Back Pain

I have struggled with various levels of back pain for years. Sometimes there’s none at all. Other times, it’s been so bad that I can’t even get out of bed. Granted, usually that seems to happen after I’ve done something pretty stupid, but that’s besides the point.

A few years ago, I discovered heat. Putting heat on my back seems to help reduce the number of occurances. Since that discovery, I have been know to do such crazy things as use the seat heater in my car on its highest setting during the summertime. Some would scoff, and I would definitely have the air conditioning on or windows down, but I’d push as much heat as possible to my back in an attempt to forestall whatever pain might have been coming.

I have been making a number of life changes recently, including getting much more active. But through all of that, I’ve continued to struggle with occasional back pain that I can’t quite pin down. Previously, I had generally attributed much of that pain to less than adequate sleeping arrangements. For every night I would spend in a bed that was not my own, I would spend the following day trying to prevent my back from hurting me.

Lately, heat hasn’t always been enough. I purchased a new bed last August that definitely helped, but every once in a while I’d still feel that familiar twinge of a back that was crying out in pain. Now, I’m not really a fan of general pain. To help frame things up, understand that when it comes to back pain, I would do just about anything to try and prevent any painful sensations that could be generated from my back. Much of that stems from the simple fact of not really knowing what level of pain I would receive. It could range anywhere from a simple annoyance to completely dehabilitating.

I made the decision last week to acquire a desk that I could stand at as well as sit. In the corporate world, there are options aplenty to facilitate every possible option. Usually you need to undergo an “ergonomic assessment”, where some person comes in and identifies all of the things you’ve been doing wrong, then proceeds to issue a series of “corrective actions” that you should undertake to prevent that pain. These actions include simple behavior adjustments such as sitting up straight, to environmental changes like getting a taller desk.

I underwent one of those ergonomic assessments a few years ago. Turns out my height exceeds the normal or standard range that most desks are set up for. So, I generally need to hunch down when I use a standard sized desk. No problem, but it was recommended I do a few simple things like elevate my monitors and sit up straight (flashbacks from Assumption Grotto suddenly appear in my mind).

I spend a lot of time working from my home office (which doubles as Toliver’s bedroom when he’s here). I’ve recently made some personal decisions regarding things I want to accomplish, which will require even more of a commitment to working from there. As such, I’ve committed to evaluating various options for improving my working environment, and intend to document those exploits here.

Nutrition Guidelines

According to a just published Washington Post article, it appears that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is the primary panel tasked with providing nutrition advisories on behalf of the United States government, is on the cusp of reversing a long standing policy regarding cholesterol. (This policy was introduced in response to a paper published in 1961 in conjunction with the American Heart Association).

In layman’s (egg joke?) terms, the policies break down as follows:

??? - 1960: No published position that I could locate (20 seconds of Google-Fu).

1961 - 2015: EGGS ARE BAD! BAD BAD BAD!

2015 - ????: Well maybe you can have some eggs. I guess.

So, what does this mean? In the world in which we currently live, I suspect that too many of my fellow Americans will interpret this as a license to eat as many eggs as they possibly can. If questioned, they might point to that article (or similar) and proclaim the new position that eggs don’t contribute to the overall cholesterol measurement a test might indicate.

But that’s the whole problem right there. There is something to be said for moderation, my friends. According to an extremely helpful Google search for “egg calories”, there are 78 calories in an egg. Alone, that’s just fine, especially in a single day. Eat three or four, and now it’s going to add up. Add some yummy bacon or toast? It easily becomes a big deal.

Now, in a perfect world, this announcement probably shouldn’t mean a damn thing. Any person who makes an attempt to reasonably monitor what they eat is already ahead of the game. They might adjust their breakfast menu a little bit to include an extra few eggs over the course of a week, but that’s about it.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, one of my favorite breakfast meals has come to consist of a single whole egg plus two eggs whites, scrambled to egg happiness. Then, I roll it up in a tortilla wrap, add a healthy measure of spinach, onions, peppers, plus a generous amount of hot sauce, and you have a tasty and nutritious breakfast that ends up being approximately 250 calories. But I digress.

See, the bigger issue in my mind is that this is just one more bit of confirmation that proves that the “powers-that-be” aren’t necessarily acting in anybody’s best interest. That’s not to suggest that there is an evil plot afoot or anything along those lines. But, sometimes external pressures can inadvertently or unexpectedly corrupt something that was originally begun with good intent.

Allow me to produce a single example. The decidedly Catholic practice of eating only fish on Fridays is commonly attributed to the Vatican’s political engine striking a bargain with various captains of the fishing industry to prop up demand for fish some 500 years ago. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that it is directly related to secret ownership of a fishing empire controlled by the Pontifex Maximus himself. What a great scandal. Something even something that the folks who lived during medieval times could really sink their teeth into.

Is it true? Nope. It’s even better, according to this article I found that was published a few years ago. Honestly, after reviewing that and adding it to everything else I’ve come across about Henry VIII, I’m inclined to think that a number of the things we take for granted were either directly or indirectly a result of his infatuations with females and his propensity to marry and then discard them. Oh and believe you me, I truly savor the ability to cross-reference this particular bit of knowledge with Lent right around the corner (*). I’m not suggesting anybody’s beliefs are incorrect, nor do I suggest you stop ordering the Filet-o-Fish over the next couple of Fridays. You should have every right to believe and act however you feel appropriate.

For over forty years, folks joked that eating too many eggs would result with that person having a heart attack. That, of course, was based mostly upon the conclusions delivered to us by the esteemed committee mentioned above, or its predecessors. If, as we’ve been led to believe, cholesterol is the cause of most heart attacks, this quote from the Washington Post article is also eye opening:

Only 20% of a person’s blood cholesterol—the levels measured with standard cholesterol tests—comes from diet. The rest comes from genes.

That statement alone calls into question even more the cholesterol tests that are being utilized today.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough? February is Heart Month! To be fair, there isn’t a single item on that page about cholesterol; rather, it’s all about controlling sodium intake, which at least makes sense considering everything processed contains a ton of sodium.

(*) With all possible due respect to Monsignor Sawyer of Assumption Grotto, rest his soul.

Solo Haiku

I, myself, am here

Out on my own, all alone

Feeling quite lonesome.

Unexpected Memories

Everything in my mind appears to reminds me of something else as of late. Birthdays. Independance Day. Green Bay Restaurant Week. Nurses. Rock USA. Fireworks.

Being aware that there might be better things in the world than what I’ve experienced. Some of those things are BECAUSE of my past life. Others are IN SPITE of it. Unfortunately… I just can’t seem to shut these down. I try to, but it doesn’t always work. Some days are worse than others.

It truly is amazing to me how much I’ve ended up changing my life in the last 15 months. Some was expected, some was driven by hope, and some just happened however it did. I really don’t know what the next 15 months will bring, but I guess all I can do is put my faith in the choices that have been made.

I’ve never felt so alive, yet so completely alone and on my own. Some of the people I thought I would be in my life aren’t, while others I hadn’t planned on are. We have very little control over the day to day stuff. We have hope and dreams and expectations… but life does have a way of figuring things out regardless of what we hoped or planned.


I feel as if I have arrived at a crossroads. There appears to be multiple paths, and each leads off in a different direction. Everything past the crossroads is foggy and cannot be seen. Cryptic signs appear next to each of the paths, but not enough information is provided to help with the decision process.

I remember well the path from which I came, but I know that if I spend too much time dwelling on how I got here, I will be paralyzed and unable to proceed. Absence of progress does not progress make, so I know I must push on. It’s difficult to make a decision, but I know I have to make a choice.

So I make my decision and start to move towards my selected path. As I approach, I see that there are even more choices available than I had originally anticipated. Additional paths become visible just past the crossroads, providing even more options and choices past the initial selection.

As new information becomes available, it’s important to constantly re-evaluate the choices that available based on the information that is known. But it doesn’t mean that the original decision isn’t valid… it just means it’s important to continue to evaluate and adjust as you get more information.

But the most important question is: did the crossroads exist before you got there, or did you construct it yourself?