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!

Change can be good

I think anyone who knows me would say, without a doubt, I’ve changed drastically over the last two years since moving to Seattle. I haven’t changed as a person per se, but I have definitely changed my lifestyle. Here’s a small list of things that my old friends from Michigan simply can’t comprehend.

  1. I’ve participated in multiple 5k’s and triathlons.
  2. I own a TV, but don’t have cable. I rarely watch TV and consume 90% of my media online.
  3. I rarely drive. This last summer I was quite proud of the fact that I didn’t drive my vehicle for 3.5 weeks.
  4. I don’t eat fast food for the most part.

Now reverse that list and that’s how I lived in the Midwest. The two there that my friends from Michigan are simply astounded about are not driving and not watching TV. This got me thinking as to how much of an impact my move to Seattle has had on the planet. So I took a quiz that calculates my ecological footprint to compare my two lifestyles. I’m happy to report that I’ve saved an entire planet by moving to Seattle! Well, not really, but my ecological footprint went from a score of 23 (5.2 planets to sustain my existence) to 18 (4 planets to sustain my existence).

So, this isn’t really something to cheer about, but it’s definitely an improvement. To top things off I really like the new me. I like training for triathlons, I like being ignorant of pop media and I especially like not having to drive everywhere.

Change is good.

Operation Fat Ass Nearly Complete

fat_to_phat

It started about three years ago. My weight was out of control and it was time to do something about it. I dieted, exercised and, most importantly, changed my habits. I didn’t eat fast food nearly as much. I ate smaller portions. I exercised a few times a week as opposed to not exercising at all. What you see above is the current status of the infamous Operation Fat Ass. I’m down just under 45 pounds, just completed my first 5k and am currently training for my first triathlon.

Warren Buffett and Gates team up

Warren Buffett announced over the weekend he’ll be giving about $37 billion dollars away to charity. Most of it will be going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses mainly on world health issues and improving libraries and schools here in the US. In all the foundation will oversee about $60 billion in assets. Invested fairly conservatively you could expect them to make about 7% on that money each year, which is about $4.2 billion a year. Accounting for inflation (3%) you’re still looking at $2.4 billion a year in revenue. And this isn’t accounting anyone else dropping a few billion into the piggy bank. That’s more 61 nations’ GDP’s for 2003.

Say what you want about Bill Gates, Microsoft, Warren Buffett and rich people in general. The fact remains that the Gateses and Buffett have created the largest charitable organization in the history of human kind. It has noble goals such as curing HIV/AIDS in Africa and improving our schools and libraries. And, honestly, how can you argue with their goal.

The foundation’s global health mission is to help ensure that lifesaving advances in health are created and shared with those who need them most.