Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pain in the neck: update

So its been about 2 weeks now since I started physical therapy for the herniated disc in my neck.  The sessions consist of:
  1. 15 minutes of electronic muscle stimulation
  2. 11 different neck/shoulder exercises
  3. about 5 minutes of traction (essentially pulling my head away from my neck)

In addition to going to physical therapy 3 times a week, I also go once a week for a 1/2 hour therapeutic neck/shoulder/back massage.  

Its too early to say if any of its working or not.  I mean, I wasn't in 'constant' pain to begin with, but the pain was pretty intense whenever I sat at a desk or table or drove a car for more than 15 minutes.  I'm also taking Tramadol, a pain relieving medication twice a day which has been working well.  

So I'm basically not in pain anymore but I can't tell if its because of the treatments or the medication.  

I'm to continue this routine until mid-May when I go for my 1-month follow-up with the orthopedist. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Lovely lyrics

The following is likely one of my favorite songs of all time.  Years ago when I auditioned frequently for local theatre productions and talent shows I would do my best to sing this song just as it was sung in the following recording.  The lyrics and voice of Ella Fitzgerald will transform you.

Please enjoy another installment of Lovely lyrics.  Happy birthday, Ella.

Might As Well Be Spring
performed by Ella Fitzgerald

I'm as restless as a willow in a windstorm,
I'm as jumpy as a puppet on a string.
I'd say that I had spring fever,
But I know it isn't spring.
I'm starry-eyed and vaguely discontented
Like a nightingale without a song to sing.
Oh, why should I have spring fever
When it isn't even spring?
I keep wishing I were somewhere else,
Walking down a strange new street.
Hearing words that I have never heard
From a man I've yet to meet.
I'm as busy as a spider spinning daydreams,
I'm as giddy as a baby on a swing.
I haven't seen a crocus or a rosebud
Or a robin on the wing.
But I feel so gay,
In a melancholy way,
That it might as well be spring,
It might as well be spring.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dog person

I did not grow up in a household with pets, unless you count the parakeet we had for a few years.  My parents felt that having a dog would be too much trouble, since we would have to arrange for someone to care for it during our frequent weekends spent at my grandparents' house.  The idea of getting a cat that can stay home alone for the weekend was never discussed.  I don't even remember wanting a dog or cat when I was a kid.

Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was bitten by 2 German Shepherds as a kid.  I was not attacked, just bitten.  And it was on 2 different occasions.  I always had a healthy fear of dogs after those incidents.

My 1st partner had a cat when I met him, and although not particularly affectionate, his cat was nice and low-key.  After we'd been living together for some time we decided to get a kitten together.  I found cats to be easy to care for, but not terribly interactive once they grow out of the kitten stage.

As an adult I learned that I was allergic to dogs, or at least most of them.  Touching dogs or furniture that dogs had been in contact with would cause my eyes to itch.  It felt as though I had an eyelash in my eye, so I would continue to try to get it out, further irritating my eyes.

After less than a year living with Spouse, we decided to get a dog.  I was very clear with him that I wanted no part in caring for the dog, and that I would not keep him from adopting one as long as the dog was trained to stay off the furniture.  Then came Jordan.  Spouse absolutely loved her and she him.  I grew to be fond of her and wound up sharing in her feeding, walking, and care.  But I never really connected with her.  I was definitely allergic to her, but we managed pretty well to keep her off the furniture so I had very few reactions.

Jordan lived with us for 14 years, and after she passed we went for about 8 months with no dog in the house.  I think Spouse needed some time to grieve and frankly I enjoyed the freedom.  Then Spouse began trolling the local SPCA website and made me go with him to see a little white Chihuahua named Marvin. 

Something in me changed.  I allowed Marvin to break the 'not on the furniture' rule.  
I believe I loved him from the instant Spouse brought him home.  He made me a "dog person".  I have pictures of him on my phone which I'm quick to share with anyone mildly interested.  I've even become much more friendly with other people's dogs, something I never did in the past.

I'm absolutely amazed at how having Marvin these past 2 years has changed me, and I think I'm the better for it.

Monday, April 21, 2014


So, yesterday was Easter.  

Due to family drama about which I do not care to elaborate, Spouse & I opted to just drive down Sun morning, spend a few hours with the family, and then head back home.  In the past we would have spent the entire weekend there.

Sitting is not a comfortable position for me with my herniated disc, so I popped a pain pill before we left and headed up the road.  We picked up my aunt Mary 1st, then headed over to Spouse's mom's house.  Two of his brothers were there, and then his sister and her husband and 3 kids stopped over on their way home from church, so we had some time to talk to them before the official Easter dinner at his other brother's house at 3pm.

Other family members came too, so it was a full-fledged soiree.  Aunt Mary brought her famous hummingbird cake, which is reason enough to celebrate Easter or any other holiday for that matter.  By 4pm my arm was hurting a lot, so I took another pain pill and waited eagerly for it to kick in.  We stayed at his brother's house until 6pm, said our goodbyes, then dropped Spouse's mom off at her house, dropped aunt Mary off at her house, and headed back to DE.  We got home at 9:30.  I learned the hard way that 6 1/2 hours is too long for me to spend in a car in my condition.  I was happy to sink into bed and into painlessness.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pain meds

Since the pain from the herniated disc is worse when I am in a sitting position (eating, working, driving) I asked the doctor for some pain medication.  The ibuprofen I've been taking just wasn't cutting it.  Tues after work I picked up the prescription for Tramadol, and took 1 after dinner.  The dosing said to take 1 or 2 within an 8 hour period, and didn't mention anything about taking it with food.

Since my arm was already hurting at 8am yesterday, I took 2 pills with my morning cup of coffee, then went to work where I had 1 more cup of coffee and a glass of water.  Then at 1pm I began feeling hot and flushed.  It felt as if the temperature had suddenly gone up to 150 degrees in my office.  I was literally sweating in my clothes.  I also started to feel nauseous.  I went outdoors and stood in the cool 40 degree air for a few minutes, then returned to my desk.

"Hey, its after 1pm.  I must be hungry and that's why I'm nauseous" I thought to myself.  So I grabbed my lunch from the refrigerator and ate an apple.  I was still so f'ing hot and didn't want to continue sweating in my clothes, so I went outside for a few minutes again to cool off.  As I came back in the nausea got more intense, so instead of going back to my desk I went to the bathroom.  And vomited.

I thought that was the end of it and rinsed my mouth out and patted my face with a cool wet paper towel.  I had clients coming into the office in 15 minutes and I needed to get myself together.  But before I could get from the bathroom to my desk the nausea returned in waves.

I had to call my clients and cancel the showings planned for the afternoon.  Fortunately they were very understanding and we rescheduled for Fri.  As soon as I got home I ran to the bathroom and vomited again.  I laid in bed for a few hours and each time I attempted to get up, I felt a wave of nausea again, so I stayed in bed from 2:30pm and until this morning.  Spouse brought me some oatmeal and ginger ale around 8pm because I was so hungry.  I'd only had coffee and an apple all day.

The potential side effects listed are nausea and vomiting, but since I didn't experience them on Tues night when I took 1 pill after dinner, I'm thinking I probably shouldn't have taken 2 pills on an empty stomach.  Since today is my regular day off and I've been in comfortable positions all day I haven't needed to take any pain medication today.  But just to be sure, I will take 1 after dinner tonight to make sure that is the correct way for me to take them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tax day

Here we are:  April 15, tax day.

Like millions of others I suppose, we usually aren't ready to file by April 15 so I end up emailing our accountant and requesting that he file extensions for us, buying us a few more months to get our stuff together.

Our taxes have always been complicated.  We own 2 rental properties together, we own a 3rd rental property with another couple, and I am self-employed.  There are all kinds of depreciations and exemptions that we couldn't possibly keep up with, so we give all our financial stuff to our accountant and breath a sign of relief that it isn't US who has to make sense of it.

However, this year is different.  I actually got motivated in late Feb to collect and summarize our stuff for 2013 and sent it off to the accountant early.  We got our returns back from him in mid-March, signed them, attached the W2s and payments, and mailed them in right away.  It felt good to get that done and out of the way, early for a change.

Yes, we have to pay.  Since I am self-employed and only pay estimated quarterly taxes, and since our marriage in 2013 is recognized not only by the State but also by the federal government, Spouse no longer gets refunds either.  But as I told Spouse when I was writing out the checks, we should be happy that we are employed and able to pay taxes.  There is still a lot of unemployment and underemployment these days.  We feel fortunate to not be among those groups.

Have you filed yet?  Are you getting a refund?  If so, what will you do with it?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Backsplash: Complete!

As promised, here are the before and after photos of the completed backsplash.
Before:  left side of kitchen
After:  left side of kitchen
As you can see, Spouse was so motivated by the new backsplash to make dinner that I didn't get a chance to take a photo before he cluttered up the counter and stove with food.
Before: right side of kitchen
After: right side of kitchen
The tile is a combination of glass and marble, in various colors and widths.  Here's a close-up of the tile with the cabinetry and granite:

We're really happy with how it turned out!  Spouse said he thought it made the area "open up".  I think it makes the kitchen look 'finished' compared to how it looked before the backsplash.

What do you think?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pain in the neck: Diagnosis

After several visits to the chiropractor for adjustments, electronic muscle stimulation, stretching exercises, and therapeutic massage with little relief, my chiropractor sent me to have an MRI done yesterday.

The MRI was not a big deal to me.  I just kept my eyes closed the entire time so I couldn't see how close the machinery was and I didn't feel claustrophobic.  Unfortunately having to lie on my back with no head/neck support for 20 minutes was extremely painful.  A few times I could feel muscles in my left arm spasming and I hoped the movement didn't mess up the scan.  But 20 minutes was better than the 45 minutes it takes with the less powerful scanners.

The MRI doctor reviewed it with me immediately afterward.  He spoke to me like a physic medium, telling me where and how long I've had the pain!  It was like having an MRI done by John Edward

I have a herniated disc in my neck.  The disc presses on nerves that run down my left arm and shoulder blade, which is why I've been having so much pain there and not in my neck.

So today I saw the orthopedic doctor to review the MRI and he also took 2 x-rays, which confirmed the herniated disc.  He said that since the chiro visits weren't helping, the next step is physical therapy. 

He referred me to a PT specialist nearby and I have an appointment for Mon.  If that doesn't work, the next step would be an injection in my neck near the disc, between the 2 vertebrae.  This must be done with a lot of precision in order to be effective, so they reserve it for when the chiro and PT treatments don't work.  The last resort is surgery, but I have decided that is NOT going to happen.

So the 'mystery' is solved.  Unfortunately it is proving to be a painful one to deal with.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Backsplash: Coming Soon!

For years Spouse & I have thought about having a tile backsplash installed in our kitchen, both for functional and aesthetic reasons.

Anytime we were in Lowes, Home Depot, or the expensive tile store we would look and pick out samples we liked, but couldn't come to an agreement on one.  We even bought a 12x12 sheet of several different tiles to view in the kitchen, but they were either too dark, too bland, too busy, or too modern.  Our cabinetry is a medium cherry color and door design is rather traditional, so that's why some of the tile we liked was too dark and others too modern.  Our granite counters have a lot of 'movement' in them, so that is why some of the tile was too busy.
Close up of our granite counters
But on our latest visit to Home Depot we finally found a winner!  Unfortunately they only had about a dozen sheets of it and we need 3 dozen sheets.  The tile associate told us more was on order and should be arriving soon, so he went ahead and designated the amount we needed.  They called today to say our tile is in.

My colleague Erin's husband is part owner of a tile installation company so he will be putting it up for us this weekend.  I can't believe that after living in this house for over 7 years, we will finally have the backsplash we've wanted!  Look for photos on Mon.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Watch-athon results

So this year Spouse & I watched the entire 3rd season (12 55-minute episodes) of "Spartacus" and 2 full seasons (16 55-minute episodes) of "Magic City".

Normally I wouldn't be interested in a show like "Spartacus" because of all the fighting, blood and gore.  But we watched 2 seasons last year and the 3rd and final season this year because "Spartacus" is full of hot, buff, scruffy men wearing little more than leather diapers.  Call me shallow and see if I care!
And there's a fair amount of male and female nudity too, so there you have it.  Plus the fighting scenes are done in a sort of video game style, where the camera slows down into slow motion and the blood spurts out of the wounds with an unnatural force, as if it were being viewed in a video game, so it really makes it a lot more watchable and less real.

I'd not even heard of "Magic City" before.  But after finishing "Spartacus" I was looking at what else Starz had on-demand and I read that "Magic City" takes place in 1959 - the very year my Big Ella was born.  Spouse & I love mid-century furniture, architecture, clothing, and of course cars so we decided to give it a try.
Its about a Jewish beachfront resort owner and his family who live in the hotel in Miami Beach.  We liked the series a lot, and I would recommend it to anyone who liked "The Sopranos" or "Mad Men", or both.

Do you have Comcast?  Did you watch anything new or different during "Watch-athon" week?  I'd love to know!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

This is Wholesome, part 2

In this post I shared with you my favorite of the "This is Wholesome" videos made by the Honey Maid graham cracker company, and I predicted there would be some backlash from the conservative and unenlightened.  Unfortunately I was right.

However, those clever folks at Honey Maid took that backlash and turned it into something beautiful!  How could they do that??  Watch and see.
"Only one thing matters when it comes to family... Love."

Now, please excuse me while I go buy a few boxes of Honey Maid graham crackers.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Pain in the neck, part 2

So last Thursday's massage didn't do much if anything about the pain in my neck and shoulder.  After several more days of pain I decided to go to a chiropractor.  This was not a decision I took lightly.  Growing up both my parents and all 3 of my siblings had to go to the chiropractor at some point or another, with my mother and my middle sister Dianne going extensively.  I have prided myself for being the only person in my family to NOT go to a chiropractor.

Until yesterday.  I just couldn't take the pain anymore, and really wanted to find out what was causing it.  Unfortunately I still don't know the cause.  I probably have a pinched nerve, and since I don't remember doing anything to incur it, the doctor says it was probably a long-developing thing that has just gotten worse over the years.  My posture and my age have intersected at a very uncomfortable place.

After asking me a bunch of questions, examining me, and discussing everything, the doctor stuck electrodes on my neck and shoulder and turned on the juice.  I could feel the electrical current stimulating the muscles, attempting to relax whatever was pinching the nerve.  After 15 minutes of that, I was back to work.

Today I went back to the chiro office for a therapeutic massage of my neck, shoulder, back, and arms.  Talk about painful!!!  That b*tch pressed and poked and punched me so hard I felt like I'd been run over by a truck.  It was definitely NOT a relaxing massage.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that yesterday's electro-muscle stimulation or today's therapeutic massage are helping.  I'm not sure where this is going but I hope it results in relief from this pain in my neck.

Just because

Thanks to MAC at Yummy of the Day for this delectable delight.