Back Story

I’ve been away, and I can’t say that I’ve entirely returned… but I feel I need to check in. I’ve always imagined that in my old age I’d re-read my posts chronologically and enjoy some “oh yeah!” moments (if these digital copies survive the years). That said, I know I’d be upset with myself for leaving some glaring gaps.

Everything culminated in back surgery a couple weeks ago – a lumbar laminectomy to be precise. A herniated disc from basketball proceeded to create possibly the worst 3-4 months of my life so far. What began with back pain transformed into lightning shooting down my right leg, and eventually, a permanent fire from Satan made said leg its home, and some little helper devils stuck a bunch of daggers in my calf for good measure.

Permanent pain is one thing – but I didn’t realize what it can lead to, which is ultimately a sort of depression. I couldn’t sit down. This made it difficult to work. The pain prevented me from falling asleep (this was the most frustrating time for me, with some nights spent punching and yelling into pillows), and the same pain would wake me up early after I exhausted myself into passing out. Every. Night. I couldn’t walk the frustration off, and the initial medication (prednisone) just gave me nightmares, stomach problems, and 20-hour intervals of alertness (even when tired). Failed results from medication prompted an MRI which revealed the herniation pressing on the poor nerve that sends the signals down my leg. When I started losing sensation in my right foot, it was time for surgery.

Contrasting with the sentiments of those around me (especially my family), I had no hesitations – go for it, Mr. Neuro Surgeon. I had grown to hate this tiny piece of herniated disc, this ultimate traitor, and I wanted him removed. Cut me open.

I won’t bore you with all the details – a blur of an IV, morphine, nurses and doctors. I had the procedure, woke up, and the pain was entirely gone. I’m just beginning physical therapy but I feel… awesome. There’s a nice big scar in the middle of my lower back and I couldn’t care less.

It’s pretty much all over, aside from strengthening exercises to build up my right leg. I’m not allowed to play basketball for 6 months – which lands right around my birthday – so that’ll be my gift to myself.

Some other stuff happened:

My friend [Chris]( has had a bunch of standup gigs at local comedy clubs (The Ice House) and some on Sunset (The Comedy Store). I admire his guts. His pursuit of this goal is inspirational, and his future in comedy is a bright one; you’ll be hearing about him.

I got to watch Walnut for a few days. If you know her, she’s quite the ‘fraidy cat. Except that she’s not. What may seem like hiding under your dresser is not hiding at all – it’s merely sitting in a nice fort. My goal was to have her think of me as a friend by the end of my pet-sitting, and it was a success. She slept at the foot of the bed on the final day. And I got one good photo of her because it was almost impossible.

Christmas was… Christmas. We had a pretty awesome white elephant Nucleus party at Ben’s, and I enjoyed the rest of the holidays with my family and some friends we haven’t seen in ages – it was great to reconnect and talk science.

I recently had a difficult career decision to make, but I went with my gut and it feels good. 2010 is a blank slate to prove that I made the right choice.

My friend [Gordon]( released his fun and addicting iPhone game, [Skybox]( It was pretty much a hit around the studio from day one. Grab it from the [AppStore](, you won’t be disappointed.

[Backwords]( 1.2 is out – you can tweet your recordings and make/manage your own categories for party mode. I’m interested to hear other people’s backwards speech – and you can too! You’ll be able to search twitter for [#backwords](, and there’s also the official [Posterous]( blog for anyone who decides to post to it from the app (there’s a couple up there now… this was obviously a great idea – technology at its finest).

If you’re in town, don’t miss [Zombies in Love]( tomorrow at Nucleus. There’s so much going on for this show – a zombie walk through Alhambra, a zombie shooting gallery, a zombie costume contest, and of course zombie-related artwork. Plus, some secret zombie surprises. It’s $2.00 unless you’re a zombie or dressed like one, or have blogged/tweeted about the event. See you there, I’ll be all bloody.

(Yeah, I work with these zombies.)