficult to control as my stiffness dissipated.

But the teenager and I still made it to my 101st session at Apex and celebrated by trying the new strawberry Frosty at Wendy’s. Which, by the way, is much tastier with a Wendy’s sugar cookie.

I took my custom splint off— today marks one week of wearing it and taking it off every 3 hours for occupational therapy exercises and when needed “for hygiene.” And the finger is looking steady!

I removed the splint to wipe down my hand with a wet nap before eating. I set it down carefully in my lap. And then it just disappeared. I checked the take-out bag. I checked my bra, the car compartments, the seat.

The teenager told me to stop wiggling around that it had to be in the car and we’d look at home.

We didn’t find it at home.

So I went to the kitchen and started to cry. my finger had looked so good wrapped around that Frosty cup as I smeared the Frosty on my portion of the cookie the teenager and I shared.

I checked my local CVS’s website: no splint in stock. So I checked my local Walgreen’s: no splint in stock. And so it went.

Still upset, I found a piece of wood my cockatoo had stripped from her toy and taped it to my finger.

My splint. Hopefully I’ll find a better solution in the morning.

Chicken McNuggets and Monday morning car accidents

Yesterday was my first day working with a custom splint on my mallet finger instead of a cast. And it went really well— except for the times I put my splint back on the outside of my hand instead of the inside. And I went to apply fresh tape and the nurse at work wanted to help.

All-in-all, I achieved a new record (for me) in Freestyle, shipping I believe 574 items or 115% of the 500 item goal for a 10-hour shift. And that includes 15 minutes I spent trying to find a work station that was operational. If you subtract that as official “non-production time” it might be damn close to 116%.

Today, a Monday, with the traditional Monday through Friday people at work, I was assigned to a different table in QC, my regular department. It was a table just a smidgeon higher than the table I worked at last week and the line was on the left instead of the right.

This is the first time since my return-to-work in late May that I have worked on the left. In one way, it’s nice because I have been having issues with the stability of my walk and control in my right leg, so working on the left means I can use my left side more.

But working on the left side means I’m shoving all those boxes with my injured hand and after two hours the cuticle area under my nail on my injured finger is tender and really red. Despite this, at one point this morning, I reached 118%.

But then I got a call from The Teenager. She rear-ended someone in her father’s 2022 Kia SUV. The car he bought after he rear-ended someone in late December and totaled his beloved 2016 Nissan Juke.

She’s fine. It was raining and she misjudged how long it would take her to stop in the wet. The car looked driveable, but when she tried it started leaking fluid and overheating. So, she called AAA to tow it.

I left work early. At four hours into my shift, I think I had QCed 69 fixes, and goal for that specific time of day is 65. That’s with going out to my car to get info for my daughter, calling her father, and similar nonsense.

I was listening to an episode of business wars, the podcast, or was it The History Channel’s The Food that Built America and the history of Burger King vs. McDonald’s and the invention of the Chicken McNugget.

Now I distinctly remember the debut of the Chicken McNugget, which, according to the podcast, became available at all McDonalds in 1983.

I was eight. Probably riding around with my mom in her 1979 Camaro (black). We lived in a very rural area in Pennsylvania’s Slate Belt. The closest actual town was Portland, Pa., which I feature in my first novel, Manipulations (and if you are interested you can buy it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, or at Bookshop.org here — the Bookshop price includes shipping and designates a portion of the profit to an independent bookseller of your choice).

Anyway, we had a very small supermarket in Portland so my mom would do most of her family shopping in Stroudsburg, Pa., the gateway to the Pocono Mountains. If she were shopping at Kmart for clothes or household items or at Shoprite for our groceries, we would often stop at Burger King where the delight would be a cheeseburger and some onion rings.

But if we had to go to the Stroud Mall, McDonald’s was across the street. So we want to McDonald’s. I didn’t like McDonald’s — they put onions on their burgers and I don’t like onions. So, eight-year-old me was very excited for these Chicken McNuggets. If my mom was in a good mood, I could order a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal. Which— in the eighties— came with six nuggets in a styrofoam container. And of course, I only liked the barbecue sauce.

So the podcast got me thinking about McDonald’s in general especially since I worked at a McDonald’s (a very busy McDonald’s) from the summer I graduated high school until the August after I graduated college.

We made $5.25/hour in the late 1990s. A full-time employee made $200/week. And we got one meal per shift. I ate a lot of McChicken sandwiches.

I’m thinking about McDonald’s and listening to Conan O’Brian and Andrew Gurza (not together although that would be amazing), when I get the phone call with the teenager in tears.

“Mom, I rear-ended someone in Dad’s new car.”

This was her first car accident. It’s a rainy day here and she misjudged how far she needed to stop. And she didn’t want to slam on her brakes harder and lose control of the car.

At first, she and the police officer who responded thought the car was driveable. It started leaking what looked like antifreeze and overheated. So the officer called AAA.

I told my Stitch Fix supervisors the situation and asked to leave.

The teenager told me she was on a side street “out by Target” “by the library” and I misinterpreted her and went to the wrong town.

The teenager texted me a photo of the nearest intersection and I realized my mistake and turned around.

A very kind officer waited with her and I drove her to the dog walking client she had been driving to when the accident happened.

And then I grabbed us lunch at McDonald’s because their triple cheeseburger is my favorite sandwich on the menu and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Freedom was nice while it lasted

So, as directed by my doctor, I went to see my friends — the occupational therapists at the Institute for Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation.

They fitted me with a custom splint molded to my finger (for $50) that despite my doctor’s recommendation that I wear the splint at night only, they want me to wear the splint 24-hours a day for the next week, which for me will be nine days because that’s the day I can get there again.

I am to remove this splint when I bathe, when I wash my hands, and five times a day to do physical therapy exercises.

The exercises are 10 reps of basic hand gestures: straightening the hand, lightly bending the top of the hand, and making a loose fist.

If the hand loses progress instead of gains it, then the cast will be reapplied.

In pondering this, I realize several opinions of mine that may be greater truths:

  • Had I accepted my doctor’s solution of “cheaping out” and reusing my stinky cast as a splint, my recovery from this mallet finger would be more direct versus gradual. I believe gradual, supervised steps toward healing are better and I wonder if there are statistics about patients and the long-term success rates with these injuries with various treatments. How many patients would hear that insurance won’t cover it and end the conversation there without considering that the $50 might provide more than just a splint, but also guidance and expertise.
  • Are my occupational therapists just over-cautious or it is a case (as I think it is) that the therapists see more of this injury and in the same manner than nurses often know more than doctors, do occupational therapists understand more about function than fancy specialized surgeons?

Free the Finger! Cast-free after 9 weeks

I was very apprehensive and so excited to see my doctor at OAA today to get my damn cast off for an evaluation of my mallet finger.

The teenager texted me as I sat in the exam room.

“Free the finger!”

They had a devil of a time cutting it off— apparently after even five weeks in the same cast it was firmly on.

Both the hand/orthopedic specialist and the hand rehab office it’s unusual for patients to maintain a finger cast for so long. That doesn’t make sense to me, because why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to maintain agility and strength in your finger?

Free the Finger!

the Teenager

And don’t give me that “it’s too hard” or “I need my hand to do stuff.”

I work in the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse folding clothes. And after my brief stint on short term disability to deal with my balance and hip issues stemming from cerebral palsy (and made more complicated by now not being able to rely on the left side of my body with this temporary injury), I went back to work and performed at 100% and higher with my finger in a cast and restricted hand movement.

That finger had so much caked dead skin and here’s the really fascinating part— my knuckle no longer has wrinkles because it has not bent.

In the beginning of my treatment, I found my doctor cold and impersonal but as he gets to know me I like him more and I get more personable interactions from him.

He told me I should gradually increase my finger flexibility with care not to hyperextend it (otherwise known as don’t bend it backwards) and splint it at night. For the splint, I could take my cast back. And tape it in at night.

“It’s cheap, but it’s dirty,” the doctor said.

Yeah, no thanks. I lived with that grimy thing long enough.

“The other option is to return to the Hand Institute and they’ll make you a splint.”

(Which, coincidentally Cigna, my insurance, does not cover. But as I do not cheap out on my medical care, I will pay for. Because right now my HSA is empty because having a disability and doing everything you can to keep yourself ahead of that disability is expensive. So please, consider this and how lucky I am that I can support myself because if I had to really on family and government benefits to subsidize my care, I’d be crippled.)

I imagine there’s a third option— buy an over-the-counter splint. And I was going to consider that. But to me, the cost of the custom splint comes with the knowledge and enthusiasm of the people at the Institute for Hand and Upper Extremity Rehabilitation. These people love and know hands.

And if I can only teach others one concept about your health, it is this: invest in yourself, meaning, find the right medical providers for your team that understand your needs and share your personal philosophy and concerns. This requires being vulnerable in a way that might be uncomfortable and it might mean having difficult conversations with people you don’t like. But it may also lead you to better understanding of yourself and of those people who seemed like callous know-it-alls disinterested in you.

I peppered my hand specialist with questions today— rapid fire as he typed my splint referral into the computer. And he respected them. The questions.

How much movement is okay? What should I watch for? I pack boxes and fold clothes and put things on conveyer belts. Should I splint the finger at work if it starts to feel weird? Is there certain motion I should avoid?

“There are no rules,” he said. “Just be careful and the occasional splinting wouldn’t be bad. I’ll see you in a month.

He made eye contact with me as if to say, “you know your body. Follow your gut.”

But he also knows I’m the patient who kept a finger cast on longer than the average Joe. So maybe, just maybe, he trusts me.

For previous installments on my finger injury: click here.

Also: a YouTube video

Pain and performance (and a high school graduation!)

So first things first— let’s embarrass the teenager.

She graduated from high school Friday night. (Above, pictured, left to right: me, her father, her, her paternal grandfather and grandmother and my stepmom)

The weekend that followed included several dinners with family members and we have a party planned later this week.

The other updates:

  • I have been killing it in the gym. My plank time is more than a minute now. My strength is improving and for the first time ever, I did exercises with a 30-lb dumbbell.
  • It’s been seven weeks since I got my first cast to treat my mallet finger. Two more weeks until it comes off. Remember that when I mention that I am hitting milestones like the one mentioned above.
  • I hit the goal for Freestyle on Sunday at work in the Bizzy Hizzy. I shipped 500 items in, if I remember correctly, 363 packages. What makes that amazing is that we also had a one-hour training — so 500 items is the goal for a full day. Taking the training into account, that puts me at 110% for that day.
  • Yesterday and today I worked at the same left side table in QC. Even with pushing boxes to the left with a bum finger, I did 166 fixes yesterday (102%) and 169 today. (104%).
  • But here’s the weird part— i was in pain but it didn’t impact my movement. I started each day extremely stiff and with a little bit of back pain, but not in the low or upper back, in between. And as I eased into my shift, my hip hurt deep in the socket, up near my groin, but in the front in a very small but specific spot. And my quad would feel intense pain that sometimes went into my knee but for the most part didn’t. Tylenol doesn’t help. It gradually subsided over two hours. It happened in exactly the same way today.
  • I combat this my paying extra close attention to all my movements. I plant my feet on the floor and hold my core and glutes tight. I force out my toes and my knees and as I move my body to retrieve clothes below my waist I bend with my hips and stretch them. Is this what helps? Is something out of whack (like my femur) and stiff by morning and I force it back into position?
  • In very sad news, Charles Ticho, the nonagenarian author who penned the Parisian Phoenix book Stops Along the Way died today. I will be addressing this soon on the Parisian Phoenix blog.

First day back to work at the Bizzy Hizzy after my cerebral palsy-themed leave

First off: 89%

For those of you who know me or follow me regularly, I performed at 89% today after a month of short-term disability leave.

Short answer to how my day was: good. I felt pretty good and my aches and pains at the end of the day feel pretty normal.

Now, for those who want more detail, let’s start at the beginning.

On April 15, I ruptured a tendon in my left ring finger taking my socks off. The nickname for the injury is “mallet finger” because your finger looks like a mallet or “baseball finger” because if you catch a baseball wrong you can sustain this injury.

You can read a more concise summary of those events and my treatment here.

I worked with my hand like that for a week at the Bizzy Hizzy folding clothes for Stitch Fix’s clients, performing at a solid 90%. But… I realized I rely on my left side for balance and stability and using my right side to do everything exacerbated problems I was already having with my right hip and spine as complications of my lifelong battle with cerebral palsy. That has been another journey of mine— learning about my body and how I can work with it to age well.

I often wonder what I could accomplish if my body could do what other bodies do.

So I asked my family doctor if I could take a short-term disability leave from work and focus on building core strength and stretching my hips. Because with this silly finger cast, on top of all my other issues, I was falling twice a week.

Today I returned to work— one ten-hour shift in my home department (QC) before the holiday weekend. I work Sunday. We have a paid holiday Monday. And I have a doctor appointment Tuesday afternoon with the neurological physiatrist.

Returning to work today gave me a way to ease back into it, and allows me to gather data on how my body performs. I can give that info to the physiatrist. If I hurt again by Tuesday, it’s a sign that either:

  1. I am moving wrong, or
  2. I shouldn’t be doing this kind of work with my body.

I arrived at work for my 6:30 a.m. shift and friends greeted me that I haven’t seen. At first I went to the wrong table, but caught my mistake, and corrected myself.

I had a right table, good for my hand injury, and one at a good height.

But then they shut the line down and I moved to a left table that was a tad high for me.

For the first 60-90 minutes, I hit all my numbers.

Eventually, I got a text from Mr. Accordion. I hope he doesn’t mind but I’m sharing his photos because:

  1. They made my day.
  2. I love halupkis.
  3. I don’t have other art for this post.

I don’t think he knew it was my first day back to work but his periodic cooking updates made me smile. Mr. Accordion and I shared an office at my last non-profit job. And yes, he not only plays accordion but usually has it in his car.

A couple times today, I had to answer phone calls regarding the toilet explosion that happened in my house yesterday. The insurance adjuster will be here Tuesday and meet with the teenager. I am working on getting water remediation people in to make sure everything is dry.

At the end of the day, I have a weird uncomfortable feeling in my left wrist and the kind of typical aches and pains that come from being older than 40 and working in a warehouse ten hours a day.

I attribute some of my success today to my personal trainer Andrew at Apex. We did an exercise yesterday that was something he called a variation of a good morning. This had me holding a weight across the back of my shoulders and “hinging” at the waist while using my hips for most of the motion.

I tried to replicate those techniques when I bent down to get items out of the bottom of my carts.

Then, when I came home, the teenager had dinner in the oven. I received a lovely message from a former editor at The Morning Call’s short-lived weekly editions, Chronicle Newspapers.

He said I was a truly good person (for all my work fostering cats) and that he missed seeing me every day.

I thanked him and said he made my day.

He replied that there were many times when I had made his and my boss’s day.

That was my favorite job ever, and one I was very good at.

Also, I tried the blueberry muffin flavor of ready-to-drink Supercoffee. My initial reaction was that it was gross. Will give a more thorough review later.