A Side of Rice

Hopefully Humorous (and sometimes R-rated) Musings About Life


Why I’m a Total Heel

About a year and a half ago, I noticed a tweak in my heel/ankle area. I thought it was because I wasn’t watching where I was going as I tripped over a divot on the sidelines while taking photos as my son’s football game. Own your klutziness, I say.

Turns out something more sinister was going on. Something I would ignore for the next 19 months. Because as you get older, tweaks, twists, twinges (and, apparently, alliteration) take on greater meaning in terms of what we should pay attention to.

At the beginning of this year, the pain started to be a little somewhat downright regular and more noticeable. The pain was centered in my heel and achilles. I found myself gimping around like an old woman and at times I would stop walking entirely to “restart” my gait in an attempt to reduce the pain and limping.

And you thought only Justin Timberlake knew how to bring the sexy back.

It was clear that my tweak/twist/twinge was a bit more than I had bargained for. I reluctantly admitted that I was going to have to put out the co-pay to find out what the hell was going on.

On my visit to the podiatrist, I explained my symptoms, and the length of time I had been experiencing them. The podiatrist took an x-ray and while he consulted with another patient in a different exam room, his office manager brought my x-ray into the room and put it on the board.

To give you a baseline, this is what a normal x-ray of a heel should look like (ignore the toes — they look sorta jacked up, don’t they?):


Photo (c) 2016 Beginner Triathlete. All Rights Reserved

So smooth. So rounded. So NOT ANYTHING LIKE MINE. Because this is my hot mess of an x-ray that went up on the board:


Do you see it? That crescent moon jutting off the back of my heel with a sharp point? Yeah, that’s not supposed to be there:

Heel only

The doctor came back into the office and looked up at my x-ray. He said “so…yeah. Well, at least we know what’s been causing the pain and difficulty walking. The technical term is bone spurs. In terms of size…well I haven’t seen anything like this…in a very long time. And because you let it go on so long, your achilles is now chronically and severely inflamed. You must have a very high tolerance for pain.”

That’s right, bitches. I don’t do anything half-assed.

We discussed my options. There is the much more appealing non-invasive therapy: tennis shoes all the time, special inserts in my tennis shoes, a sleeping boot at night, calf stretches four times a day, and a strong anti-inflammatory medication.

Unfortunately, that won’t make bone spurs go away. It really only helps with the pain and possible damage I’ve done to my achilles.

So, then there’s the invasive and highly unappealing option of surgery to shave the bone spur off. Shave armpits, bikini line, and legs? Sure. Shave bones? Yikes!

While any surgery that would keep me off my feet and render me unable to work the concession stand at my kids’ football game is so completely appealing I almost immediately demanded that course of action, I picked the less invasion option. For now.

When I posted the photo of my x-ray to Facebook, a friend made a comment that puzzled me:

Foot on Facebook.jpg

Both? Both what? Both ends of the crescent moon?

Uh, no genius. Both bone spurs. Because while I had focused on the crescent moon on the back of my heel, I had totally ignored the fact that the doctor said “spurs”. And the spur on the bottom of my heel was the size of something that would have sunk the Titanic:

Under Heel

I head back to the podiatrist next week to see if the medicine and therapies have helped with damage to my achilles. Dealing with the bone spurs is a totally different issue and I’ll need to make a decision about surgery soon.

I know it would make me a total asshat if I decide to schedule surgery at a time that prevents me from working the concession stand.  But honestly, it would be so fucking awesome a real shame to miss out on the character-building concession stand work like making sno-cones, squirting liquid cheese on pretzels and hotdogs, and taking crumpled dollar bills from teens who have just dug the money out of their sweaty, smelly sneakers.

Oh, who am I kidding? I wouldn’t miss working the concession stand one bit.

Which makes me a total heel.

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Getting Older Is a Pain in My Ass

This year, I will hit the big 5-0. It’s not until August, but my primary care doc wants me to get prepared for it and sent me to a GI doc to begin the process of prepping for a colonoscopy.

Now all those people who say I’m full of shit will have their proof. Or not.

The process includes some initial blood tests to get a baseline of my numbers and then scheduling an anesthesia-filled day at the clinic with a scope up my butt. I have to go through a cleansing ritual prior to the procedure. I quickly skimmed the informational brochure I was handed, with my eyes zeroing in on the words enema, Dulcolax, and Miralax.

Colonoscopy instructions

It was all starting to make me feel so:

Grumpy cat

Don’t we all look forward to celebrating big milestone birthdays in our life this way? Or maybe we should fete important milestones the ways celebrities do. Right Kanye?

Amber Tweet at Kanye

Hard to believe a celebrity twitter beef was happening (yeah, right) about assholes (because there are so few celebrity assholes, right?) on the day a doctor was talking to me about mine. Again:

Grumpy cat

But the biggest pain in my ass on the day that I was preparing to hear about an even bigger — and literal — pain in my ass? Actually getting to the GI doctors office.

You see, Storm Jonas had hit our area the week before and dumped 35″ on us. My husband, 2 boys, and I had spent 3 days after the storm digging out our driveway and sidewalk, bemoaning the fact we didn’t own a snow blower. And also bemoaning the fact that every neighbor we have does own a snow blower.

We had cleared all the snow and ice. But on the way out my door to the doctor’s office that morning, there was a surprise snow/sleet squall. My trek took me across what should have been the clear driveway, but turned out to be our slippery driveway. And I proceeded to:

  • lose my footing on the fucking sleet that now covered my once clear driveway,
  • start to fall down,
  • knock the underside of my chin on the bumper of my car as I went down,
  • hit my knee hard as I landed, cutting it in two places,
  • land on my right hip/lower back — the same side I had back surgery on in 2007, and
  • bump my right elbow as I landed

I laid there, having rolled into a pile of snow in front of the car, thinking:

Grumpy cat

I arrived at the doctor’s office and the wonderful nurse who did the initial workup was kind enough to clean and bandage my wounds. I was mortified that I hadn’t shaved my legs more recently, but who the hell expects to have your knee/leg looked at when you visit the GI doc? Certainly not this klutz girl.

Leg and knee

Thank you Nurse Diana for ignoring my hairy knee and leg

After the appointment, I went home and started a regime of popping ibuprofen like they were Tic Tacs, and sat on a heating pad all afternoon and evening for my aching lower back. I sat on that damn pad so long you would think I was expecting to hatch something.

However, the only thing I appeared to hatch was a realization that getting older — and being a klutz — is a literal and figurative pain in the ass.

Getting older grumpy cat



Nick’s Big Break

October 30 started like any other weekday.  I woke with the roosters, and made the trek to the metro station so I could get to work at 8:00am.

It was going to be a long day. I was leaving for my organization’s Annual Meeting the next day, so I needed to finish packing for the trip when I got home from work, and we were going out to dinner with the kids after football practice to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary.

I really needed another 10 hours in my day to get all this shit done.

At 8:17am, I received this text from my husband:

Yep. Because I totally do things to make your work-from-home life more difficult.

Yep. Because I totally do things to make your work-from-home life more difficult.

I responded with this:

OK, so this is what I wished I could have typed.

That pretty much says ‘Happy Anniversary’, right?

Kidding. What I actually texted back was this:

Good luck finding the automotive needle in the parking complex haystack.

Good luck finding the automotive needle in the parking complex haystack.

At 3:39pm, I got this text:

Damn. My directions sucked.

Damn. My directions sucked.

I dialed my husband’s cell phone, prepared to hear a rather grousy spouse who needed a better description of where the car was parked.

Instead, this is what he said, “Uh, yeah, I’m at urgent care with Nick. He broke his leg at recess today. Gotta go – the doctor just came in with the x-rays. Click.”

Which pretty much made me feel like this:

Yep. That about sums it up.

Yep. That about sums it up.
                                                                                                   Image from website: http://beebeesvintagedress.blogspot.com/

With two active, sports-loving boys, I should have known visits to urgent care would be a staple in our lives. So far, we’ve had three visits for our oldest son Alex:

  • a broken finger, from goofing off with other kids at the Y, where a kid fell on his hand:

    So proud of the first broken bone

    So proud of the first broken bone

  • a chipped tooth (no one can remember how it happened), and
  • a severely sprained ankle during a basketball game, that kept him out of commission for 2 weeks and required him to make a very mature decision about when to play again.

And two trips for Nick:

  • a chipped tooth (which my husband described as “a small chip”) after he ran into a metal pole while goofing off with some other kids at a high school football game, and

    Small? Chip? More like hacked half off

    Small? Chip? More like hacked half off

  • a broken leg

When I got home, I learned that the broken leg happened at recess, while Nick was playing a game of kickball with his classmates. He had kicked the ball and was running to first. The ball was thrown at him. He attempted to jump over it to avoid being thrown out, but the ball hit his feet and he came down awkwardly. He told me “mom, when I hit the ground, I heard it pop!”

This is gonna hurt him, more than me. Yeah, right.  Photo: From The Reader for Leaders Blog

The face I made when Nick said the word “pop”.                                                                             Photo: From The Reader for Leaders Blog

My husband then said, “Wait a minute…you got thrown out? Your crazy ninja kickball jump was in vain?”. I could see the disappointment on my husband’s face when he realized that not only had Nick broken his leg, but (even worse) HE HAD GOTTEN OUT. I reassured my husband that the college scouts wouldn’t be holding this one transgression against Nick when it came time to dole out sports scholarships.

Diagnosis for Nick – a substantial break. A spiral fracture that required great care as he would be in a cast from his toes to his upper thigh for a minimum of four weeks. If he bumped his leg, fell, or applied any pressure at all to the leg, he could injure it further, which would mean surgery, screws, and even longer healing.

From one side of his leg to the other. We don't do anything half-assed in this family.

From one side of his bone to the other. We don’t do anything half-assed in this family.

That night, we hurried through our anniversary dinner because Nick’s pain meds were wearing off.

When a kid doesn't want his cheeseburger and fries, you know it's time to get the check.

When a kid leaves almost a full plate of cheeseburger and fries because he’s “not hungry any more because of the pain”, you know it’s time to get the check.

The next morning, I called to get a later train to Philadelphia so that I could go to the doctor with my husband and Nick for the big casting event.  The doctors took off the temporary half cast he got at urgent care:

Bring on the real deal

Bring on the real deal

And proceeded to cast him to the upper thigh in blue and gold (school colors!):

Love that kid - he smiled through the whole procedure. And never stopped talking. Just like his momma.

Love that kid – he smiled through the whole procedure. And never stopped talking. Just like his momma.

So with crutches to get him everywhere, he now strikes quite the pose:

Really mom? Another picture of me in my cast?

Really mom? Another picture of me in my cast?

His two week check up with the doctor showed that the break is healing nicely, and he may be out of the cast just before Thanksgiving. Once he’s out of the cast, he’ll transition to a walking boot for awhile.

The biggest adjustment for Nick has been no sports. He missed out on his Bowl game with his football team, which they won. And he won’t be able to play basketball this winter until he gets the all clear from the doctor.

Tough break, kid. Literally.


Eat My Klutz Dust, Bitches

As my husband will tell you, I am a total klutz. Time and time again, my actions and reactions affirm his decidedly annoying (yet accurate) assessment of my general lack of walking-while-chewing-gum skills.

Last year on Halloween I severely sprained my arm when I fell off our front steps.

Years ago, I broke my nose when at the exact same moment I was bending down to pet our dog, she jumped up at me. Technically, I only bear the brundt of half of that klutziness, right?

And then there was the time I tried to get a very large can of baked beans off the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet with a wooden spoon (in addition to raging klutziness, I also suffer from a height deficiency). I was able to push the can out quicker than expected and it fell directly onto my shin. The resulting bruise went from my knee to past my ankle (the richochet point was my ankle – bonus bruising!). The bruise was so ugly, my boss asked me to wear pants to work instead of dresses/skirts until it went away.

About two weeks ago, I accidentally kicked the couch in the kid’s playroom. The sound my toes made left no doubt that breakage had occurred. If the noise similar to twigs being snapped didn’t do it, the searing pain radiating through my poor little tootsies certainly left no doubt. And of course there was the tell-tale bruising:

I ended up taping my toes together for the next two weeks. I mean, who wants to fork out a co-pay for a visit to the doctor when all they are going to tell you is “Tape your toes together. It’s not like they make a splint for this, you moron.” OK, maybe they wouldn’t say moron, but they definitely would be thinking it.

Last week at the YMCA, I added insult (knee bruises) to injury (broken toes). When picking up the boys from camp, I lost my balance on the stairs because of my broken toes in one foot, and permanent numbness (don’t ask) in the other foot, landing squarely on my knees at the bottom of the stairs. The Y had been kind enough to install a Becky-Rice-is-a-klutz landing mat at the base of the stairs, so I avoided slamming my knees directly on the concrete. Little victories, right?

To top it all off, last night my son Alex flopped onto the couch next to me while we were watching the Olympics. In his floppiness, he failed to clear my foot, which he slammed into with his own (unbroken) toes. I know it was an accident. But then, so was the string of profanity that spewed forth from my mouth.

All you jokers who thought you were in the lead for the klutz of the year award, I have three words for you. Eat. My. Dust.


Table Saw 2; Dad 0

Last Saturday morning, I received the following text from my sister:

Call my cell asap

We were scheduled to head to my parents house to celebrate my sister’s 40th birthday with a special dinner on Saturday evening, spend the night and then have Easter dinner with extended family on Sunday. I figured they needed me to pick up something along the way to my parent’s house.

Or maybe not.

I called my sister and she blurted out “Dad just cut off his thumb with the table saw. I am in the ER with mom.”

My immediate reply was “Do you think mom is still going to have dinner tonight?” And lest you think I am a heartless thug, this isn’t my family’s first rodeo when it comes to my dad and his accidental self-injury antics…..

Long ago in a remote rural location far, far away, he inadvertently cut himself with a chainsaw while clearing the land that would become the location of our family home. I was 6 at the time and with dad when the Maryland Chainsaw [Nearly a] Massacre took place. Dad passed out from loss of blood and came to a few hours later. Luckily, I wasn’t too adventurous and didn’t wander off to the cliff (!) overlooking Breton Bay (!!), just 100 yards through the very thick woods my dad was trying to clear.

Not as long ago, in a less remote rural location [because others had discovered the joy of country living], far, far away, my dad took up blacksmithing as a hobby. One day, my mom arrived home from work to find blood everywhere in the kitchen and a note that said Lillie, had to go to the dentist in my dad’s scrawl. It seems the village smithy had been pounding on some iron, but didn’t have a very good grip on it. As he struck the iron with a hammer, that piece of very hot iron slipped from the grip of his tongs and began a trajectory that ended at his upper lip, taking out his two front teeth as he exclaimed “Oh Thit!”

And then there was Saturday. Dad was making his last cut of the day on some wood project with the table saw. He ended up taking off his thumb just under his finger nail and the tip of his index finger. My sister had texted the picture of the severed thumb to me and my two other sisters, but I won’t show it here. I’m saving it for America’s Funniest Home Amputations — I hear it’s a new reality series in development.

What I will show you is my heavily medicated father and what he described as his new Easter bunny hand puppet:

He also started answering the phone “Thumbs Up”. Yeah, those pain killers were definitely doin’ their job.

Later that evening, he sent out an e-mail to family, friends, and co-workers with the subject line: Table Saw 2; Pete 0. But he didn’t send it to his four daughters. That’s ok, we got ahold of the list and I crafted this little update that I sent to everyone:

Dad. Did you think not putting us on your e-mail blast list about your most recent misadventure would prevent your clever offspring (we learned from the best, after all) from providing a bit of perspective for all your family and friends? Look, dude, if we can get a picture of your bloody stump on facebook before the doctor can order your pain meds in the ER, we can figure out a way to add all your friends, family and co-workers to our special e-mail list — a.k.a. Dad’s at it again, and somebody’s gettin’ disinherited over it.

Since my sisters are a bunch of sissies, I will do the honors of crafting the…..

Top 10 Things We Have to Rename Because of Dad

10. Was Called: Thumb
Now Called: Humb

9. Was Called: Give me a high 5
Now Called: Give me a high 4.75

8. Was Called: Table Saw
Now Called: Nail file

7. Was Called: ER Room #4
Now Called: The Pete Himmelheber Memorial Self-Inflicted Thumb/Teeth Injury Lounge & Suture Room

6. Was Called: The neighbor’s front yard
Now Called: Front row seat to the Himmelheber circus

5. Was Called: Valium
Now Called: Lillie’s “vitamins”

4. Was Called: Retirement
Now Called: Dad’s in the ER again…..

3. Was Called: Pete
Now Called: Franken-Himmel

2. Was Called: Green Thumb
Now Called: Sorta Bloody Red Thumb

1. Was Called: Becky’s Inheritance
Now Called: Diane, Nancy & Susan’s share upped by 1/4 (coincidently, the same share as dad’s thumb has been reduced by)

-Becky “Two Thumbs Up” Himmelheber Rice


This IS My Costume

This Halloween, I was surrounded by frightful things that went bump in the night. Well, actually, it was more of a
oh….shit….uh….thump….OUCH! in the late afternoon.

You see, even though I hadn’t worn a costume, part of me ended up dressed like a mummy:

It all started innocently enough. The boys were getting dressed in their elaboratrely thought out, purchased well in advance last minute, thank-God-we found-something-that-fits get ups from Party City.

We had one very scary bad dude from the Scream movies, who informed us his plastic mask smelled “worse than the dog’s breath”:

There was Boba Fett, complete with a (why the #$%* did we buy this #$%*-ing thing) inflate it yourself and get a head rush jet pack:

And the two of them together? $47.95 worth of full-on scary:

Of course I thought this was the scariest thing I had going on that night:
Get mommy the Root Touch Up – STAT!

But all of this was before I went outside to set candles and decorations on our front porch. I turned to look back and make sure our porch lights were working. And the next thing I know, I’m flat on my back after hitting our flagstone path, square on my forearm. As I gazed up at the lovely autumnal sky, I thought to myself “I wonder if any of our neighbors caught that on tape and will be winning 10 grand for some sort of funny video contest at my very pained expense”.

The Scream villian came running out and looked down at me. Then he yelled upstairs – “Dad, mom’s lying in the grass in front of the house.” He paused to think about the ramifications of his mom being flat on her back on the front lawn and then added, “we still get to go trick or treating, right?”

If klutzy is a costume, every day is my Halloween.