Pinched Nerves and Uncertain Futures

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

Hi folks. I know it’s been a while and I left you with no real explanation. Things are a little up in the air for me, so I didn’t want to say anything until I had a better handle on a major life change.


Back in December, I started having a persistent aching pain between my shoulder blades that nothing could alleviate. Massage didn’t even help, and it always had before. I did it all — chiropractor, trigger point injections, redesign of my office for ergonomics, standing desk, voice-to-text (which is horrible), physical therapy — for months this went on, and I got no relief. Eventually, the pain started creeping down my arm until it was so bad I could barely get out of bed. I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t think. Months of this dragged by, and I went to see my sister near Washington, D.C. We walked miles a day, taking the kids to different museums. I expected it to be worse. Surprisingly, I felt a little better.

My physical therapist (God bless her) heard this and declared, “You have to walk. Every day. Probably three miles.” This is not good news for a writer. For over twenty years, I have been at my desk, typing or talking on the phone to sources. Hardly any of my investigative work is done on the ground. It’s all virtual and requires hours of sitting in front of a computer, sending emails, FOIAs, requests, and inquiries, reading stacks of documents, or talking to people. But the sitting and the typing has compressed my spine. A nerve is pinched and according to the experts, I can’t do it anymore at the level I have been. I have to walk.


Apparently, the spine likes to be in motion, further solidifying my belief that the washing machine was the greatest disaster to happen to humankind. Every invention we’ve made toward progress just led us to be sedentary layabouts who “work” while sitting still. It’s a terrible idea. It degenerates the spine and it will eventually kill you … slowly and painfully.

Fixing it isn’t as easy as going for a walk every day, because I’ve been sitting for 20 years. Walking and then going back to sitting doesn’t solve the problem. I tried it. But as soon as I’d sit in front of the keyboard and type, the pain would come raging back. This is the first time I’ve put fingers to keyboard in a few weeks, and I’m waiting — terrified — for it to happen.

I came to the conclusion that I needed to take an actual break from this work for as long as it takes to get out of pain, but I would have to replace the income in some way while moving my spine. (That’s not to say I’m quitting entirely but that you won’t hear from me as much for a while. I’m trying to contribute at a slower pace while getting lots of physical movement.)

I went back to waiting tables. I went from averaging 4,000 steps a day to easily passing 10,000 and sometimes 16,000. In one month, my pain is reduced by about 60%. The relief is indescribable but the future is uncertain. My retirement plans have been thrown into chaos. I’ll write those novels I have in my head finally! Maybe not. Then again, maybe I’ll write a novel about all the new kitchen stories I have about nasty customers.


It’s not easy at 47 to face the possibility that the career you had might be over and your plans have to radically change. But that’s where I am. I know I don’t want to ever be in that kind of pain again. There have been signs along the way leading me to consider a different path. Recently, YouTube demonetized my entire channel that I’ve built up over ten years, claiming I have “harassed and bullied” someone or something (they won’t say who or what) and that my channel is full of “hate speech” (again, they won’t say what). Maybe it’s a blessing. It’s not easy to consider leaving everything I’ve ever done behind. But the way things are lining up, I may not have a choice.

I’ve cut back on the writing drastically and am focusing on rehabbing my neck. As a result, I’m much more disconnected from the news. When you’re working a twelve-hour shift running orders and bringing food, there’s no time to check the headlines. That part is a relief. I’m glad I don’t know what’s going on in this clown world at the moment. I’ve probably lowered my blood pressure significantly just by not paying attention to any of it.


Related: Telling the Truth Takes a Toll

PJ Media has been extremely gracious and understanding and I’m grateful for that. I don’t know if I’m going to come back at full speed or if I can even keep up my new slower schedule. (So far I’m failing at that, though I’m trying). But I do miss you all and thought you should know what’s going on over in this corner of the world.

I’m 750 words in and I’m starting to ache. It’s time to go. Be good to one another. And tip your servers well.



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