I know, the Patch Blog is way overdue. Sorry, I've been busier than an actor on a soap opera. Hey, I am one! Yes, I had this week off from the show, but there is always something to be done around the house and it was my birthday this week. Excuses!

Included in the enormous box of gifts my wonderful fan friends sent me were many sweet birthday wishes in the form of notebooks filled with poems, thoughts, assorted birthday remembrances. Included was a "Birthday Chronicle." I know you've seen them, looks like a one-sheet newspaper. Anyway, there is a section that mentions the days you I have been alive. Man, I never stopped to figure that out 20,440. Does that seem like a lot or a little? I turned to my wife and remarked how we don't get very many days. Another wakeup call to make the most of the ones we do get. So thanks, everyone, for the incredible birthday. I love you guys a lot. (See photos at stephennichols.net.)

Man, do I love the babies. Mary Beth Evans (my beautiful costar on Days of our Lives) and I went to South Florida a couple of weekends ago. A little town called Fort Myers. We were there to promote the opening of the Miramar Outlets Phase Five. This was Super Bowl weekend, no less, but we had plenty of people in the old autograph line and lots of fun holding lots of babies! (See photos at stephennichols.net)

We worked hard all week and had done two shows on Friday (17 scenes total), then we got on a red-eye with a stop in Atlanta. I don't know about you, but I can't sleep on airplanes, especially when the seat doesn't recline. We arrived in Fort Myers at 9 am and had an hour to "freshen up" before we started meeting and greeting. Mary Beth had no hair spray (they took it from her in Los Angeles, a big, brand-new can). This is where I have to give thanks for Mary Beth again. She is so cheerful and willing to see the bright side of life. She keeps me in good spirits without even trying. And it didn't hurt that she did, in fact, get some sleep on the plane.

So many fans of the show are glad to have us back. It was so nice to meet them and hear their stories about how long they had been watching. A lot of them said, "Since day one." Mary Beth wants to keep a tally of these "Day One Fans." If you fit the profile, let us know.

You may have seen the day James Scott and I flew through the window. It was a big to-do. That's all I'm gonna say, and there are a couple of photos for your perusal.

TVGuide.com asked me to talk a bit about playing those scenes where Patch is being brainwashed and having those seizure attacks, so I will. Just last week, Phil Calvi, one of our great prop guys who has been there 30 years or so, asked me about playing that stuff. He asked if it was strange to play something like that something that you never experienced before. Here's what I told him: I found out everything I could about electroshock treatments and realized that in the script, they had me screaming and actually speaking during it. It is impossible to make any sound when that much electricity is coursing through the body. I asked for a bite guard and Mary Cares (another amazing prop mistress) went out that first day and got two from a medical-supply shop. When they turned up the juice, I tensed as much as I could without giving myself an aneurism and took the pretend electrocution ride. Yeehawww!

When Steve started to have the headaches and hear the sound in his head - that sound was supposed to be the sound of feet clanging on the metal table while being shocked. Steve couldn't place it, but it harkened back to the torture sessions and caused him intense headaches. As for the seizures and fainting, I played it as if Steve was really back there but when he came out of it, he didn't remember much. The first real memory of torture he had was when he remembered E.J. being in the room and the words he said, "You're one of us now." Steve had remembered this under hypnosis but withheld it from Kayla.

Upcoming teasers: Three women take Steve down! A little mace, a lot of rope and a hypo! Oh, my!

The Patchman