The Times We Live In

Monday, September 27, 2010 | 0 Comment(s)

The headlines of the paper today are simply too good not to write about.  Let's get right to it.

The Hall-o-Famer:  Segway company owner rides scooter off cliff.

Now i know that a person dying isn't innately funny.  But, holy crap, i can't help myself from giggling each time i read a different version of this headline on different websites.  They say that all publicity is good publicity, but i think we may have finally found an exception to the rule.

 it happens to the best of em


The Straight-Out-of-an-80's-Movie:  Cop's daughter has sex; he fake-arrests boyfriend

I wish i coulda been there.  I wish i coulda seen it.  While on first read this seems like a HUGE over-reaction by an overprotective father, the more i think about it, the more i think that were i a police-officer (shiver) and put in the same position, i probably would have done the same thing.  I mean, why be a cop if not to abuse that power to scare the shit out of people.  Isn't that the whole point of the blinding forward facing spotlight they train on your rear-view mirror when they pull you over.  Some scrawny little Lothario comes to my house to put it to my (imaginary) daughter, and you bet your ass i'd think of something so penis-shrinking that it would take scientists and microscopes to get that turtle to peak out of its hole once again (no pun intended). Apparently sex is the new possession--you can get arrested, but you can't go to jail.

if he was a "Furry," his ass woulda been in jail

The "And you thought Newspaper's were dead"  From the Metro section of today's NYT:  "What he left behind:  A 1,905-page suicide note"

Once again, death isn't super funny.  Suicide especially.  But here's the thing--as a grad student i can say with some certainty that 1,900 is not a note.  It's a suicide novel.  An anonymous professor saw said headline and remarked, "After writing that much, what else IS there to do but kill yourself."  Said posthumous note (sent to friends and family by email) had 1,433 footnotes, a 20 page bibliography and more than 1,700 references to god.  An irony that is somewhat accentuated by the timing of his death atop the Harvard Memorial Church on Yom Kippur.   It's sad AND crazy.  and a little funny.  I hope there are tempur-pedic mattresses in hell.

 To end on a unquestionably fun note, some of my recent tweets (this is NOT to make you follow my twitter, it's because i assume only a few of you do).  Enjoy 140 characters of fun.

@mattitiyahu:  I want to get the billionaire song out of my head, so friggin bad.

@mattitiyahu: Are pegged jean shorts back in fashion? Subquestion: Are you fucking kidding me?

@mattitiyahu: (this one's for those of you on 4square:  I'm at Your Mom's House (Where you live, at Home Ave, Vaginaville).

@mattitiyahu: When did women's jeans and spandex become the same thing.  (ed. note: the Sassy Curmudgeon aka. my friend Una has informed me that these are called: "Jeggings"

@mattitiyahu:  @sassycurmudgeon if i pull a pair of "jeggings" over their face, is it called strangulation, jeggulation, or does it fall under "mercy kill"

@mattitiyahu: I swear to god I can't tell which are the actors and which are reality tv personalities. #PeopleMagazineConfusesMe

@mattitiyahu:  I want to get the billionaire song out of my head, so friggin bad.  #it'sTHATbad

@mattitiyahu: I think that having a bank employee help me use the ATM would turn me into a full fledged killer.

@mattitiyahu:   I JUST figured out when "Scrubs" jumped the shark. It's when Zach Braff's character became Ally McBeal.

and last but not least (ed. note/ FYI: painkillers make you constipated)

@mattitiyahu french press vs. painkillers. french press won. the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. 

The Price of Atonement

Saturday, September 18, 2010 | 0 Comment(s)

Today is Yom Kippur.  The jewish day of repentance.  One asks for forgiveness for those they have offended throughout the past year.  But this is not a post about Yom Kippur.  Yom Kippur is the backdrop to this story.  It's important because on Yom Kippur, one way one shows their repentance is by fasting.  No food.  No drink.  Sundown to Sundown.  I have been observing this ritual.  You also around supposed to use electricity.  I am not observing that ritual.  So again, the important detail here is the active fasting.

This story is about a football game.  A unique one.  Today was UMass vs Michigan.  UMass is the school i have spent the past 4 years of life, and i realized today that i have exactly zero UMass articles of clothing.  Michigan is the school my parents and cousin went/goes to, and i have been weened, from birth, to love them.  I have countless Michigan articles of clothing including jersey, hat, and t-shirts. 

 is that kid in maroon-face?  is that offensive?

One would think, considering that i live in Amherst (home of UMass), that i would be abale to watch said game on television.  But NOOOOO.  You have to buy the Big Ten channel to watch the game.  This was disappointing.  Now, to give you an idea of my Michigan fan-dom, were they playing a different I-AA school, i would have just tracked the game on my computer.  Had it been a Big Ten rival, i would have gone to a bar.  My home university deserved the effort.

So that is how i found myself at Arizona Pizza Kitchen, post back surgery, standing alone, amongst a sea of packed in tables and booths, watching the game with a crowd-full of UMass faculty, staff, and students.  And while they are chugging beers and pounding wings -- i am fasting.  This is miserable.  For the record, I cheered openly for UMass (who put out a great effort).  I was not going to be the guy that goes to the UMass function to cheer for their opponent.  Especially while fasting.  

I left at halftime.  Mostly because I wasn't sure my back could handle standing another half, and also because i was having flashes of pouncing atop one of the booths and feeding on the students' pan pizzas like a lion thru a gazelle.  Tomato sauce running down my face like the bloody insides of that hoppy little goat . . . i think i made the right decision.

So now the countdown begins.  Hunger versus sundown.  Oh look, there's a rabbit in our backyard . . .

gotta run.

3 fer Wednesday

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | 3 Comment(s)

*edit:  I originally titled this post "3 for Monday" only to look and see its technically 1:10am Wednesday.  I then started the post:  "3 thoughts to start the week."  You know you're a little out of it when you are TWO days off and considers tuesday evening the beginning of the week. end edit*

3 thoughts to get over the hump.

1.  Since i've had this whole back surgery thing (im on the road to recovery!), i've been unable to do simple things like "drive" or "take care of my basic needs." Because of this, i had to use my gf's deodorant the past two days.  What? Sue me?  Anyway, you want to know my honest opinion?  I don't mind smelling like pomegranate and lemon seed.  I mean, there are definitely worse things.   I picked up more of my own deodorant today, so apparently i'm not entirely comfortable with it.  Perhaps i'm uncomfortable how not uncomfortable i am with it.  deep stuff.
if you know that this is the "Obama girl," im impressed and saddened 

2.  It is only now that my back pain has relented, and i am no longer in the pain that necessitated using a cane, that i can appreciate that i looked pretty sweet with a cane.  I'm not saying that i hope to ever again have to use one, but i certainly am pleased that i can pull one off.  Rhyme or reason?  No thanks.

Come on, he was the only good thing about that movie!

3.  Riding in ambulances is overrated.  I remember a time, not 3 years ago, that i always wondered what it would be like to ride in the back of an ambulance.  Maybe im a crazy person (i'm definitely a crazy person), but am i the only person that sees something glamorous about an ambulance ride?  It's an oasis, folks.  A beautiful illusion.  The are only 3 ways to ride in the back of an ambulance:  as a person experiencing incredible pain or medical emergency, as a person worried shitless about a person experiencing incredible pain or another medical emergency, or as a medical professinal dealing with a person experiencing incredible pain or medical emergency and sometimes a person worried shitless about a person experiencing incredible pain or another medical emergency.  All three suck in there own special way.  Have i checked it off my bucket list?  Yes.  But here's the thing, you can always save this one for last.

The Guy in the Bed Next to Me

Friday, September 10, 2010 | 0 Comment(s)

I spent last Tuesday in the hospital.  When i went to bed around 10:30, I had a room to myself with a large reclining chair next to it.  Around midnight I awoke to see a man wheeled in on a bed next to me, sharing the two person room.  He turned his t.v. on softly, and i fell back asleep.

the friggin t.v. never turned off after that.

In the morning, the volume was raised to what i will call a medium volume.  This is a 8am.  Unfortunately, the way the tv came off the wall, it was turned so that the speakers faced the adjacent wall, and therefore, me.  He slept with it on at full volume.  Slept with it on full volume.  To me and my mother and later my gf, it became a water torture of sorts.  Just a constant noise, not allowing us one moment of silence.

And i understand that people get lonely, but also understand that he didn't turn the volume down when there were important phone calls or when doctors were visiting our room.  We had to ask him a number of times to turn it down.  Which he did.  And then he turned it back up.  And then he would nap.

I almost lost my cool.

And he was watching such crap from all over the map.  We are talking old reruns of Bonanza to Saved By the Bell.  At one point, he was even using the hospital phone to follow up on an infomercial he saw on the tv for a new blood sugar monitor it thought he could receive for free.  Pretty decent blog material, but at the time i just wanted a few moments of peace and quiet. 

In the end, i try and remember that when i left him, he was alone, with only his tv as company.

Back to My (Spinal) Roots

Thursday, September 9, 2010 | 5 Comment(s)

So it turns out that these next few posts will not go in chronological order.  The last 10 days can definitely contend with any other set of ten days in my life for the award of "craziest 10 consecutive days."  In the last ten days i have been in 2 hospitals, 2 doctors offices, admitted once, been a best man, given 2 toasts, eaten 3 lobsters, had back surgery, and eaten 4 orange popsicles (post surgery they give you popsicles--im not saying its a good reason to go get yourself some surgery--but it certainly reminded me to pick up some popscicles).

Many stories to tell about A) "Day 2" of my back pain hospital admittance last Tuesday  B) My brother's wedding and my best man-ing.

 the happy couple
 the groomsmen

C) The successful back surgery (a discectomy) i went through today.  And while I will touch upon C, A & B will have to wait.  more important things are first called to the forefront.

I had surgery today.  On my spine.  And while i was assured that it was safe and, relatively speaking, a simple procedure, there is something just plain terrifying about having surgery.  Especially being put under general anesthesia.  And while the pain i had been experiencing made this the logical and merciful option, going to sleep knowing that someone's cutting at your friggin spine, i think could give anyone a case of the shitinmypantses. 

 a man and his popscicle

While the story itself will have to wait, the details are that i got there at 11, was into surgery at 1, woke up fixed at 3, was on the road by 5.  Seriously.  I had back surgery and was driven home a few hours later.  Around 30 years ago when my father had a very similar procedure (interestly, at the time he was one year older than i am now), this procedure was a matter of days in the hospital and weeks recovery at home.  I'm hoping to be up and running sometime next week.  It really is incredible.   (Also, some people have asked what i "did" to my back.  The truth is that i really don't know exactly what did my back in.  One doc said that this is true in the vast majority of cases.  the exception?  When it happened "on the job," everyone seems to remember the incident precisely. Hmmmm.)

But what i need this first post, post-surgery, to be about is all the love and care i was shown as i was crammed through this whirlwind of a week. 

The Nurses.   I says something in and of itself that I can't recall all of the nurses that were kind, personable, and effective to and for me while i roamed these hospitals.  Not that they weren't all memorable, but there are so many of them needed to provide the care hospitals hope to attain.  Michelle took the time to give my gf her phone number so that later she could call to find out what room i'd been moved too.  My day nurse pushed for me to get an MRI repeatedly, and got me in 5 hours earlier than i expected (allowing me to get home!).  These women (i had no male nurses that i was conscious for) all went beyond the expectations of their "role" and made me feel cared for.  They treated me like a person and not as another body in the system.  As a patient, you are put in an extremely vulnerable position, and the nurses at both Cooley Dickinson and Mercy Hospital did their best to create an atmosphere that felt safe.

(ok one little thing about the nurses' job [not them] that i find ridiculous.  There is a schedule for meds.  And that schedule is followed RIGIDLY.  So, while i am in the hospital for "pain management," they are waking me up at 5am and 6am, to take Tylenol and Advil--not Oxycontin and Percoset--Advil and Tylenol.  Here's the the thing.  If I'm asleep, my pain is managed.  It is being managed.  It's in manage friggin central.  Waking my ass up only serves to exacerbate the pain part of my management.  For what it's worth.)

The Docs.  Now i know, that having one's dad as an established physician in the area is good route to getting quality health care.  That said, I've still ended up seeing some less-than-super-competent examples in my time here.  That was not the case this time. From the first ER doc to the surgeon today, including a number of other doctors in between, including a neurologist making a "house call" to the hospital at 7:30 am just to see me, i saw me some smart and talented physicians.  And when you are in pain that severe--you really appreciate it.  I was particularly impressed that the doctors dealing with my diagnosis all took the time to try and present the different opinions on backs, and try not to tell me what i "should" do.  Like i says--these were pros.

Friends and Family.  Guys.  Gals.  Everyone.  Thank you.  I got calls and messages and Facebook "likes" and twitter comments and phone calls and a friggin basket of flowers with a teddy bear!!! (which i carried with me for this whole journey).  It's always lovely to be loved, and since i care so deeply for all of my community and family--feeling that sentiment reflected is very touching and meaningful to me.  i promise, once my gate returns to its regular buzzing skip--i will do my best to shine my particular brand of joy back into each of your lives. 

My GF.  I know that a blog where the author gushes on and on about their significant other is boring self-indulgent, and should be saved for steamy date nights in cheap hotels.  But even if my blog were to border on boredom, i would still have to tell you how much i appreciate and thank and love my lady.  My gf was such an amazingstar superhero this past week it may be hard to put into words.  From keeping me together, to keeping herself together, to keeping our lives together, to lifting everything for me, to packing the car, to unpacking the car, to repacking the car,  to videotaping my brother's wedding, to driving me everywhere, to making sure i was where i needed to be for and during my brother's wedding, to protecting me from further hurting my back, to loving me through my fear, to letting me be scared, to not getting angry or resentful of all of this responsibility, to still working her day job throughout, to missing class to take me to surgery, to putting her life on hold for mine,  thank you. 
There is no possible way i could have made it through this week as well as i did without her.  There is simply no way.  And i need everyone to know it.  Because it takes an amazing amount of character to pull off what my gf did these past 10 days, and she did it flawlessly.  She is beyond words and love her beyond my own ability to reason.
 my sneaky angel

Tomorrow is day 1 of "the 3 days of no showering."  It should be like the 12 days of christmas, but much smellier and less white. 

Quick Update: The Back is Dead: Long Live the Back

Sunday, September 5, 2010 | 2 Comment(s)

I feel like i left you all hanging with my last post.  and i hate to do that.

my brother's getting married today, and i'm the best man.  that's my excuse. 

my other excuse is that i have a large herniated disc (L5S1) that will probably require surgery next week.  i have some wonderful medications, but it has been difficult to be surrounded by so much excitement and love and be limited--mobility-wise.  But i'm UNLIMITED happiness-wise, and i'm trying my best to just go with that.

those are some good friggin excuses no?

Here's some things that have happened.  Yesterday there was a "clam bake."  I didn't know it til day of, but apparently clam bakes include lobster.  and clams.  and a hot dog, corn-on the cob, sausage, yam, and potato. 
the feast

 dinner for ONE!

One of the drugs im on for this back injury is a steroid.  One side effect of the steroids, for me, has been a huge appetite.  Not only did i house that whole platter minus the potato (by the time i finished wondering if i should eat the hot dog, i had already eaten the hot dog), but i went back for a 2nd lobster.   Oh, i friggin LOVE lobster.  Like, birthday meal love.

And cause it was my brother's wedding, and i was the best man, i ate a 3rd friggin lobstah!!!!
lobster 3: A good day to die

And, as i told my brother at the end of the night, anyday, ANYDAY that you get to eat 3 lobster, is a pretty good friggin day.

Holy Motherfucking Shit: The Battle of the Bulge in my Spine.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 | 1 Comment(s)

I know they say that on your Bar Mitzvah you become a man, but i say it happens when you hit 10 of 10 on the happy to cry-y face pain scale.  How do you know it's ten of ten.  Well, tears squeezing out of your eyeballs like grapefruit juice are a good sign.  If biting on something helps, that's another clue.  If the faces around you all have a mixture of pity and horror, you're probably there. 

I got there Monday.

3 weeks ago I went to the University Health Center (i have to start there because of my insurance) and the so called doctor there put me up on the table and he saw how i was shaking in pain.  I wasn't sleeping well at night and i was hoping to get some indication of the severity of the injury.  When he asked what I had done for it, i told him that id taken some of the gf's old muscle relaxants (per friendly docs' advice) and he seemed to frown upon that.  He said to come back in 4-6 weeks when he gets back from vacation and to go to physical therapy downstairs.  As he was leaving, I asked if there was anything i could do for the pain.  He saw me shaking.  He saw the pain right in front of him.  He said i could take more of my anxiety meds as needed (it's also a kind of muscle relaxant).  I didn't particularly like that, and eventually i went elsewhere to get some form (ANY FORM) of pain control.  I will say now that it was this doctors blase and negligent evaluation that led to the trauma i went through on Monday.  It's also fair to say that im pissed about it.

On Monday I went to my 7th PT session.  It was not unlike the prior visits.  That said, at the end of the appointment, i got off the table funny.  Something tweaked.  Whatever it was, it made walking painful once again as i went to my car.  After a 3 minute drive to my office building, I began the 4 minute walk to my office.  Pain.  Pain pain pain.  I took a break on the steps outside.  At the elevator another break.  By the time i was walking down the hall to my office I was in severe pain.  Enough pain to sit on a chair with wheels in the hallway to take another break 10 yards from my office.  My adviser saw me and helped me wheel to my office.  I relaxed.  Sitting on the right buttock hurt.  Sitting was hurting.  For whatever reason i went to my lab meeting a few minutes later (it's why i was there).  While we were meeting, the pain got sharp enough that i went to lie on my back.  I've seen Larry Bird do it, so i figured it would work for my to.   I should add that going to the floor during a lab meeting is unusual behavior, and i would really only go that way in the face of "fire ants down my back and right leg" pain.  Lying on my back didn't help.  At all.  And the next thing i realized was that I couldn't even sit up on my own.  Panic.  Pain.  The word pain is hidden in panic for a reason.  If lying on my back during the meeting is strange, calling across the room to my colleague (and friend) to come pull me up to a sitting position is . . . humbling.  Helpless. 

A minute or so later I excused myself and went back to my office.  The pain was constant now and there was no position i could put my body in that didn't hurt.  Then, i couldn't really move.  Panic.  Pain.  Think.  think.  Now, while i realize that going up to my office on this day instead of going home or to a hospital probably wasn't brilliant (how could i predict this?!?), but i am proud that at the point of immobility, I realized that this was why 911 was invented.  I called.  They transferred me to the schools 911.  They were there in a matter of minutes.  And any minute between this point and the moment i got some morphine were extremely memorable and painful minutes of my life.  I appreciated the hustle.  As i was helped, moving similar to Golem, to the stretcher, the first 10 of 10 occurred.  Nothing they could do yet (meds in the truck).  I tried not to scream as my eyes watered and the stretcher jarred over the elevator bumps.  the younger EMT, a woman, was trying to play the "tough girl, have a sense of humor about things" card.  I have a better than decent sense of humor.  But at that moment her flippancy in the face of my misery made me want to rip her throat out.  Ha ha. 

I was glad she was driving.  The older medic, who in my recollection looked like "the Commish w/ mustache" and took a more professional approach.  He was kind and good spirited while taking me seriously.  After the first splash of morphine, my humor improved.  2 minutes later it came back again, and the Commish, who called everyone "skippy" and thus was called Skippy in return) was kind enough to give me a second dose of the drugs.  Phew.  Drugged out and the pain at bay, i, for the first time faced the recognition that something was very very wrong.  Had i been more with it, this is where i would have been scared.  As it was, i just kinda, went with the flow.  What else could i do. 

When I got situated in the ER, the first does of pain meds was in me.  I had taken a percocet then the morphine, and i think they added vicodin.  I remember the vicodin not helping.  And then thinking, "vicodin's not working."  I'm not sure i remember how much time went by after that.  My mom got there.  I was shifting a bit uncomfortably on the bed/stretcher.  When my gf arrived, the pain meds were up.  Horrible timing.  Just as she was getting acclimated to the situation (not my abs), i went 10 of 10 for the second time.  If being in severe pain is bad, for me, being in that much pain in front of those who love me is worse.  Not sure why.  Maybe i feel embarrassed--or badly that i'm putting them through the pain of having to see me in pain.  Either way, i don't like it one bit.  After what seemed like an age, I got another dose of meds.  Strong ones.  The pain once again subsided. (are you seeing a pattern?)

That was the worst of it.  By nightfall, i had come to a resting level of comfort.  I was going to go home, but after 3 minutes on my feet going to and from the bathroom, the pain came back.  I really didn't want to go for a third 10 of 10.  I'm still scared of it right now.  I was admitted for the night. 

And that my friends is part one of my tale about my tail.  stay tuned.  and stay thirsty my friends.

In more positive news: Grams is doing great and my friend Sam sent me a get well flower/stuffed bear package, and the bear is REALLY lifting my spirits.