Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘healing

Relative Sadness

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There is an aspect of grief that I visualize as wrestling an octopus. You can be engaged in the action for an immeasurable amount of time without ever having a clue if you’ve come close to pinning his shoulders to the mat.

Where the heck are octopus shoulders, anyway?

I’d love for nothing more than to have an official slapping their hand down to declare the match complete, or at least to call time on the end of a round. The clock never runs out though, and the round goes on endlessly while grief and I just keep wrestling and wrestling.

It occurred to me yesterday that I was somewhat unconsciously avoiding going out to the barn since last Sunday when Legacy’s life ended there. It’s a struggle, because I normally find great comfort in standing among the horses, but there is currently a profound disturbance of energy here. I’m feeling little capacity toward consoling our other horses and even less confidence in my ability to contain my own sorrow while in their midst.

Between the understandable waves of tearful sadness, there remain the troughs of intangible gloom. I recognize that space well.

It defined the bulk of my adolescent and early adult life, which was shrouded by dysthymia.

At least now I am armed with much greater knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of these mental squalls, and I recognize the current grief casting a pall over our lives is completely situational. There is unending love cradling our sorrow and it is nurturing our healing and growth.

After Cyndie and I walked Delilah around the property yesterday afternoon, we all ventured to the barn to look in on the horses.

I worry they might be feeling neglected after the intense attention paid to Legacy, and then his sudden departure followed by this incredible void.

They seem to me to be in a state of shock. All we can do for each other is vibrate our energy of sorrow and loss.

I’m not crying; you’re crying.

Dezirea actually stepped away from me, as if she couldn’t handle my grief. Hunter and Cayenne tolerated my attempts to give them some loving scratches, but I didn’t get a sense that either of the three of us felt much solace out of the exchange.

Cyndie spent a little more time with Dezirea. I think Dezi seems particularly sad. I am wondering if she is feeling some stress over the possibility she will inherit the ultimate responsibility of a leadership role, being the elder mare. It could just as easily be filled by any one of them, or maybe they will devise a perfect balance of power across all three.

It’s just that the four horses that were organized into a little herd over five years ago worked out so tremendously. They were a band. An ever-shifting combination of two sets of two. It was incredibly, preciously perfect.

Beyond our ability to fully appreciate when they first arrived.

Now they’ll never be able to get the band back together again…

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Aww, here comes another slippery hold from that octopus, dagnabbit.

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Written by johnwhays

January 20, 2018 at 7:00 am

Feeling Love

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In my lifetime, the art of feeling love has been a struggle to fully achieve. Luckily, I have had plenty of opportunity to practice. Most precious of all has been having Cynthia Ann Friswold around to repeatedly offer her guidance.

Quite frankly, some of that guidance comes across in a disguise that deftly pushes buttons that I’d rather not have pushed, but that’s part of the secret. Love isn’t always rainbows, flowers, and chocolate. True love is much more complex than that.

As a depressed person, I was distracted from being able to fully love. A combination of treatment for depression and couples therapy for our relationship was key to opening my eyes and my heart to love’s true potential.

Adding animals to our family has expanded my understanding of love to even greater depths.

Last evening, as I was holding our Buff Orpington hen while Cyndie worked diligently to remove globs of dried poop from the chicken’s tail feathers, I silently conveyed our love to the bird imprisoned by my grasp. Between a few isolated moments of flinching in discomfort, she generally rested her head against me and waited out the task.

We can hope she was able to tell our motives were pure.

Cyndie wanted me to offer the hen a red raspberry treat in reward for her patience of enduring the awkward procedure, but the Buff showed no interest. She just gave it the eye, with total detachment.

I had no idea that owning chickens might involve needing to bring them in out of the cold in the winter to wash and dry their butts. It’s a good thing they have gotten us to fall in love with them.

Owning horses is a whole ‘nother level of love.

Before our four Arabians had even arrived, back when we were having paddock fencing installed, a water line being buried, and a hay shed being built, the excavator arrived in his giant dump truck and chatted out his window with me at our first meeting. He asked what this project was about, and I told him my wife wants to get horses.

In a high-pitched voice of alarm, he exclaimed, “HORSES!?! It would be cheaper to get a new wife!”

Yes, there are costs to owning horses, but the rewards are pretty much immeasurable.

How do you measure love?

All I know for sure is, I’m feeling an awful lot of it in this latest phase of my life.

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Written by johnwhays

January 11, 2018 at 7:00 am

At Last

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After too many days of no improvement, we are finally seeing glimmers of the old Delilah we knew and were often irritated by. Funny, how perspectives change, and behaviors that came across as a nuisance when she was overflowing with canine energy can become a celebration after a long series of days of droopy, pained existence.

Delilah has regained a little spring in her step, and has flashed moments of youthful yearning to playfully bite and romp, quickly curtailed with reasonable restraint.

Just hearing her let loose with a full-body shake that flops her ears in the rapid tremolo pounding against her own head is of significance when the sound has been absent for so long.

It is like a fresh ray of sunshine after a long period of rain, which is also an apt description of the day we have been blessed with today.

Hello, fall colors!

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Written by johnwhays

October 8, 2017 at 9:14 am

Multiple Gifts

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It may seem like backward logic, but we really view guests visiting Wintervale as a gift to us, in contrast to visitor’s thinking of it as a gift to them to be able to immerse themselves in the peaceful aura of our forest, fields, flowers and animals. We all win!

Preparing the grounds to accommodate a stroll, otherwise known as “mowing the grass,” is something that needs to be done anyway, but it is a little more fun to do when I know someone is coming soon. It is way too easy to let things slide if Cyndie and I are the only ones who are going to see it. So, expecting guests is a form of inspiration.

Of course, the other incentive is that there is so much to be done that I don’t dare neglect any one thing for too long or the whole operation would get away from us.

We have other gifts to be thankful for today. We are enjoying the gift of healing as Cyndie continues to make progress recovering function after her shoulder surgery, and I am enjoying the gift of her being able to once again handle the power trimmer.

She took it upon herself yesterday, while I was out on the lawn tractor, to start the engine and get the trimmer over her head and onto her good shoulder. I asked how she got it started.

“It was hard. I had to stand on it and pull the cord with my left hand.”

Once she has it running and in position, holding the handlebar and swaying the business end to and fro actually puts very little stress on her weak shoulder.

We will be picking up momentum now in a push to conquer the relentless growth of summer and get the property ready for a busy month of Wintervale workshops. With Dunia Morales graciously offering to come from Guatemala to help lead sessions with Cyndie, we are looking to recover some business from the shortened summer of shoulder repair.

What a gift!

We are lucky to have so many.

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Written by johnwhays

July 29, 2017 at 9:51 am

Successful Surgery

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We are happy to report that Cyndie’s surgery was all good yesterday. There were no complications in the 4 objectives of cleaning out the arthritis, removing a spur, cleaning up the rotator cuff, and reattaching the ruptured tendons.

The outpatient procedure allowed her to be home by the end of the day, where she immediately began experimenting with our variety of chairs and couch in search of a favored perch. Pain management was easy last night, as the nerve block hadn’t yet worn off and the whole arm down to the hand was without feeling.

Today will likely be a bit more challenging for her, we presume.

They had her strapped into the brace before she even woke up from the procedure. She will wear it for the next 6-weeks, except for taking showers.

Quite a fashion statement, don’t you think?

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Written by johnwhays

June 14, 2017 at 6:00 am

Better Place

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As happy as we were with Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater, after 2 days it was beginning to feel like a hospital and we were ready to get Cyndie home to recover in the comforts of home. There really is no place like home.

To make it seem even more like a hospital, it took several hours of waiting, and then waiting some more, for staff to process the discharge order. It’s odd how exhausting it can be to sit and wait for an unknown amount of time.

Cyndie is in a better place now. Let the mending and strengthening commence!

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Written by johnwhays

December 3, 2016 at 7:00 am

Yes, Shingles

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For all the personal detail I freely display in my posts on a regular basis, I found myself holding back recently from blathering on about the daily progress of my shingles outbreak. I think part of it was a hope of saving you from frequently repeated lamentations over the pain and suffering I was enduring, but another part of it was my plan to give this affliction as little attention as possible. My intent was to get over this quickly and with a minimum of symptoms.

It all started on the Monday after I had trimmed dead wood from our apple tree and a nearby maple tree, using a pruning saw on an extended pole. It seemed entirely logical that I would feel sore muscles in the area of my torso after the workout I had done the day before. Upon a feeling of even more stiffness the next day, I became more assured my discomfort was a function of delayed onset muscle soreness from the weekend’s exercise.

By Wednesday I was growing normalized to the soreness and stopped thinking about it. After my shower in the evening, I noticed a red spot on my abdomen, but it didn’t mean much to me at the time. However, it seemed odd when the redness was still there the next morning. Without previously having had the slightest inkling that I might be getting sick, when I saw the spot still present in the morning, I reacted by lifting my arm and turning in the mirror.

How did I suddenly know?

DSCN4519eThere were enough splotches in a line around to my back that I instantly thought, “Shingles.” When I got to work I did a little research and checked in with my clinic back in Wisconsin. They directed me to immediately visit an urgent care site near my workplace. The doctor there did little more than listen to my description and look at my torso before confirming my self-diagnosis.

She prescribed an anti-viral to be taken 3-times a day for a week, to minimize and hopefully shorten the duration of my symptoms. She asked what I knew about shingles and began to describe the varying levels of hell that can occur.

I interrupted her to say that I did read that some people may not have severe symptoms. When she nodded in acknowledgement, I proclaimed that I would be one of those people, so she didn’t need to bother describing the worst it could get.

For the most part, I would say I achieved my goal of not having the rash erupt in multiple waves of increasing severity. It got worse for about 3 days and then began to slowly recede. There is still some residual visual evidence left, but my skin is mostly healed. The deep (what felt like muscle) pain was a chronic annoyance for about 2-and-a-half weeks, but seems to be fading now.

I’m so close to being done with it that I want to claim victory. There is just one small problem. Even though I succeeded in willing myself to the easy end of the shingles spectrum, it appears that I am getting a good dose of a common complication: post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).

The most common complication of shingles is a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). People with PHN have severe pain in the areas where they had the shingles rash, even after the rash clears up.

The pain from PHN may be severe and debilitating, but it usually resolves in a few weeks or months in most patients. Some people can have pain from PHN for many years.             ——–cdc.gov/shingles/about/complications

I wouldn’t exactly call what I am feeling as pain. It is more a hyper-sensitivity. At times, it feels like a sunburn on my skin. Other times it feels “crawly” like having a fever. I get frequent shivers, and the act of shivering is uncomfortable. I want to avoid it, but I can’t.

So it’s that kind of pain. Not so much a “hurt,” as a very uncomfortable nuisance.

Yes, that’s my version of shingles.

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