Health update Thursday?

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.

A visit to the podiatrist

My blog post yesterday received a lot of extra views and shares thanks to my discussion of the fabulousness of Nicolosi’s Pizza on Sullivan Trail.

It makes me wish I would have spent a little more time developing the back story so newcomers would understand some of my rambling at the end.

So here’s the latest installment.

Today I worked with Nan, my friend, blind poet and essayist. We did errands— the bank, retrieving laundry— and prepared some new submissions of Nancy’s poetry. We also checked out her most recent publication, “Brewing Chai” in *82 Review.

I made the decision, as founder and publisher of Parisian Phoenix Publishing, to purchase a hard copy of the magazine. One publisher supporting another.

Very exciting.

I also have two friends scheduled to get packages from the publishing company today, if the post office tracking info is accurate.

Very exciting.

And when I took Nancy home, I was able to head to the gym, Apex Training, to work with my trainer, Andrew, who along his prowess in powerlifting, does an excellent job observing my movements and targeting the muscles we think can make the most impact based on information from all the specialists I’ve seen.

And Andrew kicks my butt.

He makes me sweat. He challenges my range of motion. He also exercises the parts of me that work.

Very exciting.

Both of my trainers at Apex have been amazing.

I rushed home to shower and grab lunch as I had to get the dog into the car, pick up the teenager from school and go to the podiatrist. The dog had to go to the vet at the same I had to go to my doctor only a couple miles apart.

(One of the foster cats has worms, so every mammal in the house needs dewormer.)

This all begs the question: Why was I going to the podiatrist?

Well, I’ve known my podiatrist for 20 years. We connected in my journalist days through a mutual friend. The mutual friend nominated him for a small feature in our newspaper.

The mutual friend has passed away, and when the teenager needed a podiatrist and I couldn’t get timely care for her through my networks, this podiatrist friend of my deceased friend got her in expediently AND gave her amazing care.

I’ve been to the podiatrist once or twice myself— and I thought his brain would be a good one to pick for more information on my cerebral palsy. I made the appointment when I was still struggling with my splinter and dealing with my blistering toes.

We had a great conversation as he checked my feet and dealt with all the dead skin from blistering, and he asked me all sorts of questions about what other specialists had said. So I told him.

He’s very curious what the neuro-muscular physiatrist will have to say, and in the meantime he suggested physical therapy stretches twice a day.

And he wanted to know what the orthopedist had to say— if he could do anything. I said no that the only real option was the surgery I should have had when I was twelve.

To which he replied rather passionately that I should have had surgery when I was twelve.

At first he was angry I didn’t have more interventions as a child, but I explained how my mom was told I would die so she named me Angel, and then when I lived they told her I would never walk or talk, and then they said I had severe brain damage.

“Boy did they get that wrong,” he said.

“So that’s why my mom stopped taking me to doctors,” I explained. “Because they only gave her bad news and they were always wrong.”

“That makes sense,” he said.

(And he asked if I got my splinter out myself and I said first I tried a raisin, which fixed my hip pain, but it was my cockatoo that really got it out. And he said, “Oh this is going to be a good story.”)

This doctor has his own private practice and has been a doctor for a long time. I love that he decides how long he can take with each patient and he can be jovial and a little grouchy at the same time. Not nasty grouchy, just like-a-dad grouchy. It’s like he’s a person underneath that doctor coat.

The teenager made dinner: the chicken breast I had leftover from our last Hungryroot box, youba noodles and vegetables. And then we watched the latest Spider-Man movie which featured all the Spider-Mans.

Which, for the record, Adelaide Pitney, the supermodel from my Fashion and Fiends series, loved the Toby Maguire Spider-Man.

And since I started this blog post, both of the packages slated for my friends have arrived. My traveling companion M has received his copy of Recovery, as the book is dedicated to him and to his role in awakening my love of Africa and post-colonial critical theory.

The other package was to my therapist friend in Georgia who loves to have nice things to ponder.

Very exciting.

Gym Update: By Now, You Probably Know I Love The Guys at Apex Training

So, I’m in the midst of what feels like an incredibly long, never ending journey. I’ve posted frequently about fitness, health and disability.

And I’m getting to the point where I’ve accepted that I will never be done.

It’s probably a long shot that my body will ever be athletic or even dependable, but at least I can commit myself to doing as much as I can to be as functional as I can.

I have hemiplegic cerebral palsy, which means it only effects my lower limbs. On good days, in the right circumstances, with the right concentration, you might not even notice. But those days feel fewer and far between as I age.

I started strength training in college— and if you’ve read some of my previous posts this might be repetition for you— as one of my gym electives. My liberal arts education included gym.

I returned to it on and off, mostly for stress management and then health after The Teenager was born. That’s when I met some very awesome vegan gym owners. (I was still in my vegetarian days. I keep trying to get more into a plant-based diet again.)

I worked out at home for several years while regaining strength after broken bones. And— as I’ve shared before— I got very lean and cut.

Now I have no desire to be than thin again and no discipline left to be that lean. But I am working toward regaining my strength and muscle. Those pictures are from when I was 40. Well, I’m going to be 47 in a few months and progress is slow. I’m still at an all-time high in my weight. I have days where my hips don’t want to work. And my spine hurts most of the time.

My eating habits also don’t match my goals— but my emotional state has to improve for me to fix that.

But I keep working on all these things.

As my marriage ended, I joined Planet Fitness and that kept some of my health demons at bay. The pandemic ended that, and that’s where my weight gain exploded, too.

And I also realized my desire and discipline had faded in direct proportion to my pain and physical difficulties. If I’m going to be crippled away, why bother?

But this summer, I saw a Facebook post by Apex Training here in my neighborhood. So I reached out and Greg got in touch almost immediately. I told him my story— and this meant a lot of vulnerability for me— and he immediately recommended Dan without missing a beat.

Now I was very very intimidated. I had walked by their gym 1,000 times but usually found small gyms and local trainers pushy and unwelcoming. Like a private club.

But I hit it off with Dan and found myself impressed with his knowledge and his creativity. He’d be a gifted physical therapist.

My strength has returned but my body still doesn’t always cooperate but Dan always knows how I’m feeling just my how I’m moving.

This gym is amazing. I see a lot of guys who come together to lift, a lot of women who want to lose weight, and married couples who work out together. And the environment is very family friendly— you’ll often see Greg’s dog Gotti or the babies, Dan and Greg both have toddler sons.

The Teenager has started lifting. She has a love of pushing around heavy weights so Dan has started teaching her barbell sports. Around the same time she started accompanying me to the gym, Andrew joined the team and he has a background in powerlifting.

The Teenager squatting with Dan

Well now it’s too late to make a long story short, but I’ve been feeling better and Dan has made some creative adjustments to my sessions to try and improve my range of motion.

Dan had to cancel this morning’s session so he suggested reaching out to Andrew, but Andrew was running on fumes. We weren’t able to schedule a workout but we had a great conversation about the prospect of getting The Teenager into her own sessions with Andrew and I can continue my work with Dan.

Andrew said she has potential and that he’s impressed with the lifts he’s seen. She now squats 155 I think and deadlifts 195. But here’s what I didn’t expect… “Your work ethic,” Andrew said to me, “is inspiring to watch.”

My world has been upside down for the last three to six months. So to hear that is just a reminder of how you never know who’s watching and how you may impact others.

And while I am still searching for the right doctors as I age, I know that strength training serves as a great boon to my future mobility and health. I see the orthopedic physiatrist this week and scheduled a visit with the neuromuscular physiatrist at the end of May.

I’m hoping these doctors can teach me how my body works so I can give this information to the team at Apex and maybe I could have a future in strength sports. Or maybe I can finally jog a 5K.

But more people need to understand—

Physical therapy is a blessing for specific injury. But as we age, most of us will gain a disability if we don’t already struggle with congenital issues. Just as I look for the doctor that can help me understand my whole body and its movement, the right personal trainer can help me strengthen my whole body.

I really wish I could be with the guys at Apex Training five days a week.

And I hope anyone with a disability who wants to improve their physical condition will consider committing to work with a personal trainer.

A day in the life— medical update, meal plans, sunshine, animals and publishing

I make a lot of lists.

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.

It just exhausted me.

Trapped and the Cover for the Anthology Arrive

Parisian Phoenix’s first contemporary romance has arrived and it looks great. Read more about that here.

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 of emotional 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:

  • Sandwiches
  • 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.

Physical Therapy Gone Wicked

Today was my third visit to St. Luke’s Physical Therapy at Anderson Campus.

I love them. I love the impact of physical therapy.

I am probably the perfect candidate to be in physical therapy for the rest of my life.

Today, though, my physical therapist introduced some strength building exercises that I would classify as difficult and a little wicked, in the best way possible.

My homework is to keep stretching my back opposite the direction of my retrolisthesis, especially by doing yoga— cobra pose 50 times a day.

Something is definitely working, so we’ll credit PT.

But my session today started on a treadmill which is always a challenge for me. It requires concentration for me. I have to think about each step and try to walk evenly and correctly.

After an eight minute warm-up, we did some Cobra pose/press-ups, some lifts (the kind where my belly is on the table and I bend my knee at a 90 degree angle and lift my leg from the table using the hip area) and today he slapped on ankle weights, some bridges, some one legged bridges, and a bridge where I hold and lift each leg up (one at a time of course) while keeping my hips up, and some hip stretches moving my leg while standing on the cushion.

It was an intense 30 minutes. So I treated myself to a free holiday blend coffee at Dunkin.

Now, I had a chiropractor appointment with Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center next. But I had enough time to run home and use the bathroom.

And feeling spry I hopped to the curb, fell, scraped up my hands and a knee, and apparently flung my phone half way across the neighbor’s yard.

But I arrived at the chiropractor on time and learned that not only is Nicole liking my progress, but she also is on chapter three of my book, Manipulations.

All in all, a good start to the middle of my weekend.

Transitions and Supercoffee

I drank four cups of coffee yesterday and three of them were Supercoffee, so does that make it seven?

My back is feeling much better with all my cobra poses and stretches as prescribed by the physical therapist. (Nan and I have our sessions tomorrow. Nan expects she will be released. I suspect my routine will become more elaborate.)

This is the last week that Stitch Fix will run its second shift “Midnight Society” as has offered flexible scheduling to allow us to transition to day shift. For many of us, each night we say goodbye to friends because we are going to different departments and different shift variations. I will be doing the 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift Sunday through Wednesday but I am staying in women’s outbound. I received an email from my new supervisor, and it made me a little teary because my current supervisor is the person who hired me.

I have elected to work 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. this week and have successfully gone to bed as early as 10:30 p.m. and roused as early as 6:30. The average seems to be 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. but as my old sleep schedule was roughly 1:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., it is progress. I expect Sunday to be brutal for all of us, especially for those of us older than 30.

To be safe, I bought more Supercoffee. The teenager is already asking if I will feed the cats before I go to work. The answer for now is I may need a few days before I can adjust to having that much responsibility at 5 a.m.

“I don’t know if they are going to allow that,” she replied.

My daily step count is coming in between 4,000 and 6,000. I suppose some of that is due to partial shifts at the Bizzy Hizzy warehouse and working women’s returns. I stand still in QC, but apparently in Returns I stand even more still. In QC, at least I have to move the carts around every 25-30 minutes. The physical therapist also gave me some hints for my aching spine based on my job in QC, so being in Returns this week has not allowed me to try them.

And murmurs have started about voluntary overtime. For those of us moving to ten hour shifts, any overtime means we will have to work on our days off.

Book sales have been slow lately (so please consider my books as Christmas gifts. They can be purchased from me. For more information on how to do that, click here.) but I also have not dedicated any time to marketing and have fallen behind in my social media and outreach plan. But, as I have received one $20 check from Lafayette College for novels of mine on sale at the College Store, I have filed the paperwork with the state to incorporate Parisian Phoenix Publishing Company and to claim the fictitious name.

My weight might be down 5 lbs. That’s an unhealthy number for one week into weight loss. In my past experience, when I make healthy choices and track my macros, there is always an encouraging initial dip. I expect the next five to take much longer. And that’s fine. I’m looking for a trend toward healthier habits and increasing muscle and range of motion.

With the groceries currently in the house, it’s hard to keep my protein intake as high as I would like. My diet tends to be heavy on fat. Not necessarily sweets/fat but fats like nuts, avocado, and half and half in my coffee. Yesterday my macros hit 50% carbs, 20% protein and 30% fat. I’m aiming for 40/40/20. It looks like my weekly average is 40/25/35. I’m also aiming for 1300 calories, and doing well on that.

My protein intake is all over the place. Saturday came in at 120 grams (thank you leftover Thanksgiving turkey). Subsequent days have ranged from 65-85 grams, with 70 being more typical. It’s hard, as I’m not a big meat eater.

So I need to start doing some serious meal planning and keeping lean protein sources around.

I’m going to go get dressed for the gym now, and hopefully make some time for that marketing plan.

The Kit and Kaboodle Update

So, as a former journalist, I could easily write a summary of every day like a nice newspaper column and post it. I could probably even manage to maintain my sense of humor, style, and tendency to find joy in the ridiculously ordinary.

But this week, every word I wrote felt repetitious. Or perhaps every word I wanted to write felt like it had been done before.

And maybe it has. Because so much of life goes that way. The same struggles, the same events, and often the same answers. And we repeat the cycle over and over probably for two reasons.

  1. It’s hard to break a habit.
  2. And growth, the kind of change that comes from embracing a lesson, presents its own difficulties.

In today’s blog, I’m going to do a generic update, and I’m honestly not sure if any of this is repeating myself. But do you know what? Repeating myself is okay. This is a small droplet in the vast waters of the internet and there’s always the possibility someone hasn’t heard it before and may need to hear it today.

Are you listening?

Fosters: Touch of Grey, Mars and Minerva. Information on how to adopt them at http://www.felineurbanrescueandrehab.org.

All eyes on me.

Topics to come in this entry: Update on my cerebral palsy and quest to end my chronic back pain, weight training with the teenager with Dan at Apex, emotional eating, review of Purple Carrot’s vegan Thanksgiving dinner box, and the requisite animal photos.

This week’s personal training at Apex:

I know I frequently mention how amazing the trainers at Apex are. One of their strengths (weight training pun there) is to recognize the needs of each client and to match the client with the right trainer. I’m obviously not in the whiny white women who primarily want to lose weight category, and that’s how I ended up with Dan. As Dan has the unofficial knowledge of a physical therapist (because he’s had enough accidents to know the patient side of it) and he has the curiosity to read, research and think. With my cerebral palsy this is important. Dan has the observational skill to read my knees and lower body to know if it’s a bodyweight/calisthenics kind of day or a weight training day. And this is important so you can build range of motion and flexibility and not get hurt.

Anyway, Dan has been kind enough to let the teenager join my training sessions. I love throwing weights around but lack the personal discipline to do it on my own this time around. And the teenager has a natural muscle tone and build that makes her perfect for powerlifting. But she hates dumbbells and she hates routine and discipline. So as long as we tell her to go throw around that heavy object she’s fine.

And today she deadlifted 135 lbs as if it weren’t even a challenge. I honestly think she could have done 150 lbs easily.

I think I kept up with her through 115. I only did three at 115 because I was really afraid I would blow out my knees. A deadlift when executed correctly utilizes the lower body, and the weight actually (once I get warmed up) helps me lower my butt in the squatting portion, but since my knees tend to point sharply inward, I have to adjust my stance to compensate. While the main gist of the lift is to pull the weight along the shin and lift into the hips and use the legs to support the weight as the hips straighten and thrust outward with the tightening of the glutes, in my case, I have to force my knees to stay in the proper position facing my toes and not each other.

As I start to lift heavier, the dull ache in my spine is a reminder to lift the weight with my legs and not my back. I place my feet in position, point my toes slightly out and stretch my knees in line with them. And, for lack of a better description, I lock them in place and while lifting the barbell I have to concentrate on keeping my knees from turning inward. Because if they would suddenly snap where they want to be, I could not only blow out a knee but also potentially lose balance.

So I did three.

In related news, physical therapy update:

Yesterday I finally had my physical therapy appointment with the proper physical therapist now that neurology has confirmed that my balance and brain are fine. Much to my pleasant surprise, I had the same physical therapist that treated my initial bouts with back pain three years ago. He was at a different physical therapy office, then, and came recommended by my doctor as the guy who really knew back issues. What makes this a funny but pleasant coincidence is the fact that I chose this physical therapy branch because my blind friend Nancy is going there and I thought we could combine appointments and I could help her with rides.

What did my physical therapist Jeff say? Basically, that I need to do yoga. He has me doing “press-ups” 5 times a day for 10 reps. At least to start this week. Last time I had physical therapy with him, he started me super light and then made the exercises ten times harder when I returned in a week. “Press-ups” are cobra pose in yoga. I used to do yoga daily. It always seems like physical therapists are always telling me to do more of what I already or what I used to do.

Random photo of Nala the Goffin with foster cat Touch of Grey

Confession time, emotional eating:

My weight is 160lbs. This upsets me greatly. When I had gestational diabetes at six months pregnant I was 169. I was 142 on the day I brought the teenager home from the hospital and 142 for most of her toddler years. When I finally decided I needed to get my weight under control and regain strength after breaking my right hand while working at Target, I lost 30 lbs in 6 weeks. I lost too much weight too quickly and then gained weight while strength training and got ripped. Over the years, I found a set point at 135, where I could maintain muscle but be more relaxed about eating.

But then, my marriage ended. My boss at the job that allowed me to separate from my husband and support myself turned out to be a sociopath. I mean that in the kindest way possible. She was very sweet, and driven, and perfection-oriented but she had no empathy, no flexibility and no patience for any way other than hers. No views allowed other than her beliefs. This led to high blood pressure and I honestly had no energy left to take care of myself. When she fired me, it took six months for unemployment benefits to determine she was in the wrong. The pandemic was underway by then (Summer 2019). I lived on my savings, a total of $4,500, and foodstamps that kicked in three months after I lost my job.

And this was also when I ended up in the hospital for an infected cat bite and took in a second teenager who lived with us for nine months without her parents contributing to her care.

I mention this only because it is why I lost my discipline. Why I stopped caring for myself like I used to. It was easy and fun to go to McDonalds for a $1 Diet Coke and a $1 McChicken. Cheap dinner.

I thought I would turn this around when I started “picking” at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I walked 17,000 steps a night in the warehouse, grabbing clothes. But then I caught Covid-19. And my stamina never bounced back. So now I fold clothes. Which killed my back.

Even though I had a delightful Thanksgiving, with vegan recipes I prepared from Purple Carrot and leftover pie and wine from my in-law’s meal, I “ruined” it by drinking a big glass of wine yesterday with about 1200 calories of Trolli gummy worms. And then I tell myself, “Well, at least they had protein, iron and calcium.”

And finally, the Purple Carrot Box:

I’ve only made about half the box. The rest is still in the fridge.

I made the Purple Carrot “sausage” stuffing, vegan thyme gravy and cranberry sauce. The thyme gravy was better than I expected as I am not a gravy person. I added local granny smith apples and herbs de provence to the stuffing. The stuffing began life as caibatta rolls, root vegetables, and Fieldstone vegetarian sausage. Let me say again, if you haven’t heard it before, that the Fieldstone vegetarian sausages are amazing. The fact that they come wrapped tight in plastic “skin” casings annoys me, but they are very tasty.

Not a job for neurology

So I woke this morning at a ridiculous 8 a.m. to a world smothered in fog and two foster cats (Khloe and tripod Louise) upset that I did not have time to cuddle.

I had a physical therapy appointment for an initial assessment at 10 a.m. and they needed me in the office by 9:45 a.m. to fill out paperwork— primarily questions about my confidence in my own balance.

Now this isn’t my first rodeo. This isn’t even my first physical therapy stint for back pain.

I was referred to the neurology physical therapy department because of my cerebral palsy.

The physical therapist asks me the typical questions — “have you fallen in the last year?” “I fall approximately every six weeks.”

We discussed my work arrangements and she liked my idea of alternating tables.

She determines that my right side is definitely weaker than my left side. But I can be treated for this at a facility closer to home.

She even calls the facility of my choice so she can make sure they don’t refuse to treat me. All while making it perfectly clear that she would happily do it.

But I am the only patient under 70.

And probably the only one without a walker or a cane.

My new physical therapy appointment is next Friday at 9 a.m.

I came home, ate lunch, and headed to my primary care physician’s office.

There, I spoke with a sweet, quiet resident with an Indian accent I couldn’t hear from under her mask. But she seemed very intent on discussing colon cancer screening.

She brought up a back brace.

I brought up muscle relaxers so my body would not stiffen up overnight.

And when she told my doctor, he said that she had a great idea. I didn’t tell him that was my idea, after I conferred with Dr. Google.

He thinks I should feel some relief with a month. Christmas maybe? Starting off the New Year right?

Tomorrow it’s back to the chiropractor.

The Physical Therapy Phone Calls

If you’re a regular in my portion of the universe, you probably know I’m struggling with some issues that might be described as middle-age or might be complications of a life with cerebral palsy.

I have been talking about this journey more in recent days but certainly rather frequently in the last six months or so.

Today, I finished talking to the last member of my medical team about my plan for my health and my future. That person was my psychologist. And it sounds like he approved of my plan.

So having spoken with everyone— checking their professional opinions against my fear of an emotional response to my disability— I sent an email to my physician outlining my questions and my plan.

I had an email back within the hour from my physician saying I could set up physical therapy and that I should come into the office for a follow up this Thursday.

My doctor’s office had no preference or guidance regarding where to go for physical therapy so I called the generic phone line. They assured me that I could go wherever I wanted.

I asked for a nearby hospital as that is where my blind friend Nan has physical therapy and I hoped maybe we could car pool. Don’t worry— I wouldn’t let Nan drive.

But when they transferred me the person that answered asked me why I needed physical therapy. I said that the x-ray showed retrolisthesis and arthritis my spine that could be a complication from my cerebral palsy.

As soon as she heard “cerebral palsy,” she transferred me to the neurological physical therapy office. But when they looked up my chart, it said “back pain.” And they don’t do that.

By the very very cheery person on the phone and I had a chat— and I asked her— are we treating my back or the cerebral palsy that probably causes the back issues. We both agreed it’s a good question.

She put me on hold twice to confer with the actual physical therapists and they decided to keep me.

I go see them Thursday morning.

Another step on the journey: a discussion of what is happening in my spine thanks to cerebral palsy

Learning about your own body, exploring treatment options and trying to survive while doing it is exhausting.

I shared my plan to advocate for myself with my life coach from Ginger. And we also discussed some of my fears of where this could go.

And today I asked Dr. Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Wellness Center her thoughts.

She was kind enough to get out her spine and explain things to me. And she said I moved beautifully today, which could be a sign that the short shifts I’ve had this week are taking stress off my body.

She had never seen retrolisthesis in a group like this — and reported that the pedicles appearing in tact was great news. But basically that slight shift in the discs from the retrolisthesis would put pressure on the nerves.

And that the disc space narrowing was arthritis.

So to continue my work with my trainer— and she is impressed by his attentiveness and ability to adjust workouts to medical needs, pursue physical therapy, and try an inversion table. It might stretch out those irregular curves of the lumbar spine. Core exercises will be super important, and I wonder if my commitment to my core throughout my adult life has contributed to this good report.

Dr. Jensen asked for business cards from Dan at Apex Training. Because based on what she’s heard from me she would recommend him to her clients.

I’m noting these discussions and plan to email my doctor Monday.