Sunday, June 26, 2016

Flipping the Negative For Some Positive

I'd been looking forward to this all week long, a little, annual get together at Corey Creek Vineyards to celebrate the end of the school year with my pals Terry, Jeannine and Heather.  We'd started the tradition about three years ago on the last Thursday of the school year and every year it's been a real blast. After missing most of the past four weeks at school, and feeling somewhat out of the loop, this was one last chance at enjoying some quality time with work friends before heading off into the summer. Little did I know beforehand that mixed in with all the fun there would be some really good advice and an epiphany that just might make it a good summer for me after all...  

They all saw it on my face the moment I arrived at the table.  What happened? Jeannine was immediately concerned.  

Three herniated disks!  I answered.  And one of them is "severe."  

For the next couple of hours, I was enjoying my time with my friends, but I had a really hard time masking the worry I was feeling. After about an hour, I went off to smoke a cigarette and Heather soon followed.

Dude, you gotta get rid of all of that negative energy.  Her head shook from side to side in a concerned manner.  It's not good for ya.  She could tell I was just thinking bad thoughts and feeling sorry for myself.  She told me some stories about her own life and how negative experiences she'd had taught her one thing: that negative only begets negative.  When you dwell on bad thoughts, nothing good can come out of it, so just count your blessings and forget about least as much as you can.  I completely understood.

As we carried on our evening, I kept thinking of all the things that she had told me, and really it became clear to me.  Either I can go on mourning my situation or just make the most of it.  If I keep a negative spin on this back problem I'm going to have a terrible summer, and that is not what I want. Yeah, I may not be able to do all of the things I would like to do, but it is not the end of the world.   What bothered me more about the bad news really was the fact that I was probably not going to be healed quickly and that I'd be holed up at home for the duration of these very precious two months ahead.  I was feeling sorry for myself.  

I think that maybe fate brought me to spend the evening with Heather that night.  Realistically, I already knew what she was saying, but I think I needed to hear it from someone.  I wasn't thinking in the terms she was saying and was just ready to dwell on how my summer was going to be ruined because of my back problems.  Now I know better.  It is a temporary thing that will go away, and though it may take all summer long, that's not the worst thing that could happen to me.  Besides, even though the MRI had showed a pretty serious condition, I do feel a lot better than I did even just a week ago and who knows, maybe I'll be healed sooner rather than later.

So for what it's worth, thank you Heather!  You've got a wisdom that's beyond ordinary and I appreciate you caring enough to help me snap out of it.  I am a lucky guy, with friends and family who care for me, and in the days since Thursday, quite a few of them have helped me keep some of that positive energy going.  As for my condition, well I'll be headed to a surgeon next, but with any luck, they'll be able to take the pain away quickly and without much fuss.  In the meantime, I'm going to go out and enjoy my summer no matter what!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Getting There

Today is a good far.  If things stay the way they do, I will finally get to the Grove this afternoon with a bunch of my friends.  Fingers crossed!  Over the past several weeks and with more and more frequency, a lot of people have been contacting me to check on how I am doing.  I really am a lucky guy to have so many people in my corner, and I am truly appreciative of your concern.

The purpose of this post, especially for those of you who are not intimately connected to me, but do like to keep apprised on my situation, is to give you an update on my progress.  From what I've learned over the past four weeks now, sciatica is a very painful (Amen!) condition that can take a long time to heal, but it will heal.  I can see that now...

The above graph is a weekly summary from an app on my phone called Pacer.  Basically it's a pedometer that keeps track of your daily steps. As you can see, the number of steps I've taken this week has varied, telling the tale of my state of progress these days.  Even the highest day, Thursday, was at a little over 5,000 steps and is much lower than my normal 10,000, but still it is encouraging.  

The pain I'm experiencing now is still pretty much keeping me stationary, especially after a day when I've done a lot of walking.  Those have been work days for me, Tuesday and Thursday.  Yesterday was an especially bad day, as I was pretty much rendered immobile and in pain virtually all day long. Today, however, the pain has definitely subsided.

So I guess that I am healing, slowly but surely.  As encouraged as I feel on the good days, I'm feeling just as discouraged on the bad ones, but I just have to remember that eventually I'll be back to least I hope so.  Fingers crossed!


Monday, June 13, 2016

The Gun Angle to the Orlando Tragedy

The man in the picture above is 20 year-old James Wesley Howell, from Jeffersonville, Indiana.  In case you may not have heard, Howell was arrested yesterday in Santa Monica, California after police uncovered a virtual arsenal of weapons in his car, including "three assault rifles, high capacity magazines, and ammunition and a five-gallon bucket with chemicals that can be used to make an explosive device (WLKY)."   He told authorities he was heading to the L.A. Gay Pride Parade. Though he never revealed what he intended to do there, I think that after yesterday's tragedy in Orlando, we can only imagine. Thank God he was stopped and we never got to find out.

Of course, there's speculation that Howell was going to perform a similarly heinous mass attack to the one perpetrated by Omar Mateen, but we may never know the truth.  For one thing, James Howell is bisexual and even has a boyfriend, so targeting gays may not have been his intent (though I have a contrary theory on that matter best saved for another time).  What we do know is that a possible, potentially disastrous catastrophe was averted, and only hours after the horrors that unfolded first came to light.

Should all LGBT's be alarmed at this news?  Perhaps, but as I said in my previous post, what happened in Orlando is not about one issue alone.  We should all find it troubling that this young, 20 year-old man had all of these terribly deadly weapons in his possession.  Why does anyone need three assault rifles?  For protection?  Should our answer be to have assault rifles of our own so that we can defend ourselves against someone like James Wesley Howell or Omar Mateen?  Maddeningly, some people think so.   

Throughout history, mankind has come up with some of the most incredible of inventions, technologies to help us survive, to get around, to entertain us, but there is one invention that I wish never happened, and that is the invention of the gun.  Aside from the most incredulous number of them in existence today, the gun is responsible for a lot more harm than we ever even think about.

As a teacher to youngsters who are not only learning history, math and science, but our language as well, I have to explain things to them in the simplest of terms so that they'll get it.  And sometimes when you explain things in such a manner, everything becomes ridiculously clear.  

Two of the greatest human tragedies in history can be attributed to the gun: slavery and the genocide of the Native American.  Think about it.  When the European colonizers went to Africa to gather slaves for hard labor in the New World, how were they able to do so?  It's simple, they had guns and the African peoples did not. It's the same with the Native Americans.  Bows and arrows, or guns? Imagine if guns did not exist during the colonization of North and South America.  Would we exist as we do today?  Like I said, simple yet clearly true.  

The Good Ole Second Amendment

There has been so much said on both sides of the aisle about the Second Amendment to the Constitution that I will not tackle the issue too deeply here.  If you'd like to read some informative pieces from non-partisan authors, I suggest you do a Google search for 'origins of the Second Amendment.'  I will reiterate what I said earlier, that it was written in a very different time, under very different circumstances, and since the Constitution is supposed to be a living, breathing document that changes with the changing times, then it needs to be scrutinized, and sooner rather than later.

During the Revolutionary War, the colonists did not have a well-trained, cohesive army.  They were up against the strongest professional military in the world and so were very mismatched in their struggle for independence.  The average citizen was at the mercy of random British military units and so having the right to defend themselves as such was necessary for the times.  The organization of local militias in such circumstances, was the original purpose of the Amendment.  

Of course these days the Second Amendment has taken on a whole new interpretation. There are no superior armies walking amongst us, and we have one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world.  Today, we view the right to bear arms as a defense against anyone who would do us harm, like Omar Mateen or James Howell or pretty much anyone out there who's got one...and that's a lot! Did that happen yesterday, or during any other of these horrific massacres that have taken place over the past twenty years?  How many murder attempts have been thwarted because the victim had a gun?  I wonder even if that's a realistic statistic to find, but I'd bet it'd be far less than any gun supporter would lead us to believe.

In my research for this post, I Googled "number of guns per country statistics," and I found that the way it is counted is per hundred people.  Not surprisingly, the U.S. leads the pack by a large margin with 88.8 guns owned out of every 100 people.  Next up is Yemen (54.8), Switzerland (45.7), Finland (45.3), and Serbia (37.8).  Though the United States represents less than 5% of the world's population, we carry 35-50% of the world's civilian owned guns at an alarming 270 million owned privately.  

I was surprised at some of the countries on this list, like Switzerland and Finland, as you might be. There is a difference, though.  The U.S. also represents the highest firearm homicide rate, as well, wheres none of these other countries even make the top ten. Why is that?  

Please note that I am not a professional journalist and I realize that statistics like these can be spun and analyzed in virtually any way a spin-meister wants to spin them.  Simply put, though, that's a lot of damned guns and a lot of unnecessary murders, too, just like those poor souls who lost their lives just yesterday at the hands of guns.  

The Gun Angle to the Orlando Tragedy

Of course, commentary on both sides of the aisle on that good old Second Amendment argument have abounded and will continue to in the coming weeks.  It's sad that this issue comes up way too often these days, yet nothing ever changes.  Yesterday's press conference on the Pulse shootings by President Barack Obama was his 16th such meeting with reporters during his eight years as President.
That's a sad fact, and to reiterate what I said yesterday, I don't remember any of the others being called terrorism.

The graphic above shows just a few of the too many mass shootings that have happened in this country over the past 17 years.  High schools.  Elementary schools.  Universities.  Movie theaters. Even churches.  Yet, there are many in this country who continue to cry out that the answer to this problem is leave us to our guns.  If guns never existed, there'd be 156 people in this image alone who would still be alive today.  It's pitiful and it's embarrassing!

A couple of years ago, I wrote of an experience I had in Nashville during one of my Roller Coaster Road Trips with two pals:

While we waited (to get into the Grand Ole Opry), there was this nice local girl working a lunch menu from the entrance to the tour, and I asked her about something I'd been noticing ever since we had arrived in Tennessee.

Practically everywhere we went, there was this sign in the front window indicating "no handguns allowed." I though it was odd, and since the girl was so friendly I thought I'd ask her about it...

Do that many people really carry around guns?

Well, no, not around here in Nashville, but yeah, in the surrounding areas. Sure.

She seemed surprised that we don't carry guns around on our person in New York.  I wouldn't even think of it, unless there was maybe a zombie apocalypse.  Well, there are more murders in New York than Tennessee, so maybe....oh, wait a second!  There are way more people in New York than there are in Tennessee, and actually the gun murder rate, as a percentage, is higher there than it is here. 

Yup, just like I thought...more guns, more murders!  
Clearly, what happened yesterday in Orlando, Florida exposes several terrible realities of our society, and one of the most critical is our love affair with guns. I only hope that this time, more people will tire of these terrible events and start doing something about it.  I don't hold much optimism, but I do hope. 

Stay tuned for more on this mess of a mess, and in the meantime, check out yesterday's post:

U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons - Council on Foreign Relations

U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons


Sunday, June 12, 2016

The First of Several Angles to the Orlando Tragedy: Terrorism

What can I say that hasn't already been said about the horrific tragedy that happened in Orlando early this morning?  For one thing, this was something that was always in the back of my mind whenever I went into a gay club, even from my early days of clubbing.  We all know there are a lot of sick people out there, and any one of us, in virtually any situation, in virtually any place, could face the very same horror those poor people experienced in the wee hours of this day, June 12th, 2016.  That is just a sad truth.  

Even though the terrible mass shooting that happened today made headlines as the deadliest such attack in our history, the incident was unique in that it is the first such tragedy that touched upon several issues, and depending on which spin-meister you listen to, the way you might see it is the way they spin it.  Whatever the case, this tragedy surely drew new and valid ire towards terrorism, but three other important societal problems surface here, and over the next few days I will be devoting some space here to discuss these issues as I see them.  

Life never has and never will be black and white.  We need to look at our society holistically and through all that gray matter in between in order to make any real progress so something like this never happens again.  Until then, I am afraid that these sorts of incidents will continue to happen.  

The Terrorist Angle

50 killed in shooting at Florida nightclub in possible act of Islamic terror - Fox

Orlando Shooting: 50 killed, shooter pledged ISIS allegiance - CNN

Islamic State linked to worst mass shooting in American history - USA Today

These were among the first headlines that I found while doing a search for 'Orlando shooting' in preparation for this post.  Notice any special groups of similar words that come up in these?  Islamic terror.  ISIS allegiance.  Islamic State.  Now, look up at the meme at the top of this post.  Curiously, the word 'gay' appears in none of these headlines, yet I'm pretty damned sure that, regardless if the attack was ordered by the ISIS supreme being himself or if it was perpetrated by Mr. Omar Mateen on his own, these 100-plus people who were killed or critically wounded in the shooting were targeted because they were gay.  

The headlines above each appeared on popular American news outlets, and links are provided for you to read them.  Another headline I found was on Al Jazeera, a, ahem, 'Muslim' news outlet scorned by most Americans from way back in the days of Al Qaeda.  It reads, Scores dead in gay nightclub shooting.  Now before any Muslim-phobes read into my angle here, the article does make mention of the terror connection, and I am not disagreeing that it shouldn't in any of these stories.  

The problem here is the placement and the angles of those headlines that seem to be purposefully trying to point our minds towards that aspect of this deadly massacre.  The topic of my Master's Thesis was 32 pages about how five huge media conglomerates purposefully drive the discussion, and though that paper was written about 15 years ago, I am sure it still holds true today, as evidenced by these headlines.  Ah, the masking of other, more troubling issues that come from within.  I speak of headlines because they, the media outlets, know that a great majority of we busy Americans get our news via the headlines, not the stories themselves, and thus are important in swaying the debate the way they want to.

Surely this incident could and should be classified as a terrorist attack.  The very definition of terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims (Google), and the attack in Orlando surely fits that description.  But this morning's events at Pulse Nightclub were much more than that.  When we hear the words terrorist attack, we automatically think Muslim radicals and our anger gets directed at them.  I wonder if the attacker was a white American that those words would have appeared in those headlines. Probably not!  We've been trained to equate the word Muslim with terror and that's just not right.  It only works to create Muslim-phobia and more problems.  Really!

This massacre earlier today was an attack on gays, fueled by religious radicalism.  Homophobia is rooted in the scriptures of many of the world's largest religions, most written thousands of years ago. Though this was one extreme result of homophobia, are the thousands upon thousands of bullying and gay-bashing incidents that happen every day any better?  

The murders were perpetrated with an assault rifle and a pistol.  One man given the opportunity to murder so many innocent and helpless people just like that.  And some see no problem with that because of an Amendment to our Constitution that was written under very different circumstances a very long time ago.  These people will fight and fight hard to defend that principle in the coming days and weeks despite the fact that this was the 16th mass shooting in the last eight years.  

Yeah, what happened at Pulse was a terrorist incident, but it is so much more than that.  All we can do right now is send some positive energy to those people who are still critically wounded and to the families of those who were slain so horrifically.  They were our brethren, gay brethren, fellow Americans, people just like you or me.  Rest in peace!

Stay tuned for more...   

The LGBTQA+ Visibility Coalition Picks Up the Pride Parade Torch


I mentioned in my Song of the Day post on John's Music World yesterday that it was a pretty sad day for many LGBT's on Long Island:

...throughout the month of June, LGBT Pride Parades and festivals take place virtually each weekend day somewhere around the world. Now the one in New York City is one of the grandest anywhere, but we here on Long Island have had our own reputation for being one of the largest suburban celebrations of pride anywhere. For the past 24 years, Long Island's Pride Parade and ensuing celebration have taken place in the town of Huntington, and though there will be a celebratory festival at Heckscher State Park today, the parade is no more, much to the chagrin of this writer and many other angry LGBT residents of both counties...the cancellation of this year's L.I. Pride Parade, citing security and logistical concerns, is an absolute travesty.

I had said in that post that I would talk about the issue more on John's World, and so here I am.  It was sometime back in March that the Long Island LGBT Network, run by CEO David Kilmnick, announced that it was cancelling the parade.  Though I had seen news items on the cancellation, I first looked into it after my friend Sean posted an angry rant about it on Facebook.

Within Sean's post, I was steered to a freshly created Facebook group page called LI Pride March Cancelled by LIGALY, We Will Fight Back.  I immediately joined the group, which now numbers in excess of 1,300 people.  The cause has morphed itself into an organization that calls itself the LGBTQA+ Visibility Coalition, lead by organizer Erinn Furey.  Their aim has been to do just what its name says.  First, they tried to fight the cancellation of the parade, and when that got nowhere, they organized a boycott of today's Pride Fest and a march of their own for today, Sunday, June 12th, at 12:30 in gay-friendly Sayville.  

A Disconnect Between Corporate Politicos and LGBT's

I see the whole issue as a culmination of several years of a growing disconnect between the politically minded and very corporate LGBT Network and the every day LGBT person on Long Island.  It all started a few years ago when the LGBT Network first took control of running the event. Several changes were immediately made to the parade and festival, most notably a change in the day it was held.  Upon taking the reigns, the event was immediately moved from Sunday to Saturday in order to allow for the sale of alcohol.  The decision automatically shortened the route of the parade because the town of Huntington does not allow for closures of Main Street on Saturdays.

This early decision lead to a very different animal than the whole pride celebration started out to be. I've attended some of these events, both before and after the LGBT Network's takeover, and the festival has morphed into one giant corporate expo, with a multitude of businesses selling their wares in the name of pride, and with big name acts giving performances for the spectators.  Not necessarily a bad thing, right?  

I am sure most other pride celebrations are the same, and we the people like to be entertained and sold to, don't we?  I, personally have no issue with the Pride Fest.  To me, it's all part and parcel of how we Americans like to spend our time, and it's actually a good thing that we are getting this particular kind of attention geared specifically toward us.  I just don't agree with wiping out the parade.

I will admit that this particular parade was never really a giant, moving spectacle like the one in NYC, and the parade committee has tried to make it a little more exciting over the years.  I particularly remember one time there was a high heeled running race on Main Street...amusing, but not too much so.  Still, the central idea of any sort of pride celebration is to show face in a very public way, and that is to march in a parade.  

What would St. Patrick's Day celebrations be without parades?  Bagpipes and kilts, Irish green pride all on display for everyone to see.  Columbus Day...Italian-American pride.  The NYC Pride Parade is a very moving experience for any LGBT spectator.  I've attended several of those and I can tell you firsthand the feelings of pride you get when you see LGBT police officers, firefighters, EMT workers, teachers, and even corporate workers showing off their pride.  It helps us!  But David Kilmnick and the LGBT Pride Network have eradicated all of that in the name of logistics and security concerns.  As I said, it's truly a shameful thing.  

Today's March

As I mentioned above, the LGBTQA+ Visibility Coalition will be holding what it calls its own visibility march at 12:30 in Sayville.  I would have loved to go, but unfortunately my physical condition prevents me from walking around.  I do hope they have a nice turnout and that the newspapers will give them the same visibility that yesterday's fest was given.  After all, it is all about visibility!


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Injury Update: Stir Crazy and Frustrated

Today is Day 19, and I just when I thought I was already losing my mind, it gets worse.  Last week I penned a post about how I finally saw some progress on my condition.  Back then, I had the most specific prognosis I'd had and I was finally beginning to see hope.  A week later, here I sit at my p.c. at 9:00 on a Saturday night...a beautiful summer Saturday night, to boot, and I just want to cry.

Normally, when I write posts like this one, I write them in the hopes that someone out there will find themselves in a similar situation to whatever it is I'm talking about and take solace in the fact that they're not alone.  For once, that is not why I've taken to the keyboard.  I write this out of frustration, I've gone completely stir crazy with and I am bored and lonely.  I've fallen into a routine that I do not want to be in.  A complete state of despair and frustration...and boredom...and envy, envy every time I look at Facebook (I've got to stop doing that!) and see all of the wonderful times people are having. Ugh!  I guess what I need to do is just go backwards in time and work from there...

After that appointment with my chiropractor last Saturday, I was still hurting, but hopeful.  I figured that as long as I was starting to do the right things, the pain would start to go away and I can go on living a normal (well, at least as normal as I get!) life.  One week and still not yet, but it has been a roller coaster seven days full of ups and downs, and I guess the good thing was that the hope was and still is there and I do feel some, if little, improvement.

Tuesday was the worst day.  After our session on Saturday, my chiropractor seemed worried that I really had no improvement over the three days since I'd seen him last.  During my session, he found a source spot on my left buttock and worked it...hard!  I was practically in tears on the table, and went home in complete despair only to follow what has now become a part of my daily routine: I slept. Lately, whatever time I get home from whatever afternoon jaunt I've been on, a doctor's appointment, running errands, or whatever, I zonk out on my couch into a deep sleep, and it doesn't really matter what time of the day it is.  I've taken naps at 2:00, 4:30, 6:30, and even one night I fell asleep at 7. The naps are such deep ones, the kind where you dream realistic dreams, and you wake up groggy as hell.  I go from there, doing the miniscule chores around the house that I must do, then either pop a pain pill or pour a glass of wine and veg out in front of the TV.

When I woke up from that nap on Tuesday, around 9 p.m., the despair I had been feeling beforehand had intensified.  I spent a lot of time crying at my situation before finally easing my pain with a a percoset and more Netflix (Oh, I've been watching A LOT TV!).  The next day I started to feel a little better, getting up to about 50 paces at a time before stopping from excruciating pain.  I felt better enough that I decided to return to work on Thursday.  School ends in a couple of days and I wanted to see the kids one last time.

Thursday was a wonderful day...

That single post set off a wave of texts, emails and private messages, as well as the 19-plus comments.  I tell you, hearing from people when you feel in such a state definitely makes you feel better.  Feeling so isolated all this time, it's good to know that people are rooting for you to get better. I need to remember that more often when others in my life are not doing so well.  

In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have gone to school that day.  A normal day at school is full of walking around...I can't avoid it, and by late Thursday night, the pain was really bad no matter what position I put myself in.  Friday was more of the same and here I sit again alone on a beautiful Saturday night, in front of my pc, for all intents and purposes bitching to myself.

Ugh, I hate putting that 'on paper,' but really it feels good to say it out loud somehow, like writing in a diary.  Someday I can look on this post and remember and feel good that this was something I'd gotten through.. Now I will probably end up watching Netflix or Hulu till the wee hours of the morning and then do it all again tomorrow.  Ugh!  

I am now going to physical therapy in addition to seeing my chiropractor, who is still concerned that I'm not healing quickly enough.  He's thinking, and so am I, that there's more to my pain than we originally thought and the only way to see for sure is through an MRI, something I'd been dreading. The MRI will surely show if there are any real problems elsewhere other than my mis-aligned hip. Back to my catatonic state, lol.  

So anyway, that's enough bitching for tonight.  I had another opportunity to go to Fire Island tonight, but I had to decline because I simply cannot walk very far.  I know that I will eventually feel better, and now that I am aware of such things as sitting and sleeping posture, I'm fairly certain I can do better to make sure this never happens again, but what worries me the most is how long it's going to take. I've been told by a couple of people who've had this that it took up to three months to heal. That's the whole summer!  It's only been three weeks and I want to cry just thinking about it.  With the school year I've had, the absolute worst ever, I need some R&R during July and August, but not this kind of R&R.  

And so we continue...   

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Diagnosis, Hope and a Little Rant

Well it's been a week now since I first spoke about my back pain.  Well, it isn't really back pain, it's sort of leg and calf pain...intense pain..with numbness in my lower left leg and foot.  Of course, these are classic signs of sciatica, a condition where something, somewhere in your body is pressing on your sciatic nerve, which runs from the base of your spine all the way down to your foot.  The idea is to find the source of the 'pressing' in order to heal, and yesterday, after almost two full weeks of suffering, I finally found the source.  Now if it would only get better...

I can truthfully say without question that this is the worst pain I've ever felt in my life, and I don't feel like it's ever going to go away, though those around me say it will.  It can't come soon enough! Worry wart as I am, I spent the past week doing as much time worrying as I did dealing with the pain.  I had no idea what was causing this and I was thinking everything from herniated disks to a tumor on my spine. I'd gone to the doctor over a week ago and he gave me steroids, which was supposed to lesson the inflammation of the nerve and give me relief.  It didn't.

I tried going into work on Tuesday, which ended up being a bad idea.  I do a lot of walking at work and thus the pain I dealt with that day was unbearable to say the least.  I decided once that day was done that I can't worry about school right now.  In fact I can't really focus on anything else until this goes away.  I have to rest and take it easy or else this will not go away.

I returned to the doctor for a follow up appointment on Wednesday and to see where to go from there. I was given naproxin and painkillers and sent on my way to physical therapy.  At that moment I was a little more hopeful.  In the meantime, that post last week set off a series of concerned emails and messages from a lot of my friends, who had no idea this was going on. I was given numbers of chiropractors, acupuncturists, yoga instructors, you name it.  One of the messages was from a childhood friend of mine, Anne Marie, who is a chiropractor upstate, and she referred me to someone local who she went to school with.  Worth a shot!

I seriously thought about putting this post on my first blog, Rants, because that's just what I want to do after meeting with this chiropractor on Thursday.  First of all, personally, this guy was super nice and he showed me right away that he was concerned and aimed to get to the root of the problem so he could help me fix it...something neither doctor I saw even tried to do.  He asked me lots of questions in order to help understand what had happened to me and he ordered me to go for x-rays to see if they would tell the story.  What a concept!

This is an x-ray of my hip.  The good doctor reviewed this with me on Saturday, and he asked me what I saw.  Now looking at this picture, I am photographed from the front, so what is on the left is my right hip and visa versa. Almost immediately I said that the left hip looks bigger.  Bingo! 

Actually, the left hip is not bigger, it just looks that way because it is out of alignment.  Whereas it should be curved slightly inward, the natural position for the hip bone, it is sort of pressed out. Hence the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

With the treatment the chiropractor gave me, along with this revelation, I felt hopeful for the first time in a week and I even felt a little better. My hip came to be this way from bad habits I've followed pretty much my whole life. These habits just finally caught up to me after all these years.   It's the way I sit when I sit and the way I sleep when I'm in bed.  It wasn't really surprising to me.  I've had issues of stiffness and slight pain when getting up either from bed in the morning or even getting up out of a chair.  I now know that I need to learn to undo those habits which is easier for sitting down than for sleeping.

My Bad Habits

Ever since I can remember, I've always crossed my legs when I sit.  Sometimes I cross them like you can see in the photo above.  Other times I actually put my one leg completely under the other.  Not good, especially after doing so for the better part of fifty years.  If I want this to get better and never come back, I've got to change this habit.

The other bad habit that I already knew was bad was the way I sleep.  I am a face down sleeper by nature, and normally when I am sleeping, my left leg folds out just like you see in the picture.  Really really bad!  Over the past few years, I've especially noticed that this was a problem.  Pain in my back and hips have become increasingly worse, and obviously it brought me to this point.  

This habit is not so easy to break.  I've actually tried breaking it for some time now, trying to sleep on my back with a pillow under my legs or sleeping on my side with pillow between the legs, but I always find myself in this position.  Ugh!  I guess the best I can do is be keenly aware of it and try to catch myself doing it when I do it and correct it immediately.  But how can anyone change a habit you have while sleeping?  

The Rant

So now that I know what the problem is, I guess that working on breaking these habits, stretching regularly and resting more will eventually help my issue and make it go away for good.  I can't help but be a little put off by the doctors I saw, though, because neither of them went to any of the lengths that the chiropractor went through to correct the problem.

Perhaps it is our collective societal consciousness that has given the end all, be all moniker to modern western doctors, but should that be so?  There are many out there who demean other types of medical treatment such as chiropractic medicine, acupuncture and other types of alternative treatments, yet from what I experienced from just this one issue was that the chiropractor was really the only one who actually treated me for my specific problem.

During both doctor visits, my temperature and blood pressure was taken, but that was the extent of any physical examination.  Neither doctor physically examined my back or my legs and buttocks, where I told them the pain was emanating from.  Within moments of even seeing me, they were both quick to write me scripts, without even probing for clues or even looking at me.  Yet, most of us are satisfied with this.  

So far all the drugs have done for me has been to numb the pain for awhile, nothing else.  I am convinced at this very moment that I will get better now, but only because of my visits to this chiropractor, not either doctor.  Now don't get me wrong, doctors are a vital sector of society and they do plenty for the ill.  I've been helped by them on many an occasion, and I am sure I will need their services again, but it bothers me to see that this kind of stuff happens.  Are doctors too overworked and underpaid these days?  Are their practices a little too influenced by drug companies?  Have we as a society come to think of taking pills for everything that ails us, and have the doctors subscribed to that way of thinking?  Oh, I could go on and on. Perhaps one day on Rants.    

Anyway, tomorrow will be 14 days since I first experienced this intense pain, and it still feels like it isn't going to go away.  Hopefully, with some more rest (I am going stir crazy!), stretching and visits to the chiropractor, by the next time I post a blog, that will change.  In the meantime, for all of you out there who suffer from chronic pain, I truly feel for you and I hope that your suffering will come to a close soon enough.  Peace!