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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A howling good time

My driving powers were called into action again today. K needed to go to the vet for a burgeoning eye infection. So, I hopped in the car and took her. It felt nice to be capable of such a simple act.

Because we had an early appointment, K and I took a very short hike early this morning into our meadow, setting up a wildlife camera at "bobcat rock". It looks like the coyotes might be trying to steal this scent post from the cats, based on a scat war, with each covering the other's scent with their own scat. The videos should be interesting!

While I set up the camera, a novel bird song rang like music to my ears. I know all the winter bird songs, and this melody was belted out by a visiting bird, perhaps an early migrator. Intriguingly, I have an almost identical photograph from last fall. Both times, the bird perched too high for a close-up so I couldn't identify the species. But, I'll take it as my first sign of spring!
After our brief walk, my mood plummeted as I drove K to the vet. I started having intense nerve pain down my leg yesterday evening, after I'd driven for the first time in a month. It's not a new pain but one that darkened almost every waking hour before my neck surgery. At that time, a low back MRI showed a huge disc herniation adjacent to the lumbar spine section that was fused a few years ago. That lumbar herniation could easily have caused the leg pain. But, docs and PTs mentioned that the neck surgery might also help my leg pain because my neck discs and bone spurs were squashing spinal cord badly enough to carry pain all the way to my toes. I fervently hoped that they were right.

After my neck surgery, I thought that my dream had been granted. The leg pain was so much better - it didn't vanish - but it shrunk to a livable level. Well, based on the leg pain I've had for the past two days, I'm beginning to think that living a cloistered life and never driving was the solution to my leg pain, not the neck surgery. Only time will tell. However, my brain is vibrating with echos of the words of my docs and PTs who encouraged me to get a low back fusion 6 weeks after my neck fusion. All that I can say is, "Please, let me have a spring and summer break from surgery!".

So, with trepidation due to the pain, K and I set out on another novel hike from a trailhead on our route home from the vet. Regardless of my leg pain, my rehabilitation plan for neck fusion requires a lot of walking/hiking. I chose a trail that climbs up a gulch through stunning rock formations that jut into the sky like monuments.
When viewed from a distance, like the photo above, it looks like smooth hiking. However, close-up, it actually is a labyrinth of downed trees and truck-sized boulders, especially for a curious hiker like me who cannot restrain herself from 'exploring' off-trail.
K investigated every nook and cranny as I hiked slowly through the rough terrain.
Due to her intense body language, I started following K to see what she sniffed. I soon concluded she was examining mountain lion signs that littered the landscape. They weren't super obvious signs - no fresh tracks or scat - but many scrapings so large that only a mountain lion could have dug them. Below, she sniffed a recently created pile of pine needle duff that smelled of cat urine. Even I could smell it!
Here's another one.
Behind that mountain lion scent post, the boulder face had a gaping hole, leading into a cavern. Neither of us cared to explore the cavern.
Soon after leaving the cavern safely behind, we wound around a boulder and emerged onto an exposed slope. I don't like high exposed spots, and my heart rate skyrocketed. I snapped a photo of K and then leashed her. She's so sure-footed and cautious that she'd probably be fine without the leash. But, I couldn't handle it.
A harder look at the horizon, while staying away from the cliff edge, showed a local ski area but all the higher mountains hidden by clouds.
As I surveyed the surrounding land, I realized that we stood almost on the tip-top of a pinnacle with views in nearly all directions. The smaller hills to the east ruffle the landscape behind K in the photo below.
With just a little more physical effort, trudging straight up a forested trail, we spotted a favorite mountain from a different perspective than ever before.
And, behind aspens with swelling buds that promised spring was almost here (ha!), I spotted the ski area again, looking like it sat lower than us.
It's amazing how 'exploring' nature makes me forget my worries. And, it's wonderful to be hiking in a wider range of terrain again. However, I think that I'll curb my driving for a few days to see if it helps my leg pain.

Some readers have asked for an update on R's barbed wire injury. I think that he's healing fine, and he doesn't seem to mind his cone-head. In fact, the acoustic properties of the cone have encouraged a new talent - howling. Yesterday, he turned his nose skyward and launched into full-blown howling, like a wolf or a Sibe. In fact, I'm starting to wonder about whether the Sibes in our blogging life are having too much influence on him.

He wasn't howling when I briefly 'lost' him inside the house this afternoon. I couldn't find him anywhere, and he ignored my calls. Then, I noticed the 'surgery recovery chair' twisted to a strange angle.
I sneaked up behind it and spun it around. Voila! Note the smug look on the boy's face!
R is medicine for my soul. He makes me laugh daily! But, giggling while reprimanding him doesn't make me very convincing!


  1. Khyra says you 'khan't blame it on her fur she rarely rarely howls'

    Thanks for the updates on K, R, and 'U'!

    I agree - try and curtail it just a bit with the driving - see if THAT helps!

    Once again, thanks for the GREAT pics!

  2. BOL on R! I knew it!
    As for K: update asap please
    As for you: yup yup, sometimes fusion in one part of the spine can require more fusion. Yikes. I sure hope you can take care of all your problems through exercise. I sure wish that for you

  3. You seem to be able to have plenty of adventures without driving, so hopefully laying off for a couple of days will help. Or, at least keeping it to a short minimum. I've noticed that for some reason, sitting in the car really aggravates sciatica for me. I suspect it's the angle of the seat, but whatever it is, it does get very uncomfortable.

    You know, every dog that we've had seems to be an exception to one rule or another. Perhaps R is your exception to the "no dogs on the furniture" rule. He's so cute, I don't know if I could scold him! I'd be more tempted to hug the big lug. I guess I'm no help!

    I hope K's eye is alright!

  4. Geez - your vet is going to have to name a wing of the clinic after you! I hope that K and R are both healing up - not to mention you!

  5. How funny about R's howling and his sneaking into your special chair. I bet that's enough to make you feel a little bit better on a not-so-hot day! I'm glad to hear that he's doing better - I was thinking about him last night before I went to sleep, thinking that I forgot to ask about him when I commented your blog.

  6. That is too funny, R. That picture of him in the recovery chair says too much! What a face.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your leg pain. I hope rest from driving and a good dose of forest romping helps. And healing wishes for K's eye as well.

  7. K's the little lion scat-pointer, eh!? I feel so sorry for R in that tuba! Hope he's doing ok! I also hope your leg pain goes away.

    Could that bird be a loggerhead shrike? Here's a site that has sounds and pictures. Hard to tell what the whole head looks like from your picture but the habitat matches and so does the black eye stripe...?

  8. I think I'd like to hear K and R singing a duet. You know, like the Herd does, one dog starts it and the others chime in.

    Take good care of yourself in those rocky, tumbledy places, I can't think that they are so good for your legs.

    Jo and Stella

  9. Sure, Stella is trying to prove that there is some link between The Herd and R's behavior. Though we totally salute that napping space and the howling in the cone. We heard you, R!!!

  10. Oh KB! You must be so worried about your health! much more!? Hang in there, dear friend!
    Your photos of your hikes are wonderful, as usual and R does look funny (albeit sorry for himself, poor pup).
    Here's wishing you all a good, pain-free day.
    WIth love

  11. What is it about 2010 and trips to the vet ?

  12. This Ozarks farm chick is thinkin' your hiking with all that leg pain? Your pictures are just amazing and that K is a beauty! The pic of the bird is a little unclear but the bird looks a lot like a mockin' bird.

    Ya'll have a wonderfully blessed day from the hills and hollers of the Missouri Ponderosa!

  13. As always - stunning photos and, I must say again, you live in what I would consider to be paradise. I don't think I'd be biking but I know I'd be hiking with Scout and Feyja☺

    Your cone-head looks adorable! Our dogs sure know how to make us laugh, don't they?

    You pain, oh, how I know your pain. I have cervical and lumbar injuries; however, every time a doctor mentions surgery I run like h*ll the other way. My mom had back surgery years ago and all it did was make her pain worse. If it's good it's good and if it's bad - well, it can haunt you for the rest of your life.

    About three weeks ago - now imagine this - I had just put up the garage door and was entering the garage when the door came down on my back! I can't tell you what went through my head - life, death, pain, stars, screams☺ I can't take strong pain killers so muscle relaxers and steroids helped me mend. For the first couple of days I hung (literally) onto the walls to walk and made horrible noises, too☺ The dogs were worried and the cats would run away☺

    Feeling better now but I sure know what you mean about leg pain. It's miserable - MISERABLE! Mine will go all the way to my toes sometimes and radiate up my back leaving the 'trail' totally numb☺

    Life, ain't it fun☺

  14. Somehow I missed the barbed wire injury in all the hubbub. I'm sorry to hear about that, the eye infection, and the returning leg pain.

    That R is just too funny, hiding in the chair.

  15. Sorry to hear about the leg pain. It's hard to have something feel better than have it get worse again and you don't know whether the "better" is coming back. Your R is a natural laugh producer, kind of like Java. How nice to have both a comedian and a soulful, body guarding friend.

  16. Bad Doggie! hahahaha! BAAAAD--teee---hheee-hheee--BAAAA-teeeheehee--AAAD -DOGGIE!

    I want R. send him to me! ;) (gawd, did i just say that? i need another dog like i need a hole in the head...)

    man, another surgery? i'm amazed they propose it. i can't imagine even ONE surgery on my spine. yikes. you are very brave.

    Now R: go make your momma giggle!
    wild dingo


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