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….

Heartstrings and hip pain

The start of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago brought an end to a couple toxic situations in my life, and led to many new experiences that were both rewarding and frustrating.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you may remember teenager #2, a friend of my teenager who needed a place to stay. Teenager #2 and her cats stayed for about nine months, with minimal support or contact from her parents.

Teenager #2 turned 19 last week, and I don’t know if she’d expect me to remember or not, because I haven’t heard from her since she moved out. And left a very trashed bedroom behind. And her cats taught my cats bad habits we are still trying to break.

I’ve heard rumors that she’s expecting her own baby now.

It’s also been about five weeks since my mother contacted me. Though she will probably read this later and text me nasty messages.

And my dad is three-and-a-half months gone now, and it leaves me wondering how people can be there one second and just… poof… gone.

But I’m not trying to elicit pity, I’m merely stating some of the thoughts in my brain to say that my emotions are already on edge.

So, a couple weeks ago we (the teenager and I) received a text message that our former foster Extra Crunchy was being returned to the rescue because a new baby was allergic.

This broke my heart.

But the family never showed up. They turned up unannounced at the FURR adoption event yesterday and returned him on his first birthday.

Readers, I think I am losing my stomach for rescue work.

Extra Crunchy was one of two kittens who survived a bout with distemper last spring. Feline distemper is a very fatal and preventable disease. FURR received a call that someone had three cats, two female and one male, neither fixed nor vaccinated. The two females each gave birth to a litter of kittens. But everyone contracted distemper. And the adults died.

So they called FURR, and FURR took in these ten dying and starved kittens who had never even had the chance to nurse from a mother.

My daughter asked if she could foster these babies, and our cat foster godmother said yes, but that we had to be prepared for them to die.

So my daughter started syringe feeding them. On the day she took over their care, two died right away. And it seemed like every day another would die, usually in the teenager’s arms.

We gave them ridiculous names because they weren’t going to live. Rufus. The Magician (he would just randomly teleport from one end of the playpen to the other). Spunky. Parker (which was actually Parkour because he climbed everything).

And Extra Crunchy. Because he was covered in formula, cat food and feces. After all, no one had taught him how to groom and no one had groomed him.

Extra Crunchy Kitten.

Extra Crunchy being syringe fed by the teenager

Extra Crunchy and Parker survived. They beat the odds. Like I did. My mother named me Angel because I was supposed to die.

So it hurts to see his adoptive family reject him, but they did the right thing by returning him to us.

YouTube Playlist for all the distemper kittens (trigger warning: some of these videos may reference or feature death.)

Extra Crunchy is currently at Chaar Pet Store in Forks Township.

On Friday, the teenager plans to bring him home for a bath and grooming before Saturday’s adoption event.

In addition to that, my hip is acting up and I don’t have a chiropractor appointment for two weeks. So I’m trying a whole lot of stretches.

The pain got worse throughout the day, and I accepted the offer to leave work at 3 when they announced VTO. I picked my own cart to start this morning, which meant I had a 3,000 step walk first thing in the morning. And by the end of the day, I had shipped 380 items, which, by my calculations is 108.5%.

This Monday is a disability day

Yesterday was a good day at work. I worked all ten hours and packaged 561 items. I came home achy, but not in a horrible way.

Then, today I woke stiff with my bones burning. The temperature had dropped 20 degrees and I thought maybe that had caused the issues in my joints.

I had that feeling — I’ve mentioned it before in my posts about my life with cerebral palsy— that my right leg was not in the hip socket all the way. It didn’t hurt, not really, but the persistent sensation left me queasy and close to vomiting.

The feeling in my hip changed a lot throughout the morning and as the awkwardness and instability in my right leg changed, my lower back began to burn.

Then one of the process leads came around the warehouse offering an early out for all of us— so I told her… I’d like to call my chiropractor, and take the early out.

So I called Dr. Jensen of Back in Line and she, herself, answered the phone.

“I don’t know if you have the time or the interest to see me today,” I said as I explained everything.

She wanted to see me.

So despite the fact that I did 112% in my job yesterday and I believe 105% in QC today, I went to the chiropractor and had a grueling appointment. Things popped. Body parts screamed.

My body still aches— but now my bones no longer feel like they are grinding or that they are pointing the wrong direction.

A new pizza adventure At Nicolosi’s and a post-splinter update

First, let me start this blog entry at the end— with the pizza the teenager and I shared at Nicolosi’s.

Second, I will discuss my performance at the warehouse this week and how my body has felt now that the splinter-wound has finally healed.

So come for the food and stay for the disability talk if you desire.

It’s been at least two weeks since Nicolosi’s in Forks Township started advertising “pizza flights” on Facebook.

Now, as the teenager’s father will confirm, I love trying pizza. He and I once did a pizza tour where I ranked every pizza on a long list of qualities. This was probably 25 years ago.

When Nicolosi’s started advertising these flights— four of their specialty pizzas combined in one square pie for $20– I knew I had to try one. That’s two generous pieces of each variety you choose.

The teenager let me choose so I tried to pick flavors that would appeal to her, too: (Clockwise from top left) Eggplant parmigiana, pierogie pizza without the onions, chicken parmigiana and chicken-bacon-ranch.

I was not prepared for the Halloween decor, like the zombie pizza man, horror movie posters and plush toys from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I was prepared however for the deliciousness.

My favorite (which surprised me) was the eggplant. The staff was super friendly. The place was simple but also strongly quirky. And all of these things make me very excited to go back.

Next time, I’m ordering the garlic knots in vodka sauce and the cannoli dessert pizza.

And now an update on the random things:

Nala is doing well.
The teenager bought me the obscenely large mug from Staples. Click the photo to read about the original attraction to the mug.
I had cookies and milk at work.

Now the more serious stuff…

If you’re new here… I am in my mid-40s trying to learn how to age well with my cerebral palsy which impacts the control and structure of my legs.

As you may recall if you read my previous blog post, I had a great workout Saturday and spent the day showing my college roommate around downtown Easton.

On Sunday I woke up and my wound in the ball of my foot (from my splinter) had healed. I performed at 95% in Freestyle at work that day primarily because my printer and my computer wouldn’t cooperate and I lost 20 minutes trying to fix it.

Monday I was achy but managed to work my full 10-hour shift AND hit 100%.

But I was hurting a bit. Primarily my back. So I changed shoes and went to work Tuesday only to have my spine and both my legs start burning intensely. I still managed to hit 97%.

And I had two small falls at home yesterday.

I woke up hurting in my spine and hip. And anxiety plagued me wondering what the day would bring. I felt much better— but my right hip is uncomfortable. Fairly badly uncomfortable. But I finished my 10-hour shift and by my calculations I had 95%.

Tomorrow I visit my podiatrist. We’ll see what input he has.

Rocking the Beast

Today started as an average day in the Bizzy Hizzy. This was welcome in my world as we changed the clocks last night— so as far as my body was concerned it was 3:45 a.m. when my morning alarm sounded.

Yesterday they didn’t open the warehouse because of the predictions of the sloppy winter storm.

I performed as expected in Freestyle, meeting the pace they like us to keep. We ran out of work, so I went out to pick. Now, picking is the act of running through the warehouse gathering clothes. A normal cart for picking fixes holds 40 items. A direct buy cart holds 80. I picked my batch is 41 minutes. That’s pretty good.

But somehow I also managed to ship 515 items— when the goal for a 10 hour day is 500, and I left the department for 45 minutes.

I also learned from the supervisor that I have successfully made it onto the safety team.

The teenager said I could have a cupcake to celebrate.

My lead at work has started calling me a beast— basically because for two days in a row I think I’ve hit 110% of the daily metrics. But he also mentioned it when I lifted a heavy box (probably 35 or 40 lbs) from the floor and carried it to my work station.

At the moment it happened, the phrase irked me and I wanted to take some time and think about why.

I know he meant it as a compliment, in that same way we celebrate achievements in sports or the gym. But that’s not how it felt.

It felt like he underestimates what I am capable of because he knows I have a disability— but he doesn’t know I work out with a personal trainer. He doesn’t know I considered body building a hobby. He doesn’t know I used to take 1,000 pounds worth of boxes like that into a commercial kitchen’s freezer.

I am a beast. And I hope this good spell lasts long enough to figure out what to do if the issues return.

But I am a beast just for getting up and going to that warehouse on days that I hurt.

It takes way more “beast” to perform on a bad day versus a good one.

Sometimes the bad, and the cold, can be good

Working 10-hour day shifts after a year of second shift has certainly proved challenging (and this weekend will be one of those challenges as we change the clocks in the wee hours of Sunday morning). And I do appreciate the long weekends, but not the 6:30 a.m. start times.

My “weekends” (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) get hectic— usually one day for errands and medical appointments, one day for chores, and (only quasi-joking) one day for cats.

I woke today at 5:30 a.m. in part because my cat Fog seemed to be in the middle of a panic attack, banging on my door and screaming, wondering why I was still in bed. I thought I might snuggle back under the covers when the garbage man rolled up and decided to bang cans and recycling around underneath my bedroom window.

Now that I’m on day shift and normally wake at the ridiculously ungodly hour of 4:45 a.m., 5:30 a.m. is technically sleeping in. And while the garbage man and his predawn ruckus used to piss me off when I went to bed at 2 a.m. after clocking out at midnight, “he” is merely a minor inconvenience now.

But I woke with a strange chill as I crawled out of bed— but I am always cold so I thought nothing of it.

I picked up Nan and 9 a.m. and as we were working in my dining room, I asked, “Are you okay, I’m cold.”

And she confirmed that it was cold but it was okay.

But I said no, that I couldn’t feel my toes and we needed to nudge the heat even though it was approaching 50 degrees outside.

But the thermostat read “56” even though the heat was set at “62.” And I realized that my fuel oil company, Deiter Brothers, had sent me an email that I would receive my automatic delivery fuel drop in the next day or two.

Obviously, we didn’t make it.

We were out of oil.

I confirmed it and called Deiter Brothers and brought Nan out to the sunporch where it was 60 degrees and sunny.

And the dog kept us warm.

After I took Nan home, I did a headcount on our personal and foster cats and sure enough everyone was someplace warm.

I folded some laundry on the porch, now a toasty 64, and the oil man arrived as I sipped a cup of coffee to stay warm.

And much to my surprise— I had enough summer prepaid gallons left to fill the tank. If I didn’t, my locked in rate would have been $2.399 a gallon. Which seems insane compared to the current price of oil.

This is only the second time in the twenty years I’ve lived in this house that automatic delivery let us run out.

So now we’re toasty again— thanks to the oil delivery man priming the furnace and getting us running again.

I shared some good laughs with Nan, got some good animal cuddles and appreciated the sunshine more than I might have otherwise.

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!!!!!