Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 15, 2008

Got Questions?

Mahalo now has in....

Mahalo Answers!

Ta Da! Very cool new feature on At 3 a.m., when you can't sleep because you are pondering some extremely deep question, this is the place. Just log on, ask or answer a question, earn points or Mahalo Dollars.

Nice job, Mahalo. Very nice job!

Monday, December 8, 2008

In Memoriam.

I learned today that I have now lost a second friend to pancreatic cancer. She was a mother of four and she just turned 40 last month.

She turned 40 last month.

I realize that times are tough and that we are all struggling to get by and to get ahead - but please, take a few minutes to connect (or in some cases, reconnect) with friends and family in coming weeks, if you can. I know you are busy, I do. But I also know from very, very personal experience that someday you will give just about anything to be able to see those people again. And you will miss them more than you could ever imagine around the holidays. Now if you will excuse me I am turning OFF the computer and going to take my own advice. Quickly.

Monday, December 1, 2008

NEW BRUCE Alert! My Lucky Day video!

And it's a pretty damn good tune.

Nice. Very nice. Post River, definitely - pre BITUSA? Or Tunnel?

Another victory, a really, really sweet one

For those of you who were not fortunate enough to be in Bryant-Denny Stadium for this year's LOVELY Iron Bowl, I offer this video evidence of the frenzy:

Let us all take a moment today to give thanks to the Alabama Crimson Tide for delivering a humiliating defeat to the Auburn Tigers. I could go on and on about this, but I'm pretty sure I don't have to.

Roll Tide, ya'll.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gobble Gobble

Well the turkey has been consumed, the family visit has ended and it is time to begin prepping for a very, very big football weekend here in Tuscaloosa. I realize the whole country is focusing on Bama vs. Florida in the SEC Championship, but I haven't even started really thinking about that. First things first people. BEAT AUBURN FINALLY would ya?

Thinking a lot today about things I am thankful for this year: my family, my friends (new and old) and my health. Most notably, I'm thankful to be walking. Not the most graceful of walks, but I can move my legs and feel about 80% sensation in the left leg now. I am thankful for my surgeon who moved fast in a crisis. I am thankful to have excellent health insurance that paid 80%. I am just damn thankful for it all. Even knowing my spine situation for years...I never dreamed it would actually all fall apart so quickly, the way it did. The whole experience was terrifying and humbling. It puts you in a whole different frame of mind to go from walking to...well, not. I hope I am NEVER faced with that kind of crisis again - but even if I am, having come out of this I know I'll be able to deal with whatever happens. You find out fast when hard times hit who is really in your corner. I have a LOT of extraordinary people in my corner. Again, thankful.

I am also thankful that I finally grew a pair and made the leap out of radio. I rode the ship and bailed water out with the best of them. I managed to survive for many, many years when others fell around me. I was able to leave ON MY OWN. I wasn't forced out. That gives me peace of mind like you wouldn't believe. The decision to get out and take up something entirely different was quite unsettling...change isn't easy. But the decision was absolutely the right one. I am now able to chart my own course, I realize that. I am now certain I can do whatever I set my mind to do - never had that kind of confidence before. I had a two year plan to get out - and I beat it by 6 full months. I worked three jobs at one time for over a year to get there. Times are hard for everyone...obviously we all know that. I am thankful to be employed, thankful to be doing something that brings me personal satisfaction and still feeds that yen for news I'll probably always have. Will I be doing this a year from now? I don't know. I really don't. I hope so. But if not, I know I'll be doing something...and I know I will never allow myself to baste in negativity again. I went through wave after wave of sporadic layoffs in my previous places of employment. Longest wave was about 18 months. Every week, someone else was gone. When it was finally over, only 4 original people were left in the building, and I was one of them. Now it's fabulous that I survived, I know that, but it didn't feel fabulous. By the time it was over I was drained. Tapped slap out. Nothing left but fear and negativity. That kind of B.S. really, REALLY screws with your mind. I should have gotten out in the midst of that turmoil, but I was too afraid because I didn't know if I could do anything else. I know now that I can. That changes EVERYTHING.

Don't know where I was going with that little missive. Just making a point that I'm thankful for PERSPECTIVE.

Happy Turkey Day to all. Off to make a turkey sandwich and watch some trashy TV with my spouse and my dog.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Well THAT was fun...

I'm wiped. Roll Tide and all that, but DAMN people. I'm thrilled for the win, it is a W one way or the other - but we're gonna have to simmer down (or up?) if we expect to pull off Florida. And no I have NOT forgotten we still have Ms State and Auburn coming up.

We went to campus today to drink and be merry. This is significant because there is now a 1.5 mile walk to get to our favorite watering hole. Seriously, there is NO place to park anymore - so I've had to stay home more weekends than I care to simply because I haven't been able to make the long walk and then stand for hours to watch the game. Today, I did. Small victory, but a good one.

Progress report: I seem to have hit a bit of a plateau with the healing - it is really, really slow. So much so that I almost don't notice when I get a bit more feeling back in my leg/foot. The other day I'd been sitting for something like five hours without getting up (bad idea for ANYONE, btw, even if you have a healthy back) - I got up, freaked out because the numbness was worse, and promptly hauled my butt all over the neighborhood at record speed (for me, for ME - not for oh, say, a turtle but for me). The next day, another good long stretch of sitting. Got up anticipating the shooting pain and numbness...not bad at all. Walked to the coffee pot and realized my calf was really sore. Hm. Well, that sucks. WAIT. WAIT WAIT WAIT a minute! If it is sore, that means I am USING THE MUSCLES. And if I'm using the muscles that means I'm getting some function back! !! ! Soreness! Oh blessed soreness! It hasn't happened since, even though I've walked a lot more than usual. Hoping for more soreness...that HAS GOT to be a good sign, right? For now I'm trying to remember to take a break from sitting. I get so engrossed in whatever I'm doing with work I just forget sometimes (okay, all the time). I have an egg timer that I'm using to help me with work-related tasks...I am thinking about adding a second one to remind me to get up and walk for a few. And I am trying to learn to walk away from this computer for long enough to get in the car and GO SWIM. Down to two days a week: I think I need to push harder.

Still having significant problems with my leg and ankle swelling...just the "bad" side. It happens when I sit for a few hours. I asked neuro about this (can't remember if I blogged this part before), says when nerves are severely damaged they interrupt some fancy process (sorry he goes techie on me at times and I zone out) and somehow they slow the circulation and the ability for the fluids to move through normally. Obviously I was keenly aware of what nerves did in terms of pain and sensation - I had NO idea they controlled or could control all this other stuff. His suggestion to help alleviate the problem: get up and walk, a LOT. He also suggested wearing some sort of grandma foot compression thingy (apologies to grandmas out there) that might keep the swelling to a minimum until my sit time is over for the day. ACK. Can't do it. Just can't bring myself to do it. UGH. Anyway I'm losing my battle with that...I've been dealing with this for almost a month now, and it is rather ankle also looks freakish. Granny stocking may be in my future, at least for a little while.

Drugs: down to Lyrica maybe three times a week, usually toward the end of the week (see: sitting issues pain numbness get up stupid). Only take at night to make the electric current stop for a while. Motrin for the soreness (still have back pain, whoop de doo, nothing compared to this other challenge). That's it. The insomnia is better - SO much better. I have always struggled with it, way before pain began. Just me. But what I dealt with in the first few weeks after surgery was a real pain in the posterior. Made me feel lazy. Made me feel useless, because I wasn't able to do a lot at night (I used to go on cleaning binges if I couldn't cleaning is pretty limited now...YOU try to clean house without bending or squatting).

Great week, to be honest. Obama won, Alabama won, I am winning too, I hope. Some days I'm really excited and hopeful and optimistic - other days, mostly when I'm particularly tired, I'm worried this will be as good as it gets. I have had more good days than bad - and (knocking wood), I have NOT had a repeat surgery. It has been 10 weeks. Here's to 10 more weeks. Or 10 years.

Here Kitty Kitty

Off to campus to hit the bar and watch the Bama/LSU game. Nerves are jumping, I tell ya. Here's hoping for reason to celebrate around 5:30 pm, and here's hoping none of my fellow fans will be pelted with the mythical urine-filled water balloons!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election 2008

SO excited - THIS IS IT people. IT. After all the bitching and moaning and screaming and crying (oh sorry, was thinking about football games, whoops) - Election Day 2008 has arrived. Mahalo's working SO hard to get these returns to you...I'm really proud to see the effort being made.

Check out these pages to get some quick results and analysis:

Election Results!


Keep up with polls here!

Happy Election Day, everyone. What an amazing two years we've had getting to this point.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's out! It's OUT

Ta daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

Here we go. I'll celebrate for another 4-5 minutes and then start worrying about LSU.

BCS Standings Coming Out...

Popcorn is popped. Hangover is cured from last night's celebrations...and I'm having flashbacks like you would NOT BELIEVE to 1980. Not that I could remember that far back, LOL. I still almost wish we could stay #2. Young team. Big heads. LSU is a big big big big big big game. This may or may not last, but it feels SO AMAZING right now. I am going to be an emotional wreck this week for so many reasons.

Let's all take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

Dear Mike Crabtree,

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.

Just returned from the INSANITY that IS Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to our comfy cozy abode, and the hangover has just begun. Dare I say we could be #1 in BCS in about 16 hours? So very happy. It has been a long, long time coming. Personally, I'd prefer to stay at #2...LSU will be a major challenge. Not over yet, not by a mile. But DAMN THIS IS FUN RIGHT NOW.

Roll Tide!

(and no, I behaved - did NOT jump up and down even though I wanted to many times tonight...gotta keep healing so we can hit a bowl game in a month or two!!)

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Okay I know that's video from last year, but I don't have one from the '08 win (!!) yet. Feel free to join in....

Roll Tide!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Appointment 2 Update

Well, I am relieved after this latest neuro appointment. Good news: I'm improving, in part because I am indeed regaining some sensation in my afflicted limb and also because I'm not getting worse. No on physical therapy for now. Maybe in a few months. Not until this nerve damage repairs itself a bit more - and the timetable for that is really unknown. Weeks. Maybe months. Hopefully no longer than that. I'm not setting any hard and fast personal goals for now - partly because I don't want to set myself up for disappointment and partly because I know damn well I am SO not in control of this particular situation.

Lyrica dose: down to 50 mg at night. Woo hoo! Hopefully I won't need it at all eventually, but if I do, at least this is a very small amount.

Continue to swim, walk, walk, swim, walk while swimming, etc. No bending, no prolonged sitting, no backbends or trampoline jumping. No yoga, sadly, but I guess that goes along with the backbends.

But I can skydive. You heard me, I said I AM allowed to skydive. I asked. I got a little sideways look and a definite pregnant pause, but yeah, I'm cleared. So yes, I'm making plans to do it someday. Maybe next year. I have no idea what's prompted this overwhelming desire to jump from a plane, but I'm just gonna go with it.

So that's the boring update. Boring is GOOD. VERY good.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Appointment Number Two

For those of you keeping score, I'll have my second post-surgery checkup in less than 12 hours. The first one floored me...heard many things I didn't know...many things I didn't want to hear or accept. I'm hoping tomorrow's little get together will be a tad more on the 'feel good' end of things. I'm walking each day, though I've cut back to a short trip around the block around lunchtime and a longer jaunt after work. Swimming several days a week - should probably be more, but not right now. Lots going on, what with the whole getting back to my real life bit. Pain does have a way of reminding me what is most important - so in that sense, it does serve a useful purpose. Gets me out of my "zone" when I'm working, off my posterior and moving, whether I want to do it or not (and 99% of the time I can think of a million more interesting things I want to be doing). My own little built-in drill sergeant. Woo hoo.

I must say that the numbness is significantly improved from one month ago. It is still there, but it is not a complete numbness, except in my foot/ankle/very lower calf. The most encouraging thing, so far, has been that both the pain AND the numbness are MUCH better when I first wake. Of course both worsen as I sit, but the fact that I recover by the next morning...that is what's got me so happy. This is the beginning of my new back chapter, I'm not expecting miracles here, just a decent quality of life, maybe another hike or two (or skydiving, a discussion the other day got me REALLLLLLY wanting to jump and yes I know that would be a bad idea).

The weakness has not improved at all, yet. I think it will. Still cannot push off my foot - no achilles feeling, lower calf just isn't working the way it should. My mind tells it, over and over and over, to move, work - not happening right now. I'm not nearly as frightened by it, though, as I realize that strength may be the last thing I get back. Could take a long time. My heels are retired, for now. *sigh* I live in my Keens, Crocs and Merrills for now.

Tomorrow I'll find out if physical therapy is in order. Somehow I don't think he'll go for it just yet - at least not until more of the numbness is gone. Swim, walk, swim, walk, lie down, sit just a little, stretch, swim, walk. No weight loss yet, but no more weight gain so far. I am taking Lyrica regularly at night, but a VERY low dose - and tomorrow I am going to request an even lower dose. The lower the better, as far as I'm concerned. Lyrica really is a miracle drug for me with the nerve pain, but it is a nightmare for weight gain and swelling and just overall feeling "wonky." I think by now we've established that I am NOT a big fan of taking any kind of drug if I can help it.

So that's the update. I am going back to read where I was one month ago, as I promised I would, to remind myself yet again to be patient. This recovery is measured in months, not days and weeks - and I must remember to be patient. Not my strongest suit.

Hobbling along,

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hank Jr. McCain Song

Please, please let it be over soon. And please let me have some extra Maalox in the fridge....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Loving John Hiatt

Little musical escape for ya'll...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ew. Shots.

I hate getting shots, but given the current situation - well, it just isn't too bad at all. I'm drugged out of my mind right now, but I haven't sneezed once since 3pm this afternoon. Hopefully I won't for a while. At this point I'll get shots every single day to save my spine.

Good news to report: my leg is itchy. Why is this good? I can feel something. Apparently this is a sure sign the nerves are repairing. Itchy is good. Sneezy is bad. Doc says so. Not sure where Grumpy, Happy and Bashful fit in, but you get the idea.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

Well, well, Saints. My dear, dear Saints, you are breaking my heart over and over and over. We beat ourselves quite handily tonight. Most impressive. Can't get started on a tirade about the idiot refs (I'm sorry, the guy almost ripped Reggie Bush's HEAD OFF and you DON'T SEE THAT?! WTF?!) or even dear, dear Martin Grammatica (yay for you at 52 yards but you MORON...I still hate you from Denver a few weeks ago)...

Injuries. Oh the injuries. Just thrilled to know Tracy Porter's out - dammit another Saints injury!!! I don't know if it's broken wrist, hand or forearm yet. Either way this means we'll see lots of Jason David. Goody.

On a much brighter note: Reggie Bush, you truly make my heart sing (before it shatters into tiny black and gold Fleur-De-Lis pieces, of course). Drew Brees, I wear your jersey each week with pride, always. And Sean Payton, you scare the crap out of me but I think I heart you too...I do scream at you a lot, I know this, and I hope you don't take it too personally.

Other news: I've either got a bad cold or I'm having a major allergy attack. Normally I wouldn't even think about it other than "ew I feel kinda icky," but I'm sneezing like mad. Sneezing, you see, is one of the absolute biggest no-no's for those w/disc problems (coughing too, but sneezing is worse). I knew this, sort of, because until now each time I sneezed it did give me a slight twinge. Today I'm having the sneaky sneezes...the ones you can't prep for and brace for...and I'm paying for them. I took a Benadryl to try and Stop the Sneeze. Not working. So tomorrow, I will go in and let my doctor shoot me up with something a little more hardcore. This is the regular doctor - the one I never see because I am rarely sick...aside from the spinal surgeries, of course. Surprise sneeze...bad bad bad.

The surprise sneeze:

Until the morrow. Ahhh CHOOOOOO.

Ralph Stanley Barack Obama Ad!

Ralph Stanley has a radio ad for Barack Obama...

Nice. Very nice. Apparently this ad IS running in the state of Virginia, right now.

On a related note, did anyone catch Springsteen's set at the Obama rally in Philly on Saturday? What?! You say you were watching football?! How DARE you?! Okay, for those of you who could not multi-task on

My gift to you. And while I'm on a roll here, might as well throw out my favorite performance from this past tour that I did NOT see: Anaheim, California - "Ghost of Tom Joad" with Tom Morello. Damn. The music and the message never gets old.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Roll Tide

Ah, another weekend - another Tide victory, though this one was anything but pretty.

It is a "W" so I'll gladly take it, but we've got work to do. Much work.

YAY VANDY! Auburn sucks horribly, which always makes me smile. Vandy: #1 in SEC East?! Amazing. What a strange, strange year we're having down here. Funniest sign of the day spotted at the Vandy game: "Geeks shall inherit the turf." Go geeks!

Psst: the meds last night were so incredibly helpful with the pain. I think I slept longer and harder than I have in a month. Downside: I literally didn't wake until 11am and even then I felt extremely hungover. Took several more hours before the fog lifted. I'm debating whether to repeat tonight.

And a quick note on the strange ferris wheel dreams I've been having: I looked this one up to interpret...

"Ferris Wheel

To see or ride on a Ferris wheel in your dream, suggests that you are going around in circles. You are headed no where. Alternatively, it is symbolic of wholeness and the circle of life. Life is full of ups and downs."

So there you go. Absolutely how I feel at times with this spine of mine. As a shrink's kid I should have gotten this one. Doh!

Sweet dreams, again.

Midnight Snack.

Can't sleep again for the umpteenth time, and I am more sure than ever that pain is the culprit. Tried a new experiment: taking ALL the drugs that I have been prescribed. At once. I must explain that I'm extremely stubborn. I try to do things without "help"...and really I just hate taking all drugs. I like my liver, I'd like to keep it a while longer. Anyway. Just an FYI for anyone who has had back surgery, or any other procedure that causes major pain recently: take the drugs if you need them. My current regimen: Mepergan every 4-6 hours and Motrin 800 every 8 hours, Lyrica twice daily and Parafon Forte for spasms (muscle relaxers are a joke, IMO, so I never take those). What have I been taking for the past few weeks? Motrin 800 twice a day. Lyrica a few times, only when the nerves begin to jump (mainly at night). A few hours ago I took all of my drugs, at once, as directed. I think the lightbulb moment hit as I was watching yet another episode of Dog Whisperer (there wasn't a damn thing on, I swear)...

I get it now. What a huge difference. I feel SO much better. I can sort of tell the pain is there, but it is dull and achy - not sharp and burning like normal. I still would never take these during the day. I am certain I would fall asleep at my computer (the Mepergan is a monster, but it's the only narcotic that doesn't make me queasy and itchy).

Lesson learned. I'll still be glad to be back to my old standby of Motrin (I love you, Ibuprofen). I took the Mepergan for a day or so after I came home from the hospital. I slept something like 19 hours (spouse was concerned, I was dreaming about brain eating zombies and ferris wheels for some reason). Hate to miss Saturday sleeping. But I think this might be well worth it.

Sweet Dreams.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Patience, grasshopper.

*sigh* One step up, three steps back. This is the first week I've felt even remotely like "myself" since before the surgery. I was sleeping better and feeling much stronger, considering. I think maybe I'm pushing too hard, though, because as of tonight my pain has skyrocketed and the electric current between my posterior and my toes could light up the whole neighborhood. Hard to sleep with that going on. Remember a while back when I said I'd need to re-read some posts to remember? I did. I CAN do this and I WILL do this and I WILL walk again...maybe a little slower. Right now what I'm doing is not exactly walking. It's's awkward. I teeter and totter. No grace involved. All of our buddies are in town this weekend for the Alabama game - all of them have called, wanted to get together...I just can't do it yet. If they came here to the house I think I could pull it off okay. But going out? To a restaurant? A bar? The GAME? No. I've given my beloved full blessings to go out out out and enjoy the fun football stuff between now and December...I hate more than anything that he's missing out. He says he's not. I say he's fibbing. Yes, I am truly lucky.

Anyway, this is the routine: up at 8am, first walk. This one smarts the most, because I'm so stiff. Leg won't always do what I want it to do. I'd say maybe a quarter mile before it gives out. Then home, lie down for a few to rest (who knew this would be so exhausting???). Then back up, do a little work (hurrah! brain turned on! curiosity about anything and everything satisfied!). I'm happiest when I'm working, to be honest. Always have been. Despite not wanting to, I break from work for another walk. Little less awkward, just as slow but not as fearful of a fall. Quarter mile. Tired. Rest. Back to work! Hurrah! Then beloved arrives home and orders me to get off the computer and get up and moving (grrrr). Walking or swimming, whichever he says. My trainer. Swimming is easiest and I can usually tire out any lingering muscle spasms or stiffness from the sitting/lying down. In an ideal world, the best thing for me would be movement every 20-30 minutes. Anything. Just movement. But that's not reality so this seems like the best approach, breaking up the exercise into shorter segments.

So that's the update for now. This time next month I want to see one mile walks twice a day, and swimming or yoga (my yoga now will never be the yoga I was doing pre-surgery, but the stretching is still there) three times a week, minimum.

Can we get a pool, beloved? Oh. Right. October. Okay, indoor pool?

Crunch time...please register to vote!

This is serious. I know many of you are growing quite weary of the election and politics in general right now. I get that, and I understand why. But the deadlines to register to vote in the 2008 presidential election are approaching very quickly in several states...despite your frustrations, we ALL need to cast ballots on November 4, 2008 - have you registered? I'm not the only one asking.
celebrities galore, including the extremely hot (IMO) Leonardo DiCaprio want to know, too.

Need to know how to register? this is a good place to start.

And while I'm on the topic of election 2008, how about Obama's new iPhone application? I downloaded this morning and it's great. So far no crashes - much better than some of the other apps I've added recently.

Now I must go. Back and legs are positively on FIRE this afternoon, despite walks this morning and this afternoon. No swimming today - I think I was overdoing it with the daily plunges.

Besides, I need to rest up so I can play a game of Sarah Palin bingo during the debate!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dear Spouse

Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday to youuuuuuuuuuuuuu.

Had a nice day today - for the first time, my head actually felt...clear. Not fuzzy and jumbled. I cut all pain meds late last week (yes I caved, I took the "hard stuff" when things got bad), and I'm pretty sure that is behind the improvement. I'm certain I'll have to take them off and on for a while, but I'll deal with the hurdles as they come. Still have a lot of numbness from rear to toes - patience. I've talked to so many people who have had similar nerve compressions/neuropathies and almost all of them said it was a matter of months and years, not days. My husband swears my "limp" (more of a shuffle) isn't that obvious. I still disagree, and continue to refuse to appear in public. I'll get out eventually. For now it's pool and home.

Went swimming again today. I'm a little faster. Still no more than a few laps with the kickboard, but the motion does seem a little easier than last week. I do still get extremely tired after I exercise...that's never encouraging...but it is par for the course. Must remember that.

Progress is a good thing.

And on a completely unrelated note: I spent the better part of two hours tonight moving money all over tarnation (yes, I said tarnation I am from Alabama so it IS allowed). So confusing, trying to reshuffle stuff. NOT touching our 401k of course, but we did move things to "safer" ground six months ago, and we did that once again tonight with a large chunk. Debating whether I could/should go for the Treasury Then, right after I/we finished throwing money around we don't feel like we have (yes yes, someday we will and we'll be damn glad for it), I get a call from a friend (a "sensible" friend w/upper level finance experience) who tells me they're taking everything out of a large Tennessee bank tomorrow. All of it. She doesn't know what they'll do with it yet...but they are definitely making huge moves. So alarming. Trying to absorb, and trying SO HARD not to look at how much we've lost this year (a lot, oh GOD a lot, and more than folks like us can afford to lose). Long term. Breathe. Long term. I am already uptight about tomorrow morning. I feel helpless and so very discouraged.

Fingers crossed folks. Take Dramamine or you'll get queasy for sure.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Tide, Roll! This is beyond my wildest dreams. I take back everything I ever said when we got Saban. Every single thing.

Tonight I had my first beers since the surgery. They were good. I am all kinds of good. Still not allowed to jump, but I can damn sure celebrate with the best of them tonight.

Ramma Jamma Yellow Hammer...

Gas Shortage in Georgia - Athens Bound? Take Note!

For those of our dear friends making the trip to Athens later today - fill up tanks in Alabama, because you may have serious trouble finding gas in Georgia, particularly in and around Athens.

Apparently, there is a major gas shortage in the state of Georgia.

Not really a surprise, given the recent hurricane. What would suck more than driving to Athens and seeing the Tide lose to Georgia? Driving to Athens and seeing the Tide lose to Georgia, then not being able to come home to the safe bosom of Tuscaloosa to fret properly.

Friday, September 26, 2008


John Elway is apparently engaged to a former cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders.

Pity my spouse's head exploded right before the big presidential debate.

And surprise, surprise, my dog is apparently pissed, too. Sort of.

New Dylan Album on NPR!

Yes! Yes yes yes! Happy happy dance.

NPR will stream Dylan's new album, "Tell Tale Signs," for a WEEK before it is released on October 7!!!!

I've already got the alt "Mississippi" from Amazon, and I'm drooling waiting for this new addition to my (frighteningly large) Dylan collection.

Can we get a move on w/"Chronicles: Volume Two" now, please?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

USC Lost!?!

I know I'm heavily drugged with pain meds at the moment, but I could swear I just watched USC lose to Oregon State. I swear.

I did! I did see USC lose to Oregon State!

OMG. This Saturday just became even MORE important. I can't think about'll make the insomnia worse and I'm already too keyed up about the debate that may or may NOT happen tomorrow night.

USC lost. USC = Losers. Wow. SEC baby, SECCCCCCCCCCCCCC.

I know we are a young team. I know we're a year ahead of schedule. I know we're going into Athens to play a VERY GOOD team. But I have hope. Either way, I'm looking forward to a long evening of nothing but serious SEC football. Roll Damn Tide.


I've been really struggling with what to do for my Halloween costume this year. I think it is a safe bet I won't be going as a doctor/nurse/patient or anything else remotely related to health care (shudder). Personally, I found this to be extremely helpful with lots of tips to ensure I am as scary as possible for the holiday (which is my favorite).

Thought perhaps Sex and the City character - Carrie if I'm having a particularly frightful hair day (though right now I couldn't walk in Manolos...who am I kidding, I've NEVER been able to walk in Manolos). Someone also suggested I could dress as a Saints cheerleader or possibly a player (though given the year we're having, I'll need lots of bandages and that hits a wee bit too close to home).

Still debating. I'll let you know. Suggestions?

Barry Hannah Reading Tonight

Author Barry Hannah is giving a reading tonight at the Bama Theatre in Tuscaloosa. For those who don't know, Hannah is the writer-in-residence at Ole Miss right now. He is also a former University of Alabama creative writing and lit professor. Reading tonight, 7:30 p.m., Bama Theatre on Greensboro Ave.

Really, you don't want to miss just don't.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Dog Has Made His Football Pick

Even my dog is in on the Bama/Georgia action, it seems.

Chico Seymour Hoffman's pick!

Dear doggie, I hope you are right. Now get off my computer, I've got work to do!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Okay NOW Let's Talk Some Serious Football...

I mean serious, serious football. I live in Tuscaloosa. I grew up (mostly) in Tuscaloosa. I went to college in Tuscaloosa. That would be Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as in THE University of Alabama. Roll Damn Tide.

This is a HUGE weekend for us. This is the biggest matchup we've had since Saint Nick The Overpayed (?) arrived on campus. It is time to put up or shut up.

And for once, I'm not talking about Bama/Auburn or Bama/Tennessee. No no noooooo. I'm talking about the Georgia Bulldoggies.

Alabama vs. Georgia, EPIC

Alabama CAN win this game. Will they? I don't know. And even if I did, I wouldn't say. I don't bet on my teams, I don't verbalize my thoughts before games...sometimes I write them out in drunken emails on the Friday or Saturday night before (usually Saints games)...but even then only to trusted inner-circle types.

I don't hate Georgia. I really don't. I considered going to school there, even. I like the mascot. Way cool dog(s). I made countless road trips during my college days to Athens, Georgia, and saw some of THE best bands ever. In 1995, while on our honeymoon in beautiful St. Lucia, we spent a blissful afternoon at the sports bar at the resort watching Alabama obliterate Georgia 31-0, and recruiting new Tide fans (Roll Tide, Mon!). Good times.

But that has nothing to do with football now. Not. A. Thing.

Let's just say I am really looking forward to Saturday night. I may be homebound, but we are having people over for a mini-party (only those closest who don't care if I haven't dusted in a few sense in risking it all to play Martha Stewart). I have promised to "behave" no matter what - this means if we make a key interception and run it back for a touchdown I am NOT allowed to jump up and down. I can flap my arms wildly and scream to the heavens, but no jumping. If things are going badly, no stomping of feet. I am allowed to curse like a sailor and walk (gingerly) out of the room to pout.

At least the ground rules have been all laid out ahead of time. But if you are a true football fan, you must understand how very difficult this will be. This is precisely why I hated working in the press box during games.

Blackout in Samford Stadium? Bring it ON.

Roll Tide, ya'll.

Happy Anniversary....

I still find it rather hard to believe, but as of 7 p.m. tonight, my spouse and I have been married for 13 years. Late last night I decided to dig up the wedding pics, just to see. Wow, we look young.

And on a related note: Happy Birthday, Bruce Springsteen. Yes, we got married on his birthday - but I swear that wasn't the reason. We picked the date because it was a (rare) open football weekend in more hotels and less traffic (we were wed at Canterbury Chapel on campus). I swear. Honest. You NEVER schedule a wedding down here during a game weekend if you want anyone to show up. Even open bar doesn't get 'em.

Which reminds me: no we didn't have this played as I walked down the aisle, but if we did it again you BET we would...

And yes, I'm still glad I got off that front porch and into that car.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Please tell me this isn't happening...I know I am in "staying positive" mode throughout all this...but I'm having a hard time coming to grips with news that I have been invited to attend the presidential debate this week at Ole Miss, as media. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Obviously going is out, seeing as I can't really ride in a car for more than oh, say, 10 minutes or so.


Think positive. Positive think.

Nils Lofgren Yankee Stadium Song

Despite being a lifelong Red Sox fan (my father's best friends were from Baaaahston and taught me well), I am terribly saddened by the passing of Yankee Stadium.

And, being a lifelong Springsteen/E-Street fan, I thought I'd pass along this free download of "Yankee Stadium," a new song by the brilliant Nils Lofgren.

It is free to download, it is on Nils' official site. So there you go. Good deed for the day, done.

And on a completely unrelated note: The Stooges have been nominated for the 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Finally. I'm still waiting on the E-Streeters to make it in...hopefully next year?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I Need Flippers

Today I made my first attempt at swimming post-surgery. I don't know why I expected to get in the water and suddenly be able to pull a Michael Phelps. Still numb and weak, even in water. Oh well. One day at a time. Did 10 laps using a kickboard for support....s-l-o-w going. Very slow. But I suppose I should continue to be patient. Tomorrow will be a little better, I'm sure. (btw: two others in the pool with recent back surgeries...both MUCH older than me though...I feel like such a freak sometimes).
Kickboard, light stretching (ow) and attempts to raise up on the ball of my foot (didn't work, the muscles won't do what I tell them to do).

Now I'm wiped out. Completely. Didn't feel tired when I was doing all the stuff. Spouse had to yell at me to get out of the pool.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Not too bad at all...

Considering the big day I had yesterday, I fully expected to hurt like the devil all day today. Not as bad as I'd expected, not at all. I did sleep more, and I'm sleepy now after a two hour nap - but I suppose that'll be happening for a while longer. My body is definitely telling me what to do these days.

I've got some odd cravings surfacing as well. This happened after the last surgery, too. I always hated Diet Coke...then all of a sudden a month after surgery I craved it like mad. Still do. This time, I'm now craving salad and oranges. I suppose if one must crave something, these two choices are among the best of the bunch. I've devoured a beautiful gift basket full of AMAZING chocolate concoctions in recent I've had that fix already. I opened my tin of choc covered expresso beans this afternoon - no desire. Strange.

Managed to put on real pants today. Not sweats, not shorts - actual cargo pants. Took like 20 minutes and it was a little awkward, but I did it. Wasn't going anywhere - just wanted to see if I could do it. And the best news? The pants are VERY loose. Salads and oranges, salads and oranges!

*Quick update: I asked a nutritionist friend about the strange cravings...she says it is definitely my body trying to tell me what it needs...and in this case, it is most definitely Vitamin C and possibly fiber. So there you go, mystery solved. Bought some orange juice - a lot less messy than trying to peel an orange in bed.*

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Dog...the Blogger

I love Chico Seymour Hoffman

Doc Update

Wooh. What a morning...I'm currently teetering on the edge of total exhaustion. My first car ride in three weeks, then sitting and standing and walking...more than I've done in a long time. Before I collapse and (hopefully) wipe out for a while, I thought I'd write all this down while it's fresh in my noggin.

First, none of the ongoing recovery symptoms I'm having surprised Doc. The numbness, the pains, the electric current running from my posterior to my toes...all of it totally "normal." So at least that's something, right?

He confirmed it: I am a circus freak of the highest order. The fragment that broke off after the disc herniation was indeed the largest he's ever seen. The length of your fingers - it literally blew out this time, and the force somehow drove the L4 disc material down into the L5-S1 nerve area in the canal. Once it found a home there, I immediately experienced the intense pain and then the almost instant numbness and weakness. Managed to wedge between (and sort of around, it's hard to write what he showed us) two nerve roots that control all sorts of stuff. It was almost as if I'd had a car accident and the trauma did it - but I didn't. I remember that morning I woke with the usual pains (the herniation, no doubt) in my back - then, as I sat for 8 hours working and not really focusing on anything else (this is a gift, I think, and a blessing for me, to be able to hyperfocus on work to shut out the discomfort), the fragment began to move. I remember the instant the pain blinded me (that must have been when it hit the nerves), then Jeff calling the doc's answering service and him saying go to the ER now and the MRI and all the rest of it...but I am so thankful I didn't know at the time how bad it really was...even now I'm a bit scared after the fact.

Doc admitted he was shocked by the size and the position of the fragment - he had others come in to see it during the surgery. They videotaped, too. So my suspicions that I'll soon be anonymously famous are spot on.

He said this is the type of injury that does often result in permanent disability. In my case, though, he believes this numbness and most of the weakness will resolve as the nerves heal. There is little I can do to speed up the process (I asked). He says it is entirely possible I will be left with a little weakness and some numbness - but nothing like it is now, and nothing like it was before the surgery. I am going to have to accept certain facts that I don't want to accept. I'll get there. I know I am lucky and I am so thankful we acted quickly - but it is frightening when I can't control something. This is definitely out of my control for the time being.

My regimen: walking, daily, a LOT (as much as I can tolerate, the pain does tend to guide you in these matters) and swimming daily. No physical therapy yet. I am a hugely high risk case - as he put it I am "genetically prone to herniate." Every single female on my mother's side has had back surgery, I have recently learned (I'm adopted, for those who don't know, and it's complicated - but I do have contact w/several members of her family). So, no PT for a month - the PT is on ME. That's fine. I need to make this my top priority now. The pain is definitely a strong motivational factor here. I can and I will work my tail off (so to speak) to get the muscles stronger. That is the one thing I can control in all of this...

Once this initial surgery trauma wanes, we'll deal with the vertebrae collapsing on top of each other. This happened w/L3-4 - I remember the bone on bone pain and while it's bad, I was able to control w/Ultram, Motrin 800 and a TON OF EXERCISE. He knows I can do this - I'm not the patient who runs screaming every time I have some pain (I have a ridiculously high pain tolerance now). Once the collapse is final, then the two vertebrae can begin to fuse - my L3-4 is completely fused. No surgery needed. Took about 18 months. So I can do this again. Once that L3-4 fused I remember two years with virtually no pain. I can DO THIS.

Let's see....oh yes. Meds. Motrin I can deal with, anything beyond I get uppity. Lyrica is on standby for nerve pain that gets too intense, but I gained 13 pounds in two weeks on the big dose (haven't lost it, either, and that's always bad for lower back), and I swelled up all over. My eyes looked all was strange. We will use it if it becomes absolutely necessary. Oh yes, it also makes me "trippy" - I see pretty colors and shapes. Some would pay for that kind of high, I think, but I hate it (despite my years as a Deadhead I never really went the "trippy" route). Ultram if needed when the bone scraping starts - and a patch or something even stronger, whatever I need in my arsenal. We'll deal with that when it happens, and I feel confident Doc will make sure I have whatever I need to be as "comfortable" as possible throughout.

Bottom line: I am lucky to be walking at all. I didn't know until today how serious this was - I knew it was bad, but I didn't know it was something that could compromise me forever. I'm in battle mode now. Time to get this done. I may be a circus freak, but I am the most motivated circus freak you will ever meet.

As for the future, we just don't know. I know I'll be okay, it might be a little tougher than I'd planned...but I know I'll hike my Colorado mountains and walk in NYC at a New Yorker's pace (!) and play in the Quarter and see Bruce from the front row again. And I might even have a baby...though not now. Ohhhhhh no.

And I am amazed at my foresight to secure a wonderful job that doesn't require driving 120 miles each day. I'm getting faster on the laptop, learning Apple a little more and thinking a little more clearly each day. I'll be back to speed before you know it. I have an incredibly solid support system in place, I've got a fabulous surgeon who understands my need to understand what is happening and why and I've found work that stimulates my curious mind and feeds that news-y beast that lives within and probably always will. Life is good. I will probably have bad days (tomorrow comes to mind, after all the activity of today), but I'm writing this down so I can go back on those days and remember who I am and what I can do.

One other thing: he said the MRI (with contrast, YUK that kinda hurt) showed VERY little scar tissue formation from my previous discectomy/laminectomy in Feb 2007. That is HUGE. I did what he told me, worked w/swimming, stretching and walking, and kept the scar tissue to a bare minimum. I also took B vitamins and E, which are supposed to help w/nerves. The reason this is important: scar tissue is a big complication w/back surgeries like mine...the tissue can wrap around nerves and cause the same pains and problems that the fragments cause. Once it forms, there is no way to fix it. Going back in to remove only creates more excess scar tissue. Never ending cycle. Failed Back Syndrome (shudder). I did it once, recently, I can do it again. Bare minimum. Walk so the spider web doesn't get you.

I see Doc again in one month, to check progress. And there will be progress. I am sure of it.

Off to crash now, hopefully for a while.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Doc Tomorrow...nervous

First recheck since the surgery is tomorrow morning! One of many milestones to come. I actually am curious about how he thinks things went - I was still snoozing when he spoke to my spouse. Have my list of questions and concerns ready. Biggest concern: continued numbness. Pain I expected, goes with the territory and never really leaves me anyway. I can handle a certain amount of pain...but the numbness freaks me out.

More than likely he'll clear me to walk more to prevent scar tissue formation, and (hopefully) I can start swimming soon. Swimming saved me last time. My physical therapy place (I may soon have a wing named after me) specializes in spine injury rehab, and they've got a great therapeutic pool. I've already pulled out the swimsuit, the boring yet practical one piece, and I'm really ready to go. Spouse has arranged time to carry me hither and yon until I can start driving (last time it took months to clear me but if I'm still numb I doubt he'll green light me until that goes away). Poor spouse. I'm really lucky, and I know it.

By this time tomorrow I'll have a better handle on what's going on.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Choo Choo

I think I can I think I can I think I can...

Today I walked around the cul-de-sac by myself (with observant and slightly antsy spouse cheering me on from the backyard) and only teetered ONCE! I think this would be easier if I wasn't a klutz by nature. I'm honestly not sure how I managed to dance for so many years without breaking a bone.

Okay so I need help with certain things...

and believe me, I've got help. Obviously by now we've established that my cooking skills are...lacking. Sorely lacking. Not sure if it's a lack of patience or what...but it's scary when I get the urge to cook something. Baking, I think I can handle that...

Check out these Halloween recipes...very nice. and, if you need a good overview of the upcoming holiday, try this!

Halloween! YAY!

New Rachael Yamagata!!!

Yes! FINALLY she has a new album coming out. One of my favorites...saw her live about 3 years ago and she was incredible. So talented! If you're into the whole singer-songwriter vibe, Ms. Yamagata is worth a listen.

"Elephants" video

OMG this is awesome!
Now for a little flashback...
"Worn Me Down"

Monday, September 15, 2008

My one really famous relative...

is in the news in a major way today. Alabama Congressman Henry Bascom Steagall was my great uncle. Normally NO ONE would know who he is - but there seems to be a resurgence of interest in the banking act he co-sponsored, the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.

So there you go. I need a Ouija board, pronto!

FINALLY we made it onto YouTube!

Okay after three remarkable Springsteen shows - all seen from the FRONT ROW of General Admission, I might add, we made it onto YouTube!!! I'm certain more vids are coming, as everyone we know who was there saw my mug plastered on the giant screens multiple times...but this is the first we've found to confirm.

Here we are, vid is sideways for several minutes but at exactly 4:40 in, you can clearly see my beaming face (I'm the one wearing glasses, not hard to spot and NO they are NOT Sarah Palin glasses)

This is awesome. I cannot wait to see more! With roughly 1,000 of us holding GA tickets per show, we drew numbers to see what order we'd be allowed in. Each time, we were among the first 100 in. EACH TIME. Of course, we all know I wound up in surgery less than a week later...but the memories of the few days before that are priceless. If this was the last go around for E Street, we sure went out in a big way. Thank you, Bruce Springsteen Organization (including the brilliant but scary tough Jerry Fox), for allowing "regular" fans (ha!) like us to have a shot at something so very, very special.

And to our beloved fellow Springsteen travelers and dear, dear friends (old and new): Paige, Andrew, Bethie, Paul, Doc, Denise and Ken (I'm coming to Oxnard someday!) - we miss you already, and with or without a new tour, we will see you very soon.

Le Pew?

How the hell do you mistake a skunk for a cat, exactly?


So, I'm not the most creative person - and that is especially true in the kitchen area of my home. I'm not sure why, but the cooking gene missed me completely. Sometimes I do get a bit of inspiration...

and this looks interesting!

I might actually be able to pull this off. Will let you know. At least it's something to do w/all my pumpkin guts. I tend to buy and carve several pumpkins each is almost that time!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Small Victory

So today, I decided to turn on the burners a little harder in hopes of revving up those spinal nerves that are still refusing to work. I walked and walked (slowly, with help of course) - did almost a quarter mile. I know that doesn't sound like much but I've got a 5 inch incision at the small of my back and no feeling in my left leg. A victory. Tomorrow I'm going to rinse and repeat.

One caveat: if the insomnia continues (like up til 4-5am) I'm probably going to start the day later. They tell me this is all so super normal...the steroids they're giving me will do it. Apparently this is why my face is so red, too. Looks like I've been sunning on a rock for a week, sans sunscreen. Unfortunately, I probably won't have the tan once the redness wears off. Sadness.

I Have Been Remiss...

So I start a blog all excited cause I'm blogging and what do I do? Forget about it. Forgive me, reader (as in one reader, my dog, Chico Seymour Hoffman - his blog is longer than mine). I've had a lot of amazing things happen to me in the past year...some good, some very much not good. I'll try to slip them in as we go.

For starters, 18 months later I'm recovering from yet another back surgery - one which was far more serious and may leave me with some long lasting complications. This time it was the opposite side of L4-L5. Herniated and a large fragment broke off - MUCH LARGER than last time. So much so that neuro says it was the largest piece he's ever had to remove. The size of his thumb. This one managed, somehow, to wedge between two major nerves, including branches of the sciatic. I cannot even begin to describe the level of pain I was in. I screamed, literally laid on the floor and screamed for hours. I couldn't hide it from my beloved (normally I try hard to spare others, especially him). Went straight to the ER as soon as beloved came home. They knew, I knew. I cried, because I knew this was big stuff. TWO demerol shots. NO relief. Bad bad bad. MRI the next morning. Neuro called that afternoon, said no fusion (thank God) but discectomy, and quickly before the fragment severed something that could not be repaired ("Be careful. Don't move." - nooooo problem). Surgery 36 hours later (the longest 36 hours of my life, I mean I was making deals with the Almighty on an hourly basis). I literally couldn't see at one point, it was so painful...and I did pass out once. So I'm above average with my back problem...nice. *sigh* This is the ONE AREA of my life where I want to be average. Apparently I'm not. The consent form for the study and videotaping and lectures should've clued me in. Lovely. My spine will be plastered in medical schools all over the country - can't they at least photoshop my smiling/grimacing face on the top? I'd be asked for autographs by up and coming neurosurgeons who'd look at me with wild wonder - how is she walking? How does she do anything? Surgery blows, especially when you're in your late 30s and you've been married 13 years SO happily AND have been planning to have a baby before the eggs pack up and move on to egg heaven.

Tick. Tock. Yes I hear it and it is getting louder. Much louder. Each day I'm down is one more day I might not be able to have a child. So far, two doctors (including my neurosurgeon, who is pretty much my primary care doctor now), have told me I'd be taking a major risk by carrying a child...not to the child, but to me. The only remaining "good" disc in my lumbar region (the largest one) could collapse, resulting in some ugly nasty horrible things happening, including fusion surgery. So I've been reading, and thinking. I've ready many stories from women who've done it - they've been on bed rest for months leading up to the birth, and some needed surgery shortly after their children were born, but they did it. And they're raising wonderful children. My mother was fused at several levels and managed to keep up with me my whole life (she was truly a superwoman though). I'll keep you posted. For now, the idea IS still on the table.

Okay enough. Must rest. But has anyone out there found themselves facing multiple back surgeries (first two were discectomy/laminectomies, but the next one coming will be full fusion of at least one, possibly two levels) and managed to have a child anyway, despite the odds? I need to hear from you. I need to hear good and bad. Bad doesn't scare me - the more I know and understand, the better prepared I will be to make the choice. I am stubborn, and so far (despite the surgeries), I have beaten the odds. I don't believe the docs when they tell me I could very well be in a wheelchair from the pain and weakness in 10 years (though I hope this explains why I live the way I do - never know when it will all end). WATCH ME WORK IT! I am extremely determined. Mind over matter and all that...

In the meantime, I am loving my new job - and so thrilled to be rid of the Evil Empire of Radio. I tried. Gave it my best shot and then some for a very long time. Cared all the time, day or night. Not enough to the bottom line. I genuinely loved my co-workers, they are amazing people who share my passion for radio. I miss them. I don't miss radio right now. But radio has been calling (unexpected and interesting). And while I have no intention of jumping back in, it certainly gives me hope that those of us who remember the way radio should be will get a chance again. So far none of the offers move me to take action, but maybe someday one of the mavericks will pluck me out of the pile of radio bodies and plop me down in front of my mic with my notes and voila! Radio Girl is back in business, baby! I would only do that, though, if I felt I'd really be making a difference. Right now, that's just not really possible. Not a priority. To those who continue to fight the good fight: good luck, and I am cheering you on from the sidelines. I always will.

Oh the new job - smiles all around. Peace. Change. NEVER boring. More about that later. I LOVE IT. I love the people I work with that I've never met. They are interesting and super intelligent and creative and quirky and generally fun (I know I'm doing this remotely but I am certain I am correct in this assessment). I love feeling like I'm contributing to something meaningful. That's really all I ever wanted. I love watching a company take shape and change and morph and move in the right direction. I get an adrenaline rush often from the work itself. Sure sign I've found a great fit. Happy happy happy dance!

More more more to come ladies and gents. Must go pop all sorts of drugs and shuffle off to bed.