Zack’s 31st Birthday Surgery Weekend

10 Nov


I wasn’t looking forward to my birthday this year. After finding out I had arthritis in my foot, I wanted to schedule the surgery to fuse the joints as soon as possible. I wanted it to be after Halloween, since I was excited for our costumes, but I figured a long weekend over my birthday weekend would be a good time to do it. That way, I’d get to have a long relaxing weekend at home and would hopefully be healed in time to walk around LA, Vegas and San Diego for our January trip. Still, that meant no going out or drinking or Fun Fun Fun fest* on my birthday, as has been the plan every year since I moved to Austin. I told Caitlin I really didn’t want to do anything, but she insisted on doing something special** and she ended up making it one of my favorite birthdays yet.

*This was the hardest pill to swallow.

**I wanted to be the Leslie Knope to Zack’s Ron Swanson this year and not do some big huge party that he didn’t want, but rather allow him to choose his own adventure.


Before the long weekend got started, Caitlin gave me a Scooby Doo card letting me know she wasn’t going to Fun Fun Fun Fest and would be taking care of me all weekend, which meant a lot to me*. As a last hurrah before my surgery, Caitlin and I went to see the latest Tom Hanks movie “Bridge of Spies” in the theater Tuesday night. We’ll write about it later of course, but we both enjoyed it very much, got a solid amount of laughs and didn’t even have an eye cover or cry**. It’s hard to go wrong with Spielberg and Hanks. It was just what I needed as a distraction so I wasn’t focused on the surgery. As much as we laughed at the movie, the best laugh was when Caitlin went to open a ketchup packet and had an … interesting … way of doing so. She peeled it partially from both sides and then decided to squeeze the life out of it***. The ketchup flew at me like a bomb, splattering all over my cheek, behind my ear and all over my shirt. We stifled laughter on and off for the next five minutes****.

*I had to say no to live Shamir, Anamanaguchi and Gogol Bordello, and had been willing to say no to my beloved Conor Oberst and his Desaparecidos but Conor had to cancel due to anxiety and I was very selfishly pleased because it made it a little easier. Still, I just can’t have as much fun festing without my best friend.

**For a Cold War movie this surprised me the most.

***To clarify, I didn’t just immediately start squeezing the crap out of it — I tested it at first by squeezing lightly, and it seemed to be working, so then I really let it rip and…well…

****We agreed it was better that Zack was the victim because had it been me covered in ketchup I might not have found it so funny. Thankfully Zack is a good sport. It was hilarious.


There was no video of me high on pain killers from this surgery. They made Caitlin wait an hour after the surgery since I was still in a lot of pain afterwards. They told me they’d bring my wife back for me when my pain was at a 4/10. When it was at around 5.5 I said it was 4 so I could see her earlier*. They were playfully annoyed with me for lying and then admitting my lie. The pain was pretty strong on and off the first day and was really bad the first night, but most importantly the surgery went well.

*This is super, super sweet. They came to get me and told me my husband had been “screaming for [me]” so I rushed back to see him.


Thursday was pretty low key. I was pretty nauseous from the pain meds I took overnight without eating. Caitlin had to have a big catch-up day at work, so Madison swung by with beef jerky to settle my stomach and to take Scooby for a walk.


I spent most of my time with my leg propped up in the rock garden in front of my new Apple TV.

IMG_0342The birthday celebration kicked off the way it always does, with a trip to Kerbey Lane for a sundae on Friday, just before midnight. We sat outside and kept warm with hot apple cider, the sundae and heat lamps before heading home to get some sleep.

giftsAs soon as I woke up, Caitlin sprung gifts on me*. A couple of wonderful smelling Lush bath bombs, Trivial Pursuit classic rock, another fun board game we haven’t tried yet and, best of all, the Choose Your Own Adventure book!

*I also decorated kind of — just with a “Happy Birthday” banner and triangle banners. Not my best work, but I wanted it to be at least a LITTLE festive. Plus I played the Beatles’ White Album set to…well I’ll let you guess which song.

IMG_0366The book was so sweet and funny and thoughtful and gave me all kinds of options I could do, even while on crutches. 

IMG_0364I loved all the little details, like Footbumps instead of Goosebumps, Dr. Feelgüd, and issue #31: The Birthday Boy*. We did some of the fun things Caitlin planned, but I wanted my adventure to be on the tame side, so that’s what we did. For birthday brunch, I wanted to venture as far as … across the street to Counter Cafe.

*As soon as I knew I wanted Zack to make all the choices for his birthday weekend, I thought of the Goosebumps Choose Your Own Ending books, and so I looked up images online and copied them to make it as authentic as possible.


“Hey that looks like Bennett standing in the parking spot I want.” “Pretty sure that’s him.” As this picture proves, it was in fact Bennett, the only friend I knew in Austin when I moved here. We planned on just having brunch for the two of us, but in addition to Bennett, Rob and Emily had also chosen this brunch spot and there was a 45 minute wait, so we all stood/sat around in the rain drinking coffees from next door. Once we got seated at the bar, I had a delicious crab cake benedict, while Caitlin had the non-traditional breakfast combo of eggs, fruit and fries*. What a lovely accidental brunch with friends.



After brunch, we watched the highly anticipated Aziz Ansari show Master of None on Netflix. With Aziz writing a semi-autobiographical honest show about his life, with my favorite comedy writer Harris Wittels (RIP) adding jokes, our expectations were sky high. It managed to exceed them and was the best new show we’ve seen since Transparent. We watched all ten episodes over the next 24 hours and can’t wait for more. Seriously, this show was PERFECT. My favorite show in recent memory.


After a relaxing Netflix afternoon, we checked out the trendy new restaurant in our neighborhood, “Launderette.” We started with the burrata and then moved on to some veggies. I could tell it wasn’t Caitlin’s favorite meal, but I enjoyed everything we had. Especially the hanger steak. I was thinking about getting chicken until Caitlin asked me what my favorite food was and I said “probably steak.” “So get steak. It’s your birthday.” Decision made. TREAT YO SELF!

IMG_0352We’d planned on heading to a free comedy show, but as dinner ran late, I made the birthday boy call to just have Katie and Madison meet us at our place. We had ice cream cake we needed help eating, I was on crutches, Katie’s got a bun in the oven and we didn’t know any of the comedians anyway. It was the right call and Scooby was very pleased with this decision. Caitlin finished up the birthday of treating me by picking up bagels and iced coffee in time for football Sunday as I relaxed at home for one last day before heading back to work. A refreshing long weekend at home with my lovely wife taking extra special care of me was just what I needed for my 31st and Caitlin did the perfect job making me feel loved. You deserve it! As we will share in another post, I encouraged Zack to plan out his 31st year by making a “32 before 32” list of goals he wants to accomplish. It’s been a year of big ups and difficult downs, and I’m just so happy that Zack enjoyed my kick-off for his 31st year. I think we’re setting ourselves up for big success over the next 12 months!


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