Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘caretaking

Another Drama

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What is it with all the issues coming our way lately? It’s as if the universe is seeking to exercise the limits of my ability to cope with stress.

It’s getting exhausting, I tell ya.

Yesterday afternoon, while serving up pans of feed for the horses, I noticed blood on Mix’s leg.

I took pictures to send to Cyndie up at the house. While I was waiting for her to acknowledge, a little intimidation from Swings caused Mix to attempt a hasty retreat that almost failed because of the way she tried to avoid using that wounded leg. I knew this would require inspection by someone who knows much more about horses than me.

Cyndie made some calls and shared the images. Because it looked like it could be a puncture wound and the location was near a joint, it was deemed worth contacting a veterinarian.

I moved horses around and closed gates to isolate Mix from all three of the others so she wouldn’t need to do any hasty retreating. The vet finally arrived long after dark, but he quickly analyzed the wound and administered meds. I drove Cyndie down to the barn and she used crutches to come in and observe.

The vet strongly suggested we confine Mix to just the space under her half of the overhang and gave us two medications that I will need to give her with her food.

If she stops eating because I put medicines in her food, I will lose my mind.

I strung some fence tape between posts to constrain Mix to the overhang. Having her pinned in there also required me to provide her with a bucket for water.

The cause of her wound remains a mystery. I will need to look for a possible loose screw or nail that she might have come up against.

On the bright side, there aren’t many more things left that I need to fill in for Cyndie’s expertise around here. I’ve already grappled with a majority of them at this point. All this drama is helping me to appreciate how wonderful my life was a month ago before all the illnesses and accidents made their way into our routine.

On Monday we met with Cyndie’s trauma surgeon again and he decided to leave the stitches in her ankle for one more week. Otherwise, he said the foot and ankle look good. Not that I’m counting, but only seven more weeks until she can walk on it.

That will be a little drama that I am looking forward to seeing.



Written by johnwhays

November 23, 2022 at 7:00 am

Worst Combination

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I’ve been dreading this possibility for months. The worst combination of plowable amounts of snow falling before the ground is thoroughly frozen played out yesterday right before our eyes. The unfinished shoulders of our new driveway are too soft to support driving on them, let alone scraping them with a plow blade.

Since we didn’t receive a huge amount of snow by the end of the day yesterday, I’m contemplating just pushing what snow there is to the edge of the asphalt to create small snow banks over the existing shoulder. Before the banks freeze too hard, I might try flattening them enough to create a base layer over which I could drive and plow after future snowfalls.

In the beginning moments of accumulation yesterday morning, I headed outside to clean leaves off the pavement in front of the shop. It’s a job I intended to do a week ago but a certain person’s emergency and follow-up surgery have disrupted a lot of the before-snow plans we had hoped to fulfill.

Nothing like raking leaves that are already getting covered by snow. By the end of the day, the area in the picture became a parking spot for my car. I moved my car out of the garage so I could put Marie’s car under a roof. If the snow lets up today or tomorrow, it will save me from needing to scrape windows if she decides to brave the winter driving back to her place in Minnesota.

With the two of us watching over Cyndie, the metal-jointed woman has been making pretty good progress managing her pain and healing her incisions. With Marie running the kitchen, I have been freed up to take the dog outside and to keep the horses well-fed.

And now, I’m adding the role of chief snow shoveler to my other primary duties.

🎶 It’s beginning to feel a lot like… winter.



Written by johnwhays

November 15, 2022 at 7:00 am

Outwaiting Inevitable

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And there go the last 14 hours. Gone. It would have been nice to sleep through some of them. Okay, I’m exaggerating. I slept a couple hours at a time, twice. In between, I was standing out in the yard holding Delilah’s leash while she searched for grass long enough to chew and swallow.

The moon looked pretty cool through the clouds at 2 a.m. I didn’t see it at 5 a.m.

I was desperately hoping for vomit, but that never happened. At least, not yet. Hers, not mine.

For whatever reason, her symptoms are hinting that all is not right yet, but not manifesting in any obvious drastic changes. Is her throwing up inevitable? Time will tell.

I continue to keep one eye on her, one eye on Cyndie, and one eye on her mom when she needs help in the kitchen. It’s got me feeling a little crosseyed at times, but I can wait out the chaos with my sights set on the day when Cyndie’s bones have healed enough for supporting weight.

Is it inevitable that they will heal? I sure hope so.



Written by johnwhays

November 13, 2022 at 11:18 am

Like November

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like… November. Finally. The temperature stayed below freezing all day yesterday and we experienced a misty drizzle that created a shiny frozen glaze over surfaces.

The upper area of the paddocks just beyond the overhang had become a sloppy, muddy mess after the recent rains. Now it has become the classic ankle-twisting gnarled and knobbly frozen surface that makes cleaning up piles of manure an exercise in futility. It completely stymies my desire for impeccable cleanliness in the area where the horses linger longest.

This morning on our walk, Delilah and I enjoyed a little visit with the cows who seemed particularly curious about our arrival at the corner where our properties meet. I don’t know much about cows, but it got me wondering about how they view the world of wild animals that travel these acres in comparison to their confined domestic status.

It probably isn’t very different from the experience of our horses, but the horses give off an aura of awareness that the cows appear to lack.

After Delilah’s vet visit yesterday, we have her on a strict bland diet of rice and meat and are giving her some anti-nausea medication to see if her stomach can regain its control in keeping contents contained.

I am extremely grateful to have not needed to clean up vomit for more than a day. Here’s hoping for two in a row.

Cyndie’s mom came over yesterday and spent the night offering her help in kitchen patrol. Our kitchen is not optimized for her methods so she is sounding just as taxed as I do when I pretend to cook for Cyndie, and I know where most things are stored and how our appliances work.

I’ve become chief fireplace officer and video entertainment system tech.

Pain management appears under control for Cyndie now and she is doing her best from the confines of her recliner to advise on the location of searched-for items, hoping to stay ahead of Marie’s and my frustrations as we do the caretaking of the caretaker.

Not that I’m counting, but only 8-weeks to go before Cyndie can start putting weight on her right foot again.

By then, November will be a distant memory.



Written by johnwhays

November 12, 2022 at 11:45 am

Chugging Along

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Like a freight train chugging along the tracks, we are slowly making our way toward an appointment tomorrow morning with a trauma surgeon for an assessment of Cyndie’s situation. Just about 24 hours to go. Of course, we had to suffer the curse of setting our clocks back one-hour last night to move out of daylight saving time, making this weekend an hour longer. What’s one more hour?

I don’t have as much time to write as I am usually granted, given that I am now thrust into the head cook and chief bottle washer duties in addition to the solo animal feeder. I noticed a shift in allegiance from Delilah. She is normally glued to Cyndie’s side but since I was the one slinging food around the kitchen, Delilah made sure to keep a close eye on my actions, leaving Cyndie alone in the bedroom.

I got the impression there might be a shifting of relationships among the herd of horses this morning, too. It seemed as though Light was making a play to put much more pressure on Swings’ herd-leader position, repeatedly and strongly commanding control of whichever feed pan from which Swings was trying to eat.

In an unusual pairing, this morning Mix easily volunteered to take up a position opposite Swings and Light, on the side with Mia. I was very happy to oblige because those two receive a similar, but larger serving of feed. Mia usually finishes sooner, but she won’t steal from Mix.

On the other side, Light and Swings each get a smaller serving portion so I don’t really care if they keep swapping pans.

Today I must do laundry and make a grocery run.

Chugging along down the tracks.



Written by johnwhays

November 6, 2022 at 11:16 am

My Experience

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Moms and dads who are primary caretakers of kids who need to be clothed and fed, helped in the toilet, and supported and encouraged day and night do not get enough credit for the loss of their own personal time. Having sat down only to get right back up more times in the last two days than my old body is used to has revealed how much I prefer to stay in one place for as long as possible once I settle in for a rest.

My emergency room experience frequently involved feeling like I was in the way while slowly accumulating things to hold in my arms. I took the thick fleece jacket from Cyndie that was now overly enmeshed with fragmenting dried leaves after she had fallen and then tried using it to support her dangling right foot. It was dropping a trail of leaf shrapnel everywhere I went.

I was handed the dish towel she had tied up around the jacket to make a sling. I was handed the sock they cut off her foot. I was already shouldering Cyndie’s purse and handing her phone back and forth as she looked up info for the nurses. I was given Cyndie’s pants to add to the bundle.

Not long after, I was sent to the pharmacy to pick up her pain prescription before closing time. Cyndie asked me to buy a pair of loose pants to wear home from the hospital while I was there. Picture me trying to pick out pants for Cyndie to wear. Now stop laughing.

After the chaos of an emergency room, we got home to the challenge of getting her up the stairs into the “cabin” and settled into a lounging position. I was back and forth to the car several times. In my personal chaos, I set my wallet somewhere after returning Cyndie’s health card to her.

By bedtime, I knew I had no idea where that wallet was, except it had to be in the house somewhere because I knew the last time I used it.

Luckily, the routine at home is rather familiar for me, having taken care of Cyndie through multiple surgery recoveries. I still remember how to make coffee for her.

We need to survive the weekend. While driving home from the lake yesterday, Cyndie was on the phone with several treatment places, seeking immediate surgery, if possible. We had possession of her x-ray and the detailed analysis from the Hayward ER that Cyndie was providing to the people on the phone.

The description of her condition included the word, “comminuted.”

Comminuted: adjective 

reduced to minute particles or fragments.

• Medicine (of a fracture) producing multiple bone splinters.

She was told she will need a trauma surgeon and none were immediately available Friday afternoon.

An appointment for assessment by a trauma surgeon is scheduled for Monday.

Moms and dads and people raising their grandchildren don’t get enough credit for their loss of personal time.

Luckily, love is the key that more than makes up for the loss. It’s a privilege to take care of our most beloved friends and family.

That’s my experience.



Written by johnwhays

November 5, 2022 at 10:11 am