This is my first blog.

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updated in November 2018

Hi, I’m Kelly Nerdzilla Mendenhall. I am an author and entrepreneur living with chronic pain and invisible illness. My life was turned upside down in June 2017 and everything changed.

It’s very nice to meet you.

Nerdzilla was a nickname given to me in 2008 by my friend Shane after I told him that I was going back to school, this time to grad school to get my Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Most of my life has been spent with my friends not understanding why I liked school so much. There are psychological complexities involved here, I’m sure of it…something about trauma behaviors and coping mechanisms. I also really enjoy arguing, and what is a well crafted case study or research paper if not just a really long-winded argument, for or against, an idea or set of ideas?

In 2016 I decided that the nickname had stood long enough and fit my personality well enough that it should be immortalized in the form of a tattoo. What better time than one’s birthday to have such a tattoo emblazoned on one’s skin? It was official, Nerdzilla became a part of me.

In November of 2016 I started a home-based virtual business, a side hustle if you will. The business model involves building a team, so it seemed natural that as I am Nerdzilla, my team should be The Nerd Herd.

Everything that happened next was a complete surprise to me. I learned in May 2017 that I had four bulging or herniated discs in a row, spinal cord compression, and osteoarthritis in my lumbar spine. That is to say that all of the above reference damage is in my lumbar spine, one problem literally piled atop another problem.

On June 20, 2017 my PCP said to me the words moderate Degenerative Disc Disease which for some reason up to that point all of the spine specialists and orthopedic surgeons had avoided saying to me. It was June 20, 2017 and not a day sooner or later that I realized my lifestyle was drastically changing not just for a few weeks or several months, but forever.

My side hustle quickly became my full-time, keep-my-mind-active-and-pursue-all-goals-possible-from-the-couch hustle, and here we are.

I am living with Degenerative Disc Disease, chronic and debilitating sciatic nerve pain from my left hip down to my left toes, and muscle myelopathy in my left leg. Additionally, I live with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD,) Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD,) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)

I had actually been in remission from the PTSD and MDD for about 4.5 years but each were triggered and I flew into full relapse during the many months I lived entirely on the couch (10 or so) and fought against evil doctors, insurance companies, and specialists.

I was hospitalized in February 2018 with Serotonin Syndrome because my PCP prescribed and mixed medications inappropriately. The overnight hospitalization led to having to go cold-turkey off multiple prescriptions and three weeks of detox and withdrawals not unlike what one experiences when coming off of things like alcohol or heroin. The withdrawal brought on the night terrors, and suddenly I was in full-blown physical and mental crisis. It became painfully obvious that I was going to need the help of a psychiatrist and trauma therapist.

I’m come a long way from June 2017 — back then, I couldn’t take real steps but mostly shuffled my feet a few inches at a time and often had to walk with assistance from my boyfriend or a friend.

Today, November 17, 2018, I can tell you with great pride that I:

* Have managed to avoid narcotic pain medications, even though some days I really wish for them.

* Have lost nearly 50lbs. between December 22, 2017 and today.

* Have completed nine months of aquatic physical therapy as well as one month of traditional physical therapy.

* For six months have endured and excelled in the following rehabilitation and care routine:

-Chiropractor 1x per week
-Water aerobics 2x per week
-Personal training session 2x per week
-Elliptical workouts at home (I’ve worked up to 45 minutes per workout)
-3 epidural spinal injections; 1 Facet Joint or SI Joint injection; 3 piriformis injections; one EMG, one Myelogram, and in a few weeks I’ll be heading into surgery for a temporary spinal cord stimulator transplant, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Most importantly, I’ve survived. And others like me can and do survive. It’s my mission in life to turn my mess into a message, and help to empower and inspire other people to create lifestyles and careers that honor their unique needs and limitations, just as I am doing. This blog speaks to that and much more. I hope that you find information here useful and inspiring.

Thanks for indulging me.