Posts in Life
Just five things: Surgical Edition

If you're a regular reader or listener of my podcast, then you may already know this, but for those not in the know, I am going in for spinal fusion of my C6 and C7 vertebrae on Thursday, July 18.

I received word on July 8 and scheduled the surgery immediately. So, I've been trying to prepare by recording extra podcast content in advance, sending my partner on a large grocery shopping excursion, and prepping for surgery and life post-op for the past several days.

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Just five things (a new monthly series)

I have kicked around the idea of writing a regular blog to feature helpful products and resources that make my Spoonie life more livable, for quite some time. I decided today, just moments before I began writing this post, to start doing so today and to do it monthly. Welcome to the June edition of Just Five Things!

Some of the products I will feature each month are products that I have affiliate links for, and I’m not even trying to hide that from you. A Spoonie has got to eat! The affiliate links may also generate revenue for my podcast, as I may share products and services from our corporate sponsors and affiliates — or companies that become our podcast sponsors and affiliates.

Don’t hate, appreciate. You’ll get a discount too, for using my/our link. I nor my podcast will ever endorse products or services that we don’t use ourselves or haven’t tried, we’re actually super picky about that shit. So, without further adieu, here are five things that make my #SpoonieLife easier and/or better every day!

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Dream a little dream.

Last year my business coach and mentor, Heather Quisel, had everyone in our 14-Day Level Up Challenge group write a letter to themselves. We then tucked those letters into envelopes and mailed them off to Heather, with a self-addressed and stamped return envelope for her to utilize to mail the letters back to us one year later.

Today, I received the letter I wrote to myself on May 29, 2018.

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Guess Who's Back?!

I focused on my physical health goals and pushing doctors to work with me to define what has been happening with my body and how to treat my pain long-term and in a way that would significantly improve my quality of life. (It appears I may have something called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, or CRPS, though the diagnosis is not yet official.) I also kept busting my ass in my rehabilitative workouts in the pool and with my personal trainer. I dropped 9 inches from August to October, from my waist, chest, and hips.

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I had to take a break.

Brain: No. Don't do that thing you feel like it's important to do. It will be fine. The world won't stop spinning. Also brain: You should feel horrible about not doing that thing! Now everyone is going to be disappointed in you and they'll never want to read your blog again!

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I am Kelly Nerdzilla Mendenhall

I am Kelly Nerdzilla Mendenhall. I am an author, entrepreneur, and love terrorist living with chronic pain and invisible illness. I help other badass unicorns, like myself, break away from 'tradition' and create a life and career that honors their special needs and limitations.

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Holy cannoli

I want to be an unstoppabl einfluence. I want to help others while learning and growing myself -- ideally, I'd like to make enough money to pay my bills while doing it. That's not something that's impossible, it's just not something I believe I could have achieved had I continued to feel trapped and oppressed in a traditional work setting. 

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How to eat crow (like that time I called my friend the n-word.)

This was, to my recollection, my very first time eating crow. I felt awful. I felt kind of like Tanya was going to kick my ass, but she didn't. Maybe she saw the look in my eyes and at 7 or 8 years old could already recognize honest remorse and pure humiliation and shame.

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I'm sorry I ghosted

Tomorrow, Friday, I head in for lumbar facet injections bright and early in the morning. The purpose is twofold: It will, hopefully, help with the pain in my low back and maybe some of my leg pain.

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My first vlog is about my doctor being an idiot.

The short story is that my doctor is an assclown and refused to call the clinician from UNUM back about my disability claim because he thought I was trying to get put on PERMANENT Disability, and scam the government. 

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Losing the battle, not the war

Never let anyone else write your story. Don't let them decide who you are and what your truth is. Most people in my position don't have the financial resources to access a lawyer, or the wherewithal to know that it might be worth fighting a decision like this. 

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What happens when I am paingry

I am normally a very loving, kind person. I may say things super bluntly (especially for southerners) and I definitely say "fuck" a whole lot, but I'm kind. My friends actually call me the Love Terrorist. It started with my friend Lisa and I owned it and now it's just a thing.

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Anxiety spirals

I have done a lot of hard work in therapy throughout my adult life. I've had two therapists especially who I credit with helping me to make my biggest breakthroughs so that I could function as a healthy (albeit imperfect) adult. Because of all of this hard work I am generally able to maintain my moods and emotional well-being with extremely low doses of a particular medication and a heaping mountain of self awareness and self-care practices (thanks social worker friends!) Diet and exercise also play a roll.

Throwing chronic pain into my mix, though...I didn't see that freight train coming, y'all.

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When all of your good planning doesn’t mean squat

For a long time I accepted my meager earnings as "part of the deal." In exchange for the opportunity to do life-changing, world-changing work I had to suck it up and make less money.  After some years, though, acceptance turned into deep resentment and I stopped dreaming, stopped looking to the future. I was just trying to survive, and just barely doing so.

I invested in my business days before Thanksgiving in 2016. I haven't looked back since.

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How to be a better friend and person to someone living with chronic pain & illness

The simple secret of loving someone or interacting with someone who has an invisible illness and/or chronic pain, is this:  "That really sucks. I'm sorry that you're dealing with that, it sounds like Hell. Is there anything I can do to help?" 

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Banana ice cream doesn't suck…and other things I’ve learned

I love ice cream. Like, I'm the girl from Michigan who's all, "It's 55 degrees guys! Time for ice cream!"

I never don't want ice cream.

It's a running joke in my relationship. I'd rather get ice cream than flowers or jewelry. Ok well maybe not jewelry. But I love ice cream a lot is all I'm saying.

Have I yet mentioned that I live in a town in South Central Tennessee that isn't super alternative-diet friendly? They put meat in everything in the south, y'all. Even green beans. Green beans have meat. Let that sink in...

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A port in my storm

There was a period in early June, before my doctor and I got the Gabapentin to levels that made a significant impact in which everything is a blur and I lost chunks of whole days because my brain dissociated. Pain that intense creates a sort of mental prison that the sufferer can get trapped and lost in. At least that was the case for me. There were times when I was home alone or at night when I needed to be sleeping and the pain was so intense and sustained such high levels that I would be crying and wishing for escape, thinking, "If this is what life is going to feel like long term, I don't want to live."

I was lucky because I never had to be alone for very long.

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