Sunday, April 22, 2018

my first cat convention

View from the Asbury Park boardwalk. A cloudy day, but still a nice view.
So. I went to the Catsbury Park Cat Convention. A cat convention. Yes, a cat convention! I never thought I'd write these words, but here I am, having lived the dream just a couple weeks ago. Am I officially in crazy cat lady territory? No, I don't think so. I'm over 40 with 11 cats...but I'm married! 😸

To be clear, this was not a cat show. A cat show is where they display different breeds and they compete within each category, such as Best in Breed. No, this was a convention. Basically, it was everything "cat":  multiple vendors selling toys, beds, food, etc. for the kitties, and any kind of cat-themed merchandise you can think of for the cat lovers; food for the humans (this was strictly vegan food, as the convention is run by Catsbury Park Cat Cafe and they sell vegan snacks); meet and greets with celebrity cats; discussions with advocates; cat-themed games, such as bingo; a cat costume contest; cat adoptions; and Q&As with the owners of the celebrity cats.  One could even get a cat-themed tattoo. Oh, and the cat-themed music that played the whole time...I don't know quite what to say about that other than "pussy" was used quite a lot, and I'm thinking it didn't always refer to a cat. (Here's one such example:  The Pussy Cat Song.)

I went both days. That wasn't the plan, but we had decided to check out the parking situation and having seen it, decided we should stick around since we got a great parking space. Saturday was absolutely packed with wall to wall people, which is actually a good thing since the proceeds went to charity. We got there about a half hour before opening and should've gotten in line, but we didn't. Once we did, it took us about 20 minutes to get in and they ran out of the free tote bags by around 11:30 am. We got in around 11:45 and we could barely move. We really couldn't get to any vendor booths so we went across to the Paramount Theater and saw the Q&A with Nala. Nala was adorable and so well-behaved. I wish my own cats would behave so well! When we were exiting the convention floor to go to the theater, the guard said they were at legal capacity and couldn't let anyone back in unless they again waited in line, so we decided to leave and go back Sunday. We didn't want to go back in anyway, because it was too hard to move around. The experience soured me a bit, but I figured it would likely be better Sunday since many people came for one day only.

Sunday we got there early and since we had the wristband for both days, we waited until the doors opened and got right in. Got our free tote bags, too. I was able to grab all the goodies I wanted to buy and actually look around. The food smelled amazing, but we didn't get anything. I really wanted to try the vegan food, because it smelled amazing, but I decided to just wait awhile to eat. We saw the talk with Oskar the Blind Cat's owner, which was really well-done and very interesting. Touching, too. Oskar had suddenly passed away in February; however, his owner brought Oskar's brother, Klaus.  Klaus was so cute, and also well-behaved. We did a meet and greet with Teddy and Dexter, two Oriental shorthair cats, and that went smoothly. We were within the first 15 people to go in, so I'm glad we decided to show up early. Teddy and Dexter were very friendly. Yes, they are long and lanky, and many people think they're not the most attractive cats, but they really have personality. And those ears!


Here are some pictures.


Klaus, brother of the late Oskar the Blind Cat. He's so cute and well-behaved.
This is me with Teddy and Dexter, and their mom. They're Oriental Short-hairs. Very long and lanky, but so soft and very friendly. And yes, I'm wearing cat ears...
My free tote bag, which was filled with cat-themed goodies.

One of the gifts in my tote bag.
I just have to say a few words about PussWeek. It's marketed as "written by cats, for cats," and it's hysterical! The articles give cats advice on how to be a scary cat, there are interviews with some celebrity cats, and even some quizzes, such as, "Is your human a witch?" It was quite entertaining.

These are the gifts from both bags combined. My husband went with me, so we each got a bag.
We got two issues of PussWeek, catnip, earrings, and grain-free treats.

The Meow magnet I bought and the other I won from one of the booths.

I bought myself a Lil' Bub tumbler, which I now use for the gym. It's a little inspirational, don't you think?

I got a free magnet at the Teddy & Dexter meet & greet. Teddy is on the far left and Dexter is the black one.
Yes, their ears are huge, but I think they're adorable!

I bought this at the Leeza Hernandez Illustrations booth. She does great work.
I got this because I have two black kitties.
I got this from the Only Maine Coons Rescue booth. It's a mat that has catnip inside. My cats love it. I only wish I'd bought a few more, because at least four cats piled on top of it as soon as I got it out of the bag and onto the couch.

This was Catsbury Park's first event and I'm guessing they underestimated how many people would show up, whether it was advanced ticket sales or walk-ins. I think the convention floor was a bit small for the turnout, which is why it was overcrowded Saturday. As for the content, there were some people that complained (on the event's Facebook page) there weren't any cats to see.  I'm confused as to why people thought there would be cats on the convention floor. It's not a cat show. It's a convention, which is different. Also, the website clearly says "live adoptions" (which were done behind the stage area where it was quieter) and anyone with cats likely knows it's not a good idea to put cats on display in a crowded room. It also clearly stated that meet and greets were paid events. There were also some free presentations, some of which featured the celebrity cats.  Some people also complained that they spent a lot of money and it wasn't worth it.  It was only $20.00, which I thought was very reasonable.  Since I went both days I paid about $38.00.  I feel like my money was well-spent and it went to a good cause.

Saturday night we went over to the Catsbury Park Cat Cafe.  Reservations are required and are limited to 30 minutes inside the cat room. I made mine online several weeks before the convention. The cost was $11.00 per person ($9.00 during the week). It's a cafe on one side and a cat room on the other, and it's divided by glass so people in the cafe can see the cats and vice versa. The cafe sells vegan treats, as well as coffee and such. I got some vegan peanut brittle (delicious!) and brought it into the cat room with me. When I made the reservation I wasn't thinking about the fact that at the time we were going--7 pm--the cats would likely be all tuckered out from having more visitors than usual due to the convention.  I was only thinking about allowing myself enough time to go to the convention, get back to the hotel for a bit and then drive over there. Sure enough, the kitties were all sleeping for the most part. That's OK. We still got to see them and pet a few of them, and also see the cafe itself.

I'm hoping next year they will have it at a different venue so there's more room to move around. I thought it went really well, though, for their first time around. All in all, we had a great weekend.

Friday, April 13, 2018

today's lunch

Here's today's work lunch. Very simple and definitely thrown together at the last minute. I took two pieces of Jenni-o Buffalo Chicken Breast lunchmeat and spread a little Tribe Mediterranean-style hummus on them, and then rolled them around some sliced raw red pepper. The other two slices I rolled up and dipped them in some Gulden's mustard.  I ate the rest of the pepper with some hummus as a snack. Low in calories, pretty healthy, fast, and I got some veggies in.




What I brought to work: a whole red pepper, the whole container of hummus, the bottle of mustard and the whole package of lunch meat. I'm at the point where I can't be bothered to make up my lunch at home. We have several refrigerators at work, so I can easily store a few things to have when I want them. I also keep a paring knife in my desk, and we have paper plates and utensils in the cafeteria.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

update #7: the war on back pain


I went for a follow-up with my orthopedic doctor in regards to my back pain. This was the follow-up after the two cortisone injections I had. I thought I was going to hear about a simple pain relief outpatient procedure, which was the percutaneous disc decompression (nucleoplasty) I'd mentioned in another post. Instead, I found out that I’m actually a candidate for disc replacement or spinal fusion. Totally not what I was expecting. At all. I was kind of in shock.

Apparently the herniation in my disc is pretty big and the nucleoplasty (disc decompression) isn’t possible. A mini discectomy isn’t possible either since my disc is thinning out. I was kind of in a daze and on information overload at that point, but it was something about the condition of the disc, the size of the herniation and the very small space and location in which to do the work. The doctor said  his first choice would be fusion. Not that disc replacement can't be successful–it is for many people–but he felt for my situation, a fusion would be the best choice. A prosthetic disc can wear out and if they have to go back in to replace it at some point, they'd be working through scar tissue from the initial surgery, which could be dicey.

He ordered an updated MRI, which I had a couple weeks ago. I looked at the MRI since I have the previous one and I now know what I’m looking at, and the affected disc didn't look any better than it did six months ago. I went the following week to have him read it, and he confirmed it's not any better. He also said my scoliosis curve has started to worsen. That scares me, because it hasn't changed since I was a teenager. Hopefully it doesn't get worse. I have to assume it's gotten worse because of the disc problem.

Here are the two images of my bulging disc. The view is from the bottom, up, as though you're looking up from the floor.  That means that the right side of the image is actually the left side of my body.  The one is September 2017 and the bottom one is March 2018. As you can see, not much difference between the two.



We talked again about fusion again.  He said that I'd be out of work for a couple months and overall recovery would be quite long. I'd have to be pretty careful for at least a year so that the bones have a chance to fuse together completely. After thinking about how long the recovery would be, what my pain level is now, and the fact that a fusion could place more strain on the joints above and below the fused vertebrae making them weaker, I made the decision to not have surgery at this time. I think if my pain level was at a point where it prevented me from doing a lot of routine things, I'd definitely go for the fusion; however, my pain in more along the lines of nagging, annoying and distracting.

What will I do instead? I'm going to try one more round of cortisone injections. If these don't help, I'll have to wait until the Fall to try again, since I'm limited to three rounds every nine months. Also, I bought an inversion table. A friend of mine, who has the same disc problem I do, has been using one for years and she said it's a total lifesaver. I got it last week and I've started using it.

This is the one I bought.  It's the Teeter EP-960. I'll post more about it once I've been using it for a bit.



Other options are acupuncture or massage. The doctor also suggested chiropractic care; however, I tried that for the last two months with no luck. I had to cut the chiropractor loose last week. I was really disappointed it didn't work, since it's worked for me in the past.

I really want to get back to living my life as I was before, so I'm going to try the injections and the inversion table and see what happens. Maybe I'll be able to avoid surgery.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

sweet potato chicken curry


As I mentioned in another post, I bought a couple sweet potatoes with no thought as to what I'd actually do with them. The first recipe I made, sweet potato chili, came out great. Here is another recipe I tried this past weekend, which is for the Instant Pot.

I was skeptical about curry. It's not something I typically eat. I made chicken curry once for my husband before we were married, but that was many moons ago and I don't remember if I liked it or not. I don't know if he liked it either. Probably not, since I had no idea at that time that he was so plain-vanilla about food.

I was happy to find a recipe for the Instant Pot, since I don't use it for much other than large batches of seasoned rice and hard boiled eggs. I settled on sweet potato chicken curry--I had a lot of chicken in the freezer and a sweet potato to deal with.  The only thing I had to buy was curry spice (dollar store!) and a can of coconut milk.   I skipped the cashews and cilantro. Cashews have a ton of calories and I can't control myself with them, and I'm not into garnishing my food so I skipped the cilantro.

It was easy to put together, and it was especially nice to just throw in the Instant Pot and cook it on high pressure for 12 minutes.  Unfortunately, I think I cut the sweet potato too small, because it pretty much disintegrated. The taste was there, but no chunks of potato. The onions melted away, too.

I liked the taste of this, and it was filling. I didn't put it over riced cauliflower or anything like that. I just ate it as-is. It was a nice change from the standard stuff I usually eat.

There are two changes I would make if I were to make this again.  I'm someone who likes chunkiness in my stews, so I would chop bigger pieces of onion and sweet potato.  Also, I'd probably pour it over riced cauliflower as suggested in the recipe in order to make it more substantial.

Here's the nutritional info (per cup) I got using My Fitness Pal:  284 calories, 13 g fat, 18 g carbs, 7 g sugar, and a whopping (!!) 23 g of protein. I'm quite surprised at the protein. I know the chicken contributes a lot, but that seems off to me. According to My Fitness Pal, the whole can of coconut milk is 14 grams of protein, so that adds a little more. If you decide to make this recipe, you may want to plug it into whatever food logging app you use and see what you come up with.

This is the recipe I made, which made six one-cup servings:  https://therealfoodrds.com/instant-pot-sweet-potato-chicken-curry/



Sunday, March 25, 2018

something different: sweet potato chili

When I went to the grocery store last week I was feeling a wave of motivation and commitment to cooking more. Normally that means I come home with a ton of ingredients, like fresh produce, full of hope and inspiration. I make a meal that night, and then I get back to reality...and promptly forget about the special items I bought. They sit there for most of the week. I look at them every time I go in the kitchen, hoping to feel the motivation I felt on grocery day, but it doesn't happen. (I have to admit, I'm usually hoping that these items somehow cooked themselves and will be ready for me to eat when I open the fridge.  That hasn't happened for some reason. I guess it's not quite the age of the Jetsons yet.) The produce goes bad and then I have to toss it, or I end up having to put meat in the freezer for another time, or non-perishables end up in the back of the cabinet, never to be heard from again.

So, what did I come home with? Two sweet potatoes. That's it. (Shockingly, that equaled 1.5 pounds!) I kept myself under control and didn't buy a bunch of things that might end up in the garbage. I've learned that I need to have either very big goals (weight loss surgery, tummy tuck) or very small goals (wake up everyday, buy only two sweet potatoes). For some reason I can't do anything in between.

I get the potatoes home and...not a clue what to do with them. I've made mashed sweet potatoes and sweet potato hash in the past, but that's just way too much sweet potato for me. I'd rather it be in the background, kind of an accent, not the main attraction. I Googled and came up with a recipe for the Instant Pot, which is a chicken sweet potato curry. I plan to make that later in the week. The other recipe, below, was shared with me by someone on a blog I read. (Here's the link if you want to make it:  Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili)

I've always wanted to want to try vegetarian chili, but never had the guts. Mainly because I can't fathom chili without meat. But since I had to do something with the sweet potatoes I bought, I figured, why not? The recipe looked interesting--it calls for cocoa powder!--and I had all the ingredients except the peppers, so I gave it a go.


It was very easy to make. Honestly, the hardest part was chopping the damn potato. I had no idea sweet potatoes were so hard to cut in half! Once I got it cut in half, it was much easier. Also, one potato produced a pretty large quantity once chopped--about two cups, maybe a little more. Basically you just throw all the ingredients into the pot and let it simmer. It smelled wonderful! The cocoa powder and other spices hit the heat and the smell just wafted up into the air. Heavenly!

I really like how it came out. I was worried that the sweet potato would take over, but it really didn't. It added a sweetness and a hint of sweet potato. I couldn't taste the cocoa powder, but that's the point--it's supposed to enhance the flavor of the chili. The two modifications I made to the recipe were to reduce the cayenne to about 1/2 tsp., rather than the full teaspoon, and it was still plenty spicy; and to use chicken broth rather than vegetable broth. That was simply because that's what I had on-hand.

I'm thinking I'd like to add ground turkey to this next time, since I really like meat in my chili. I mashed up some of the sweet potato in order to get it to the consistency above. If you don't mash them up, it seems a little more like soup. Although, it thickened a bit after I let it sit for about a half hour. I added a few crackers for dipping when it was time to eat.

I plugged this into My Fitness Pal and here's the nutritional info it came up with and assumes nine one-cup servings (this made a lot!):  165 calories, 2 g fat, 31 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 6 g sugar, and 8 g protein. So this is a pretty good meal for a post-op, in my opinion. It definitely won't break the calorie bank and should be OK for those who are a little sensitive to sugar.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Cake Bites

I've recently discovered a couple new flavors of Cake Bites:  Berry Cheesecake and Chocolate Mint.

Cake Bites are protein snacks with a whipped consistency. I've tried other flavors and found them to be quite good. The thing I really like about Cake Bites is that you get three in a package, which means you can take one out and put the package away. (Obviously that doesn't happen in my house, but I'll pretend for the sake of this post.) I also like the soft texture. They're not hard/chewy like a regular protein bar, so they're easy on the teeth.

I was very excited to see Chocolate Mint flavor in the supermarket.  I love chocolate and I love mint, and I especially love chocolate and mint together. Mint chocolate chip ice cream was my favorite, and Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies are something I really can't have in the house because I'll destroy them pretty quickly. (Even though I can only have a few at a time because of the sugar content, I pace myself so that I can easily eat the whole box in a day. Not that I've done that...)

I apologize if the pictures looks a little fuzzy. I'm experimenting with making a collage in Photoshop.
I really like these; however, the color on the inside is not quite like it shows on the package. The picture I took doesn't really capture the strange color, but it's close. I took a bite and was like, "Hmm. That's...weird." But yeah, they still taste great.  There are 230 calories in a serving size, which is the whole package, 6g of fat, 20g of protein and 4g sugar.  I find they're really filling, so I try (TRY) not to eat the whole package at once. I can, but then I'm pretty full and wanting to take a nap.

I also tried the Berry Cheesecake flavor. As you can see they have a white coating. These smelled so good when I opened the package! They tasted good, too. I'd say they taste like they're supposed to. I didn't notice any weird aftertaste. The color isn't quite as off as the Mint Chocolate ones are, but it's not quite as lovely as what's on the package. The nutritional content is pretty similar to the others, but there are 240 calories--just slightly more.



Overall, I'd definitely buy these again. Not only because they taste good, but I really like having three pieces. It makes me feel like there's more, even though it's just a mind trick. But having had weight loss surgery, I sometimes have to play mind tricks.-




Sunday, March 18, 2018

our "new" chandelier

I posted last month about our trip to Sturbridge, MA, and some of the items we picked up at a couple antique shops.  I mentioned that one of the items my husband bought was an old candle chandelier that someone had once electrified, and then removed the wiring and used regular candles. His plan was to rewire it and hang it in the dining room. Although we like the light that was in there, it had some loose sockets, which made changing the bulbs a little scary, and it just seemed a little too "new" for the house.

Well, here's the finished product, hanging in the dining room. Even with having to buy the candle sockets, the wiring and the chain link, it still cost much less than buying something like this in the store. I love how it came out! (And I love that my husband is so handy!)

I think I like these bulbs best. It was a choice between these, the clear candelabra bulbs, or the Edison bulbs. I really like these because of the softer glow they give off. The other two give off a ton of light and are a bit harsh. I also thought about the flickering candelabra bulbs, but they don't seem as though they'd be bright enough. Although, back when this house was built they would have had regular candles. I guess if candlelight was bright enough for them to see what they're eating, they should be bright enough for me!


Saturday, March 17, 2018

update #6: the war on back pain



Me again. Yes, I'm still having back pain. I'm back to tossing and turning in bed, having pain about 10 minutes after I sit down or stand in one place, and having to limit my workouts. I'm back to not wanting to sit and watch TV, read, or even sit here at the computer writing a blog post, which is why my posts are few and far between these days. I feel best when I'm moving or working out, but I can't do that 24/7; I need to work and sleep.

I went for the follow-up last week with the pain doctor's assistant. She looked pretty disappointed when I told her my pain is back to the level it was at before I had the first cortisone shot in December. I asked her if I should have the third and final round, or if I should opt for the disc decompression procedure. She said it's up to me.

My health insurance plan year runs out at the end of April, and since I've hit my deductible, it would be wise to do whatever I decide to do before April 30. Otherwise I'll have to pay much more out of pocket (I'm on an HSA).

Originally I had planned on another round of shots, but they didn't give me complete relief, and what little relief I got the second time around lasted about three weeks, which isn't all that much. And the limit for cortisone shots is three within nine months. If I have that third round now, then I won't be able to have them again until September; that's a long time.

So, my plan is to have a consultation with my orthopedic doctor on March 20 to talk about the decompression procedure. Once I find out about it, decide if I want to do it, and get a procedure date, I may go back for the third cortisone shot to get me through until the day of the procedure. Obviously, it depends on how long the gap is between the consultation and the procedure (assuming I opt for it). If it's a week or two, it doesn't make sense to get the shots, but if I have to wait longer then that then I'll get them.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

life lately


Riley is no longer with us, but I thought I'd post his picture today since it was five years ago
this week that we adopted him. He passed away in late 2014, unfortunately.

I just realized it's been about three weeks since I posted last, so I'm posting now just to get something out there. It's just a bunch of random stuff, but it's something!

Naked Windows

I’m very happy to report that two windows in my house (out of 21) now have curtains! It’s only been more than three years since we moved in.

I struggle with curtains for some reason, and I guess interior decor in general. What complicates it is that I have an 18th century house and I’m trying to find things that would fit that time period; I don’t want modern. Also, I’ve had cats in the past that have ruined my curtains, so I eventually switched over to all blinds. That was fine in the other house, which was built in the 1920s, but I want something a little nicer now.

I decided on double rods in warm gold for every window, with decorative finials and curtain hold backs (left). For the curtains I will use a white sheer on the back rod and a shimmery solid royal blue panel on the front rod. Or another color depending on the color of the room. I’ll use one curtain hold back for each window so that the curtain will be held to one side. Even with using cheap curtains, it will still be about $120+ per window, so I’m going slow. The most expensive item is the double curtain rod, followed by the finials and then the hold back. Two down, 19 to go….



Eating

Eating has been...let's not go there. Well, I shouldn't say that. I can honestly say I've been eating only what I planned on eating for the past three days. I didn't dip into the pretzel bag at work, which is saying something. I'm always looking for a distraction at work because my back is almost always in pain while I'm there. Sitting at my desk is the worst. I have one of those Varidesks so I can stand occasionally, but standing bothers me, too. I can't escape it since I have to do my job. And I'm not rich yet, so I need to work. So that leaves me quite distracted from always being in pain, which makes me want to eat. *sigh*

Speaking of Back Pain...

Chiropractic isn't helping unfortunately, and the cortisone shots I had about five weeks ago have completely worn off. Not that I got much relief anyway, but now all the pain is back and it sucks. I go for a follow-up with the orthopedic doctor next week and I'm sure they will have me get one more round of shots. After that it's percutaneous disc decompression. At this point I would welcome that, because it seems as though it's my best shot at pain relief.

Working Out

Working out is going OK. I still work out four days a week on my own and one day with the trainer. I can't do quite as much as I was doing before the back pain set in last summer, but I'm working on it. It's hard to keep up the routine and motivate muyself, but I know I'll feel so much worse (my back) if I don't do it. I have to do it. Not only to keep myself moving and lessen the back pain, but to maintain my weight.

Other Stuff

We had to have some trees removed and others severely trimmed back, which was a nice hit to the bank account this week.

The weather has been very rainy and windy the last couple days. Our front yard flooded again, as usual. Luckily it doesn't come anywhere near the house, though.

I had to go to the dentist this morning to get a crown. Apparently I have a gap between my back teeth, which is creating a food trap that will eventually lead to decay. Fun stuff. Half my tongue and lips were numb for hours, as well as half my chin. That made eating lunch fun. Now my mouth and gums are irritated from all the work, and I have a headache.

In April I'll be going to the Catsbury Park Cat Convention.  I bought tickets for a VIP meet & greet with Teddy and Dexter. Don't judge...

I'm thinking of going to Cat Camp in May since Jackson Galaxy is hosting, but I'm not sure I'll make it. From the website:  "Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp is a celebration of cats that is rooted in advocacy. This feline-focused festival, which first took place in 2017, was created to bring cat lovers of all kinds together under one roof to meet their idols of the cat world, shop for every kind of cat merchandise imaginable, discuss how we can collectively do more to help our feline friends, and - most importantly - to have fun mingling with fellow cat aficionados!" Sounds like fun to me!

In May I'm headed out to Cleveland to see my favorite band, Def Leppard. My sister and I plan to visit a friend and also see the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

That's it for now. Have a great weekend!


Saturday, February 17, 2018

update #5: the war on back pain


I really wish I could stop writing updates, because that would mean I no longer have back pain. But I do, so I will continue writing updates...

I went for my second round of cortisone shots last month, and they really didn't offer any more pain relief. I went for my follow-up appointment and it was decided that they will wait six weeks and then see how I feel. I go back March 3, I believe, and I'm not optimistic at this point. Chances are I'll go for one more round, though, just so I can be sure I tried my best. Also, I've met my insurance deductible (I'm in an HSA plan for the first time and the deductible is high), which means it won't cost me much to do that third round.

My next option, if these shots don't help, is something called Percutaneous Disc Decompression. If you click on the link you can see what it is. Basically, they insert a probe into the bulging disc and shoot radio waves into it, which dissolves the center of the disc. What is then supposed to happen is the disc goes back into place since there isn't as much disc material there. It's outpatient and takes 20 to 30 minutes. I'm open to doing it, but there's something else I want to try first:  chiropractic.

A local chiropractor, who specializes in upper cervical, gave a talk at work recently and offered a great deal on a consultation with full x-rays, followed by a report of findings and treatment plan at the second visit. I signed up since it was such a great price. I figured, "why not?" I've had chiropractic treatment off and on for many years, mostly when I was younger, and it always helped me. And he takes my insurance, which has really good coverage on this type of treatment.

I was a bit skeptical of upper cervical treatment, which deals with correcting a misalignment of the small bones in the neck, because it claims to be able to treat a large variety of issues that I just don't associate with chiropractic work. But I'm not a chiropractor, so I really can't say it doesn't help with other problems.

I went for the initial consultation and x-rays last week and it went well. He looked at the MRI I had done in September, asked about my back pain history, as well as tons of other stuff (he's quite thorough), did a physical exam of my back, and then took a bunch of x-rays in different positions.  He took two x-rays of my bent to each side. That will show him whether my vertebrae are moving properly. He took others:  several on each side, upper back, and lower back.

The physical exam was a little scary, mainly because he pretty much named the alphabet while calling out my problems areas. There were at least six different areas where he felt either my bulging discs (I have two) or felt something out of place or just not quite right.  He asked me if I ever get tingling in my hands or fingers (I don't), because a particular vertebrae was out of alignment. Even though I don't get those symptoms now, I could in the future. He asked if I get frequent headaches (I do). Again, a vertebrae that ties into the nerves that go up to the eye and head.

When I was done he said he would look at the x-rays, the MRI again, and my history, and then determine if he can help me or not. He was upfront that he may not be able to help me depending on what the x-rays and MRI reveal, which put me at ease a bit more; I was worried that he would just put me on a generic treatment plan that doesn't help me but makes him money. (*sigh* I never used to think like this...)

My follow-up was a few days ago, and I wasn't surprised at the findings. Basically, my back is pretty fucked up. There are several vertebrae in my neck that show little to no movement, and quite a few areas in the lower back that show no movement at all. When I lean to the right, it looks at though I have some movement of the vertebrae, but when I lean to the left, it still looks like I'm leaning to the right. Some of that is due to my scoliosis, but some of it isn't based on the location. So yeah, I think that explains why my lower back is such a mess.

The doctor prescribed a treatment plan:  I'll start off with several adjustments per week in the neck and lower back; then it will be a combination of adjustments and PT-type exercises; and then finally a combinations of adjustments and exercises that concentrate on strengthening the core and back muscles. Then he will re-examine and take x-rays to see if there has been improvement.

I've gone for two adjustments so far and don't feel any different; however, I know from experience that it won't happen right away. It takes a couple weeks to start feeling better.

Although I'm skeptical of some of the supposed benefits of upper cervical adjustments, I'm going to give it a chance. Chiropractic helped me quite a bit over the years, and I'm hopeful it can help me again. It's been at least six years since I've gone, and the doctor I used to see was kind of old fashioned, so maybe this young doctor has some tricks up his sleeve that will have me feeling more like myself. At the very least I'll be able to say I tried just about everything before opting for the procedure I mentioned above.