Surgery Update:  I have been recovering from double level back fusion surgeries which I had done at UCSD Medical Center under the VA Choice Program. The surgeries were much rougher than I imagined they would be. The recovery, 65 days now, has been difficult. I am told by the doctors it will take four or five months to fully recover. It has been a slow two months where it seems like I have barely improved.

Feeding The Birds….and Mrs. Shonegarger:  I feed the birds outside my back deck every morning. They are mostly black crows, but occassionally I get smaller birds like wrens and sparrows. These little birds wait until the crows have taken their fill and flown away, after which they swoop in for the meager scraps that were left behind.

Our two cats, Yogi and Boo Boo, love sitting on the upper back deck watching the large crows feeding on the hillside 20 feet below. The crows caww loudly as they swoop in and take a bread or cracker morsel that I throw to them. I find this time very peaceful as I sit drinking my morning coffee and watching my cats react to these hungry birds.

I grew up on Rollins Road in Toledo, Ohio. Rollins Road was a wonderful place to be a kid. My best friend Larry had four brothers and sisters. His dad was a mailman and his mom, like most moms back then, was a home maker. She also was feeder of birds. I remember seeing her save toast and bread and in the mornings throw it off her back porch to the birds. I never gave it thought back then as a kid but as I daily throw morsels of bread to the birds in my neighborhood I often think of Goldie Shonebarger.  I can see her throwing bread and toast, taking the time to take care of God’s birds.

Oxycodone Drugs – Evil Disguised As Good: My back fusion surgery was actually two surgeries five days apart. The first sugery they went in from the front which involved a vascular surgeon as well as the spine surgeon. Then, five days later I was in the operating room again. This time they went in from the back and installed rods and a cage. In the process they nicked my spinal column causing a leak of fluid which led to the doctors needing to repair it before completing the surgery. I was in the operating room for seveal hours.

Since the surgeries I have been taking Oxycodone for pain. I started out with 5mgs every four hours. I took this amount for over a month before realizing I needed to get off it. The longer you use this drug the more you need it. I would get sick with body pain, nausea, and weakness after three hours. As time went on and my body got used to it I would start getting sick after two hours. I was hooked in a week and had I not made up my mind to get off it I would be in a bad place right now.

Thankfully I have weaned myself down to just five 5mg pills every 24 hours. My goal is to be off it completely by the end of November. Even with these low doses and spread out times my body screams for this drug. I am sick as a dog at times as I attempt to hold off from taking the pill sooner than the six hour interval. So on top of trying to deal with the recovery I have had to deal with this drug grabbing me by my soul. I do get almost immediate relief when I take the drug but it is short lived. The sad thing is the doctors give you no insight into how to manage this medicine. Had I not been aware and determined to beat it I would probably be another statistic by now.