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

Posts Tagged ‘Cyndie

Walking Shoes

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One of the things we did on our brief holiday away from the ranch was shop for walking shoes for Cyndie’s recuperation period. It’s hard to describe how weird it was to watch Cyndie trying to partially use her right foot and walk/crutch back and forth around the store. She’d only started using her right foot two days before and now she was trying on shoe after shoe and motoring around the place for what seemed like an endless parade of indecision.

Ultimately, decisions were made. Two new pairs of footwear –one for indoors and one for outside, and both on sale– were picked to help Cyndie step her way through regaining her stride.

She is making impressive progress already but with anticipated residual consequences that call for periods of rest after doing a lot of “walking.” She is still relying on two crutches but the transition to just one crutch may happen soon.

We are both very happy that she will now be supporting her ankle with new shoes that fit comfortably.


Written by johnwhays

February 3, 2023 at 7:00 am

Almond Braid

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In order to practice standing with 50% weight on her repaired ankle, our intrepid hero chose to bake an almond braid the other day. Well, not just one almond braid.

“I just followed the recipe,” Cyndie said. “Next time I will cut the ingredients in half.”

A little bit out of practice after spending most of her time in a recliner the last three months instead of in the kitchen, I heard her regretting she forgot to glaze the braids with brushed-on egg whites. I noted her almond sprinkling looked a bit uneven, kind of like her balance as she occasionally hops to and fro, reaching for utensils, pans, or ingredients.

I don’t mean to appear insensitive with my critiques. She always encourages my honest opinions and sometimes calls me her “Paul Hollywood” when I provide insights about the dough being a little over or underdone or desired flavors not coming through.

The first bite was absolutely delightful, though having heard her mention the missing glaze, I noted the improvement it might have provided. As we discussed it, Cyndie clarified the braids ended up over-baked. Without the glaze, deciding when to bring them out of the oven based on appearance didn’t work so well.

The recipe suggested a bake time of 15-30 minutes which was a significant span of minutes. Possibly double the time! That left too much room for error.

I did my part to help justify her making two of them by eating more slices than my body needed. Then I found out she froze the extra one, so my excesses weren’t necessary. I tried to justify my extra bites by saying I was just “straightening the edge” but that didn’t really apply in this case. The cut edge was never “not” straight.

Last night, Cyndie felt discomfort in her ankle and said it felt like one of the screws was coming loose. Yeah, I needed to bite my tongue to not jump on that inviting opportunity to poke fun about loose screws.

The big concern for me is whether a new problem in her ankle will interrupt her comeback in the kitchen. Good thing she made two braids, just in case.



Written by johnwhays

January 28, 2023 at 11:28 am

Having Connections

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When we moved here over ten years ago, we didn’t know anyone in the area. Slowly, we introduced ourselves to our neighbors. We met some contractors who did some work for us. Eventually, I achieved a connection that I was particularly proud of having. I could boast that there was a guy in Beldenville who was, “my welder.”

Now, just because I haven’t needed his services since the initial job he did for me years ago, it doesn’t keep me from bragging about knowing “a guy” who can do big welding jobs for me. Lately, I feel like I’ve been losing connections. I no longer can say, “My boss” or “My coworkers.” I don’t have any.

Cyndie, on the other hand, is adding connections. She now drops phrases in conversation like, “My trauma surgeon” or “My physical therapist says…”

Yesterday, her physical therapist said Cyndie should keep using both of her crutches for at least another week. At their next session, she can review progress to see if she can go to just a single crutch for a time.

It seems obvious if you think about it, but her therapist pointed out that standing on both feet is putting 50% weight on each foot. I was thinking about that as I walked back from the barn last night and figured out I was alternating between 100% and 0% as I stepped my paces up the driveway. For now, Cyndie isn’t supposed to put more than 50% weight on her right ankle.

Interestingly, she is making progress, but her movements since Monday when she met with the surgeon for the follow-up assessment seem a lot worse than how she was moving over the weekend. That is because when she wasn’t putting any weight on her right foot she had gotten very adept at using a knee scooter or leaning on a walker as she whipped around in the house.

Now she is less stable in her movements because she is actually wearing a shoe and putting weight on the right foot. Cyndie got excited the other day because she could see some veins in her foot for the first time since the injury and subsequent swelling that persisted.

Before we know it, she will be renewing a connection with the herd of horses down at the barn again.

I won’t even think of asking her to lift any bales of hay until her physical therapist says it’s allowed.



Written by johnwhays

January 26, 2023 at 7:00 am

Two Shoes

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It felt like it had been a while since we got out to see the world beyond our place. For Cyndie, it was the first time she had stepped out of the house in a couple of weeks. The landscape looked like a postcard with the trees all flocked white with frost.

We were on our way to an appointment with Cyndie’s trauma surgeon. Upon our arrival, Cyndie was immediately directed to “Imaging” for X-rays of her repaired ankle.

It occurred to me that Cyndie and her surgeon might be a little biased in their assessment of the surgery outcome. They both want it to be as positive as possible.

That is exactly what I heard from each of them. I asked how soon she could carry a bale of hay and received some chuckles. I didn’t get an answer, but my point was made. The doc knew what my priority was.

He seemed a little surprised that Cyndie hadn’t walked on it at all up to this point, grabbing the boot to see if the bottom was significantly scuffed. We were in no hurry to overrule the doctor’s order. He said to wait, so Cyndie waited and I completely supported her staying off it. We had both grown eager to move on to the next “step” of her recuperation.

The surgeon said her foot looks great. He really had no negatives to mention. He issued a new order for her physical therapist, detailing what to work on. With great humor, he discussed all the issues Cyndie asked about and more. He pointed out where Cyndie will likely experience pain from tendons that haven’t been used for months, talked about shoe choices, and recommended “Superfeet” insoles for added arch support.

As we left the office, Cyndie crutched away while using that right foot a little bit for the first time since November 3rd.

First thing she did when we got home was dig in her closet for a pair of shoes. A pair. She hasn’t needed two shoes for so long, single left shoes were the only thing showing up.

Tomorrow will be the first PT day where she can put some weight on that foot. The therapist will need to guide her with advice about gradually increasing the percentage of walking pressure while still using crutches for support.

After being patient about doing any walking at all, there is no need to suddenly get impatient about losing the crutches completely.

I saw a comment yesterday about raising children that stated, “The days go by slowly but the years go by fast.” It feels like Cyndie’s ankle rehab will be slow in days, months, and probably a whole year.

I don’t expect her to be throwing around hay bales anytime soon.



Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2023 at 7:00 am

November Third

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It was a Thursday, almost three months ago on November 3rd, when Cyndie took Delilah for a walk while we were up at the lake place. We had just spent two days watching some major tree trimming and removal on the Wildwood properties. As Cyndie reached the top step of the bridge that crosses a lagoon, Delilah bolted after a squirrel and yanked Cyndie back down to the ground. The impact snapped bones at her ankle.

Today, she sees the surgeon who screwed plates to her bones for an assessment of the healing and, hopefully, the doctor’s permission to begin physical therapy to walk again.

This has been our life since that fateful incident:

  • Thu Nov 3 – Anxious trip to Hayward Hospital emergency room with a suspected broken ankle.
  • Fri Nov 4 – Drive home from the lake with Cyndie in the back seat calling around for an appointment to be seen by a surgeon.
  • Mon Nov 7 – Drive to Woodbury for analysis by a trauma surgeon, then to Stillwater for a CT scan and COVID test.
  • Wed Nov 9 – Cyndie has surgery on her ankle in Stillwater, receiving metal plates and many screws to hold things together.
  • Thu Nov 10 – Delilah’s stomach issues (vomiting) becoming increasingly worrisome.
  • Fri Nov 11 – I bring Cyndie home from Stillwater hospital. Delilah has the first of a series of vet appointments.
  • Sat Nov 19 – Delilah has been refusing to accept prescribed medication and a new diet.
  • Mon Nov 21 – Delilah was put to rest by the veterinarian due to suspected acute pancreatitis.
  • Tue Nov 22 – Discover cut on Mix’s leg that requires a visit by the equine vet for assessment and treatment, including medications.
  • Wed Nov 23 – Mix refuses to accept medications I added to her food. Johanne from This Old Horse starts coming twice a day to administer meds.
  • Mon Nov 28 – Drive Cyndie to Woodbury to have stitches removed from her ankle.
  • Tue Nov 29 – First big snowstorm of the year that needed to be plowed.
  • Wed Dec 14 – Drive Cyndie to Stillwater for bone density test.
  • Thu Dec 15 – Second big snowstorm requiring plowing.
  • Thu Dec 22 – Mia gives me a big scare with an episode of choking in the middle of eating her evening feed. Minor snowfall forces more plowing.
  • Mon Dec 26 – Plowing required to clear drifts from the driveway as a result of blowing snow.
  • Wed Dec 28 – More plowing is needed to clear drifting snow.
  • Tue Jan 3 – Another brutal snowstorm.
  • Thu Jan 5 – More snow. As soon as one session of plowing is done, the process starts all over again.
  • Tue Jan 10 – Farrier visits to trim all four horses.
  • Thu Jan 19 – Heavy, wet snowfall triggers another round of plowing and shoveling.

In the previous ten and a half weeks, per the doctor’s order, Cyndie has avoided putting any weight on her right ankle. We have had our eyes set on this day as the time when she might be allowed to begin the process of returning to the fine art of walking on two feet again.

It feels like it’s been a long time since November 3rd but the time we anticipate it taking Cyndie to recuperate fully will be magnitudes greater, along the lines of possibly a year or so, if not longer. It’s a rather harsh notion to consider, given the challenging terrain of our property.

Today’s assessment by the trauma surgeon about the amount of healing that has occurred in her broken bones is very important to both of us. It makes January 23rd the next milestone after November 3rd from which we will begin measuring her ultimate recovery to safely walking on both her feet without supplemental support.

Here’s hoping for some great news!



Written by johnwhays

January 23, 2023 at 7:00 am

Grim Grip

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With temperatures hovering just above the freezing point, snow is slowly sliding off our slanted rooftops. As I was returning to the house from the barn, I spotted what looked like the large bony fingers of the Grim Reaper about to grasp the edge of the short roof over the entryway of the shop.

The rest of that section had broken off and dropped to the concrete surface below.

I would like to have recorded a time-lapse video of the slow melting as the snow slid off the roof. It is fascinating that it created that bony-looking curl.

Speaking of bones, I’m driving Cyndie to an appointment this morning to have her bone density analyzed. The trauma surgeon who repaired her ankle put in the order to have her bone density checked in light of the way her broken bones splintered into fragments.

Yesterday, Cyndie’s physical therapist massaged some of the excess fluid out of her foot and gave her a few more non-weight-bearing exercises to try. The options are pretty limited until she gets permission to put weight on that foot. The exercises are rather simplistic and uninspiring otherwise, at this point.

It’s pretty tricky crutching weather out there while this wet weather system is spinning over us. We have been getting mostly spotty light rain since yesterday late afternoon, but with the temperature lingering so close to the freezing point it is hard to know when the footing is merely wet or has become dangerously slippery.

There is something about going in for a bone density test that begs for a person to not fall and break anything on the way in. The Grim Reaper doesn’t get into the business of influencing us before the final calling does he/she/it?

Some days I feel like I should wear a couple of protective boots similar to the one Cyndie has, as a proactive prevention of possible foot/ankle injuries. Or I could keep eating a healthy diet that maintains a strong body. Are Christmas cookies good for our bones?



Written by johnwhays

December 14, 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

Two Patients

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That was one heck of a day, yesterday. It turns out that I have two patients to take care of because, in addition to Cyndie recuperating from her surgery, Delilah is experiencing a problem with continued vomiting.

Delilah’s condition isn’t too concerning at this point because she is regularly drinking water, pooping healthy, and is full of her typical spunk at normal times. It is, however, inconvenient to have her making disgusting messes unexpectedly at the worst times possible.

We can’t rule out stress as a possible contributing factor but there is also a possibility we have a bad batch of food or she could be developing an allergy to an ingredient.

I’m pretty sure Delilah doesn’t grasp the concept but I have her fasting for a while in an attempt to disrupt the troublesome routine she has fallen into. Then I will need to decide what food I will start testing to see if we can solve whatever is ailing her.

Tuesday night didn’t start out well for her because the thunderstorm we endured was quite dramatic with booms of thunder that shook the house. She was having a fit in her overnight crate trying to bark back the storm that wasn’t letting up. I tried staying up late with her to give some support but that didn’t seem to ease her distress much.

After a few-too-few hours of sound sleep, I was woken by Cyndie at 3 a.m. because she could hear Delilah throwing up. With her splinted leg propped up on pillows, Cyndie couldn’t do anything about it.

Last night, Delilah threw up again, just before dinner time. I was in the middle of cooking my own dinner and manning the phone tree of contacts with reports on Cyndie’s status. The doctor had called me to say everything went well and there were no complications. It was time to walk Delilah and tend to the horses but I was waiting for a sitter to show up and take care of those tasks.

I put Delilah on a leash in the front yard, tossed paper towels over the mess in the front entryway, answered my phone, and turned over fish fillets baking in the oven.

I thought last night was going to be a moment of rest while Cyndie was tended to by professionals. Nope. Forgot about the other patient here needing TLC.

At least Delilah doesn’t seem to realize anything is ailing her. If she had a bum leg, she’d still try to run anyway. That’s the way dogs are.

Good thing Cyndie doesn’t take after her dog.



Written by johnwhays

November 10, 2022 at 7:00 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