Hot Stuff

I am totally LOVING my new hairdo.... and subsequently feel sexy as all get out....
I like documenting the days when I feel high on myself. They help on the days when I don't. 


My mom and I spent many hours together piecing together our family genealogy in the years before she died.  She did most of the heavy lifting, and I did boring stuff like looking for people in newspapers, or helping her do grave etchings.  I've currently gotten into this once more thanks to

One of the big names (i.e., bells ring when you hear that name) in my family history is Foster -- and thanks to and the research that they are able to connect me to, I've been able to trace my family back quite far on that line.

There's also this guy online who has lots of awesome links and info about the Fosters/Forster/Forresters and the family history.... but what stood out most to me was the family crest and motto:

If that isn't one hell of a motto to describe what I've been through over the past few years, I don't know what is.   I think it even beats out my love of Stitch's quote.  

Do you have a motto you like to live by that has been inspired by your family?

(second runner up would be my mom's "if it requires ironing, don't buy it" -- but it's not as epic as Si Fractus, Fortis)


Yesterday, I got on the scale to see just how much not being able to exercise has affected my weight.  I was not prepared for the number I saw:  205.

Not only have i gained 17lbs since my lowest weight of 188, but I was kicked out of onederland, and am once again classified as obese.

In the past, shame would have prevented me from being honest about this number. I would have fudged things a bit to be kind to my fragile little heart. But if I have learned one thing on this journey it's that my heart is strong.  The love I have for myself, for my body, for my injury, for my recovery is bigger and more potent than any shame.

My task now is to dissect the causes:  how much of this is because of the steroids (cause water retention and increased appetite)?  How much of it is from emotional eating? How much is from using the injury as an excuse to be sedentary? How much of it is from just being scared?

No matter the cause, I know the cure.  Honesty, self care, renewed sense of purpose, and a whole lot of forgiveness.  Like I said before, my new goal must be on fixing/preserving the health of my spine, but I can incorporare a better diet, more food logging, and investigate other kinds of exercise that won't wear out my spine.

Man... 205. Didn't think I'd ever see that number again. 
Breaking my back is the only thing I fear more than gaining the weight back.

Dietitian's Day! Who's yours?

Click here to read about the first time I met my dietitian, Rebecca Scritchfield

Like I said in my guest post for DubyaWife, there are people that come into your life that remind you what's really important on this whole weight-loss/health-gain journey -- and Rebecca was one of them.  So on this Registered Dietitian's Day, I just want to thank her for her professional wisdom and personal friendship. 

She taught me that relationships with humans are better than relationships with kitchen appliances.
She taught me that I can eat what I want -- it's all about balance and savoring what I eat.
She helped me see that it's okay to make mistakes, but that the sooner I right myself, the less damage done.

In other news, I had some fun cooking tonight -- ceviche, pineapple/mango salsa, black beans and cilantro-lime rice.   How do you food bloggers do it?  I couldn't wait to dive in and eat my dinner!

Guesty Posty!

Click the shamrocks below to see my guest post over at @DubyaWife's blog. 

For each petal on the shamrock.
This brings a wish your way
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.

Hesitation, Jealousy, Resignation

Remember doing double dutch jump-roping on the playground?  Remember how you had to get in sync with the ropes so you could jump in at the right time?

I feel like I'm doing that with exercise right now -- I'm hesitating and waiting for my rhythm to come back to me.

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

In 2002, I moved off campus to an apartment building in Virginia.  Along with the 1.25 hr commute by bus/rail each way, the roommate situation didn't go smoothly as I had hoped or planned.   You'd think in that situation, the solution was pretty clear:  move closer to work and ditch the roommates.  Easier said than done for me.  It took a year of seeing a therapist to get my anxiety issues out in the open.  Not only did I have an anxiety-triggered OCD-like behavior, but I had anxiety about life, namely "what if I make the wrong decision...will I land on my feet?" 

Raise your hand if you've ever thought of this....

I was able to move out on my own after a year of asking that question over and over again and realizing that no decision was set in stone and that I could thrive or recover from any decision.  I'm guessing even if you're not nodding your head that you've felt that doubt, there's a little part of you that has always wondered "What if I can't?" How many of you wonder something different -- "what if I can and do?" What if I make a decision that can't be undone?

When I first hurt my back (yeppers, this is another spine post!) I (along with everyone who knew what I was going through) was all gung-ho about using every bit of science and technology to fix me up, that is, until I started educating myself about the science and technology.   People would say "Why don't you just have surgery" as if it was similar to fixing a broken bone or having a mole removed.  The short of the long of it is that our bodies are built to perfection (minus our appendix and tonsils).  We're highly evolved machines, and science spends its time trying to figure out ways to come close to what evolution took thousands of years to do.  In other words, even if I were to have spine surgery (fusion, disc replacement, discectomy) my spine and discs will never be as strong as they once were.  It would also require extensive rehabilitation.

Even worse, there's something called Failed Back Surgery Syndrome.  I've seen quotes anywhere from 20-60% (depending on the type of surgery) of back surgeries "fail" to alleviate pain.  I have two coworkers that have had spine surgeries only to end up in more pain than they were before the surgeries.  One coworker walks around hunched over and contorted to the side, the other walks with the assistance of a cane and he's not that much older than I am.  Coupled with my doctor telling me to "use it til you lose it" -- I'm don't know what to do and I'm scared.  And it's not the stupid anxiety of not knowing whether I can handle living alone, it's something that's logical to be afraid of.

Yep, you heard it right.  The great FGvW is scared.  Why?  If I'm in this much pain, and my life is limited this much -- what will my life look like in the months before I "lose it"? Will I be one of the lucky people who has a successful spinal surgery?  Then another part of me wonders if I'm being stubborn by trying to avoid surgery in the first place (especially with all the videos on youtube of people who have had success and resumed their lives).

I wish I had a crystal ball that would show me my outcomes--something better than statistical guesses.
Unlike the speaker in the poem above, I haven't decided on a path to take.  I'm stuck at the fork.

How do you make a decision when everyone tells you the outcomes are a crapshoot?

No Ordinary Sex Toy

Dictionaries define "liberator" as "someone who releases people from captivity or bondage."
In my case it was "a product that allows someone with severe back pain to get some sleep."  But it lived up to its name, as it released me from the captivity of my injury.

After my back crapped out on me in 2007, I began to experience a great deal of anxiety and stress over the simple act of sleeping.  Lying down hurt.  I could find a comfortable position, but ultimately it would become uncomfortable and I'd wake up.  Body pillows/bolsters would move around or I'd kick them off the bed.  I'd try to flip/turn and end up the kind of excruciating pain that either wakes you up, keeps you awake, or prevents you from sleeping.  If I managed to sleep for a few hours, there would always be the fear of waking up in pain/soreness because of the way I slept.

While sidelined from work and watching a lot of TV, I got an idea while watching Meet the Fockers, specifically, the scene where Barbara Streisand is teaching a sex class to senior citizens.  Could the (*LINK NSFW!*) Liberator Shapes (*LINK NSFW*)  help me get some sleep?

The answer was an emphatic yes.  A glorious, haven't-slept-well-in-three-months yes.  At first I balked at the price (mine was $160), but I asked myself a simple question:  was my sanity worth that amount?  Ummm.... yeah.  I needed sleep.  I called the company and got a little more information on the difference between the ramp and the wedge, and the customer service agent and I decided that the ramp would serve more therapeutic purposes.

The morning after my first night with the Ramp proved that I made the right decision.  The Ramp's sturdy foam and microfiber cover (that gripped the sheets) wasn't gonna let me push it around like some ordinary pillow.  Propping my legs up like I am on the photo on the right made it so my lower back was flat against my bed and in contact with the ice or heating pad (instead of the lower back's natural curve away from the bed).  It also increased the intradisc space in my lower back, alleviating the nerves that were inflamed and being pinched.  Sweet relief was mine!  I also used it to do a modified child's pose to help stretch my spine.

While going through my most recent round of neck issues, I found myself using the Liberator Ramp again.  When trying to ice my neck, ice would sink into the pillow away from me.  With the ramp, I was able to keep the ice where it needed to be -- in contact with my neck.  It also provided a more comfortable position for me to read or watch TV.

The Ramp lives in plain sight.  I don't put it away because *GASPS* it's a sex toy.  A few people have noticed it and know what it is, but most people have no clue that it can be used for sexual (as opposed to therapeutic) purposes.  (I'll let the (*LINK NSFW*) Web site (*LINK NSFW*) teach you those.)
It's easy to keep clean, soft and sensuous to the touch, and serves more purposes than you can imagine.  As my back started to get stronger, I would do my rehab exercises (such as leg lifts) using the ramp to put my body in the correct/supported angle.  I can even imagine someone using the ramp to do light weights on an incline. 

 I hope to get the (*LINK NSFW*) Liberator Esse (*LINK NSFW*) at some point in the near future as it provides full support for my neck and back while reclining.  Just think of it as a TV chair for the spinally-challenged.  The gentle curve will help me do the kind of stretching that will help my spine.

I did not getting any compensation for this review/blog entry.
The views are my own.
Talk with your doctors/physical therapists before using a Liberator Shape in your rehabilitation.

Yes, the cats think the Liberator Ramp is a playtoy for them as well.