Cute animal photos and mallet finger impact

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.

Today’s vegan lunch: curry carrots, lentils, quinoa, my own roasted chick peas, toasted sesame seeds, green olives and a touch of Thai peanut sauce topped with pumpkin seeds

And last but not least, cats. Misty caught a mouse! Video here.

First day back at the warehouse with mallet finger in a cast

According to the Stitch Fix timekeeping software, their human resource interface and their payroll, I am still on leave.

But when I got to the time clock, I was able to clock in without an issue and a supervisor and I discussed how best to put me to work at the Bizzy Hizzy.

The paperwork from my doctor still has not arrived, and my actual supervisor was out sick today.

But I was very grateful for the opportunity to have my first day back fall on a Sunday as Sundays are way quieter and less hectic.

We decided that I would pick a cart of Freestyle purchases and then fold and ship them— which would allow me to test my functionality in the two main areas of outbound, folding and picking.

A freestyle cart should take 40 minutes to pick, and it covers a good 3,000 plus steps, because it contains 80 individual items. My cart took 65 minutes, but it took me three to get started and another seven to deal with internet problems.

And I quickly realized that as the cart got heavier it got harder to steer to the left because my hand didn’t have a good grip on the left side.

At first break, I was at 98% of the required metrics in folding and shipping, but then I got a cart of shoes and ended up falling to 85% because it’s hard not to stick both hands in the envelope when you have trouble stuffing those shoes in there.

My direct supervisor emailed to check on me, so I gave him my full report.

He said not to worry, I’d be back at 100% before I knew it and he didn’t want me hurting myself. If anything changed or I felt pain, I was to let him know immediately.

The supervisor filling in for him also checked in with me periodically.

By the end of the day, I was over 90%.

I can’t help but wonder if the constant movement of all my other fingers makes my injured figure wiggle in my cast. If so, will that loosen the cast prematurely? Something to keep an eye on….

The raisin and the good day

So, if you read yesterday’s post, you know I have a massive splinter in my foot.

What you don’t know is that the teenager told me to put a raisin on it.

Apparently, she saw it on TikTok* and my follow up research suggests that there is something in the chemical construction of the raisin that helps the splinter get out.

*edit: The teenager informed me that the raisin came from a discussion in English class not TikTok.

So I went to work with a raisin under the ball of my foot.

And stood on it for 10-plus hours.

They made those of us on 10-hour shifts in outbound stay the whole day even though everyone else in the building went home at 3. There was probably 10 of us left behind.

But here’s the amazing thing—

We had a meeting and I still managed to fold 175 fixes. The goal for a ten hour day is normally 162, but the 15-minute meeting drops it to 157-158.

My process lead called me a beast.

My supervisor confirmed I did 110% of the daily minimum expectation.

Nothing, other than the splinter, hurt. For the first time, the first day, in years if not decades, I didn’t have some body part malfunctioning.

Did the splinter in the ball of my feet change my alignment?

I slept well last night but still didn’t even get 7 hours sleep. I ate the same meals I’ve been eating all week.

And yesterday I was miserable.

So what changed?

Something to ponder.

I came home and checked the splinter. There was no swelling where the raisin had been.

I took a shower (because I worked so hard today I was smelly), soaked my foot in Epsom salts and applied a fresh raisin to the swollen pocket.

And then the dog forced me off my spot on the couch.

The experiment: chiro followed by personal trainer

This is another post mostly about my journey into learning more about my body and cerebral palsy.

First off, before I jump into my update, let me give a huge shout out to “the teenager” who solved an issue in my kitchen that had been a thorn in my dad’s side for more than a decade.

I once had him over for a dinner party in the early days of owning this house and during said dinner party, I set a candle on fire in the kitchen. It burned a hole in the countertop. My dad thought he’d buy a replacement as a Christmas present as the counter is probably three feet long.

Problem was it’s an unusual chunk in the corner and needed to be custom cut.

Somehow the teenager got the idea of applying special contact paper designed for counters.

It looks pretty damn cool— my dad would be very proud.

I’ll have to dig up a before photo.

In other news, my boxes of Not an Able-Bodied White Man with Money arrived. (Purchase on Amazon here.) I have an official unboxing planned and a blog entry for Parisian Phoenix but my body is having a minor revolt so the debut will be postponed until tomorrow. AND my credit card reader came.

I do love what Gayle did with the cover.

And now on to my experiment… The background… On Sunday, I performed at 99% preparing packages in Freestyle— pretty impressive considering we had computer problems and a work shortage. And we worked all 10 hours. Yesterday I worked eight hours in my home department and did 131 fixes, which I believe was 101%.

I knew I had a chiropractor appointment at 5 p.m. Monday so I asked Dan, my physical trainer at Apex Training if he would be around for a workout. I knew it might be light, after a workday in the warehouse, but wondered if my body would move differently after visiting Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center.

Nicole made sure everything was stretched and aligned and off I went.

And Dan led me in what would be a light leg workout for most— a lot of squats and floor exercises. He was impressed and honestly I didn’t have to concentrate as much as I usually do.

I woke up this morning in no real pain, and through most of my days doing women’s returns processing, my aches and pains were muscular and not skeletal.

But then, I took a small walk around the neighborhood and things started feeling off. My phone later revealed that my walk was indeed asymmetrical.

So I took a shower and plan to go to bed early as my body is stiff and achy. We’ll see how I feel in the morning.

For more on this topic, click here.

Roller coaster

What an insane week it’s been.

Monday we had a paid day off for President’s Day and, as I have mentioned, my primary care physician called and scheduled an appointment for me with a physiatrist they recommended.

You may recall this made me very happy.

Nan and I even went out for coffee to celebrate.

But yesterday, as I did what I do folding clothes at the Bizzy Hizzy, I got a call from the physiatrist that they didn’t think they could help me as they specialized in orthopedic care and I probably needed neuromuscular care.

The very kind staff person asked me questions and said she would talk to the doctor on my behalf but that they might cancel my appointment.

I literally started to cry.

And I emailed my psychologist.

Because the difficulty I am having finding medical care seems a tad ridiculous— and every hurdle I cross makes me feel like less of a person.

Or perhaps just less valuable.

When I returned from my first break, the powers-that-be at our Hizzy transferred me to the returns department. Now I love women’s returns processing, but it hurts my body. It must be unloading and swinging the packages around. But I can’t figure it out.

By the end of the day, I wasn’t too horribly in pain, but I definitely felt out-of-whack. I had “vague-booked” on Facebook that seeking medical care should not make one cry.

One of my friends, whom I have known for probably five years now, replied that he might be able to help research doctors. We’ll call him the punk Viking.

Meanwhile my neurologist finally returned my email from several weeks ago recommending another physiatrist.

I called the Punk Viking on the way home from work. He has social work experience and is recuperating from a significant medical intervention. He and I have made a pact of sorts to support each other through our health journeys and try to bring a little more levity to each other’s lives.

And then I woke up at 3 a.m. keenly aware of the fact that my hip had shifted. And I was uncomfortable.

And I went to work uncomfortable.

A bunch of us were scheduled to work women’s inbound processing— which is about 700 steps from the main breakroom for my short legs, the far end of the warehouse.

At 8:50 a.m., we trekked to the breakroom for first break. On the way, my chiropractor’s office called and asked to move my Friday appointment because of the anticipated winter weather. They are calling for snow. I fought tears. They wanted to move my appointment to Monday— but I’m already uncomfortable.

(According to the iPhone my walking was asymmetrical today. It looks like once a week my walk is getting measurably off.)

So, I take an appointment for 5 p.m. Monday. And put in a last minute request to leave early Monday.

We returned to our stations at 9:05 and at 9:15 we had a team meeting back in the breakroom.

During that meeting, the physiatrist’s office called. I can’t answer. So I can only assume they are canceling.

But instead I discovered they have agreed to do an assessment.

I get back to my station at 9:38, and I have a second interview for my application to the safety team at 10. It’s on the complete opposite side of the building— about 1300 steps. When I arrive, I find out the location has been moved to a different room. One, get this, just beyond the breakroom in women’s inbound.

You know, where I started.

The interview went great.

And I had more than 8,000 steps today.

I came home, talked to the Viking, and did some cleaning with the teenager. I’m exhausted. Achy. Stiff.

But if all goes as I hope it will— I should be able to get my business bank account for Parisian Phoenix tomorrow. My LLC came in today!!!!!

Tuesday recap of goals, safety and math

I intended to write this post two hours ago as a form of relaxation when I got home from work. Instead, I got sucked into the proof of TRAPPED that came from the printer, and writing instructions on how to pitch a press release for a local high school student.

Opening page of TRAPPED

My spine is hurting, but as far as Tuesdays go today was a good one. I think I may have hit 98% if my metrics in the QC department of the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy.

Tuesdays typically leave me rather crippled— but for some reason this week I am doing better than usual. I performed 108% in Freestyle Sunday, and then my process lead and I found an error in the computation of yesterday’s metric in QC. The computer at first assigned me 91%. I suggested that might be wrong. That by my calculations it should be around 95%. Turns out my lunch wasn’t in the figure. So the computer thought I should have hit a higher goal.

My process lead seems perpetually impressed by my ability to perform math, and my tracking of my own performance. I also don’t agree with the official distribution of targets throughout the day, and eventually I will have my own numbers. (I basically have them now— but I’m still honing them. For instance, they say 40 by 9 a.m., whereas I aim for 42 by 8:50.)

Today might have been my best day since before the shift change. Not only because of the numbers but because I did a pre-interview or something like that for the safety team.

I’m not even really sure exactly what the safety team does, but I think I can bring perspective and the ability to explain to others with me to the table.

Apparently one of my former Midnight Society teammates “talked me up.” And it appears I did not disappoint. They had an ice breaker of one fun fact— and this colleague had to think I would talk about Parisian Phoenix or my cat fostering.

I warned him I was going to say something that would surprise even him. I mentioned my most exotic vacation included a visit to Mogadishu.

“Didn’t see that coming,” he said.

He then proceeded to tell them that I was a very interesting person with whom to talk.

All of that made today a little special.

Rainy Icy Friday

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 working on her squat form

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.

Nala and Louise

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.

“Put me in coach”: A Work Story

If you stop by here often, you know that last Wednesday I spoke with some more people at work about my disability and that whole day I was given my preferred/easier for me fixes.

I achieved 96% for the day, folding what are called refixes, fixes that had problems that got rejected and needed to go back to be fixed. So the fix needs a fix.

When they return from the refix department, they are boxed in the box they were originally slated to ship in and they are on top of the cart instead of on the shelves.

I really struggle to reach shelves seven and eight so this is a huge help.

And since neither the physiatrist nor my neurologist have responded to my recent concerns about my mobility and my coordination, I have not asked for official work accommodations yet.

Yesterday was the first day of my work week— I did something like 89% in Freestyle, folding clothes and shipping packages for the first 8+ hours of my shift. At 3:30 p.m., I moved over to returns processing where I might have hit 75%.

Today was Monday, which means the warehouse was firing on all cylinders. I was in my home department, and I might have gotten 40 refixes today. So 3/4 of my work involved a lot of bending, crouching and twisting.

My back did okay, but my right quad and right foot burned most of the day and by 4 p.m., my hip hurt. It feels like it’s pointing directly behind me like a tail.

Despite this, I was in the neighborhood of 99%.

And at 4:25 p.m., my process lead asked me to go style card— calling me his “emergency style carder.” I would prefer the phrase “back-up.”

But it gave me a chance to move around and improve my hip functionality so I am grateful.

It made me feel like an athlete waiting on the bench, which then got the song “Centerfield” stuck in my head as I worked.

“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play…”

I would have made the reference to my process lead, but I think he’s too young to get the reference. But, the teenager tells me if he’s seen The Sandlot, he’ll know the song.

If you need to hear the song, here’s a YouTube link.

Vulnerability in the workplace and its role in building teams

Grammar police— this piece is full of tense shifts. I’m tired. Deal with it.

We’ve all had that corny job that encourages team building exercises and how uncomfortable that can be when they are telling you to trust someone that frankly you don’t trust.

It’s hard to be vulnerable with new people and new environments and this can lead to us seeming aloof or feeling alienated or shunned by the group.

Yesterday I had a painful day at work, and I’m still struggling emotionally with my father’s death, and compounding all of that is the fact that my sleep has not been that restful.

So imagine me… as the alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m., struggling to stretch out my stiff, spastic lower body and my aching spine. I went to the other side of my room to check on the cats’ food and had to use the vacuum cleaner as a cane.

I stumbled to the shower and afterwards managed to get my bra, shirt and panties on but saved the socks and pants for after coffee.

I prepare my coffee directly into my to-go mug, a FURR fundraiser item that keeps my coffee warm until my first break almost four hours later and lukewarm until lunch.

I email my neurologist asking for help getting a physiatrist appointment. I still wonder if I should be going to work at all. I tell myself if I really can’t function, I’ll call the chiropractor at 9 a.m. and see if I can get an appointment.

I decide it’s time to put on my pants.

But then my pants don’t button.

And I’m not talking about “these are snug,” these are all out as if I were trying to wear a child’s pants. Too much Taco Bell last night.

The teenager did a white wash so there is a pair of sweatpants in the kitchen. I put them on and wrestled with my socks.

I go to get my shoes. The teenager has piled the garbage on top of them. I find other shoes.

I then needed to decide between the pizza I can’t even remember when I ordered it and the pancakes from Friday for lunch.

I grabbed both.

Once at work, they have me assigned to line 5, table 8a. Now, they have the tables on line 5 labeled incorrectly. Somehow, they go 0, 1a, 2a, 3a, 5a, 8a, 4a, 6a, 7a. Someone is already working on the ninth table, which is labeled seven. So just to be clear, I ask my supervisor.

“I am to go to the sixth table, which would if you were going by the labels at the previous lines would be table five, because the actual labels are out of order?”

He looked up. “Oh, yeah. They are.”

But then someone is also at the sixth table which is labeled 8a. The lead on the line does the research and this interloper belongs on an entirely different line, but somehow ends up a few stations ahead of me.

I have to organize the station because it was set up for Freestyle not QC.

And then I see the person on line 4b, across the aisle from me, get an entire rack of refixes. That’s about three hours worth of work.

I went back to the lead who I approached about my interloper. I explained I had a disability and I was having a bad physical and emotional day and, let me paraphrase, I said I wanted refixes, too.

I got them.

The day shift support people and my normally favorite support person brought me refixes all day.

And I learned more about my favorite support person’s family history. And we discussed philosophy and gave each other a pep talk. And the day shift support person was also super supportive.

And it made me feel physically and emotionally better to share the weight of my burdens. I made 98%. Which is amazing — and I haven’t seen numbers that high since October.

My lead was pleased.

And I felt lighter.

Saturday morning— gym, meal plan & prep

The teenager and I headed to the gym this morning for the first time in a while. I did a gentle lower body workout to stretch everything and get my body rolling after the chiropractic adjusted just about everything yesterday. Even my ears.

The teenager wanted to find her max weights for powerlifting— which seem to be 100 pounds on bench and at least 155 on squats.

Tomorrow I head back to work after a weekend of falls and rest.

So that means meal planning and meal prep.

Our Hungryroot box came yesterday and since the app showed they didn’t have much product, I focused our box on mostly proteins.

With leftovers from last week’s box, the new box and pantry items I had in the house, I made this:

  • Chickpea rotini and beef meatballs with marinara and superfood tomato sauce.
  • Lemon pesto broccoli
  • Homemade pesto hummus
  • Omelet (with green olives)
  • Tempeh bacon
  • Brown bread

We also have leftover pizza and pancakes.

So for breakfast after the gym, the teenager had omelet with mozzarella and tempeh bacon on organic, sprouted everything bagels. I went vegan and had my bagel with my hummus and tempeh bacon.

And last night, the teenager and I went to my stepmom’s for Christmas and I got my hand bag. I have been admiring this Urban Expressions work tote since I started at Stitch Fix. I have one now.