It’s A Family Affair

June 30, 2007

Snagged this from Mary. (

1. Who’s the oldest living member of your family?

My grandmother, who will be 96 years old on July 6th. The poor dear is finally slowing down. Her biggest complaint is her failing eyesight. She carries a lamp around to help her see better.

2. Who’s the newest?

That will happen some time in August when my brother Mark’s grandson is born.

3. If you could spend a two-week vacation with one family member, who would it be? Whichever one could afford to pay for it, because I certainly can’t.

4. The old saying goes, “you can pick your friends, but you cannot pick your family.” if you could choose one of your friends, who would you ‘elect’ to become a member of your family?

LA! (

5. Who in your family can you just NOT stand?

I honestly can’t think of anyone, and I really did give it some thought.

6. Do you have a member of the family who is currently suffering an illness?

Again, that would be my grandmother, who is suffering from macular degeneration, among other things.

7. Do you have a family member that you’ve lost contact with? Who are they, and why do you not currently have contact?

The immediate family member I have the least amount of contact with is my brother, Frank. There’s no particular reason other than that he is busy re-connecting with his own family, after a year long separation. They joined us for Mike’s birthday celebration, and it was great to see them.

8. Do you have any famous family members?

While not exactly a celebrity, I do have a relative who is famous in military circles. John Tilelli ( is my grandmother’s nephew, and my second cousin. Among his many accomplishments, he was Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, Commander in Chief of the United Nations Command and the Republic of Korea/United States Combined Forces Command and Commander of United States Forces Korea, President and Chief Executive Officer of the USO Worldwide Operations, and one of the 204 four-star generals in the history of the U.S. Army. (

Song of the Day: Family Affair by Sly & the Family Stone

P.S.  I hate Word Press.  It keeps messing up my paragraphs, and I waste way too much time trying to fix things. 

Stalk Squawk

June 26, 2007

This thing with “my admirer” is getting kind of creepy. While I was sitting in the waiting room at physical therapy yesterday morning, I saw The Guy come out of the gym area. He went to the front desk to check out.

I had to walk by him when I was called in, and he asked how I was doing. I responded that I was hurting. (It was a bad pain day.) A therapy assistant took me to a treatment room, and I thought that was the end of that.

Almost an hour later, I finished up in the gym, and exited the building. The Dial-A-Ride bus was parked right outside the door. I got on board, sat down, and glanced out the window. The Guy was standing next to his car, staring. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was obvious that he was waiting for me to come out. Thank goodness the bus was already there.

This is disturbing. Such behavior is inappropriate, to say the least. It’s one thing to chat when we’re sitting in the waiting room together, or leaving physical therapy at the same time. However, it’s another thing entirely for him to wait in the parking lot for at least 50 minutes.

Going to PT three times a week has been causing me to feel overwhelmed, especially when I have medical appointments on the other two days. I’ve been thinking about switching to Tuesday and Thursday, instead of Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Now I have even more of a reason to do so.

Song of the Day: Stalker by Goldfinger

One Foot in the Door

June 23, 2007

Well, I’ve taken one step forward in correcting a medical problem. Unfortunately, it’s not related to my back or shoulder. It’s my feet.

I’m talking about hammertoe surgery. My left foot will go under the knife on July 23rd. My right foot will have to wait a couple of months after the first surgery. I’m not looking forward to this at all. I already had this same operation many years ago. It was performed by the orthopedic surgeons I worked for at the time. In reference to that, my podiatrist said, “I wouldn’t try to set a broken arm. Orthopedic surgeons shouldn’t mess around with feet.” I am living proof that he is correct.

I once walked on a broken leg, and went through two natural childbirths. I am no stranger to pain. I must say, though, that the hammertoe surgery was a new adventure in agony.

It was supposed to be same-day surgery, but I ended up being hospitalized for FIVE DAYS. I was on morphine, and a ban on visitors was imposed because I was in so much pain. The podiatrist assures me that it won’t be like that this time. Let’s hope he’s right.

Even though this surgery isn’t related to my spine, I’m hoping it will help my back. Because of the hammertoes, I have a chronic callus on my left foot (the toe abnormality is worse on that side). My foot pain affects the way I walk. Compensating for pain in one area often causes problems in other areas.

In reference to my back, Worker’s Comp finally authorized a series of 3 lumbar epidural and bilateral sacrolliac injections (after receiving a letter from my attorney asking what the delay was). However, there has been a new development since the pain management doctor requested authorization for the injections. The neurosurgeon wants me to go for a myelogram, and he thinks I might need surgery. If that is the case, I don’t see the point in going for the injections. (It’s an unpleasant procedure.)

In the meantime, I’m waiting for authorization for the myelogram. This Worker’s Comp stuff is for the birds. The lengthy delays in authorization in turn cause a delay in treatment. I was injured in December. I’ve been doctoring since February. The only “treatment” I’ve had is physical therapy, but there has been no improvement in my condition.

Now consider my feet. I first saw the podiatrist on June 14th. X-rays were taken, and I returned for follow-up on the 21st. Surgery was scheduled. THAT’S the way it SHOULD be.

By the way, even though physical therapy isn’t helping, it DOES provide amusement now and then. Yesterday, I got hit on. I’ve seen The Guy a few times, and we’ve engaged in casual conversation. His eyes lit up and he gave me a big smile and a hearty “Hello, Stephanie!” when I walked into the gym area. I thought to myself, “Uh oh.”

I finished before he did, and went outside to wait for the Dial-A-Ride bus. The Guy came out a few minutes later. He said, “I was hoping you’d still be here.” Then he reached out and stroked my hair (how cheeky!), and told me he loved the new style. (I recently got it cut a little shorter.) I became even more uncomfortable when he told me I have beautiful eyes.

When he asked if he could call me, I responded that my husband wouldn’t like that very much. He backed off immediately, and apologized profusely. A quick glance at the ring finger on my left hand could have spared us both this awkward situation.

Song of the Day: Hokey Pokey

Weekend Wrap-up

June 17, 2007

Up until today, I’ve had a lovely weekend. On Friday, my cousin and I went to the Samuel Morse estate to tour the gardens. I especially wanted to see (and smell) the spectacular peonies.

I spent yesterday with my sister, Michele. We did some shopping, and went back to her house to laze around on floats in the pool. Daniel joined us later in the evening for dinner. Feast is more like it. We had gnocchi, london broil, garlic bread, salad, and two cakes for dessert – one Italian rum, and the other, chocolate. I’m STILL stuffed.

Today is a different story. This is going to be another difficult day, especially for my father. Mark’s death was devastating for all of us, but my father is a broken man. I almost dread going over to see him later this afternoon because his devastation is so painful to witness.  But, of course, I will go.  He needs the rest of his children more than ever.

To all the dads out there – have a very Happy Father’s Day!

Song of the Day: Father Figure by George Michael

This is Spinal Tap

June 14, 2007

Thanks, everybody, for the kind words of support yesterday. It helps to know that so many people really do care. The dinner went well, and any tears that were shed were done so privately. We had a party of nineteen people, and the evening was full of good conversation and lots of laughter.

Here’s a shot of the birthday boy:


In other news, my follow-up appointment with the neurosurgeon (for review of the flexion/extension x-rays) caught me off guard. I was expecting him to refer me to an orthopedic surgeon, as he said he was going to do when I last saw him.

Instead, he told me that the whole disc wasn’t removed when I had the discectomy three years ago, and additional surgery will most likely be required. Apparently, the incident with the student quite possibly caused the remaining disc material to rupture. Before a decision is made, neurodoc is sending me for one of the few procedures I’ve never had – the dreaded myelogram. This procedure involves a spinal tap and a tilting table.

Swell. The medical Merry-Go-Round isn’t bad enough, but now I get to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl.

Plain Jane’s ( Paco started a blog to document his back problems and subsequent treatment and recovery. I was especially struck by this entry: “Myelograms Suck.” (

I have no doubt that myelograms do, indeed, suck. As soon as the authorization comes through, I will find out for myself just how much. Yippee.

Song of the Day: Heavy Duty by Spinal Tap

A Difficult Day

June 13, 2007

Today should be, and is, a day of celebration. However, it is also a day of tremendous sadness. My brother, Mike, is 40 years old today. My brother, Mark, who is Mike’s identical twin, should be sharing in the festivities. Instead, we are facing his first birthday without him.

As hard as this is for me to bear, it is even more difficult for Mike. At first, he didn’t want his birthday to be acknowledged, but we convinced him to let us take him out to dinner. It IS still his birthday, and a decade birthday, at that.

In an attempt to better understand what Mike is going through, I did some research on “twinless twins.” (  Here’s some of what I found.

A twin’s “self” is a multiple existence. Acting from a framework of “we,” not I, they learn to rely on each other for many of their needs. This closeness, or twinning, becomes the closest relationship they ever know.

Twin grief is a lifelong process. A shared birthday is particularly difficult to bear, particularly the first birthday after a twin’s death.

Also, ( the problem with twin bereavement is that, the other person is such an integral part of your sense of self that when you stop being a twin, when the person who made you a twin, dies, you have to really reconsider your whole sense of self.

And, ( it’s a very devastating type of sibling loss that is often overlooked… [Twins] had an understanding and a trust, an acceptance and unconditional love beyond what most people have even in marriage. Every birthday is a reminder of the loss. It’s an occasion most of them would just as soon wipe off the calendar.

Today, my heart is breaking for myself and for my parents and for my siblings, but, most of all, my heart is breaking for Mike.

Got Milk?

June 12, 2007

Last Friday, My Friend took me out to dinner as thanks for my assistance in grading her students’ final projects. I’ve been bothered by something she told me ever since. Apparently, some people at work are talking about my lengthy absence, and not in a sympathetic manner. The term “milking it” was used.

I know I shouldn’t care what others think or say. However, this insensitivity to “invisible  disabilities” DOES rankle, and it DOES hurt.

I hate to beat a dead horse, but these are the facts.  Pain wakes me from my sleep several times a week. I have great difficulty sitting up, getting out of bed, and walking because the pain is so intense in the morning. It takes a couple of hours before I can move around more easily. My legs throb and ache. I can’t stand comfortably for longer than 15 minutes at a time.

The pain is not just in my lower back; it is also present in both buttocks/hips, and sometimes wraps around the side of my torso. (It feels like a cramp in that area.) I experience tingling in my feet, along with the throbbing and aching in my legs.

All of the above is in reference to the lumbar spine injury/herniated disc/sciatica. Besides that, I also suffer from Degenerative Disc Disease, Fibromyalgia (and related chronic fatigue), intractable headaches (the bane of my existence), and bulging discs with nerve entrapment in my cervical spine. I have problems with my feet, and will probably have to undergo hammertoe surgery. And, let’s not forget the recent addition of the cyst, spur, fluid and tear of the rotator cuff in my right shoulder.

How much pain can a person be expected to bear up under? 

Song of the Day:  Milk It by Nirvana

A Quickie

June 11, 2007

Not much has been happening lately. I’m just gearing up for another whirl on the medical merry-go-round. Tomorrow I have physical therapy. On Wednesday, I return to the neurosurgeon for a review of the flexion/extension x-rays. Then I suspect he’s going to refer me to an orthopedic surgeon. Thursday I have an appointment with a podiatrist, and Friday it’s back to PT. Yawn.

That is not a yawn of boredom; it’s a yawn of fatigue. I’ve been feeling deeply exhausted for most of the day – even moreso than usual. Before I succumb to the lethargy, I want to show you my yard sale bargain. Eight dollars for the chair, and five for the table.

I would also like to let LA’s readers know that she doesn’t have Internet access at present, but hopes to be back online soon.

And, finally, Bex ( could use some good thoughts right about now. Her beloved pet, the beautiful Whitby, died yesterday, on what should have been her 8th birthday. My heartfelt condolences, Bex and Paul.

Fan Fare

June 3, 2007

It is no secret that I’m not a tv watcher. I’ve made mention of that fact many times. I have also admitted that the only show I DO like to watch is General Hospital. I’ve been tuning in to that program off and on for many years now.

Several months ago, a new character was introduced – Damian Spinelli, played by the talented actor, Bradford Anderson. Although the initial reaction to this character seemed to be mostly negative, he hit a homerun with me right off the bat. To his credit, Bradford Anderson quickly won over the rest of the audience, and his well-deserved popularity has been growing by leaps and bounds.  

After meeting Bradford Anderson at his very first solo fan event at The Marriott in NYC yesterday, I not only have great respect and appreciation for him as an actor, but as a person, as well. This young man is energetic, funny, charming, adorable, and friendly.

At one point, I spoke to his mother (I remarked to her that I have the same shirt she was wearing), and she told me that Bradford is a genuinely nice person. His friendliness is not just an act; it’s the real thing. I believe her. Bradford was exceptionally gracious.

After a question and answer session (during which I asked about the role Billy Dee Williams will play on the GH spin-off, “Night Shift”), Bradford went around to each table. He spoke to and posed with every single person. When I thanked him, he said, “No, no. It’s my pleasure. Thank YOU!” His kindness and sincerity bowled me over.

This kind of thing is not something I would normally do. Back in the day, I would have moved mountains to meet certain rock stars, but, at present, I can’t think of any celebrity I would go to any great lengths to meet. Well, okay, maybe Antonio Banderas, but that’s it.

I don’t know what exactly it is about Bradford Anderson, but he’s made quite an impression on me. So, when I heard about the event at the Marriott, I posted a comment on his MySpace page saying I’d love to attend, but didn’t want to go alone. Shortly afterwards, I received a response from a young woman in Rhode Island. Allison wrote to say that she and her mother would be attending the event, and I was welcome to join them. This generous offer blew me away.

I made the decision to go, and convinced my daughter, Rebecca, to accompany me. There were a few hassles along the way (in reference to incorrect information in my confirmation letter). Allison was always there to offer support and encouragement. I am so grateful to her for that, and I was thrilled for her when Bradford walked into the room, spotted her immediately and said, “Hi, Allison!” (He recognized her from My Space.)

Luckily, Rebecca and I were seated with Allison and her mom. They’re both terrific people, and there’s no one in that room with whom I would have rather shared this wonderful experience.  Once again, I have been blessed, courtesy of the Internet. Thank you, Allison, and thank you, Bradford.

P.S. We also got to see Renee Goldsberry (Evangeline from One Life to Live) as she was leaving the event that preceded Bradford’s. She’s even more beautiful in person.

Here’s a shot of me with the lovely Allison.

Allison and Bradford.

Bradford and Rebecca.

Bradford and me.

Isn’t he the cutest?

Song of the Day: General Hospi-Tale by Afternoon Delights

I just got back from the dry needling. Gee, that was fun. Having needles inserted into tender, knotted muscles was such a blast, I can hardly wait to do it again.

During the lengthy procedure, the doctor and I had a great conversation about, of all things, fishing. It all started when he showed me how thin and flexible the needles are, and explained that this makes it easier for him to feel the response of the muscles that are being penetrated. I remarked that it was similar to fishing – even tiny nibbles are discernible just by holding a finger on the line.

Being an avid fisherman (I didn’t know that about him prior to this visit), he took the bait (pun intended) with great pleasure, and a lively discussion ensued. A highlight was his description of tarpon fishing from a glass-bottom boat in the Florida Keys.

I really like this guy, which is not something you will typically hear me say about a doctor.

One other thing I’d like to mention is that Dr. McDreamy (yes, he’s cute) gave me a copy of my MRI report. It reminded me that I forgot to mention that I also have a “subchondral cyst formation in the superior lateral humeral head,” along with the spur, fluid, and tear in the rotator cuff.

My poor, invaded muscles are aching, and I have a splitting headache, so it’s off to the couch I go, with strict orders from the doctor to not do any lifting or any other strenuous activities for the rest of the day. The only lifting I plan to do involves yarn, a book, and the remote control.

Song of the Day: Gone Fishing by Chris Rea