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 was a part of me. Literally. In November of 2016 I started a home-based 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, right up to writing this page description on Sunday, August 27, 2017. I learned in May 2017 that I had two bulging discs and two herniated discs, spinal cord compression, and arthritis 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 Degenerative Disc Disease which for some reason up to that point all of the spine specialists and orthopedic surgeons had avoided saying to me. While it is debateable whether or not I should have just picked up on that diagnosis, the point of the matter is that 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 and chronic pain but these things do not define me. I would like to think that my grit, tenacity, and problem-solving abilities better define me. I’ll allow you to judge for yourself.