Friday, November 11, 2011

Webster defines frustration as "a deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs."

Same old same old today. There was a lot of shoulder shrugging, raised eyebrows, and once again, no answers. I am, however, being referred to a new doctor who specializes in treating a variety of nerve, muscle and bone disorders. He also specializes in non-surgical treatments such as medication, physical therapy and injections.
I'm mean. Sure. Why not? After all I am really only one step away from dancing naked under a full moon while someone kills a chicken.
I've been bounced back and forth between so many doctors, I should have WILSON tattooed on my ass but then again, I'd probably start receiving phone calls from Tom Hanks.
I have been to
who sent me to
who sent me to
who sent me back to
NEUROSURGERYAnd all the while this is going on, I am giving blood like it's on sale and having so many MRI's done that now, when I get angry, I turn into a big, green super-hero.

Fuck me.
I'm so tired. Physically and mentally. I'm tired of numbness and stuttering and blurred vision and constant neck pain. I'm tired of no answers and shoulder shrugs and exposing myself to gamma rays and blood tests and still no answers and driving to hospitals and doctors' offices and stupid little gowns with flowers on them and...
Fuck me.
I'm depressed.
I don't know how else to feel. Anger does me no good, although that's the one emotion I feel the most comfortable with right now. Two years of this bullshit. Two years. Really? I mean. Seriously...really?
My appointment with this new doctor is on Monday. I'm not going to have any expectations. That's one thing I've learned. If you have no expectations, you won't be disappointed. Sounds negative, doesn't it? Just a little maybe? No. It's called self-preservation. Any disappointments at this stage of the game are magnified and take too much out of me. I can't afford the energy to buck myself up after another we-don't-have-a-freaking-clue doctor's appointment.
I'll keep an open mind. I'll put some hope away for safe keeping.
I don't know what else to do.
I really don't.

And that's Jody with a "y"
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Time to play CATCH UP...

So. I'm a married man now. No. Really. I have the ring to prove it. Right here on my left hand. I know that it's on my left hand because I play with it constantly. I guess that's the difference between a married man and a single man. A single man plays with something else constantly.So far, married life is everything I expected it to be and wanted it to be.
You can see a video of our wedding here.
You'll have to click on the word here.
There you go. Nice job.

I haven't had too many opportunities to turn my brain off during the last two years but the ten days I spent in the Dominican Republic at Puerto Plata on my honeymoon allowed me to do just that. We're talking total relaxation here, people. Total. We're talking almost total brain death here and for those ten days I was being kept alive by a machine. Of course that machine ran completely on rum, but none-the-less it kept me going. Or not going, I guess I should I say. There's something about white sands and all-the-rum you can drink without lapsing into a coma that helps you relax.

See! That's my relaxed face. And look! I actually have some sort of pigment! Yeah. I know. Hard to believe, right? Me with a tan? It's kinda like Lindsay Lohan sober. It doesn't happen often, so when there is a rare occurrence, make sure you have a camera on hand because no one will believe you.Our honeymoon was awesome. It really was. We snorkeled, we swam, we hiked and jumped off waterfalls. And, in the process, we even learned a little Spanish.
Good evening.
"Beunos noches."
Good morning.
"Beunos dias."
Good afternoon.
"Buenos tardes."
And if you are a fan of David Tennant you would say 'Beunos tardis.'
That's a little Dr. Who humor in case you're not a fan of British Sci-Fi.
"Por va vor."
Do you have a table for two?
"Tienes una mesa para dos personas?"
I don't own that donkey. It's a rental.
"No soy el dueño de este burro, lo rente.
You're the prettiest girl in this bar, even though you are a transvestite.
"Eres la chica más bonita en este bar aunque eres travestí."
And the most important phrase I learned?
"Realmente no puedo hablar español; solo aprendí unas frases de una página web."
Which translates to...I can't really speak Spanish;I only learned a few phrases from a web page.

In the end, we managed to get by. We were able to order food, when we weren't at the buffet, so we didn't go without eating. We didn't end up in a fist fight or jail and there wasn't an international incident. We were able to order our drinks as we reclined on our giant bed on the beach so we pretty much didn't care about anything else. Like I said, we were able to relax, which as it turns out, is a lot easier to do when there are no televisions, radios, clocks, computers, newspapers or cell phones. So, I guess the lesson here is that if you want to totally relax, go a deserted island. Or Nebraska.

My health.
Well, here we go again. I have an appointment on Friday or as they say in Spanish, manana. It's hard to stop once you start really. I've been having fun with the folks at the McDonald's drive-thru since we got back. And the best part? I can finally talk to the employees at Home Depot!
It's my second appointment with this particular orthopedic surgeon who is actually the first orthopedic surgeon I've met with since all this bullshit began.
If you remember the Orthopedic Department at MCV wouldn't meet with me because they didn't want to step on the toes of The Neurology Department or The NeuroSurgery Department. I guess they didn't want to step on their distal phalanges.
That's a foot joke. I know. I know. It sounds like a Pink Floyd record title, but they are bones in the human foot. Look it up.
So I was just bounced back and forth between the neuro-twins (Blunder Twins Activate!) at MCV for a year, waiting for someone to pull their head out of the ass long enough to give me a competent diagnosis regardless of whose toes they were stepping on and really, what's frustrating about that is it was the freaking HEAD OF NEUROLOGY
Anyway. I digress.
Which is much better than regress, I can tell you. I would hate to go through potty-training again. Worse 6 years of my life.
So, here I am today, married and with better insurance (Thank you, Honey) and all of a sudden people-doctors-seem to see me as an actual person. Amazing! I was referred to this particular surgeon who looked at all my film from the last two years and who immediately scheduled me for a CAT scan. Apparently he has some suspicions about what is the cause of all my problems, hinting at arthritis as the culprit. C1 and C2 may or may not be compromised to the point where surgery is the only answer. Unlike MCV though, he didn't paint a horrible picture and hesitated listing everything that might be wrong. Instead he told me that he wanted to see the results of my CAT scan first before making any broad diagnosis or listing all the painful procedures I might have to endure.
I like a guy who doesn't show all his cards all at once. I'm sure he could talked for half an hour about what might be wrong with me and what they could do for me in all of those situations and gotten me all upset like, oh I don't MCV!! He chose though to play it cool and after all I've been through I wouldn't want it any other way. I have done a little research on the Web.
If C1 and C2 are truly compromised because of normal wear and tear (Doctors actually use that phrase-like I have steel belted radials in my neck) and arthritis, than fusion is more than likely the course of action they will take. I don't know what any of that means really because the majority of my brain shut down after reading the word screw.
I'm going to do exactly what my doctor is doing. I'm going to play it cool until a complete diagnosis is made. Then I'll crawl into a corner, tuck myself into the fetal position, thumb in mouth, and wait for everything to be over.

For the most part, everything else is going okay. I quit my job. Mostly because it was taking a physical toll on me. Even my surgeon said it was the worst possible thing I could be doing to myself. Apparently this guy has never seen the movie Se7en.
Aside from medical reasons, quite honestly, I hated that place. Most of the people are miserable and bitter and angry and that's just the employees! There's nothing worse that going to work in a place where the frustration and depression are permeable. It was like going to work at The Amityville Horror house. Or Nebraska.
Sorry. I seem to be picking on Nebraska this morning. It's all in fun. Just a call-back to a previous joke. It's what I do. I'm a comedian. We joke like that and in the process probably piss someone off. Speaking of jokes...The improv comedy troupe I am a member of-West End Comedy-is having a great deal of success. We continue to have sold-out or near sold-out crowds at our West End location, HATTheatre, and just this past Friday played a show to a sold-out crowd-and then some!-at CenterStage-Richmond. It was an awesome night. We were on fire and the crowd was enthusiastic and appreciative. We have three more shows in this season. I'm pretty darn sure we will be invited back for another. CenterStage loves what we do and is very happy with the initial response.
I love performing improv comedy and I love the people I get to perform it with a couple of times every month. Improv, much like my illustration work, allows me to not only express myself, but to go a little crazy sometimes and exorcise my demons.
I guess that's all you need to know for now...other than:
I bought some new boots.
I'm considering shaving my head.
I'm also considering a new tattoo.
I made a really good stew last night. I mean, really. It was yum.
Everything else is happening on a day-to-day basis now.
I'm no longer writing my wedding blog-I'm married now, so there's no need to. From this point on, I'm going to be working solely on this blog. Stop by some time if you get a chance. Unless you're from Nebraska, that is. You're probably never going to come back again.

And that's Jody with a "y"
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yeah, it's been two years this week, give or take a day here and there.

Think about all the stuff that has happened in the last two years.

The economy went in the toilet.
Gas prices reached all time highs.
There was trouble in the Mid East.

Okay, so those could have been the top news stories from the last 20 years. Let me see if I can narrow the list down to the last two years.

I became engaged.
Charlie Sheen was the highest paid entertainer on television.
Charlie Sheen went crazy.
Charlie Sheen was fired from his television gig.
A guy named 'Weiner' was involved in a sex scandal.
Something that was being called the I-pad turned out to be a computer and not a feminine hygiene product.
Osama Bin Laden was killed and buried at sea.
A guy named Steve Jobs changed jobs but not names.
MOTHER NATURE continued to show that she is the Queen Bitch and is not to be messed with. Just ask Japan.
Conan O'Brien moved to 11PM on TBS. Jay Leno continues to suck.
Jennifer Lopez and Mark Anthony separated. I know. Shocking. Really people? About the only other more mismatched couple to get married and then divorced was Julie Roberts and Lyle Lovett. Or Jerry Lee Lewis and his 13 year old cousin. Or Liza Minelli and that gay guy.
Bedbugs invaded hotel rooms all across the United States and putting children to bed with cute little sayings took on a whole new creepy meaning.
Justin Bieber became a mega-star (Don't believe me? Type the letters 'j' and 'u' into GOOGLE and see what happens!) Teenage boys all over the world copy his hairstyle and become the cutest teenage girls ever!
There is still no conclusive evidence that Bigfoot does or does not exist.
While on that subject, the television program Ghost Hunters has yet to film an actual ghost and the television program Ghost Adventures proves that being an arrogant douchebag does not necessarily interfere with paranormal research. Ironically it seems that when you're dead, you develop a tougher skin.
33 Chilean miners were pulled from the Earth after a cave-in. Made for tv movies are already in the works. I heard Lisa Lampanelli is playing the mine.
Two words: Oil spill.
Casey Anthony was found not guilty in the murder of her daughter. Nothing funny about that. It's sickening, really. She'll probably be offered a book deal. I hope no one buys it. I hope karma has her new, secret address.
We celebrated the 10th Anniversary of 911 and as a world we cried together one more time.


Honestly, it feels like 20 and from my new grey hairs and the lines on my face, it kinda looks like its been 20.
After countless doctors appointments, MRI's, blood tests, X-rays, acupuncture visits, I am sadly still right where I started. After too many wasted hours in waiting rooms and emotionless shoulder shrugs from doctors who were limited in their treatment options because of the level of insurance I have, I am still suffering from headaches, horrible migraines and at-times crippling neck pain.
I could whine and cry and think about all the lost opportunities and all the lost days but what's the point really?
I don't know who said "That which does not kill you, makes you stronger." Maybe the Marquis de Sade? Gary Busey?
I don't know if I feel stronger or not. I feel tired and weak and there are days when I want to give in or up or out,. I'm not sure which preposition works best here. Part of me still worried what is going on inside my head.
We know that there are some discs that are wonky and that they are compromising my occipital nerve. Chiropractic manipulation offered some relief but I fear the nerves are worse now from two years of misdiagnosis. I still have the as-of-today still undiagnosed thing (We all remember Orville right?) inside my spinal column.
Ironically, I am having a bad day today. One of my LEVEL 9 HEADACHES. A day ender, usually, but I have way too much to do today. There's a wedding to plan for in less than 20 days now and I plan on not only being headache free but on dancing the night away.
I'm probably looking at some surgery in the not so distant future. Which in some ways is a flickering light at the end of this tunnel and in other ways it scares me the shit out of me. The surgeons I have talked to in the past have said over and over again that any exploration into finding out what Orville is (Cavernoma or tumor or lint ball) will either result in my paralysis or death.
Great options huh? It's like being invited to a buffet at The Waffle House.
Right now I'm taking every day as it comes.
It's hard to exercise when you can hardly move your neck.
I am not beaten and will never give up. I have too much, way too much, not to fight.

So what have I learned in these last two years?

I have learned that my ass looks huge in a hospital gown. Especially the ones that have little blue and yellow flowers on them.

I've learned that no matter how many throat lozenges I suck on or how many times I pee beforehand, five seconds after I'm slid into an MRI machine, I will start coughing and have to pee.

I've learned that doctors, no matter how strong their GOD complex, are just people and just like normal, every day people, can be assholes. I've learned that the concept of the 'bedside manner' has been replaced with indifference and hollow Sorry-That's-The-Best-I-Can-Do's.

I've learned that aside from lasagna, IMITREX is my favorite 3-syllable word.
I've learned that coffee although the Devil's brew is so delicious and so hard to not have in the morning.

I've learned that I can work, standing on my feet and smiling and giving my best when it feels like a crochet needle has been stuck at the base of my skull. I've learned that even complete strangers who I see almost every day I work can be caring and thoughtful and sincere.

I've learned that doctors' scrubs are really, really comfy.
I've learned that hearing the phrase "It's all in your head" makes me want to punch people in the spleen.

I've learned that although twisted and sometimes a little cruel, I do have a sense of humor and it will get me through this or at the very least make things a little more bearable.

And finally I learned that I have awesome family and friends who put up with my whining and crying and who send me heart-felt prayers and hug me until the pain goes away. I do love you all so very much.

And lastly, I learned the beautiful lady who will become my bride in 19 days loves me and will always be at my side. I learned that putting her hand in mine gives me the strength I lack some days and that her smile can light the darkest of times. I learned that love is a powerful medicine and in her arms I feel safe. I learned that she feels my pain and is on this journey with me, every day. And that I am the luckiest man alive.

And that's Jody with a "y"
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 27, 2011


This was the week that was brought to you by Irwin Allen.

We started off with an earthquake and it seems we are doomed to end the week with a hurricane or at the very least, the effects of a hurricane. The winds are blowing today. Hard. At least 30 MPH here in Richmond. It's raining (no complaints here-we need rain badly) and the streets are covered with fallen leaves.
CNN is on in the background and we are watching a myriad of weatherman trying to predict EXACTLY where Irene will touch down and with what force.
Hurricanes are not funny. They are serious business.
What I find funny is how people react to the situation. Like everything else in this country, a hurricane is just another way to increase ratings and make money. I'm surprised there isn't a very special Jersey Shore episode or marathon on MTV. Will Snookie get washed out into the Atlantic? We could only hope. Will the Situation be blown...(wait for it) by the winds and will his plywood like abs protect him from debris? Who cares? I think that's the bigger question.
Irene. Please. Irene is the name of that neighbor who grows roses who always complains about some other neighbor's dogs pooping in her yard. Irene is the name of the lady at work who can get you extra Post-Its and usually has lipstick on her teeth.

So Irene packed quite a punch for a little lady who passes out office supplies.
The power just came back on.
There are trees down everywhere. Everywhere but in our yard.
Thank you GOD.
Up yours Irene!
We hadn't seen Dominion Power trucks the last three days and within the last 4 hours we have seen 4 or 5. Our German neighbor, a little old spitfire with Mr. Magoo glasses, walked up to one of the trucks, garden shears in hand, and asked, "Ven are ve going to have power?"
The driver nervously responded "Within the hour, ma'am. Within the hour."
And wouldn't you know?
Within the hour we had power.

I've learned some things about myself the last few days.

I learned that I will brave 50 MPH winds and flying debris to drive up to Burger King for crappy hamburgers.
I learned that I can't sleep without the fan in our bedroom.
I learned that SCRABBLE a still a great way for families to spend time together. I also learned that having the Z and the Q on your rack is a sign for you to just pack it in and go to bed and that family is family forever, but if you use all your pieces on one word that includes a triple word and score 83 points, those same family members will love you just a little less.
I've also learned that the Charlie Horse is the hardest piece to remove from Sam's body in the game of Operation. DAMNIT THOSE LEGS ARE TOO THIN!!! YOU CAN'T GET A HOLD OF THEM!!! NO FAIR! REDO!!
I learned that the sound of transformers exploding throughout the neighborhood, although blood curling, is still not as frightening as the sound of the snapping of rubber gloves in a doctor's office.
I learned what it's like to have a vagina and that cold showers suck first thing in the morning.
I learned that one leaf is not a problem and that 10,000 leaves are a major pain in the ass.
I learned that I hate going to bed at 8pm now as much as I did when I was 7 and the my pajamas were cuter then.
Sadly, I also learned that people will knock each other out of the way to get to the ice machine for bags of ice. Those same people will grab 6 or 7 10 lb. bags of ice while the people behind them walk away empty-handed. WHO THE HELL needs 70 pounds of ice?
Seriously? You storing bodies in your basement, Boris?

To my friends-on FaceBook and to those I see every day...
I hope you got through the last few days unscathed with no more than a few days without television and hot showers. I hope you all are well and safe.

And you Irene.
Thanks for the high winds and pounding rain. Thanks for power outages and property damage.
Thanks for cancelled parties and improv shows and vacations.
I hope you get explosive diarrhea.

And that's Jody with a "y"
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hey there. It's been a while, hasn't it?
About six months if my math is correct.

Let's see if I can catch you up on what's been happening with me.

I guess it seems that the last few times I posted, I seemed as if I was on Death's bed, or at the very least, on his couch in a spare room.
At least, that's how I felt. Pretty much every day.
Not too much has changed sadly.
About the only thing that has changed is that I am seeing a chiropractor now. On and off. For the most part Dr. G has given me some relief. If my insurance situation was better and I was seeing him 5 times a weeks, I would probably doing back flips. At least it's nice to dream that I would be. Sadly, my insurance sucks and I'm only seeing Dr. G. about twice a month.
I've lost count of how many MRI's I've had at MCV in the hope of finding out what is wrong with me. I can now bake a potato just by holding it in my hands and I glow at night like a night light.
It's ironic that after all those MRI's it took one black and white X-Ray to show that two discs in my neck are not as they should be. They are in fact rotated to the right and twisting downward. There is also some slight herniation between them. The worse thing about this is that the twisting and downward rotation is pulling and twisting my occipital nerve-more than likely-more more than likely-the main reason for the horrendous headaches that ruin pretty much every day of my life.
One lousy X-Ray.
Of course the X-Rays don't show the tumor that's in my spinal column so there is still no answer-and there may never be until we have Star Trek medicine and technology-as to what it is and what affect it is having on my health.
I may have been born with Orville. Orville may have appeared after some event in my past. We may never know. I could worry about that every day or I can just try and suck it up and move forward. Believe me, there is so much going on right now that I don't have time to worry.
So once in a while I go see Dr. G and he cracks me, pulls me and runs electricity through me. I do feel better afterwards. I don't know where I stand on chiropractic medicine as a whole, but I do think that the negative is that once you start, you have to keep going. 5 times a week would be awesome, like I said, but I'm not in the position to do that.
Yes. The headaches continue. Every day. I have just gotten better at dealing with them. On the Big Ol' Headache Dial of Pain I'm at a 5 or 6 most of the time. There are days when the dial is cranked up to '1o' though and those are the days when I do nothing. It hurts to do anything.
It's amazing what you can put up with on a daily basis.
Millions of people suffer from chronic pain and my heart goes out to them.

I'm done with MCV and I think for the most part, they are done with me.
My last visit there, months ago, was frustrating. So, I guess, in that aspect, typical.
The doctor was half an hour late for our appointment and when he did finally walk into the examination room, he was full of attitude which I called him on.
He told me he was frustrated that they (the people who work in his office) had sent me back to him.
"You're frustrated", I asked, with a little of my attitude, "Imagine how I feel....if you're able...for just a second."
Never poke a bear. A wise Indian once said that.
Never poke a bear that's in constant pain. That one's all mine.
After I laid him into for a few minutes, he backed down, not before, though, he reminded me that he would never cut into me to find the cause for all my problems, adding that any surgery would result in either my death or at the very least, paralysis.
I bet this guy is a laugh riot at parties.
After almost a year of hearing excuses and seeing shoulders shrug and waiting in waiting rooms being coughed on by strangers boiled over and I interrupted him and asked, "Let me ask you, Doc. Is the state of my medical care directly related to the type of insurance I have? If I had A+ Solid Gold Insurance From The Best Insurance Company IN THE WORLD (Yes. That's the actual name of a company....I'm pretty sure) would I have-"
He interrupted...
(Surgeon is Greek for Rude Ass)
He interrupted "We would have probably found an answer a year ago." This profound statement was followed by a blank, cocky stare. Almost daring me to come back with some clever remark.
If you don't know me, let me give you this little tidbit of information on Jody. I have perfected the eye-#$%@ you! And I looked right at him and smiled and met his stare with mine.
I haven't been back since.

I'm Getting Married
So when I say I don't have time for all this headache nonsense, I mean it.
I'm getting married in 57 days.
57 days.
I swear that it was just a few weeks ago when I proposed to my lady, Fawn. We laugh about it sometimes because when I proposed last October, it seemed like October 16, 2011 was a hundred years away. As it turns out, a hundred years these days is more like 60, give or take a few.

I've writing a blog about my experiences as groom and wedding planner. It helps me work things out and believe me, some of the stuff that has happened, you wouldn't believe.
A friend of mine recently told me that he didn't use to believe half of what I told. My stories were just too crazy. That explains the Nah-Get-Outta-Here! expression on his face. Then he experienced the thing that is my magnetism for crazy firsthand. He's a believer now. He stays twenty feet away from me nowadays, but he's a believer.
Here's the address for my wedding blog in case you want to catch up on things.

57 days is gonna go by real fast and I'm stressed right now.
I'm also the happiest I've ever been.
My heart is a very good place. My life has changed and I know that I made the right decision to ask Fawn to marry me.
My mom and dad are thrilled. Most of her family is excited. All of our friends are truly happy for us. We can't wait. It's gonna be an awesome day. You're gonna have to peel the smiles off of our faces with crowbars.

The Other Stuff
Aside from some financial woes and my on-going health concerns, life is good.
Really good.
I'm performing with an improvisational group that continues to attract new fans on a weekly basis.
West End Comedy performs two regular shows a month at HATTheatre here in Richmond. We specialize in short-form improv comedy, much like what you would see on one of Drew Carey's two shows.
This group of performers have changed my life. Working with them and playing with them on stage has been a positive force in my life that continues to make me want to work harder on my craft. Second to the love of my most beautiful fiance, playing with these most talented people has been the best medicine I could have prayed for and believe me, the future looks awesome for us.

Aside from our very popular shows at HATTheatre, we also perform as part of The Capital Ale Comedy-Variety Show presented by Lost Number Productions. Seriously...what could be better than awesome improv comedy and the best beer selection in Richmond, Virginia?

Starting in the Fall, West End Comedy will start a limited engagement in partnership with CenterStage Richmond performing 4 shows at Rhythm Hall.

This is an awesome opportunity for us, for WE, and from there, it really is the sky's the limit for us. For WE.

This past August West End Comedy joined the team of final.revised in creating a movie for The 48 Film Project. I was proud to be a part of this adventure. Working with final.revised on their short film Summer League was a most awesome way for me to combine my love of writing and performing. The film swept the award ceremony on August 14 and is moving on to the national level of competition.

Here's the movie, just in case you wanted some serious laughs. Share it with your friends.

I have never been prouder to be part of something than I am being a founding member of West End Comedy. We have had an awesome first season. We somehow captured lightning in a bottle.
Who knows what our second season will bring?

My illustration work is on the back burner right now.
I imagine that after my wedding I will pick up my markers and begin work again. I'm just too busy right now.
My headaches make it hard for me to sit at my drafting table and work, to be honest.
I've done some sketching but nothing I would show anybody.
I will get back to the drawing board soon (See what I did there?) and make another go at being a professional illustrator.
That would be nice.

It's like I said.
LIFE is pretty damn sweet right now.
I wake up every day next to a lady who makes my heart sing.
I have awesome friends.
I perform improv comedy with some very talented people and incredible opportunities continue to present themselves to us. To WE.

I have no idea what the future has in store for me but then again, the future has no idea what I have in store for it. It better take hold though because I intend to grab it and shake it and make sure it remembers who I am.

Later friends...
Check back every once and a while.

And that's Jody with a "y"
All Right Reserved

Friday, February 25, 2011

I've never had a professional massage before today.
To tell the truth, I wasn't sure what to expect.
Therapeutic massage is a huge business these days but I think when most people hear the word massage, they immediately think of something naughty.
I did. For about a second.
But this massage was a gift from a very dear friend and I knew it was going to be okay. I do have to say that the massage therapist did look a lot like the older priest in The Exorcist. That could either be a good thing or a bad thing. After all, the older priest does kick the Devil's ass in the movie, but he dies in the end.
The massage therapist's office was decorated with the typical posters of the human body and other kind of Zen artwork you might expect to see in acupuncturist's office. I guess it's all about setting a mood and the mood in this room was the 'take off your clothes and get on this table so I can rub you all over.'
What? No dinner or drinks first?
The room where the long table was located was dimly lit and there was the kind of new-age music playing you would expect. You know the type of music I'm talking about. Lots of chimes and birds chirping and the sound of waterfalls, which is maddening because if you don't take the suggestion to use the bathroom before the massage, you wind up listening to falling water for the next 90 minutes.
The massage I was a scheduled for today was a full body massage with hot stones. Okay. I'm game. What do I do?
Strip down to whatever I feel comfortable stripping down to? Sure. I can do that. I'm not a prude. Plus, I wore my fire engine undies today. And they were clean!
Now lay face up on that long table? I can do that. So far so good.
I wasn't bothered by the fact that I was about to receive a massage from a man. And believe me, I had done some serious pondering on the subject.
Male massage therapist or female massage therapist?
It's a tough call.
There's all that touching and hot oils and close contact and Yanni music in the background. It's a weird dilemma to find yourself in. I can't begin to think what would be going through a woman's mind, but I can tell you, as a man, what was going through mine.
"Dear Lord. Please don't let me get an erection."
I'm sure it happens. It's only natural. It's just a response. And let me tell you, in case you don't know, sometimes Mr. Happy has a mind all his own and will decide to make an appearance-or not-and there's nothing you can do about it.
I was not about to let that happen. I haven't had an uncontrolled erection since I slid down that rope in gym class and it wasn't going to happen while I was being rubbed down with oil by the dead priest from The Exorcist.
The massage therapist, I'll just call him Jerry from this point on, asked me several times if I was okay, stating that I was awfully quiet.
Of course I'm quiet Jerry! I'm focused. Really, really focused right now. Trust me, Jerry. You'll be glad I did in the end.
Well. That last sentence was phrased so badly.
So for 90 minutes Jerry rubbed me with oiled hands and hot stones. It felt good. Really, really good. No. Not that good. But as bad as I have felt in the last year, it did feel good.
The only awkward moment during the whole session came about as I was lying on my stomach.
Don't get ahead of me, Dear Reader.
Jerry had been massaging my legs and at one point asked "Would you like me to massage your glutes?"
Glutes, just in case you aren't familiar with the term, are the muscles in your butt...your bottom...your posterior.
"Massage my glutes?" I heard my brain repeat.
Now, I do not consider myself a homophobe. I have many gay friends. None of whom have ever asked me the question "Can I massage your glutes?" however.
I told Jerry 'no.' My glutes are fine.
Probably not the smoothest of lines, but it wasn't a lie. My glutes were fine. Are fine...moving on!
Besides, the last person to rub oil on my butt was my mom. I was 2 and I remember it made me happy. Jerry is not my mom and I wasn't looking to prevent diaper rash today. So, No, Jerry, you may not massage my glutes today if you're okay with that.
I think Jerry understand. I can't imagine there's a large population of people who immediately jump on the whole 'rub my butt with oil' train.
Once again, a sentence that probably could have been worded a little better.
90 minutes goes fast when you are laying in a dark room listening to new age music and being rubbed by hot stones and before I knew it Jerry was slapping my ass and telling me to hit the road.
I'm kidding!
The very soft-spoken man simply said that he was done, he would leave the room (and turn off the video camera...I'm kidding again!) while I dressed and for me to come out when I was ready.
He told me to take it easy when I stood up, stating that some people get a little light-headed when the massage is over. I steadied myself, did one last check for any peep-holes I might have missed from my initial inspection of the avocado green walls and ceiling tiles, and dressed.
Then Jerry and I shook hands (What no hugs? After what we've just been through together? Oh Jerry.)
And then I was gone. Out into the brilliant sunlight. A little looser and a lot more oily than when I had gone in.
I don't know how I will feel tomorrow. I have been warned to drink a lot of water because deep massage breaks up the toxins in your body and some people actually get sick after their session.
I will drink lots of water today and pray that I will be able to walk tomorrow.
And I will remember Jerry fondly. Just not as fondly as if I had allowed him to rub my butt.

And that's Jody with a "y"
All Right Reserved

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

As most of you are aware, the last few days have been pretty hard for me. It was a Double-Bill this weekend with both a nasty, nasty intestinal virus hitting me like a Mack truck and then a kidney stone decided to show up since I was already doubled-over in the bathroom.

The intestinal virus has since worked itself out of my body. The exorcism helped a great deal. I'm slowly hydrating myself and feeling like my old self. Old being the operative word.

The kidney stone, a little bruiser weighing in at 4mm, has not passed yet and I'm trying to stay on top of all the pain with the right doses of prescribed med's. There's also a witch doctor stopping by on Friday, just for good measure. Yes. This is my second (18th total) kidney stone in about two months and I think the culprit is the medicines I am taking for my neck and head. Just a lousy side effect, I guess and one that is not listed as possible side effects.

The worse thing about a kidney stone, other than the constant feeling that you are being castrated from the inside out, is the constant sensation that you have to urinate and the up teem trips to the bathroom that only end in disappointment and frustration. Sort of like visiting New Jersey on vacation.

I'm kidding. I'm a Jersey boy and can joke about my home state.


I have seen a chiropractor twice now and have received some much needed relief. Upon reviewing my X-Rays (notice I didn't say MRI's? That's important!) it was revealed that there is a problem in my spine. Although straight and showing no signs of curvature or degradation, there is a problem with C2. Which, as it turns out, is the exact spot where all of my pain is radiating from and causing my headaches.

It seems that C2 is rotated and turning slightly downward, thus pinching my greater occipital nerve. It really does explain everything I have been going through this last year and a half.


I'm not going to go into some rant about you missed that...because it would be embarrassing for you and me but....seriously...


Apparently this condition is quite common and can be repaired without surgery. In fact with some light traction and with the assistance of this little min-jackhammer device, the troublesome disc can be encouraged to move back into position.

So that's it.
The very latest.
I'm currently in the process of rethinking my diet and vitamin plan. This plan includes eliminating a lot of the bad things I have been indulging in for too long and hopefully losing some weight.
I've had a great start. I've lost almost 13 pounds over the course of the last three days.

Now...if I only I could pee...when I wanted to....ahhhhh....sweet victory!

And that's Jody with a "y"

Friday, January 21, 2011

During the last year and a half, I have dealt with fear like no other time in my life. I have dealt with the fear of paralysis and of death, the fear of never feeling good again, of never-ending pain, and the fear of being unable to ever draw or paint again. There have been some pretty scary times.

Today I dealt with another type of fear. One that is just as personal, but one that perhaps we all have experienced at one time or another.

Let me back-track a little.

I went to a chiropractor today.

I've been to a chiropractor before. About 10 years ago actually. It was a weird experience and I was pretty certain I would never go again. Suffice to say I don't think the experience went as it was supposed to go and I felt worse afterwards rather than better. I'm still shocked that I haven't seen that guy on a DATELINE expose.

These last few months have caused me to reevaluate my opinion of that profession though, and in my quest to seek alternative methods for relief-notice I'm no longer saying 'cure' ?-I have decided to include chiropractic medicine as a viable possible solution.

Besides we had a coupon.

So I drove to the office, file folder containing all my documents from the last year in hand and hard as I try to stay positive, a little dubious. I've been disappointed so many times in the last year it's a little hard not to be jaded.

As to the issue of a chiropractor being a real doctor, I wasn't too concerned. And whatever the answer, to the question of chiropractors being real doctors is, the truth is this. I've been seeing doctors for the last year and a half and have wanted to punch every single one of them. Maybe the fact that this guy wasn't going to be a real doctor was a good thing.

The real truth is, though, the difference between the education of an MD and that of a chiropractor lies in the fact an MD trains in pharmacology and surgical procedures and and a chiropractor trains in the care of the spine. In other words, chiropractic doctors work just as hard and are okay in my book. Seriously, if someone told me that they could help me feel better by rubbing a chicken on my naked body I would consider it.

Chiropractic medicine isn't voodoo and I was willing to give it a chance today. What's the worse that could happen? Pain? Please. Numbness and tingling? Been there done that.

Besides...did I mention we had a coupon?

I got out of the car and walked into the offices of...oh..let's call him Dr. Backbender.

The office was nice. Very clean.
The receptionist was friendly.
So far so good.

But there was a problem.

Yes. That fear I was talking about earlier. It's time to talk about it.

Now, unlike the fear I was experiencing a few weeks ago, sitting in my neurosurgeon's exam room, waiting to hear whether or not I would undergo a surgery that would either paralyze me or kill me (Note: They never really went into detail in which order that might occur, but I sure as Hell know which order I would have preferred it to happen in) this fear was a different fear. A fear that more people have experienced...probably almost every minute of every day, somewhere in the world and therefore my story might reach other people.

Walking into that office today I was scared to death that I would fart when the chiropractor was working on me. And the thing that really sucks about a fear like that is, is that no matter how hard you try and put the thought of passing gas with every push and massage, and bend and twist, the thought is still there.

And unfortunately, that's what starts to happen, the very last thing you need, your brain goes into overdrive and you begin to worry. You can't help it. It;s a human thing. And sooner or later, usually sooner than later, the worry gets your stomach churning. Churning leads to bubbles. Bubbles lead know where.

So there I was. In my head. Working up myself to a nice bubbly frothy gassy worried state of mind. And the chiropractor hadn't even laid a hand on me yet. "Don't fart. Don't fart." I'm sure there have been more spiritual mantras, but for today, that was mine. "Don't fart. Don't fart."

I'm not ashamed to say it. I fart.

Oh please. Everyone farts. Although, the sad fact is, everyone doesn't admit to it.

I was once in an elevator with one other person. All of a sudden the elevator filled with a noxious odor that reeked of onion, a two day old fish sandwich and corduroy. I know I didn't break wind. That left only other suspect. The guy two feet away from me. When I caught his eye, for some sense of remorse (and saw what can only be described,most likely, as pride) he shot back a blank stare that seemed to say "Wasn't me?"

Everyone farts, breaks wind, passes gas, ass burps...Go ahead, pick a euphemism.

And those people who claim to have never baked an ass biscuit are the same people who claim to have never masterbated, voted Republican, or watched one full episode of Real Housewives of Wherever.

And as I prepared for my appointment, in which I just knew I would end up face down on a padded table with someone pressing into my body, kneading me like 255 pounds of bread dough, I knew I was going to fart. It was inevitable.

I tried to assure myself that it must happen fifty times a day in a chiropractor's office. I even created some statistics to back up this idea and a mental bar graph comparing episodes of gaseous interuptus in a chiropractor's office to those in a proctologist's office. Just in case you were wondering, it happens an astounding 97% of the time in a chiropractor's office and only 52% of the time during a proctology exam. Guess you could say the proctologists are little behind.

Or...maybe not.

Luckily, I discovered that my appointment today was more of an interview to evaluate my condition and see what the best course of action should be. There would be a discussion of my history (How much time you got Doc?) some testing of my flexibility (Touch my toes? I can't even see my toes!) and then some X-rays to get a peek at my insides.

Just for those of you who are keeping count, this is my 5th set of X-Rays (plus almost twice as many MRI's) in a year and half. My man jigglies now glow in the dark and if I'm ever lost as sea, all I need to pull down my shorts and moon the night sky.

From the sound of it, there wouldn't be too much massaging and squeezing and pressing sensitive areas that might result in a blow back. Thank GOD. Nonetheless, my stomach was in full emergency mode. I had just worried myself too much.

I noticed a bathroom down the hall and asked to be excused in between my interview and my X-Rays. THIS was my chance. If I could muster a controlled release (sort of like how firefighters start a smaller fire to help extinguish a larger fire) I might be able to save myself from some embarrassment.

I studied the small bathroom like a master thief casing a jewelry store.

The bathroom was small but there was an exhaust fan. I prayed that it would be loud enough. I prayed it would roar like a jet engine. It didn't. It was one of those quiet models. WHO THE HELL WANTS A QUIET EXHAUST FAN IN THEIR BATHROOM?!

There was also a small sink and I checked the water pressure. If my luck continued, the pipes would rattle as the water wheezed from the faucet. Damn. No such luck. New pipes. Nice and quiet. There was the muzak playing in the hallway right outside the door, and maybe it would provide some cover.

Unfortunately, there was no new construction going on in the neighborhood. Where's a bull dozer scraping up asphalt when you need one?

Okay. There was always the cough and flush maneuver. A little over the top, yes, but a desperate man doesn't stop to ask questions like that.

There's also "Oops! I've kicked over the trashcan," the "Spastically Loud Magazine Page Turn" and the "Playing With the Sounds On Your Cellphone."

My phone was in my coat, so option Number 3 was out, as was calling in a bomb threat. And just for the record, "The Bomb Threat Call" really is a last resort and should really only be utilized in the case of three events: 1) You're in the private bathroom of someone who is interviewing you for a job 2) You're in the bathroom of a girl you're about to make out with and who insisted you have Mexican for dinner and 3) You're at the Playboy mansion and Miss November is right outside the door because she has to tinkle.

The moment came and went and there was no release of pressure. I couldn't stay in there all day. People imagine much worse things when you stay in a bathroom for over twenty minutes. I had missed my chance, Call it stage fright. Performance anxiety. I guess we, as the human race, and not the cast of Jackass, spend so much of our lives trying not to fart unless we are in the comfort of our own car, am empty hotel room we are staying in alone or the dressing rooms at JC Penneys, that when the time comes to actually do it to save a little face, our bodies don't know what to do.

But I needed to release the pressure somehow and walking back to the room where the tables and exercise balls were, I took extra long sliding steps with the hopes that one little fanny burp would slip out. None did and now I felt like a human crock pot.

I could hear myself now. "Sorry, Doc."
I prayed that he would understand.
I prayed that I wouldn't sneeze.
I prayed that if I did and I farted one second later, someone would have the decency to say "GOD bless you."

The appointment ended with me being hooked up to a machine that delivered low voltage massage to my neck. An ice bag was also draped over my extremely tense shoulders. It was the best I have felt in months...MONTHS!...and I wondered if a portable unit was available for lease.

I even got the remote for the device the buzzed and whirred behind me into the sticky cold patches that had been stuck to my neck. Heck! Give a guy a remote to anything and he's a happy camper.

Over the course of the next half an hour, I slowly turned the power up on the machine and slipped into a state of euphoria as little electric pulses shot into my neck.

An appointment was made for next week in which I would get the results of my X-Rays and hopefully sit in the tingling chair with an icepack on my neck. I paid, thanked everyone and slid my appointment card into my wallet.

Then I walked out into the crisp January air and headed towards my car. Somewhere someone's car alarm was going off and from the sound it, they were out of ear shot and it would be minutes before they stuck their head out the store's front door to zap it with their remote.


I only needed a few seconds. It was after all, sooner than later.

It was a nice ride home. All tension seemed to have left my body.

Yes. All tension.

And that's "Jody" with a "y"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January 12, 2011.
Happy New Year.

The confetti has been swept away and Dick Clark has been sealed back into his air-tight box to await for next year's Times Square Party or Rockin' New Years (or whatever they call it now) where he will once again fend off Ryan Seacrest's attempt to overtake the throne. Most of the news shows and sports shows have already broadcast their meticulously edited "Best of the Year" montages complete with the funniest moments and tragic moments and a mention and maybe a video clip or two honoring those who passed away.
It's 2011. It's a new year and that means that at some point in the last few weeks everyone-everyone-has reflected on the year that has passed.
I'm no different than anybody else in that sense and I have done my reflecting.
There are plenty of websites touting the Top Stories of 2010 and I'm sure there are varied opinions. What was the biggest story? Oil pouring into the Gulf?
I do know that we sank a little lower this past year in regards to what it is laughingly called reality television. I think there is actually now a show on about ice sculptors. I predict there will be a backlash in the next year or two against this silliness (reality tv and not ice sculpture). Otherwise, if we don't pull ourselves out of this tailspin, we are going to find ourselves watching Richard Dawson hosting a little something called The Running Man.
Enough about that. That's another ball of wax completely. I will say this though. "DIE JERSEY SHORE! DIE!!"
I have been in a bubble this past year and a half and most of the year seems like a hazy blur.
Someone might say I was a little 'self-absorbed' in 2010 and that's okay. I have been preoccupied with myself what is going on inside my body.
I feel as if I have aged 10 years in the eighteen months and 2010 seemed to crawl by as I awaited news and relief regarding my medical condition.
Yeah. I said it. Big surprise right?
The runner up for my biggest story of 2010 is the story of this little kernel of mystery inside my spinal cord at the base of my skull.
I spent a lot of 2010 in waiting rooms and squeezed into the confines of MRI imagers (so many times in fact that I can now bake a potato by just holding it in my hands-you should what I can do with a pot roast!) and worrying that the little cotton gown I was wearing was long enough to cover my ass.
2010 was all about covering my ass though and I learned the lesson all too well that if you don't have insurance in this country you're screwed and in order to get anything done you have to be your own advocate. YOU HAVE TO BE! And you have to be polite and kiss a little ass until it is time to not be nice and polite. Sometimes the squeaky wheel really does get the grease.
Sometimes the wheel, squeaky or not, has to rub over someone, again and again, grinding rubber onto thick and narrow minds, to get noticed.
I spent entirely too much of 2010 in parking decks of hospitals, circling like a shark, looking for parking spaces and cursing the idiots who took up too many spaces by parking their SUV's across the bright yellow lines.
I gave too much blood in 2010 and waited patiently, at first, while my body adjusted and then readjusted to all the medications I was being given.
2010 was the year in which I learned that a lot of doctors are just people with some exceptional medical techniques and very poor people skills.
I didn't punch any doctors in 2010 but I sure wanted to.
I wish I could say something profound about the biggest lesson I learned in 2010. I wish I could say something that might inspire people to face their own demons-their own pain-with a new strength and courage-but my views on pain aren't brave or strong.
Pain sucks and you do get to a point where you would make a deal with the Devil if he would take it away. Pain ages you and drags you into depression. Pain is a four hundred pound gorilla.
Pain and I went toe-to-toe this past year. And although it kicked my ass and took my lunch money almost every day, I'm still here. I look like I've been dragged behind a truck, but I'm still here shaking my fist, kicking and screaming.
Sure I took my medicines and watched as one day slipped into another, sometimes three days at a time but I always stayed on course. There was a bigger picture and no matter how hard that damn gorilla punched, and no matter how my knees buckled and my vision blurred, I stayed focused and firm.
I'm not better. I'm the same-if not worse-than I was over eighteen months ago. Through sheer stubbornness I refuse to give give up. Because my biggest story of 2010 is that I got engaged in October to a woman who makes my heart sing.
Love is a great motivator.
And it reminds me that I am not defined by some annoying tumor in my spinal column or migraines and neck pain. I am a person with a great deal to offer and who has yet to meet my maximum potential. More importantly, I am person who is loved and I have friends who can raise me up and enable me to walk through the fire if needed. And believe me, if someone told me that walking through fire would fix me, I would take off my socks and shoes and moonwalk across the coals.
No. Sorry Magilla. I'm far from done. In fact, I'm just starting.
%$#@ the mass at the base of my skull and %$#@ the doctors who say I'm just going to have to live with it. No sir, not me. Not this guy.
I'm going to design, manufacture a t-shirt for people in my shoes to wear to their doctor's office. It's will be a black t-shirt with white letters that say "I'm sorry. That doesn't work for me."
And speaking of the medical field, I will also design and market a hospital gown for men. You know. One that doesn't look like it was made to be worn at a six year old girl's slumber party. Maybe it will be made of denim and have fire engines on it. I don't know. It's still in the planning stages.
I'm going to keep writing.
I look at 2011 as a blank canvas that I am going to throw paint at and scratch into with bare hands and, dragging my fingers into the wet paint, and create-or reveal-whatever I want to.
You want to see a forty-five year old guy kick a 400 pound gorilla's ass?
Stick around.

And that's Jody with a "y"
All Rights Reserved