The wonders of modern medicine

I’ve been living with a herniated disc for about four years and sciatica for the last 1.5 years. Anyone who’s ever lived with lower back pain or sciatica knows how debilitating it can be. It’s like a little dark cloud hovering over your head and raining on your parade. It makes sitting more difficult, walking more painful and strenuous activities impossible without medications (which are horrible for your liver and kidneys).

My problem was that my L5 disc was protruding out of my spinal column and compressing my S1 nerve. The result was constant dull pain and pressure in my lower back, shooting pains down my right leg and numbness and pain in my right foot. The lack of nerve activity also suppressed normal soreness and pain, which isn’t good either.

I finally was able to get all of this rectified yesterday during a surgical procedure known as Percutaneous Transforaminal Endoscopic Spine Surgery. In other words, the surgeon went in with a tiny scope, inserted a needle into my disc and used an instrument to vaporize part of the disc meat behind the herniation. Imagine tunneling under a hill, digging out a cavern under the hill and the hill collapsing into the cavern. In addition to this he put a bit of steroids in there for inflammation and filed out a bit around the bone where the S1 nerve comes out so it’d have a little more room to breath.

The results are staggering. I woke up and it was like someone switched the pain off. It’s magical to say the least. Within about two hours of waking up I was walking around my hospital room and another hour after that I was home on my couch watching TV. I even walked to get my prescriptions filled at the local pharmacy.

The recovery calls for a week of taking it easy and then another week of physical therapy after which I’ll continue strengthening my core (abdominals, lower back, thighs) at the gym. Within a month I’m hoping to be back on a bike.

I’ve got a new lease on life and I can’t possibly describe what that feels like. Thanks to everyone for their support throughout this entire thing!

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

I’ve got a few upcoming speaking engagements. If you’re going to be at either of the following events please let me know and we can meet up for drinks or whatever.

  • I’m going to be giving a workshop at FOWA in Miami titled Improving the Performance of Your Web App on Feb 28th.
  • I’ll be speaking at the MySQL Conference in April in Santa Clara, CA. My talk will be a short 45 minute tutorial on “Services Oriented Architecture with PHP and MySQL“. I’ll be covering how to make parallel and asynchronous data requests over HTTP. Code samples, best practices, etc.
  • I’ll be on a panel at SXSW titled “Considerations for Scalabale Web Ventures” with Cal Henderson of Flickr, Chris Lea of Media Temple and Matt Mullenweg of WordPress. It’ll be moderated by Digg’s own Kevin Rose. We’ll talk about caching, scaling out, best practices, etc.

Digg is hiring LAMP programmers

It’s 6PM on a Thursday night and I’m about ready to head over to the Open Web Awards presented by Mashables.com to celebrate Digg’s wins with a few of my fellow Diggers. The only downer is that we don’t have more Diggers to share the fruits of our labor with. It reminded me that I should probably tell all 10 people who read this site that we’re looking for talented people to work with us in our San Francisco office (in Potrero Hill). Below is a little insight into what you’d be doing if you worked at Digg.

  • Program for the 36th largest site on the intertubes according to Compete.com. Digg.com does 20,000,000+ unique visits a month. That’s a lot of zeros!
  • We use the LAMP stack (Debian GNU/Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP with some Python thrown around from time to time) and expect you to be proficient with that.
  • Learn from some of the brightest minds in the PHP, design and operations communities.
  • Play with Memcache, Gearman, Mogile, PEAR, etc. in a high volume environment.
  • Create and contribute to open source projects while you work on high traffic and scalability problems at Digg.
  • 20 days of PTO a year and access to all sorts of great benefits (medical, dental, vision, etc.).

I love working at Digg. It’s fun, fast pace and I work with some of the brightest minds in the industry. If you have any questions or interest please email jobs@digg.com.

Year in Review

  1. I started the year announcing that I’d taken a position at Digg.com as a software developer.
  2. In January I found out that my nagging back injury was a herniated disc. I’ll be starting out this year by going under the knife to get it fixed. More on that to come I’m sure.
  3. I finished all of my renovations on my condo in Seattle just in time to move down to San Francisco in February to start working at Digg.com.
  4. In March Rebecca and I broke up. She’s now living in Antarctica (how crazy is that?!). Around the same time I turned 27.
  5. In April I booked a plane ticket bound for Bangkok, Thailand. It would have been my first international trip of my life.
  6. I also began a love affair with test driven development in April.
  7. In May I attended Google Developer Day 2007 and blogged the whole thing.
  8. I launched correlate.us in May.
  9. In late June my first major project at Digg, the new comments system, launched to much fanfare. Note the sarcasm in my voice. We’re currently planning on redoing the comment system.
  10. On June 18th I flew up to Seattle to help John and Carly celebrate their wedding. Due to Garren and I’s shenanigans from the night before it was a rough day for me, but I made it through and will soon join John and Garren in Vail for some snowboarding.
  11. In early July I bet Kevin that I could write an iPhone version of Digg in less than 48 hours. Being the hater he is he said I couldn’t and said he’d buy me an 8GB iPhone if I could. I did. I wrote up a review like everyone else about the single greatest consumer electronics device created in the past decade.
  12. Around this time my alma mater fired long time friend and beloved faculty member, Jim Vick, over the cover up of the murder of student Laura Dickinson.
  13. In September my long time best friend, Dorkboy, was married in Ann Arbor, MI. I served as the Best Man, a title I still find unfitting. Considering it was me serving the post it should have been World’s Greatest Buddy or simply The Guy Who’ll Probably End Up Drinking Too Much Beer and Slurring His Speech. Much to Dorkboy and Mrs. Dorkboy’s relief I kept things together and delivered the world’s shortest and sweetest best man’s speech.
  14. In October Kevin talked me into flying out to London, England for FOWA. I visited many of the normal sites along with a day trip up to Stone Henge.
  15. In November I took a two week trip to Thailand. I spent four nights in Bangkok and seven nights in Koh Phangan. I had a great time and can’t recommend visiting that country enough.
  16. In late December Garren and I took a trip up to Whistler for some fun in the snow. Whistler didn’t disappoint. I spent the last day in about 1 – 2 feet of powder on Blackcomb’s aptly named 7th Heaven.
  17. I rang in New Year’s Eve with friends in Portland.