Old Kenosha

By | Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 9:25 am

This week’s Happenings magazine has a section called “It’s Your Hometown Memories”.  It includes a lot of old Kenosha photos and businesses from way back when.  It’s pretty surprising to know some of them have survived for so long!  I thought it would be interesting to list some of them along with a few of my related memories of them.  Unfortunately I can’t include photos from the magazine due to legal reasons, but I’ll try to describe anything I found interesting in them as best I can.

Brat Stop started up in 1958 as a tiny little place that looked like a drive-in restaurant.  It was located on Highway 41 long before I-94 even existed.  I saw Oceans at Brat Stop with Hans D long ago.

Javelin Restaurant was located on the corner of 22nd Avenue and 60th Street, was started in the 1980’s when AMC was the big manufacturing giant in Kenosha, and was obviously named after the AMC Javelin.  I don’t recall ever going to this restaurant, but it was fairly close to our family’s home, which was 6611 20th Avenue, very close to uptown Kenosha.  It was owned by Vasilios (Bill) Anastopoulos, who apparently later moved on to build the successful Anastos Motors car dealership in Kenosha.  I’ve watched this high-traffic corner location change hands many times over the years

Bernacci’s Drug Store was located uptown where Fire Station #3 is today, at 63rd Street and 22nd Avenue.  This business wasn’t mentioned in Happenings at all, I just remembered it when I was thinking about Javelin Restaurant (those darned “member berries” again…)  I remember, as a kid, the huge fire that occurred there, burning the store to the ground.  Since it was only a couple blocks from home, my friends and I all ran and biked there and watch the firefighting & chaos as it unfolded.  My attempts to find more information about Bernacci’s on the web have failed.  Am I spelling it wrong, maybe?

The Music Center, now located on Green Bay Road, opened up in the 1940’s.  I had no idea it had been around so long.  Where it was originally located, I have no idea.

Happenings Magazine has been around for 40 years – since 1977.  It’s a free local magazine we usually pick up at local restaurants and gas stations.  It is currently located in the old American Brass Administration Building, 1420 63rd Street.  Gotta include a little self-promotion in their own magazine, so there it is.  It’s funny how the entire section is mostly ads (as the magazine always is), but a lot of the ad content for each business contains their historical significance, and Most pages of ads “interconnect” with each other and the photos in the pages near them, making it more like one big article you’re reading.  Nice work, I enjoyed it.

Chester Electronics was located next to the train tracks on 60th Street, and I remember going there many times with my dad (both of us were gadget geeks) as a kid, buying CBs, police scanners, crystals–one crystal was need for each scanner frequency you wanted to listen to, so they had to be hand-made (or tuned) for that frequency.  This took a week or two after ordering, then you could come in and pick up that crystal and install it in your scanner.  This was way before today’s scanners, which provide entire bands and you just electronically tune in (or scan entire bands) to listen to them.  Chester’s eventually moved to it’s current location, where National Foods once was–7709 Sheridan Road.  Chester Minkowski is the owner.  I’m not sure what year it opened, or whether Chester is still alive, as that information wasn’t included.  Oh, and do you want to see the worst website ever?  Check it out: http://chesterelectronics.com/

Lou Perrine’s gas station (aka “One Stop Shop”) has been around for 62 years – Since 1954.  It is now located on 52nd Street and Sheridan Road.  I noticed a YouTube logo next to this one, so out of curiosity I had to check.  Very nice!  It contains video ads, as expected, and they’re interesting… I had no idea they even did home delivery…$5 delivery charge, but they insist on NO TIPS!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jppVnBhbVik

Thomas B. Jeffery Company was founded in 1902.  It evolved into Nash Motors in 1916, American Motors in 1954, and Chrysler in 1987.  Later it was reduced to just the Chrysler Engine Plant.  It closed in October 2010 and was demolished in 2013.  I worked there for 5 years–1985 to 1989–as a Security Guard.  Looking back on it, those were some interesting and fun times, I must say.  I was hired at $4.50/hr and worked my way up to the maximun $6.50/hr by the time I left.  I was hired after a bunch of restructuring of the Security department and mass-layoffs of the “old guard” who were still unionized and paid much more money as a result.  The restructuring ended up with most of those guard either quitting or retiring and the wages being more than cut in half.  I wasn’t looked upon very favorably by most for taking the job, but for me I had just graduated from Tech College and had been looking for work, and figured any job is better than no job.  I was surprised it lasted as long as it did.  I was looking for PC Tech work (and doing side PC work) pretty much the entire 5 years…though not very aggressively.  I was laid off during another of the many cutbacks they did in those days leading up to the final closing.

Guttormsen’s Recreation Center, now located on Green Bay Road and 52nd Street, began in 1919 on 6th Avenue downtown, where the KVNA building now stands, across the street to the North of the Municipal Building.  As a kid I remember a friend working there as a pinsetter.  And I also remember “someone” obtaining a large quantity of soap and dumping it into the large Municipal Fountain located on 6th Avenue one evening, and watching as the fountain overflowed with soap suds!

The Elk’s Club, located at 5706 8th Avenue, is now The Heritage House, and is a historic Kenosha building.  I don’t think this one was was even mentioned in the Happenings section, but I just remembered it now, having worked at the Elk’s Club as a dishwasher for two years, part-time, while I was in high school.  Here’s the history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenosha_Elks_Club

I think that’s about half of the section so far.  I’m finding it pretty interesting myself.  I’ll probably post the other half soon, if time permits.  Thanks for visiting!

Lego Worlds – A review

By | Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 8:30 am

Hello, my name is Jim and I’m an addict. Yeah, I’m a grown-up… And still I play with toys. Legos are all the rage these days–even in the movies. So when Lego Worlds was recently released for the PS4, I jumped on it almost immediately. I’ve had the Early Release version for the PC on Steam for quite some time, but I only played it once in awhile. It was a really cool open world system, and you just dove in and started playing around with objects and characters, building and breaking things, etc., etc., much like Minecraft. I find many games a bit difficult to play on the PC unless I have my Steam controller optimally configured for that particular game, and in the case of Lego Worlds on Steam, I just wasn’t able to get it working to my liking, and often gave up trying to get it to work properly for me. So when the PS4 version was released, I knew that, finally, it must have a controller configuration good enough to work with on the PS4, so I gave it a shot.

I don’t know if the Steam version ever received the same treatment that the PS4 version now has, but there certainly wasn’t Tutorial levels and gameplay like there is on the PS4 version when I was playing it on Steam! My initial experience with the PS4 version was totally new, and it’s really interesting how it first teaches you the basics, giving you lessons along the way, and as you progress through the tutorial levels you learn more and more about how everything works, more items are given to you, and you basically (at least in my case) become addicted and want more and more eye candy, game candy, object builds, blocks, gold bricks… The tutorials end after 3 or 4 different worlds are “completed”, then you unlock the main “game” that in-turn unlocks everything else. The ultimate goal being to reach 100 Gold Bricks, which unlocks the ability to create NEW worlds of your very own. So this is all sort of a huge “training ground”, or a giant tutorial if you will, to prepare you for the open world creation freedom that is to come–which then, I imagine, works somewhat like Minecraft, where you can either start with a blank world, scarcely populated or completely blank, and build upon it whatever you will. Except that with THIS game, the tools at your disposal are far beyond anything I’ve ever seen in Minecraft!

But getting that far (100 Gold Bricks) is still on my horizon, so I can’t really say for sure how that part of the experience is yet (hence the “incomplete review” title). I’m at 71 Gold Bricks as of this writing, and climbing daily. The pace at which you gain bricks varies quite a bit, from what I’ve seen though. What happens after the tutorials is the ability for you to generate random worlds, then travel to them, explore and plunder them, all in an effort to gather everything you can from the world. This includes completing quests the characters on that world ask of you, finding chests filled with objects (including Gold Bricks), exploring, tackling troublemakers (who will come up to you and taunt you with the game piece they’re holding, then run from you as you try to tackle them to get the piece) and just plain trashing everything you can to gain studs (every Lego game’s currency). When you “Discover” an object in the game it gets added to your inventory, but you can’t actually “use” the object until you purchase it in the game using some studs. The value of each object in the game is pre-defined–for example it might cost 2,500 studs for a particular in-game vehicle–so if you pay that to unlock it, you can then deploy that vehicle anywhere, on any world, and use it in whatever way suits you. Or, perhaps an object is needed to complete a quest, and you have it… Use it and get rewarded with even more studs to use in the game. Added to all of this is the expansion of world sizes you can play in. You start out with just small worlds (as if that doesn’t overwhelm you enough), but after obtaining so many Gold Bricks you unlock Medium-sized worlds and everything is a lot bigger. Then, further on you unlock Large-sized worlds, and then, finally, Huge-sized worlds.

This very open-ended random-world generation makes things pretty interesting, and definitely a one-of-a-kind experience for everyone, and your own personality and tendencies come into play quite a bit. For example, there’s some really neat dungeons in the game, which are filled with traps, puzzles and monsters… Get through those successfully and you’re rewarded with many huge piles of studs! This is all really fun to play around with, but a smart kid just in a hurry to reach the end-game knows that with all of the tools available at that point in the game, one could simply pull out the landscaping tool and level the entire dungeon in one fell swoop.. or use to bazooka to blast right through the walls to the treasure. I considered this myself, briefly, before deciding to take the high road and experience the dungeon like I assume it was intended. Maybe later on I’ll come back and play around with leveling it, even if only to see how it was built and to possibly use some of it’s traps in the free world-building part of the game that I haven’t gotten to yet.

The game isn’t without it’s little quirks and bugs though. But I’d expect as much for a project this vast. There will no-doubt be updates to fix it up, I’m sure. One complaint I have might be a bug, but I’m not really sure. Right now it’s just an annoyance for me. Another family member found an awesome random world and wanted me to try it out. There’s an option to enter a random world “seed” on the main world selection screen, so I assumed this would allow me to enter the number he provided and I could then play that same world. So I entered the number, it appeared to show it in the mini map, but when I travel to the world, it’s a completely different random world! I can’t seem to get it to accept that exact number sequence, though it does allow me to see a preview of it. Very annoying. I can’t find a solution (or others even complaining about the same thing) on the web yet, so I think it’s just a bug that hasn’t been discussed yet.

So that’s the game, in a nutshell. I’ve been through the desert, the old west, a few very hot lava-filled planets, a few made of candy, some desert islands with interesting surprises, many caves containing buried treasure among other creepy things like spiders, scorpions and even zombies and swamp monsters, cloud cities and have even found many underwater treasures–including sunken shipwrecks, sharks, fish and even a few underwater cities. I can tell that the creators sure spent a lot of time either manually building whole areas brick by brick or wrote one heck of a procedural engine to generate worlds! It seems they are endless in their quantity, somehow. Like Minecraft, it boggles the mind. And, in the process, it feels like by the time I’m up to the 100 Gold Bricks needed I will have amassed hundreds of “discoveries” consisting of vehicles, characters, animals, insects, weapons, objects, and even whole “brick builds” (one-click mass-builds of large objects that assemble themselves before your eyes, instantly), and I will have learned quite a bit about the Lego world and what I am capable of as a “Master Builder”. I can see there’s also a lot of artistic skill needed as well, so for me things are going to take a lot longer to get right if I’m going to create any Lego Worlds of my very own. I’m sure going to want to, after spending this much time working through the entire game.

I’ll be sure to come back and complete this review or write a completely new one after I have completed the 100-Gold-Brick goal and am able to create entirely new worlds in the game. At that point I’m sure I’ll know even more about it and have much more to say. Now I’m going to head back into this Atlantis-looking underwater world I just found… I sure wish I could hold my breath for longer though… maybe I’ll find a or earn some scuba gear soon.

The Finish Line – Update added 3/24/2017

I made it. Last night, after sitting at 98 Gold Bricks for a day, I jumped in and made the push to 100 and made it. I saved the last 7 minutes of my gameplay if you’d like to watch it: https://youtu.be/NFaPjYGQ39c. As a subtext to the video: I had a trapped, frightened gingerbread person stuck on a rooftop. He/She had a gold brick, and if I could save them I would get my 100th brick. I had previously tamed several pigs, so they were following me around at this time. After some playing around with the landscape tool I managed to get the character to drop to the ground. As the gingerbread character pulled out its gold brick to throw it to me, he was attacked by my pigs and killed! NO BRICK FOR ME! Nazi Soup Pigs. But soon it happened again–another frightened gingerbread person in the same area… So I immediately took action, usied my scimitar, and sliced me up some tasty bacon to get that elusive last gold brick!

Obtaining 100 gold bricks gives you the rank of “Master Builder” and also unlocks the option to “Create custom worlds” in the game. So I played around with that option for the rest of the evening (and this morning before work) and I must say, the options are nice. I was a little disappointed at first when I couldn’t find an option to just start with a completely “clean slate” – just a blank, empty world, flat, with nothing in it – but I soon found that this was probably not an oversight, it was most likely done on purpose. You can, as they say, “create the Lego world of your dreams”, and if you desire a blank, flat world, well… go for it! It’s doable. Just do it.

Technically, you can’t actually “Create a new world”, as the voiceover announcer describes it at the end of obtaining 100 gold bricks (as you hear him say in my saved video). That’s deceiving, and I think it was actually a mistake. the game itself shows the option as “Create a custom world”. This is a bit more accurate, because you can only choose the individual Biomes, Animals, Characters, Vehicles and the world size you would like, then click the “create” button, and what it does is give you a world seed of that size, with those options set. It’s still a pre-defined world, with a seed you can share with any other Lego Worlds player. Your version of it might be just initially populated a little differently than anyone else’s, based on your preferences.

But this was a very interesting design choice for the game, as you’ll see. I set out, then, so create what I just mentioned above: A flat world, like a clean slate to start with–no animals, objects, or anything–sort of a complete beginning–so I know exactly what’s in that world, and everything in it I know came from me. The various tools available in the game are very fun to learn and use, so it’s not a problem at all. I chose the smallest world size, and just one “open prairie” biome, so the world would be as easy to flatten as possible, with the least number of objects to have to destroy and clean up. I used the “flatten” landscaping tool to level everything down (or up) to the same level, making it all flat. I guess I should say “am using”, as I’m still actively working on this world as I write this. My initial world came with many vehicles, animals and characters spread all over it, including a quest area or two, so I have plenty of work to do. As I level the landscape, animals on it will shift up or down to meet the ground and keep travelling on it, and I’ll select them and “remove” them to pop them out of existence. Sometimes I’ll run into a character or animal I haven’t discovered yet, requiring me to complete a quest first, before I can work with that particular animal or character. This is a fun side-objective, and it also provides you with more characters, objects and animals to use in the game. It even makes the dullness of simply flattening everything on the entire map much less so.

So create the Lego world of your dreams is fun, and there’s plenty to do along the way, so get busy. There are even plenty more gold bricks I can obtain as well as secret “Legendary” puzzle pieces which can be assembled to reveal even larger “Legendary Gold Bricks”, as well as many other things. It also seems like I will never have every single object, animal, character or vehicle in the game, so opening chests and completing quests can always earn me something new and unexpected along the way–especially with the possibility of downloadable content and add-ons that are sure to come later on. So I’m heading back in now, gotta keep flattening. Haylie wants an empty landscape to build her dream world on the next time she visits. This concludes my review.  I really like this game.

Oooh…shiny!

By | Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at 7:59 pm

Wow, really enjoying the new phones and services so far on Verizon!  Who knew we’d ever be able to get voicemails in TEXT format and even receive faxes on our regular cell phone numbers!?!  I feel like I’ve been missing out.  Not that I use faxing a lot, but we use it at work, and I sometimes need it for personal business, so maybe it’ll come in handy.  Sure would have come in handy a few years back when I had my small business.  It’s interesting how it works:  When someone sends a fax to your cell phone number (I didn’t believe this would even work until I tried it myself) you get a voicemail that tells you there’s a fax for you.  The voicemail system gives you the option of immediately printing the fax if you’re checking your voicemail from a fax machine, or you can enter an “alternate destination”, which can be the number of ANY fax machine.  So I entered the number the fax machine I was near and in comes the fax!  Why I, of all people, am surprised by this, I don’t know.  I guess I just never conceived of a solution like this.  Could be pretty handy.  Now if it could just take that one extra step of converting that fax to a PDF and actually placing it ON my phone, now THAT would blow my mind.

Verizon also just started their “Unlimited” plan at the same time I was in the middle of switching to them.  I looked at the details though–particularly how they throttle down your speed after you hit so many Gigs of usage, and also the price bump of $40 more than their highest non-Unlimited plan (which is what we have) for our 3 lines.  I could see it being pretty popular, especially for families, but I don’t think we’ll have any problems with the 8GB+2GB+2GB+2GB we get per month (2GB bonus per line for life) without the throttling.  With that, and the unlimited full-sized photo and video storage capacity for as long as we keep using our Google Pixels, we’ll stay put for now.

Cellular Changes

By | Friday, February 17, 2017 at 7:31 pm

We recently made some major cellular changes–both with our smartphones and with our cellular provider.  Over the past few years we’ve been paying over $300/month for our 3 phones, which pretty much comes to about $100 per phone.  This is with US Cellular (herein referred to as USC).  We’ve been with them since I can remember–well over 10 years for sure.  I’ve had them since before my dad passed away in 2008, and I can remember having them as early as 2005 (formerly known as Cingular) when my dad got a big “bag phone” for his van.  I believe he went with Cingular because my cousin worked for them and hooked him up with service and a plan.

So, figuring $300+ per month might be a bit much, in January I started looking at options.  This was our situation: We had 3 phones on a family plan sharing 12GB of data per month.  Two of the phones were paid for, the third is fairly new, so we were still making payments on our bill for that one.  So I can understand our bill being slightly higher than normal with an added payment for one phone.  Our issues on this plan: We have struggled several months previously with trying to stay under 12GB of data, but that was basically because Kevin didn’t fully understand what does and doesn’t use cellular data, and how to avoid using it all.  After a few months of close calls and one month of overage we got that under control and he’s been good ever since.  Since then we all started using “3G Watchdog Pro” on all of our phones to set clear limits and monitor our usage closely.  We also have a problem with USC when I’m in Illinois.  And that’s often, for me–I work there.  And I walk there, every weekday, during lunch, and like to play Ingress as I walk.  This only uses a small amount of data, but it’s pretty critical when you’re limited to only 100MB of roaming data per month before overage charges start.  I think this very low limit might have changed at some point in the past year or two though, now that I look into it more, but roughly a couple years ago I hit that roaming limit at least twice.  I was billed for it the first time, called support and explained my situation, and they reversed the charges.  The second time I had to pay the extra changes.  USC’s coverage is horrible in Illinois, even when roaming.  Those commercials that boldly shout that they have coverage “Out here…In the middle of anywhere!”… Total BS, and they now make me angry every time I see one.

Another issue we had was space…the final frontier…seriously though, 16GB or even 32GB today is just not enough.  Apps are aplenty, and many require room for files, whether it’s for their media, files, or other data they like to store, and you also always need space for apps to “cache” data, download music and movies, TV shows, etc., etc.  So all three of us would find ourselves flushing our cache files in Android (did I mention we’re all dedicated Android fanboys?), and trying to find and cleanup anything we can on our phones just to find enough space to install a new update or make our phones start running smoother.

So, with all those concerns I started hunting for options.  After a couple weeks of looking in my spare time, my options didn’t look promising.  With all of the carriers, a 32GB Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S7) seemed like the best choice, which is sad.  Nevermind the Samsung bloatware, the 32GB just isn’t enough.  Sure, you can add a 256GB SD card, and some people even say you can install apps to the SD card (by jumping through some hoops).  Others, however, say that Samsung blocks the ability to install apps to the SD card on the S7 for some reason.  Either way it sounded like a PITA, so kept looking.  I found that there’s an Apple phone with enough memory, but that’s not an option for me.  At all.  Then last week I found that Verizon and Google offer a 128GB Google Pixel phone, which is running Nougat (Android 7–the latest version of Android), so I started looking at carriers and plans.  I finally settled on Verizon and a plan, then ran the numbers–An 8GB/month shared plan which adds 2GB per phone on the plan, so that would be 14GB per month, for $70 for the plan and $20 per month per phone.  That’s a total of $130 per month for 3 new phones, not including the cost of the phones themselves.  Nice!  So then I looked at possibly financing the 3 phones on my bill as well, which came out to about $32 per phone per month.  Added together with the monthly phone bill the total monthly payment comes to around $226… still at least $75 less that what we were current paying!  Add in all the miscellaneous fees and taxes each month as well as full insurance coverage for each phone, and we end up at around $250-$260 per month.  That sounded awesome, so after discussing it with The Warden, we decided it was a go.  Even at $260 per month, it’s still over $40 cheaper than USC, and we’re paying for three phones.  After paying them off–hopefully sooner than the 2 years–our monthly bill will even drop about $96 per month!

An awesome salesman at Verizon named “Jeff” helped me every step of the way with getting this done.  He even provided his direct cell phone #, which I used several times when we had a few snags and questions, and he made it quite an easy and stress-free experience.  All three of us are now on 128GB Google Pixels now, and enjoying them very much.

The first evening, as I started setting up the new phones, I struggled a bit with the new Pixel Launcher, then decided it wasn’t worth it, and went once again, with good old Nova Prime, which has been our launcher of choice for years, and has spanned just about every phone we’ve had.  With that in place, and knowing the interface so well, things progressed much faster from then on.  The Pixel comes with a transfer cable so you can connect it directly to your old phone during the setup process, then it transfers everything–your apps, contacts, and all data–from your old phone and onto the new one!  My 64GB Galaxy S6 was almost full, and it took the most time to transfer…9 minutes!  I was expecting hours!  Granted, some apps still downloaded from the app store, for some reason, but I was still quite impressed.  Sandy and Kevin’s phones were much easier to do, since they use far fewer apps than I do.

The porting of our existing numbers to the new phones was also quite easy, once I got through a snag with Verizon’s website.  As it turns out, you have to have an account already setup on Verizon’s website in order to work with Verizon support.  I guess this is validation that you’re a legitimate customer of theirs.  I hadn’t done that yet, due to issues I had earlier on in the process, which locked my Verizon account before it was even fully setup!  I apparently provided Verizon (Jeff) with a PIN for my account, which was to be used for just this purpose, and totally forgot about it.  As a result, support couldn’t verify me, and asked if I could go to a Verizon store with a valid photo ID to verify my identity, then they could proceed with the porting of our phone numbers to the new phones.  They apologized quite a bit, but I totally understood, and it was my fault I didn’t remember the PIN.  I recalled afterword, once the Verizon store gave me the PIN # I set, that I did give Jeff this PIN # during the ordering process.  At this point the store also did the porting of the three numbers for me with ease, and it was done.  You simply provide them with your account # with your old provider along with your PIN for THAT carrier, and that’s it.  They said it can take up to 4 hours to fully process, then you’ll get a text message on your phone telling you it’s almost done, and you just restart your phone to complete the process.  It took much less than that for us, under two hours, and the first phone–mine, go figure–only took minutes… the text message was there by the time I got from the Verizon store to my house.

More pluses for Verizon:  I’m noticing that Verizon’s website is many times better than US Cellular’s… It’s a lot faster, easier to navigate, and so far it already has less glitches with logins and providing detailed account information I need.  Very nice!  There’s even a handy graphical data widget included with the “My Verizon” app that shows me how much data I have left for the month… Awesome!  And that’s another big thing–APPS… The “bloatware” (a.k.a. crapware) I have always seen come with our cell phones when we first get them–the stuff that eats up a big chunk of that precious little storage space they usually have–is no more!!  There were 3 little apps from Verizon installed–the others were all Google’s suite of apps, and ALL of them are completely uninstallable!  That was a shocker.  Sure, now that we have plenty of space on our phones, NOW we get the benefit of not having any uninstallable, permanent bloatware to have to deal with… Better late than never I guess!  That, and the fact that Verizon seems to have full coverage everywhere I go so far–even in Illinois–are big pluses in my book!  I can even play Ingress or PoGo in Illinois freely now, without worrying about getting hit with overage fees!

So that’s where we’re at right now, enjoying our new phones along with the extra breathing room 128GB gives us.  Verizon also threw in an extra 6GB of “rollover” minutes for our first month too, I just found out, which is really nice, since I have had to use a bunch of extra data I normally wouldn’t use just setting things up again.  I did most of this over Wifi, just to be safe on data usage, but it’s nice to know we have some extra room to start out with anyway.  The new phones are working great, and we’ve even noticed much clearer-sounding conversations when we talk to people on the new phones.  How much of this is the new phones themselves and how much is Verizon we’re not exactly sure, but it’s much better, and that’s just a good thing.  So that’s about it for now.  When and if we have any issues, I’m sure I’ll bitch about it here, so you’ll know.  Stay tuned.

Good Christmas? I’m hip!

By | Tuesday, December 27, 2016 at 10:12 am

Since midday Thursday I had been in severe pain. It has something to do with my right hip or something in that general area. I had minor problems before this with might right leg going a little numb whenever I sat in my recliner for an extended period of time. To alleviate it, I would sit up or get up and move around, then the feeling would come back and I’d be fine again. No real pain, just a numbness–just an inconvenience seemingly just to keep me active and not being lazy for too long, I figured.

But Thursday, the day before my nice 4-day holiday weekend, I tried to walk for lunch. I made it about 1/4 mile when the pain started hitting me hard, and it was in BOTH hips this time. I went back to work the rest of the afternoon, and it started getting worse and worse, and spreading. By the time I got home from work, I ached all over. It was like I was getting the flu, except the pain in my hips was far greater than the other aching I had all over. I tried to lay down for awhile, but it was impossible to get comfortable, as each hip felt worse when I laid on either side or moved in the slightest.

Kevin had a doctor’s appointment the next morning and we had planned to go see Rogue One after that, but I wasn’t so sure at that point whether any of that was going to happen, the way I was feeling. I assured him that night, when he got home from work, that I’d try my best. We were both really looking forward to seeing the movie, the doctor not so much.

I took some Tylenol that night and actually managed to get a decent amount of sleep, though it was a bit rough. By morning I felt a little better. Still a lot of pain, but most of the aching was gone, then left hip felt fine again, but the right now still throbbed and was painful to stand on and just about the same to recline in my chair at home. I was kind of stuck with not being able to get comfortable at all. Very frustrating. It was a very rough time for several hours, but eventually it subsided after a couple more Tylenols and I was able to get some sleep.

The next morning was better, thank goodness, and I was shocked to be able to walking pretty good with only a little pain in the right hip & leg. The flu symptoms seemed to have almost completely disappeared. I woke up sweaty, so if it was a touch of the flu, maybe I was able to sweat it out overnight. So I figured at this point we were still on for the movie and Kevin’s doctor appointment. These went fine, and I was even a little surprised I was able to sit through the entire movie, stay awake, and enjoy myself! Being a huge Star Wars fan, I thought the movie was great!

During Kevin’s doctor appointment (we have the same doctor) the doctor asked how I was doing, so I explained my symptoms. I said I had pain and aching in my leg, but hadn’t mentioned which one. He asked “Is it your RIGHT leg?” and I said yes. How he knew which leg, I have no idea, but I should have asked. He said to let him know when I’d like to come in for an appointment myself, and he’ll probably have to schedule an MRI to see what’s going on.

The following day was Christmas Eve, and we spent most of the afternoon and evening at Matt & Anna’s. We had a good time and great food, and everything was very nice. The next day, Christmas, we spent at home, just Kevin, Sandy and I, opening presents and relaxing, then had a nice Christmas dinner that Sandy spent most of the day preparing. All in all, everything turned out very nice.

Sometime on Monday, December 26th, as I sat in my recliner with the pain and numbness coming and going a bit, I realized something. My WALLET was in my back right pocket–as it always has been since I was a teenager–and this hurt along with the rest of my right thigh and leg. Suddenly that light buld went on over my head and I hit the Interwebs in a flash. Sure enough, it’s a thing. Sciatica. Look it up for yourself. Hip Pocket Syndrome.  Why didn’t my doctor mention that possibility? I don’t know.

So I’ve removed my wallet from my back pocket, and since carrying it in the front pocket doesn’t help much either, according to the articles, I’ll stick to other options from now on. I’m so used to making sure it’s there by feeling for it though, it’s going to take some time to adjust and not panic when I realize it’s not there any more. I’ll get used to it. Now I need to focus more on exercising that leg and stretching more to try to reverse the damage. Hopefully it’s not permanent. If all goes well, and the recurrences of very bad pain and almost inability to walk at all go away, I’ll know for sure that the wallet was definitely the issue, no doubt.  I know I shouldn’t self-diagnose, but if that was the issue and it gets better now, it’ll sure be a lot cheaper than an MRI and several more doctor visits–my copays are rediculous.