Grounded, but my head is spinning....Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Where to begin? The beginning is always a good spot, although the hard part there is determining exactly where the beginning is located. Also, the second hard part is that it's not very comfortable for me to type.

You see (said the blind man) that neck/nerve thing that was bothering me, and which necessitated an MRI exam back on the 15th, is now a known quantity. Bulging disc, inflamed nerve. There are certain ways I can position my head, or directions I can look (down or to the right, with down/right being the best) that relieves the pressure, while there are other opposite ways that really "turn up the dial" on the nerve. When I'm shaving, and I have to look up to shave my neck, it's like the mad scientist in the other room is dialing up the electricity behind the two-way mirror, laughing maniacally as he does so. It actually feels a bit like having electrodes attached to your arm, and someone is turning it up or down to make everything buzz. The neck only hurts a little, but typing is one time when that is the case, so this might be shorter than usual, even though I have a million miles to cover.

On the disc deal, though, we're set for a visit with the needle-wielding specialist on December 12, early in the morning. We'll have a consultation, look at the MRI, and then if we all concur we'll head off to another room and needles will be stuck in me, hopefully alleviating the problem. Barb needs to take the morning off from work, because you're not allowed to drive after getting a local anesthetic. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt (the one that says "I had a needle stuck in my spine at XYZ Medical Center and all I got was this lousy shirt").

Reasons for this? We suspect this is a longterm thing, and repetitive use is a prime suspect. Typing on a laptop for a living is really hard on your neck and shoulders, because the positioning has your hands too high and your head pointed down. Also, lugging a 25-pound briefcase around, for all these years, and always having it on my right shoulder, no doubt had some kind of longterm impact. Might be time to go to a backpack, to even out the load. I sent Santa a note about that...

The hardest part for me is sleeping. I usually sleep on my side, and typically go back and forth from right to left throughout the night. Now, the only way I can sleep is on my back with two pillows under my head, or on my left side. I'm a terrible "back sleeper" so that doesn't work... Ugh.

I've said it before here, it's been a tough year physically, falling apart at the seams. Or as my esteemed mentor Phil Burgess wrote "Those Boys of Summer days are turning you into the Man of Winter". Leave it to him to find a way to so creatively say "You're a mess."

Oh well, we'll get through it. One thing at a time!

Anyway, the first real impact this deal had on my life was the doctor's suggestion that I stay off airplanes and out of hotel rooms until after December 12, since the specialist won't really know how much he can help until then. This was sincerely unfortunate news, considering Daniel Wilkerson was getting married to the lovely and sweet Brianna Bressan last Saturday night, and Barbara and I had all our travel plans in place.

I had to break the news to all the Wilkersons that we wouldn't be there, and if I was just a little miserable dealing with the discomfort I was truly and deeply miserable on Saturday afternoon and evening, knowing how important this was to everyone and yet we weren't there. Stupid neck.

By all accounts, everything went swimmingly, the bride was beautiful (duh), and all the groomsmen did their part. I made Krista tell me every detail yesterday, but it really wasn't that hard to pry it all out of her.

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I present to you... Mr. and Mrs. Dan Wilkerson
Via cell phones and Facebook photos, I was able to secure three sketchy pics to tide us over, and in two of those photos you will be able to see how Kevin Wilkerson adapted his mohawk into something more suitable for a wedding. He shaved his head.

Apparently, there's a bit of a funny story there because he shaved it himself earlier in the day, and when he arrived at the venue for the wedding, some of the other guys were like "Um... Kev.... You missed a spot. You missed two spots. Okay, you missed a bunch of spots..." They had to finish the job for him, but he looks good. In a Telly Savalas - Kojak sort of way. Maybe a little mysterious as well, and I know Kevin digs being mysterious.

So... I've got a pain in the neck and it made me miss the wedding. What a pain in the neck! My next scheduled "etched in stone" trip will be right before New Year's, to spend the holiday with the best friends anyone could ever have (in Woodbury) and then right after the holiday Barbara and I are scheduled to head off to Barcelona. I'm researching... The restaurant menus are going to be a challenge, but there's an app for that and I plan to have the English/Catalan translator on my iPhone when we go.

Well, that explains the part of the headline about being grounded. Now for the head spinning part.

I suspect if you're reading this blog you're well aware of all the moves and "Silly Season" juggling that's been going on in our sport. The biggest news, I think, came today with the official announcement that Del Worsham will be back in a Funny Car next year and it will be the DHL machine, which means Jeff Arend lost his ride. Needless to say (you know, it's really needless to ever say "needless to say" but it's a cliche we all use) this news impacted me quite a bit, as I'm good friends with both of those guys.

I'm thrilled for Del, who I know was never going to be able to fully erase his love of Funny Car driving from his system, at least not yet. I'm saddened for Jeff, who loves driving as much as anyone and is now faced with a tough job market for such a narrow and specialized skill.

Del is an amazing talent, and he's really a thoughtful guy who doesn't take these things lightly. He and Jeff are good friends, and I know that conflicted Del quite a bit, but I've also learned (the hard way) that when you're an employee, and not the owner, you're just one piece of the puzzle and someone else is making the often-difficult decisions as to where those puzzle pieces should go. It's the heavy weight of ownership, and Del's been there so he knows how it feels. I'll never forget the morning after our last home game, with the St. Louis Storm indoor soccer team, when our mercurial owner sent his lawyer to the St. Louis Arena (he did not come himself) and utilized said barrister to effectively chop all of our heads off. He owned the team. He was responsible for those decisions, right or wrong. All I could do was pack up and say goodbye to a very good staff, and thank them for their hard work and dedication. I'm happy to report that all of us have gone much further in life than the Major Indoor Soccer League. Stepping stones, doors opening when others close, all of that...

It was weird for most of 2012 to see Del outside the car, as the crew chief. It's going to be weird to see him back in it, strapped in with a helmet on, but I bet that part won't seem as weird for as long.

I hope, with all my heart, that some team owner realizes an All-Star driver just surprisingly became available. Drivers like Jeff Arend don't come along all that often. Someone ought to find a way to make their team better by making him a part of it. When we were teammates, I knew we always had a fighting chance with Jeff driving. When we were opponents, I always knew we had our hands full, with Jeff driving that yellow car.

All my best to both of my friends.

Time to stop typing...

Wilber, out!