This post may not be the most exciting as I sit here stinky after a small home workout— smelling the petroleum heavy heat of asphalt. But it is a hopeful post. My roses sit heavy with blooms, and the first flowers have opened behind the bush.
Such a metaphor for life. The whole “bloom where you are planted” concept.
I have been working hard— like I want to stop, I want to vomit, my muscles burn. Andrew at Apex Training has been amazing, helping me stretch and challenge spastic muscles in my lower body.
I have had two days now with no hip or back pain, and I can drop into bed and lie anyway I want.
My weight has been up and down thank to Taco Bell and Mothers’ Day cake and ice cream and generic Takis.
But I went for my check-up bloodwork yesterday, and the phlebotomist told me my insurance doesn’t cover vitamin D unless my doctor codes it a deficiency. We skipped that, but my ferritin has risen from 28, just barely in the normal range, to 36. Still far from the middle of normal but rising.
That might be my theme for right now— rising.
And my bad cholesterol, which should be under 100, has fallen from 109 to 107. Again, not a huge leap, but progress. Progress made during a difficult, difficult time of my life.
My pill dispenser has made it easier to take all my vitamins and allergy meds. And I started the process of putting myself back on a low dose of Lexapro,
Maybe it will help.
My personal cat, Fog, decided to love me today. And I wrote a poem about buying my new socks from the Dollar Tree.
The teenager has been nursing an ear infection all week so between that and the roses bloominfection, spring has really sprung.
She returned to school today.
Today I made a leftover sandwich— some old smoked Turkey, slightly wilted lettuce and my coleslaw mix stirred into chipotle mayonnaise.
I spent the morning with my blind friend, Nan, and took her for her bloodwork.
Came home and the dog came out just in time to see that the paving crew had Taco Bell for lunch.
My trainer asked to reschedule my session today, so I told him I would do something at home.
This was my half-assed work out. My trainer asked me to select exercises and do them with intent, and instead I fought with the dog, picked some exercises I thought would move the important parts and retain the ground I made versus improve. Here is a video.
I also received a payment from my short-term disability insurance through work, and I’m grateful as this is giving me time to strengthen myself and recovery from my mallet finger. Hopefully, this will prevent further “domino effect” on my health. I see the neuro-physiatrist at the end of the month.
I’m curious what she will have to say, and I’m thinking this may be the end of my quest for answers about my cerebral palsy.
It’s the end of April and it was 35 degrees last night. The price of oil continues to skyrocket and I’m still heating my house halfway through spring.
The cold does not help the poor circulation in my hands which has intensified in my left hand because my mallet finger restricts my movement.
My hands are painfully cold, except when Andrew is making me curse him in my head at Apex Training. Today was leg day, and I was so tired that when I came home and let the dog out I turned around and lost my balance and slammed right into the brick wall between my mud room and my kitchen.
Nala, my six-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo, started shaking and plucking her feathers today. Nothing in her environment has changed except the neighbor’s dog has been barking nonstop all day. The teenager believes his distress causes her anxiety.
Speaking of the teenager, she made this thick chocolate chip cookie/blondie dessert that I topped with ice cream that Sobaka’s mom brought home from Penn State when we dog sat last weekend.
Before the teenager brought home our dog, I would never criticize a dog owner, but now that I see the difference between different dog care styles, I feel back for dogs that aren’t spoiled like Sobaka and Bean.
And I don’t know how Sobaka’s mom does it— that dog is a bed hog.
But now an update on my mallet finger:
Stitch Fix has been amazing. Because my specialist at OAA took a week to return my paperwork and then didn’t properly fill it out, the onus was on me to find jobs I could do to not hurt myself. It turned out I can QC just fine— I hit 92% just fine.
But here’s the thing… my specialist knows hands, he doesn’t know me. I don’t think he heard me when I said I have cerebral palsy and that I work 10 hours a day in a warehouse. I’m just not sure that environment is safe for me right now,
Why do I say this? Because this week drove home to me how much I rely on my left side for stability. By forcing me to work 90% on the right, I am struggling to keep my right hip in place.
I am so stiff by the end of the work day. I also end up pinching and slamming my right fingertips and by the end of the day my left fingers I can use are swollen and sore.
And I fold 750 clothing items a day, handle 150 boxes and rip open probably 500 plastic bags. That’s a lot of fingers moving.
Once I consider the risk of accidentally losing my cast and bending my finger (which would extend my healing time) and adding the increased fall risk of mine because I am aggravating known issues with my balance and mobility, I just don’t feel safe.
This is a horribly stressful feeling.
I’m going to talk with my family doctor about it. I already mentioned it to my therapist, because I wanted to confirm my thoughts were rational and not whiny or emotional.
And last but not least, cats. Misty caught a mouse! Video here.
The start of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago brought an end to a couple toxic situations in my life, and led to many new experiences that were both rewarding and frustrating.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you may remember teenager #2, a friend of my teenager who needed a place to stay. Teenager #2 and her cats stayed for about nine months, with minimal support or contact from her parents.
Teenager #2 turned 19 last week, and I don’t know if she’d expect me to remember or not, because I haven’t heard from her since she moved out. And left a very trashed bedroom behind. And her cats taught my cats bad habits we are still trying to break.
I’ve heard rumors that she’s expecting her own baby now.
It’s also been about five weeks since my mother contacted me. Though she will probably read this later and text me nasty messages.
And my dad is three-and-a-half months gone now, and it leaves me wondering how people can be there one second and just… poof… gone.
But I’m not trying to elicit pity, I’m merely stating some of the thoughts in my brain to say that my emotions are already on edge.
So, a couple weeks ago we (the teenager and I) received a text message that our former foster Extra Crunchy was being returned to the rescue because a new baby was allergic.
This broke my heart.
But the family never showed up. They turned up unannounced at the FURR adoption event yesterday and returned him on his first birthday.
Readers, I think I am losing my stomach for rescue work.
Extra Crunchy was one of two kittens who survived a bout with distemper last spring. Feline distemper is a very fatal and preventable disease. FURR received a call that someone had three cats, two female and one male, neither fixed nor vaccinated. The two females each gave birth to a litter of kittens. But everyone contracted distemper. And the adults died.
So they called FURR, and FURR took in these ten dying and starved kittens who had never even had the chance to nurse from a mother.
My daughter asked if she could foster these babies, and our cat foster godmother said yes, but that we had to be prepared for them to die.
So my daughter started syringe feeding them. On the day she took over their care, two died right away. And it seemed like every day another would die, usually in the teenager’s arms.
We gave them ridiculous names because they weren’t going to live. Rufus. The Magician (he would just randomly teleport from one end of the playpen to the other). Spunky. Parker (which was actually Parkour because he climbed everything).
And Extra Crunchy. Because he was covered in formula, cat food and feces. After all, no one had taught him how to groom and no one had groomed him.
Extra Crunchy is currently at Chaar Pet Store in Forks Township.
On Friday, the teenager plans to bring him home for a bath and grooming before Saturday’s adoption event.
In addition to that, my hip is acting up and I don’t have a chiropractor appointment for two weeks. So I’m trying a whole lot of stretches.
The pain got worse throughout the day, and I accepted the offer to leave work at 3 when they announced VTO. I picked my own cart to start this morning, which meant I had a 3,000 step walk first thing in the morning. And by the end of the day, I had shipped 380 items, which, by my calculations is 108.5%.
First, let me start this blog entry at the end— with the pizza the teenager and I shared at Nicolosi’s.
Second, I will discuss my performance at the warehouse this week and how my body has felt now that the splinter-wound has finally healed.
So come for the food and stay for the disability talk if you desire.
It’s been at least two weeks since Nicolosi’s in Forks Township started advertising “pizza flights” on Facebook.
Now, as the teenager’s father will confirm, I love trying pizza. He and I once did a pizza tour where I ranked every pizza on a long list of qualities. This was probably 25 years ago.
When Nicolosi’s started advertising these flights— four of their specialty pizzas combined in one square pie for $20– I knew I had to try one. That’s two generous pieces of each variety you choose.
The teenager let me choose so I tried to pick flavors that would appeal to her, too: (Clockwise from top left) Eggplant parmigiana, pierogie pizza without the onions, chicken parmigiana and chicken-bacon-ranch.
I was not prepared for the Halloween decor, like the zombie pizza man, horror movie posters and plush toys from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I was prepared however for the deliciousness.
My favorite (which surprised me) was the eggplant. The staff was super friendly. The place was simple but also strongly quirky. And all of these things make me very excited to go back.
Next time, I’m ordering the garlic knots in vodka sauce and the cannoli dessert pizza.
And now an update on the random things:
Now the more serious stuff…
If you’re new here… I am in my mid-40s trying to learn how to age well with my cerebral palsy which impacts the control and structure of my legs.
As you may recall if you read my previous blog post, I had a great workout Saturday and spent the day showing my college roommate around downtown Easton.
On Sunday I woke up and my wound in the ball of my foot (from my splinter) had healed. I performed at 95% in Freestyle at work that day primarily because my printer and my computer wouldn’t cooperate and I lost 20 minutes trying to fix it.
Monday I was achy but managed to work my full 10-hour shift AND hit 100%.
But I was hurting a bit. Primarily my back. So I changed shoes and went to work Tuesday only to have my spine and both my legs start burning intensely. I still managed to hit 97%.
And I had two small falls at home yesterday.
I woke up hurting in my spine and hip. And anxiety plagued me wondering what the day would bring. I felt much better— but my right hip is uncomfortable. Fairly badly uncomfortable. But I finished my 10-hour shift and by my calculations I had 95%.
Tomorrow I visit my podiatrist. We’ll see what input he has.
Sometimes my journals are nothing but to do lists and shopping lists. But I like lists— even if I never refer to them again, the act of making a list allows me to stop thinking about things.
If I want to refer to it later, I know where to look, but I no longer have to worry about forgetting as if I want to remember or revisit items from an earlier day I can but I am not staring at a list focusing on what needs to be addressed versus what I actually did.
Many people make lists to receive the satisfaction of checking off the things that are done. I don’t do that. Sometimes I do, but now it’s more like I am acknowledging the list versus trying to conquer it.
I used to finish my list every day or stress over the things I didn’t get to, and on top of that— the list never made me feel better or more in control.
But I also received the cover for Not An Able-Bodied White Man with Money, which I will be blogging about on the Parisian Phoenix site this weekend.
And I have a 4 p.m. meeting today with another author who I have been hoping would join our family.
Now if only I could finalize some of our business documents to really move the projects forward.
Yesterday (Voluntary Time Off) and evaluating my health
Life at Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy has been odd lately. We’re shipping something like 8,000 fixes a day and having the opportunity for voluntary time off.
Last week, I performed at pretty damn close to 100% without pain or significant mobility issues. This week, issues started mildly during my Sunday shift and deteriorated Monday & Tuesday, leaving me at 80% and crying myself to sleep. I talked about this here.
I’m very much wondering if my menstrual cycle has something to do with it, as the Mirena IUD has done miracles for my pain and issues in that department but has made my cycle irregular. I think my body is trying to menstruate later than usual.
I was taking inventory of my recent balance, mobility and functioning issues as today I had my annual “wellness visit” that the office rescheduled from last week.
I took VTO yesterday to allow myself some rest and some time as life (and grief from my father’s death two months ago) has gotten chaotic and overwhelming.
And I made the teenager and I grilled cheese as I had promised to do, and the child acted like I had prepared filet mignon for her.
I have a feeling I will be repeating that after school today.
We also watched Miranda Sings Live on Netflix. The teenager went through a time when she watched the show, so that was weird. It always amazes me how much talent it takes to perform badly.
The doctor today
I have spent more than a decade assembling a talented and caring medical team, so now I can confidently say any issues with my medical treatment stem from the system and not from my doctors.
The doctor and his resident agreed with my assessment that it’s time for me to get into the physiatrist and that their office will advocate for me on that as well, and that my instincts and approaches are correct.
I learned that women more so than men tend to favor one side when they move or stand. As women age, this tendency can create problems. That means this is a problem normal people have and not just a result of cerebral palsy.
And most interestingly… I learned that women more so than men tend to favor one side when they move or stand. As women age, this tendency to let’s say ‘lean’ can create problems, just like what I am experiencing now with my right hip and right leg/foot. That means this is a problem normal people have and not just a result of cerebral palsy.
I reiterated to them that I do know I need to lose 20 pounds, but that we have some issues to address before that.
The psychology ofemotional and physical pain
When I was turning 40, I embarked on a journey to lose five pounds and gain muscle. I inadvertently lost 30 lbs and ended up a skeleton and regained some weight to look like this:
That was about 30 pounds ago. I have no need to be that lean again, but I’d really like to see 135 lbs again— which means I need to lose 20 lbs.
I told my doctor and his resident— I know I can’t eat an entire bag of cheese puffs or Wawa bowl of mac and cheese and brisket after dinner. But I’m struggling with depression from my body pain and my father’s unexpected death.
I’m grateful I haven’t turned to alcohol like many in my family, but I have “given in” to food as a psychological crutch.
I pay almost $300 a month for a personal trainer, but I can’t work as hard as I want to because I hurt and I feel like I need answers as to how to move my body so it doesn’t hurt. Because if I could exercise more and move more, I wouldn’t sabotage myself by eating garbage (or if I did, I would be active enough to balance it).
But right now, when I come home from a ten-hour shift with my body twisted and aching badly, and wishing I could call my dad so he could make me laugh and tell me how much it sucks to get old, I grab junk food because it’s the last pleasure I have.
I can’t move without pain so if I’m going to be forced to get fat and lazy I might as well enjoy the process.
These are ugly thoughts and I know that, but I’m being honest.
The fun stuff: errands with Nan
After leaving my primary care doctor, I called Nan as we were scheduled to do some errands together. We stopped at Wawa for some hot caffeinated beverages (cafe con leche for me and vanilla chai for Nan).
Among other stops we visited Park Avenue Market and Deli, one of our favorite haunts known for its deli, salads and meats.
Although I am once again contemplating more of a vegan diet, which will make the teenaged carnivore wince, I am not ready to commit until I feel better. We must achieve discipline before we enact change.
I never got around to meal planning yesterday so I didn’t have a list. I ended up spending $36.89 and I think the results will work.
I purchased: two packs of beef jerky, one small box of minute rice for the teen, three or four teeny tiny bags of Wise snacks from popcorn to potato chips, meatballs, the biggest damn carrot I’ve ever seen, frozen vegetable medley with potatoes and garlic herb sauce, sweet potato crinkle cut fries, pork roll, Lebanon bologna, liverwurst, turkey, olive salad, a store-baked pig ear for the dog and something called “hot pepper shooters”— round hot peppers stuffed with prosciutto and provolone.
Rough meal plan
My rough meal plan for the next week or so is:
Meatballs and green peppers, either as a sandwich or in pasta
vegetable lasagna still in the freezer from last week
Burgers and fries, using ground beef from the freezer and the sweet potato fries
Cold tortellini salad with roasted carrot, olive salad and seasoned broccoli (broccoli is in the freezer)
Pork roll and egg sandwiches
Chicken and the frozen vegetables and rice or other grain
PS— we also welcomed a new foster into the house. Her name is Babs. Meet her in this video. I need to make her a page.
Yesterday I cleaned a lot of my downstairs and had a relatively good work out at Apex. I haven’t felt incredibly strong lately, but my IUD must be working because I’m not in pain.
I had a good week at work, so cleaning, working on Parisian Phoenix projects and watching Cobra Kai suited me just fine yesterday.
I even found two of the dog’s Kong balls under the couch which made for a very happy dog.
Today, I was supposed to have my annual physical but my doctor’s office called yesterday and rescheduled for next week— which also means another week without answers from my CT scan and physiatrist referral. Neither the neurologist nor the physiatrist’s office has called me back.
And I need a doctor that can help me understand the motion and mechanics of my body, and not just its individual parts.
Today I scrubbed the exterior of the stove and did dishes. Then I went to help my blind friend Nan with some errands and grocery shopping.
We made plans to pick up some pizza at Little Caesars so Nan could try the Batman Calzony. No matter how I tried I couldn’t explain what it was to the blind lady. So we bought one.
But we had time to kill before the teenager got out of school even after we put groceries away. We grabbed the dog and got drinks and hash browns (for the dog) at Dunkin.
And then we surprised the teenager with the dog at school.
Then Joan stopper by to drop off some hand-me-down magazines and erotica, cupcakes and photos that Joan needed us to sort.
Now, I’m cuddling with Louise, watching Gotham Garage and enjoying kitten photos.
I don’t have many plans this weekend— defined by my work schedule as Thursday, Friday and Saturday— in part because my body has been unpredictable, the weather has been crazy and the teenager’s work schedule varies.
I went to the chiropractor at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, leaving work 30 minutes early to get the last appointment of the day. I wanted Dr. Jensen to see my body after four ten-hour shifts in Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy warehouse.
And, for the second or third week in a row, I could barely crawl home on Tuesday night but felt pretty good on Wednesday. So I feel like I’m not getting closer to solutions to my physical issues.
Yesterday I tried to do some work for Parisian Phoenix, did a lot of laundry, visited briefly with a friend I’ve missed and haven’t seen merely enough of, taught a high school student how to write a press release, watched several episodes of Cobra Kai, ran the dishwasher and went to the gym.
The teenager did a lot of work on her squat form while I did some accessory work. I also weighed myself— 157 lbs. Sigh. Still 20 pounds overweight.
Then we had Taco Bell, including the new Cinnabon balls.
Today I worked on the index for the Parisian Phoenix nonfiction anthology on marginalized identities, Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money, which I will be blogging about on the Parisian Phoenix web site later tonight. F. Bean Barker was my helper.
Indexing is only half complete and man does it allow me to interact with the text in new ways.
Louise has an appointment with a potential adopter tomorrow and today she was quite cuddly, video here. I don’t know how she’ll do in the backroom of PetSmart but all least we’ll be with her.
In the afternoon, I accompanied the teenager to her audiologist appointment for a tune-up on her hearing aids.
Then we went for shoes. The teenager needed some and I wanted to buy a warmer pair that fit more loosely — hoping that would ease the blistering and burning in my toes.
The teenager got new black Vans and a new design, the orange blossom Vans.
We ran into Target just to use the bathroom and I told the pouty teenager we could get a drink at Sonic. But turns out Sonic is still drive through only, so if you can’t have drive-in service what’s the point of visiting Sonic?
So we went to Sheetz, and had appetizers. Which would have been fine if the teenager hadn’t suggested going to see her grandmother, my mother-in-law. And her aunt— who recently destroyed her elbow falling on the ice.
We’re finishing Captain America: Civil War right now. The ice is slowly building up outside as the cold rolls into town. And Peter Parker just made his debut in the series.
It’s Wednesday night— which is my Friday! The Bizzy Hizzy has been a tizzy of Covid cases during this mandatory overtime week.
I’m doing my eight hours of overtime on Saturday.
Tomorrow I’m returning to the gym—the pandemic has also altered my training schedule.
And tomorrow, Georgie gets adopted! Yes, Georgie, our lovable former community cat from downtown Allentown, will be going home to a family where she will be the only pet.
I’m told Louise has an approved adoption application— but this is her third so I am not as optimistic as I should be. The person who applied for her wants two cats so FURR has suggested Khloe also be considered.
If these three cats get adopted— after Danu, Brigid and Aîné all getting adopted since December— I may weep tears of joy.
This week my body experienced all sorts of aches and pains, but I still managed to fold what I felt was a respectable amount of clothes for Stitch Fix. And today was our monthly employee luncheon— chicken Caesar wraps, tomato soup and carrot cake.
And on our final break of the day, everyone from my old shift got sweatshirts.
It’s kinda silly, but at the same token, it commemorates a special era of my life and celebrates the camaraderie we had on second shift. And believe it or not, even though we are scattered among the day shift, we still function as a team.
After work, the teenager invited me to Tic Toc family restaurant where we enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches.
Ingram finally shipped Darrell Parry’s poetry book (Twists: Gathered Ephemera). And several other Parisian Phoenix titles are coming together. Perhaps as many as three titles releasing before the end of February.
Speaking of Parisian Phoenix, I emailed my class correspondent at Lafayette College and he ordered my first two novels.
And finally, side note… Actor Tim Daly was on the most recent episode of the podcast Hypocondriactor. I love Tim Daly. And I found myself comparing him to Anthony Stewart Head, you know… Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I was specifically comparing Daly’s character on Madame Secretary to Head’s role as the school librarian/watcher on Buffy. Both were nerdy academics with interests in obscure topics.
Dr. Anna Williams of the My Gothic Dissertation responded to the link I sent her of my review of her magnificent podcast. She also commented that some of my interest (cats, photography), she also enjoyed.
My hip and spine and leg are, I believe, not in pain today, just incredibly stiff.
We received our first snow last night, a fluffy white four inches. The teenager has her first and only snow day of the season— as the school district has proclaimed that any further inclement weather closings will be remote instruction days. “Baby Dog” F. Bean Barker refused to go out into the snow.
Our foster pride through our volunteer work with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab is “down by two” as Mama Danu of the Celtic Pride and former community cat Georgie are in local pet store habitats. Danu is at Pet Supplies Plus in Bethlehem Township and Georgie is at Chaar in Forks Township. Georgie tends to be vocal and melodramatic but she’s adorable… this is her playing fetch yesterday before we took her to Chaar: YouTube video of Georgie.
I am editing both Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money, Parisian Phoenix’s first non-fiction book, and my third novel, Recovery. I am also trying to write the fourth novel, Road Trip, my werewolf Bildungsroman. That is very slow going and making me nervous.
And I think, while I was out sick having my hip tended to, there was a mandatory overtime dictate at work. I think I’ll have to squeeze eight more hours into my work week before Jan. 16— which means I will either have to work 12 hours a day (5 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or somehow squeeze 8 hours into Thursday, Friday & Saturday. I have an 11 a.m. appointment Thursday, three doctors appointments Friday and the warehouse is only open for a 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. shift Saturday. Because, of course, Saturday I have no plans.
On to the Movies…
A few days ago, I mentioned to the teenager that it might be fun to watch the Marvel movies in chronological order of how they supposedly happened. I haven’t seen most of them. We decided to use this list as reference: The Wrap.
We watched Captain America: The First Avenger (which I have seen) on Wednesday. I’ve always enjoyed this movie. I wouldn’t call it a good movie, but I love the goodness in Captain America’s motivations and the mix of history, mythology and comic book nonsense.
Last night we started Captain Marvel, which I have not seen but I do remember some controversy about Captain Marvel being a woman in the movie.
We have not finished it, as life happened, but I am thoroughly enjoying reliving the 1990s and seeing a young Nick Fury. Even more fun is seeing my daughter react to the nineties.