Today I had a great session at the gym, working with Dan at Apex Training. Dan wanted to isolate my right leg and try to alleviate some of the stiffness and difficulty I have had recently.
I felt amazing while working out with Dan, but as soon as I left the gym for my walk home, my troubles returned.
When I arrived at work, my supervisor stopped by. I told her it remained to be seen how the night would go. So I after the first two hours, I was a little behind. By meal, I was at 61– I should have been at 65. That’s not horrible but my numbers were in decline.
So I mentioned it to a lead.
And started the second half of the night with a refix cart.
This allowed me to pack my boxes with less twisting, and I was optimistic. I had gone into the lavatory and covered my back and leg with the CBD cream.
When I was working with the refix cart, my times improved, but the QC support staff starting bringing me regular carts. A lead had told me where to find more refixes, but what is the point of trying to improve my time and then having to load my own cart?
So I did the regular carts.
The pain returned 10 times over as the wonderful Charlotte’sWeb Cream wore off. It seems to last about two hours.
After what I experienced tonight, I feel like I had a glimpse inside an addict’s mind.
When the cream lost its potency, the pain was insane and left me crying at my station. I wanted it to stop. I imagined reapplying the cream to relieve my pain.
Is that what it’s like to need a fix?
I didn’t mean to take this photo, but it’s pretty.
When I got home, I showered and applied CBD Medic Arthritis and poured myself a cocktail. That stuff is way stronger than the other cream.
A mish mash of disability related updates related tomy life with cerebral palsy
I’m somewhere around week seven with my weight training with Apex Training and dreaming of a day when my stiff limbs might become those of a Paralympic powerlifting. I want to be a barbell athlete.
I missed Saturday’s session— I normally train 45 minutes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. But I picked up an overtime shift at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy.
I told Dan, my very talented and diligent trainer, that I would do a home workout over the weekend. I did not. And the lack of long hours and the mix of chores and resting I did over the weekend meant that I was not tired nor was I sore for Tuesday’s workout.
And he says he went easy on me, but he had me doing incline bench presses with 25 pound dumbbells. Now, for comparison, about 4-5 years ago when I was lean and strong, I was just ready to make the jump to 25 pound dumbbells but I couldn’t afford to buy them.
That’s when the teenager and I joined Planet Fitness, which lasted until the pandemic. Almost two years.
Yesterday was upper body day at the gym. That’s probably a good thing as my premenstrual hormones left me so stiff today I couldn’t bend at the waist or walk well. It also might have been impacted by the severe thunderstorm we had.
But somehow I hit 129 in QC at work. 130 is goal. At 11:41 p.m. my supervisor stopped by for an observation. I told her I almost called out but I knew she had to see me on a bad day. But when I started folding the clothes, I hit 35 in the first two hours (goal would be 32.5). But then I slipped and only got to 64 by lunch (goal is 65).
By third break I was at 97, which is shockingly on point. And at 11:41, she rolls up with her laptop. I’m both relieved and terrified.
She needs to see my struggle.
The cart I was working in had 3 refixes— out of 8. I don’t know why they call them refixes. They are fixes that are messed up and need fixing. So I guess the fixes need to be fixed again.
It was arduous. I was tired, sore and stiff. I had two damaged items of clothing and I wondered if she would think I damaged them. (Yes, I know I am insecure. My therapist says I “sell [myself] short].”)
I QC’ed in my observation at a rate of 115%.
And my boss had a suggestion to alleviate my struggle.
When I hurt I need to ask for refix carts. Those are the fixes coming out of the refix department once they are corrected. They come boxed on top of the cart so I don’t need to bend to get them.
They really do want to help.
A few weeks ago, I asked the teen how her dad’s arthritis was. He has a club hand, so his left hand does most of his daily tasks. As a result, he has bad arthritis between his thumb, wrist and forefinger.
Turns out, his mother gave him Charlotte’s Web CBD cream and he swears by it. So I ordered some. And I ordered the CBD MedicArthritis Cream as well.
They arrived today. So I took a shower, suffered through the contorting needed to shave my legs, and upon return to my room, I slathered the Charlotte’s Web cream on the knot in my back. The relief was instant, and I don’t want to think it had anything to do with the gin and limoncello cocktail I am drinking.
More details to come on the creams but it is so nice to go to bed without pain. And I think the knot in my back is loose. But I also must remind you—cocktail.
This particular blog post will touch on brief updates of multiple areas of my life.
1. My new phone: The refurbished iPhone Xs sent to be my Square Trade has developed a green line in the display. I went to report it and their website is down for maintenance.
2. The laundry room project: The teenager has selected a color with the help of her grandmother, polka dot skirt.
3. Hungryroot and Purple Carrot: Yesterday’s meal kit was Purple Carrot’s Palestinian Spiced Peppers with Crispy Seitan and Tomato Caper Relish and Lemon Dill Rice. We also cooked the Chicken Bruschetta Burgers from Hungryroot. Everything was amazing.
4. Work and/or Disability: starting Thursday night my body was stiff and my right leg is giving me so much trouble. It appears to be the perfect blend of weather (tropical storms), hormones (ovulation) and disability (cerebral palsy). I was very uncomfortable.
But my numbers at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy have been consistently decent— I QC’ed 46 fixes from 3:30 to 6:30ish, and then picked an M cart in 20 minutes before clocking out at 7:05. The night prior I was on “mailer machine” (a folding machine that operates with a lot of compressed air) that they call creased lightning.
5. Foster Cats: someone expressed interest in Louise. Here’s a video of her last night: Louise
6. The Gym (Apex Training): I did my first one plate barbell deadlift. I’ve always wanted to do barbell lifts. So far I’ve done bench press and deadlifts. Today I did four sets: one of three so my trainer could evaluate the weight of the lift, a set of five, another of eight, and a final of five.
He didn’t tell me how much weight that was— but my research from Mr. Google says the bar is 45 pounds and the plates are 20 kg. That together it’s 135 pounds?
Next, let’s briefly do a Purple Carrot Update. Today I prepped the matcha overnight oats and made the ramen bowl. (Video of matcha prep here.)
The teenager vetoed the homemade miso broth and fresh ramen.
I had the leftover black pepper tofu for dinner and it was soooooooo good, even leftover.
And most Purple Carrot meals take 30 minutes to prepare, which in my kitchen has been translating to 40 minutes. Much better than the cooking marathon caused when a Hello Fresh box comes.
But now to the Bizzy Hizzy. I finally learned the “mailer machine.” It’s a folding machine. We used it to fold the postal service priority mailers that go in each fix.
We had trouble getting the machine to work— so we didn’t really get started until after first break. We folded 4401 mailers.
Basically we unpack the mailers, sort them so they are less likely to jam the machine, and feed/empty the machine. There is a zen to lining up the mailers on the rolling machine, fanning them and making sure they don’t curl.
I was sent to the mailer machine as part of Stitch Fix’s quest to know what tasks I perform best. I perform regularly at 96% in QC but unfortunately when I have bad day that plummets to 85-90%. They raised the pick goal so I only do 75% of that. Apparently I have shown both potential and inconsistency in inbound processing and returns. I apparently tanked in style carding (66%) which I would like to believe was a fluke but maybe not. And a shocking 29% in NAP binning. It was shoes. And it was very painful.
I’m told they want everyone to have two work centers they can perform 100%.
So now I’m at the mailer machine.
If I’m honest with you, and it is very hard for me to say this in public, what I hear is: “You’re not good enough for us, so since you suck at everything, let’s stick you on this machine back in the corner.”
I feel threatened. And like a failure.
And that is not what they said. At all.
But I have a disability that makes me insecure and makes me feel inferior, unworthy. And certain childhood traumas leave me feeling unwanted, and as if I am a burden to everyone.
So I am being honest. For one reason. In case someone else is fighting a similar battle and needs to know he/she/they are not alone.
In 45 minutes, I need to leave for work. It’s Thursday and I feel like I haven’t stopped moving all week. I’m behind on my own commitments and starting to feel panicked.
The pop up kitten cafe fundraiser for Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab is this Sunday.
Although it has required effort from many people, in the last few days this has become my baby.
In the last 24 hours, we received commitments from Just Born candy and Target #2536 (the same Target where I used to work and that experienced a fatal shooting in the parking lot last weekend).
This brings our list of supporters to:
Many individual bakers
Easton Baking Company
Giant Food Stores
Today the teenager and I will be heading to Keystone Snacks to get the Veggie Chips donation.
So that’s the fundraiser but meanwhile real-life goes on. I haven’t worked on William Prystauk‘s upcoming novel in his Kink Noir series, Bondage, in several days. Our personal cat, kitty cancer survivor Opie has a very goopy, wet eyes. This is very unusual for Opealope so I gave him a couple treatments with a chamomile tea eye wash for cats grown and prepared by our fellow foster, Granola Cat Lady.
Despite all this (and only 5 hours sleep from sharing my bed with the teenager’s dog, F. Bean Barker), I still made it to Apex Training for leg day and some warm-up core work. My body was very stiff after that, not really from the workout but because my period is late and doing things to my body.
Although I have to admit I fell on the way to the gym and broke the screen to my iPhone. After 3.5 years I now get to test my SquareTrade insurance.
The other big news is that the teenager installed a new toilet seat in the upstairs bathroom. The old one had screws so stripped it kept falling off while you were sitting on it. Bad news is: our bathroom is 1950s Flamingo Pink. The new toilet seat is white— the only one they had. I hate white toilet seats on colored bowls but I also hate “falling in.” And now that she’s seen it, the teenager agrees.
I finally tried my Emmi Roth cheddar cheese snacks from Hungryroot which were supposed to be for tuna artichoke melts but I couldn’t bring myself to use such fancy cheese on a grilled cheese sandwich. A colleague and I were talking about snacks & cheese so I brought her some and we tried it at the Bizzy Hizzy.
She loved it so much she googled where to buy it. Apparently it’s only available in Wisconsin and Switzerland. It literally melts in your mouth.
After work I went to Sheetz and ordered a pina colada lemonade with immunity boost with my bonus points. It tasted like candy, too thick to be refreshing but definitely very summery. I added some mango vodka when I got home. (Here’s a video if you want to see me talk to myself in a parking lot at midnight.)
And finally, not sure if I mentioned it on the blog, but I’m another step closer to resolving the great EZ Pass Drama of Summer 2021. Did you ever procrastinate something so long it bit you in the ass?
Yeah, so that’s what happened to me.
So, our Nissan Ultima (oh how I loved that car) died suddenly. My husband and I were still together and only had one car. He replaced the Ultima was a used Nissan Juke— a car he had wanted for a while. We moved everything from the Ultima into the Juke.
I had ordered an EZ Pass when I started work on my master’s in world history at West Chester University and was driving down the turnpike at least once a week.
So I knew that the EZ Pass was connected to my car— the Ultima— but I never really used it. I forgot about it. And then I bought my Jetta because I hated the Juke. Our family didn’t really go anywhere. I worked retail so I never really got time off. I had stopped working on my master’s as money got tight and my marriage continued to fail.
I neither returned nor updated the EZ Pass.
My husband returned the box of random things from the Ultima and I, with other things on my mind, tossed the transponder in my car hoping to remember to update it.
I never did.
At this point, I don’t even remember how to access my EZ Pass account.
This summer, the teenager took her grandmother to Cape May. She pulled up to the first toll booth and the toll collector yelled at her for trying to pay the toll.
Being a dutiful child, she trusted the toll collector who told her she had an EZ Pass.
Two weeks later, we get two violations from NJ EZ Pass. $30 in missed tolls and $55 in administrative fees. My daughter and I send a check, but I also send an email stating that I understand I hadn’t updated the EZ Pass, but my daughter had tried to pay the toll and the toll collector yelled at her.
They cashed the check.
Then a couple weeks after that I get a letter from PA Turnpike EZ Pass stating I had insufficient funds in my account and they were threatening to ticket me. Now, my EZ Pass was on a credit card. That credit card expired one month before my daughter’s trip.
I call the number. Because I don’t know my account pin or my transponder number, I am forced to leave a message and they say they will call me back. That was Monday.
A couple days ago I get another letter from NJ EZ Pass. They claim I didn’t pay one of the two violations. I send another email and send them a screen shot from my banking app of the cashed check.
It’s now Thursday. I go to PA EZ Pass and try to remember all my account info. I easily succeed. I look at the “insufficient funds.” $5.37 cents. They also demand $35 to load my account fully. Even though I haven’t used it in three years.
And you can’t just pay what you owe.
I then go to the “manage vehicles” tab, add the Jetta and delete the Ultima. That took five minutes. Had I done that years ago, I could have avoided the whole drama.
When I turned up at the Apex Gym today for my first session of the week, I was accompanied by the teenager and her dog. They were both impressed— and in the dog’s case confused— that my trainer Dan was wearing his baby.
I am always impressed with the different bodies I see at the gym and the attention both trainers give to their clients.
There was a woman at the gym finishing her session when I arrived. She was working hard with some dumbbells, with her back to me. She was older than I was, and overweight, probably at least obese by BMI standards (because I am overweight by BMI standards).
But she was uneven, with 80% of her excess weight in her legs.
And just like with me, Dan supported her and challenged her as if we were athletes. You could tell she was proud of herself, and I was proud of her.
And I couldn’t wait to tell my trainer Dan that I can already feel my body moving better. In his eyes, he calls it “a little increased mobility” and to me, I feel like my knees are moving the correct direction.
I told him that I got to pick at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy and covered about 6,000 steps and pulled 216 items in less than three hours. Now those aren’t stellar numbers, but I haven’t left QC in months. And I didn’t hurt.
If this Apex experience doesn’t teach me to participate in exercise and strength training daily, nothing will.
Today’s workout t-shirt was “let’s hit the bar” by The Fitness Tee Company and my trainer Dan let out an enthusiastic battle cry. We did hit the bar, and we added weight to it. I really enjoy bench press.
In other news, I listened to the latest podcast from the NYT Daily Sunday Read, “The Man who filed 180 disability lawsuits.” It looked at the “industry” of people hired by lawyers to find non-ADA-compliant businesses. And sue them.
I need to digest this more, but the reporter interviewed a small restaurant that almost lost everything because of such a lawsuit, in what seemed a situation where a new restaurant just had everything go wrong.
But the reporter also interviewed the litigant who said businesses have a responsibility to know the law better (my note: it’s almost 300 pages) and that being disabled is expensive so these lawsuits help pay for his equipment and care.
First, the exciting news of the day… our new gym shirts from The Fitness Tee Co arrived a day early. The teenager presents an unboxing on YouTube here.
I couldn’t resist the doughnut tank and the other witty slogans. They were about $20 each and there was a BOGO 50 % off sale on the day I ordered. Shipping was $10.
Update on the progresswithApex Training: As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my trainer, Dan, and I worked core and lower body hard. (Read that here.)
Today my thighs and maybe my hamstrings hurt. Everything hurts. But when I went to work in QC tonight, I emptied every fix from the carts with the same squat form I would use if he were watching. That’s more than 125 times. And here’s the tidbit to consider about my quest to learn more about my body and my cerebral palsy, even though my thighs and hamstrings hurt, my knees moved much easier than I recall. Is it true? Or just my perception? And I came home without any back pain.
Three cheers to my trainer Dan at Apex.
In other Bizzy Hizzy Stitch Fix news, my supervisor has asked me to learn mailer machine. This is a work center only a few people in each shift know how to do. I have heard stories of the finicky and evil mailer machine. But, of course, I said sure.
As my supervisor walked away, I started to get a panicky feeling inside. Yesterday I was moved from my normal spot in QC to a position on the warehouse floor consolidating items in the flat pack bins. Then I got moved from that to men’s returns processing.
On Wednesday, I trained a brand new temp on women’s returns processing.
And now next week the mailer machine?
A few weeks ago it was a brief exposure to style carding.
My insecurity flared— thanks past employers— and I wondered “do I perform so poorly they keep moving me around to a place where I fit?”
And I chastised myself because I know the metrics, I’m not a bad employee. I hope they see I am reliable, flexible, smart, and enjoy learning.
To calm my insecurity, I texted my talented and lovely friend Joan. She retired from a place you might know, Martin Guitar. She worked, I believe, in human resource stuff. And she has some fancy jargon to toss around like Sigma and stuff.
I asked her, texting on my final ten minute break of the night: “I consistently achieve 96% of goal. They constantly train me for new things— spending a day here and there without mastering anything. Am I someone they can rely on? Or are they trying to find something I can do?”
I could hear Joan’s sigh across the night.
She replied, “They recognize that you are smart, and they don’t want you to get bored. They are cross training you to keep you flexible… They know you will catch on fast and do your best, even if it’s not 100% against their numbers. Does the job get done fast and well? Can they rely on you to do it? Of course!”
Everyone needs a friend like Joan.
Tell your insecurities to go f*ck themselves
The wise and effervescent Joan Z
She goes on, “Remember, they’re putting you where they need you. You are a willing pair of hands and pretty good at it. As I used to tell the people at the guitar factory, the more stuff you know how to do, the more valuable you are to the company.”
But here’s my favorite advice, “Tell your insecurities to go f*ck themselves.”
My body turned to me as I went to my car after work today, and as I fiddled with the radio (calling up Natalie Merchant on Spotify singing Space Oddity), my body said to me,
“Jesus, woman, what are you doing? We need to talk.”
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? But we can’t spend too much time on all this as it is 1:30 a.m. and my aching body craves sleep.
The teenager was up fairly early today so I suggested she and our almost 1-year-old pit bull/mastiff/black lab puppy walk with me to the gym, about 5 blocks away.
Now if you’re new here… I’m 46 years old, a former newspaper reporter. I have an amazing 17-year-old daughter. Her father and I separated two years ago but he lives nearby and is still an important part of our household. I have cerebral palsy. He has a club hand. I have recently started a quest to learn more about my body, restart my bodybuilding commitment (I was really into it six years ago) as an alternative to traditional physical therapy, and hopefully lose the 20 pounds I gained stress eating to cope with the toxic workplace of the last nonprofit I worked for.
So, the teenager, the dog and I walked up to the gym. F. Bean Barker is learning new manners everyday and the guys at the gym thought she was a beautiful dog.
And then the focus changed to leg day. Now, on upper body day I get to train like a normal person. On lower body day, my poor trainer has to balance my physical deficits with my desire to kick ass.
Or maybe I’m just as awkward both days, and I just never noticed.
Today was session six. It’s the last week of two sessions a week and next week we increase to three.
Please note: I have been in gyms lifting weights since college, which was about 25 years ago, and in recent years I’ve been in physical therapy to learn to walk, for balance, for the strain of my lumbar region caused by trouble with my S1 joint and my broken ankle. Every body is different. Every ailment or disability is different. It is a quest to balance what works for you, what your body needs and what hurts.
I firmly believe that nothing fixes the body like the right exercises. But for people with disabilities or health issues, it’s hard to recognize what pain you need to work through and what hurt is bad. As a weight lifter, I know muscle recovery pain. As a person with a disability, I often experience burning pain.
As a society, I feel like we invest so much money in medical tests, mental health, drugs, organic food, but we don’t want to pay for a trainer.
My trainer is getting to know me. He knows how to observe me. He asks questions about my mobility. We test exercises by going easy at first and adjusting them based on my performance.
And he reads me well.
There are times I can tell he’s afraid of pushing me too far and then I do the exercise and he makes it ten times harder because I surpassed his expectations. This makes him a good trainer because it means he’s testing my basic form and strength so I don’t get hurt. And he readsmy body language to see how I’m doing— not relying on my words.
A good trainer has to push you out of your comfort zone. But he also has to make sure everything’s executed for best impact and in a way that you don’t get hurt.
I have to admit, I hated him a little today. But I also love his full body approach. But when he tells me to do sumo squats with a 15-pound dumbbell and my toes pointed out AND make sure my knees “follow” my toes… I don’t know whether to cry or punch him.
It’s the gym— both those feelings are valid.
But let’s examine the issue. My knees face in.
This means to perform the motion he has requested, I need to move one foot at a time carefully into position. I need to really concentrate on balance. As I move, I need to keep my head up, focus on stretching the knees to position in line with my toes (which is not the way they go) while holding a weight and trying not to fall.
I was dripping sweat by the end of this session— before he hands me a kettle bell to end the work out with kettle bells swings.
When I got home, I made a massive high protein vegan pasta. See me make it here (this can also be my official “before” video.)
I ate 90% vegan today. Only animal products I had were half and half for my coffee and a pack of beef jerky at work. I almost had iced tea with local honey but the teenager spilled it when I left it on the dog crate.
This was dinner:
Speaking of dinner— tonight at the Bizzy Hizzy my team competed in the Stitch Fix olympics. We won the gold medal in the egg toss. I was relieved they weren’t real eggs.
In other news:
I almost started editing William Prystauk’s latest novel in the Kink Noir series.
My Poppy Z. Brite books have arrived.
I hurt. I hope it’s the good hurt.
My friend Joan not only brought us old linens, but scored a cat carrier and animal crate at a yard sale.
Today marked my fourth session at Apex Training and my first meeting others at the gym.
Last night we had voluntary time off at the Bizzy Hizzy warehouse. We were released for a a long weekend at 6:30 p.m. (The warehouse is closed Monday for a computer upgrade.)
The teenager wanted to drive and enjoy sports mode in my Jetta. So we stopped at Sheetz and ate fried food and drank energy drinks as one should do at Sheetz. (View Sheetz Shenanigans here.)
I did some editing for Aspire to Autonomy. They are planning their annual 5K. They also recently opened a new safe house and currently have a labor trafficking survivor living there.
I also worked on more of the final proof for my first novel, the debut publication for Parisian Phoenix Publishing. No pressure!
And some of my main characters are having sex again. That, coupled with the fact that I was in men’s returns processing at the warehouse… led to some mental distraction.
I was in bed before midnight as I had a 10 a.m. session with Dan.
I love Dan’s philosophy in incorporating isolated and full body exercises. I love how he paces the workouts— apparently next week is our last week of two sessions a week and we begin three times a week and he’s going to develop metrics to track our progress.
I tripped on the way home, on the same damn bad patch of sidewalk, but this time I caught my balance and did not fall.
And when I got home, the teenager received her new crate for F. Bean Barker. And she bought one way too big. (More ridiculousness here— Bean and Em the FURR kitten).
Now, I’m off to grab Nan and we’re going to can some corn salsa with farm fresh corn.
This weekend was a strange blend of trying to catch up, trying to get ahead and trying to touch base with friends I haven’t seen in a while.
Bill Prystauk (the author of the Kink Noir book series) took the teenager and I to Jasmine for sushi and sashimi. We had a love boat where I tried and enjoyed sashimi for the first time: white tuna, salmon and some clam thing that tasted like a seafood gummy bear.
This week I have a commitment every morning and the Bizzy Hizzy every night. I don’t anticipate voluntary time off because the warehouse won’t have computers on August 2 so that will be another 3-day weekend.
The FURR Pop Up Cat Café is reaching some critical mass as FURR volunteers get more involved and excited. Tomorrow I have a 7:45 phone conversation scheduled with my cat foster godmother and an event planning meeting at 9 will Janel. Still no update on a coffee provider… I’m getting nervous.
But Joan Z agreed to take photos, Gayle is helping design some games.
Then at 10, I’ll be meeting Nan. And at 1, I’ll cook lunch and get ready for my Stitch Fix shift.
This week, I have two training sessions with Dan at Apex Training. Tuesday and Friday. As part of my recovery after these workouts, these might be my main days to do my edits and proofs on the final file for Manipulations. Official launch date is September 11.
Wednesday I visit the chiropractor (and I can’t wait to see what she thinks about my new fitness routine) and Thursday I see my primary care physicians and his residents about my anemia.
I mention all of this because these are the weeks when one has to focus on food prep, proper rest and activities to maintain mental balance.