Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Two Photos and 7,000 Miles

I spent a lot of time in this room today.

It’s in St. Mary’s Spine Center here in San Francisco. I’m lucky that I live close to one of the best spine centers in the country. I’m lucky that I’m not in as much pain as some of the people I met in the waiting room. But I’m not so lucky that I didn’t need to be there.

The Median nerve goes from the your spinal column to your thumb. Mine is pinched at my C6 vertebra. Which is why, for the last two weeks, my right shoulder has felt like a brick, my right arm occasionally seems like it belongs to someone else, and why I can’t feel my right thumb at all.

Turns out, I use that right thumb a lot.

I’ve been this way for over two weeks and almost cancelled the Australia trip because of it. Then I almost came home early. But a Cortisone shot to the spine alleviated some of the pain, so I pushed through. Some people come home from vacation with nicknacks – I come home with MRI scans.

I’m glad I stuck with the vacation, because I got to have moments like this.

That’s me and Wally the Humphead wrasse on the Great Barrier Reef, a 90-minute boat trip from Cairns, Australia, and about 10 feet down. With all due respect to the wonderful people at Web Directions South, meeting Wally was probably the highlight of the trip.

The internet tells me I’m about 7,000 miles away from that moment right now.

Seems like more.


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Hi, I’m Derek. I live in San Francisco and make awesome community-centric web stuff. I sometimes post things to Flickr and Twitter. I’m mostly harmless. More.





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