Saturday, January 31, 2015

Happy Birthday Annie!


































15 years old today!


Friday, January 30, 2015

I want to run


My weight is down.  My unmedicated blood pressure is back to normal.  My pulse is back to normal.  I want to do pushups.  It’s hard to walk up and down stairs; I want to know how many of them I can run.


But I’m not.  I’m being very careful.  I’m wearing the neck brace 24/7.  I’m only walking a couple miles a day (and that very carefully).  I’m not doing (almost) anything to stress my neck.  I’m only 10 days into recovery.


But damn I feel good.



Thursday, January 29, 2015

My favorite little bird


The Northern Beardless-tyrannulet.


He’s not very big.


But he’s got attitude.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The weight vacation is over.


I gained half a pound this morning.  I was happy with my weight when all this started so I don’t mind if I gain it back.  It was fun to weigh in the 150s for a few days though.  No telling how many years it has been since I’ve been there.


I know it has been 50 years since I was 120 pounds juggling rocks!





Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I may have discovered a new diet plan


It’s really easy.  Go get surgery on your neck, come home, eat and drink normally, watch the pounds fall off.  I haven’t changed my routine from pre-surgery, I eat and drink the same amounts, but for some reason I’ve lost a pound a day.  One more day at this pace and I would be a total 10 pounds lighter.  I think the pace has slowed though.  I only lost half a pound yesterday.


It would be strange to have to over-eat on purpose to maintain my weight.  I suspect I won’t have to; when the tide turns I’ll be gaining a pound a day whether I’m eating or not, until I get back to my “normal” weight.


Monday, January 26, 2015

I should be clear


When I say I’m going back to work, it’s not that I put on a suit and go to the office, or go out to work directly with a client.  I don’t do that anymore.


Now I mostly work on client promotion and proposals.  I do some other administrative stuff too, but I no longer go out and annoy clients directly; I stay right here in my home office and work digitally to annoy *potential* clients.  Sometimes my home office is in our house here in Edinburg in way South Texas.  Sometimes it’s in the motorhome wherever that happens to be.


Did get away and look for the gray-crowned yellowthroat a little bit.  My driver takes me out and aims me at what I’m supposed to find.  She didn’t do a very good job today.  We missed the yellowthroat.  No new birds today.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

A day of "firsts"


First off, I stayed awake all day.  That’s a first since the surgery.  I’ve dozed a lot.  I took all of last week off work to recuperate.  That was probably a good idea.


Tonight I got to take my first full shower and wash my hair.  It’s okay to get the wound wet now.  Another milestone.


Earlier, Judy drove us out to some agricultural fields in search of a small flock of wintering mountain plovers, a prairie falcon, and a ferruginous hawk.  It was not an auspicious start to the day because we whiffed on all three birds, but then we saw a juvenile golden eagle soaring.  It looked like this.  (Not my picture.)



Then we drove to another spot and got the long-tailed duck way at the back of the pond.  (It’s the black and white thing in the middle.)



(Here is what it is supposed to look like up close.)


While we were at the pond for the long-tailed duck, we heard about a marbled godwit, drove to the spot, and got that.

Year-bird for the county.


So in the last two days, we’ve gotten six county birds for the year.  This is working just fine..


Grilled chicken for dinner.


Time to go back to work tomorrow.  I can do that.  Maybe sometime during the day I can get over to Estero Llano Grande for a Gray-crowned Yellowthroat too…



Saturday, January 24, 2015

That was fun!


I can’t drive for the next six weeks (down to 5 ½ now already), but Judy has volunteered to take me anywhere I want to go.  Today we went to the Edinburg Wetlands and walked around looking at birds.  (She tells me which way to look.)  Saw 36 species; three of them new county birds for the year: black and white warbler, wilson’s warbler, and brown thrasher.  The brown thrasher is really cool to get because they’re not normally here.


It has been a little cool and windy for the last couple weeks, but today was warm and comfy with more nice weather on the way.


Here is a white-eyed vireo.


Friday, January 23, 2015

It's going to be a long (and boring) 6 weeks


…of trip reports.


“We didn’t do anything today.  I have a neck brace on.  All I can do is look straight ahead.  Stay tuned for more of the same tomorrow.”



Thursday, January 22, 2015



In Port Aransas.  At the Birding Center boardwalk.


She’s pretty big.  12 feet?


At least.



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My constant companion


… for the next six weeks; the cervical collar.



They put a flexible breathing tube all the way down into my lungs, laid my throat open, and pulled my esophagus and wind pipe off to the side to expose the front of my spine.  They cut out chunks of discs out from between each of the vertebrae 4, 5, 6, and 7, inserted spacers to line everything back up like it’s supposed to be and inserted bone grafts (partly from cadavers and partly bits from my own spinal bones they had to shave off).  (They use bits of my bone spurs to seed new growth, kind of like building a new coral reef.)  Then they screwed 2mm thick metal plates (with countersunk screws) across the fused vertebrae to keep it all in place.


For the medically minded, here is a link to illustrations.


Under Spine Conditions, I’m the Stenosis: Cervical.


Under Spine Procedures, I’m the Anterior Cervical Discectomy, Fusion - Instrumented.



So how amazing is this?  I go in for surgery Tuesday morning.  They open me up and work on me for 4 hours to rebuild my neck.  They close me back up, keep me for one night, and I’m home Wednesday afternoon.  I’m on the same pain medication I was on before I went in: Tylenol 4 times a day; and I’m more comfortable right now than I was before the surgery!  (I feel kind of cheated.  I thought I was going to get big narcotics but it turned out I didn’t need them.)  I was walking laps around the hospital floor this morning and realized I was carrying my coffee cup in my right hand.  I haven’t been able to lift a coffee cup with my right hand in months!  It will take up to a year to regenerate the nerves to my extremities that have been squeezed for so long, but there is a remarkable level of immediate improvement as well.  It’s an amazing and wonderful time we live in!



Stopped at the Starr County Rest Stop on the way home.


Got a Pine Warbler.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Hi All,


This is Judy.


The surgery went fine.  Steve is resting comfortably.  We’ll spend the night in the hospital and see what tomorrow brings.


The day started with a wake-up call at the hotel at 4:45 AM.  Hospital at 5:30, and off to the operating suite at 7:30.  The surgery lasted almost 4 hours.


As always his sense of humor has remained intact.  Although, since he has been a bit high today from the drugs, some of the hospital staff felt they needed to correct his observations. I can’t help but smile.


We appreciate all of the good thoughts that came our way.









Monday, January 19, 2015

Tomorrow is the big day


They’re going to fix my degenerative neck.  I am so ready.


We’re going to start nice and early; 5:30am.  My part is easy.  We go to the hospital.  I go to sleep.  I wake up.  My throat hurts.  I should be snoozing in my room by noon.  They’ll keep me at least one night.  Judy will be right there.  She has promised to be nice to me; make sure they get me lots of drugs.  In fact she has promised to be nice to me for the entire time I’m in the neck brace.  That’s like my birthday every day for six weeks!  I wonder how many times a year I could get this done…



Sunday, January 18, 2015

It's not often we get to see an American Bittern

Usually they’re standing invisible in the reeds.


But this time we got a great look.


We don’t know what he was doing.


But he was looking real good doing it!