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

Posts Tagged ‘health


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Written by johnwhays

February 17, 2018 at 10:53 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.



Written by johnwhays

January 11, 2018 at 7:00 am

Twenty Eighteen

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Happy New Year!

Time to turn over a new calendar, or something like that. The health clubs and fitness centers will be crowded for a week or two, and based on past evidence, the numbers will return to normal again by the end of the month.


We’re a funny bunch.

However you notch the passage of time, may this eighteenth year of the millennium greet you with unlimited possibility for optimal health and well-being.

Find the happy! It’s a worthy goal for which to strive.



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January 1, 2018 at 8:04 am

The Thing

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The thing about depression is that it can be so amorphous. There are no clearly defined borders where it begins and ends. If one develops a runny nose, is it a cold or just a runny nose?

When I start feeling less than my best self, is it a bout of depression, or just the equivalent of a “runny nose?”

There is also a chicken and egg type question of which comes first. Do I feel low because depression is coming on, or is depression coming on because I feel low?

On top of those basic questions, there is the added complication of framing the situation as productive, or not. Is doing very little more than passing time a waste, or a valuable break from the rat race?

So many questions with no simple answer. What I know right now is, I have been noticeably under achieving this weekend. I have chosen to frame it in the positive. I have allowed myself a respite from doing significant chores and I won’t be moping that it was a negative.

In fact, this morning I am feeling significantly accomplished for the brilliant use of the available unscripted hours this weekend.

Now that’s my thing.



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November 26, 2017 at 9:59 am

Mostly Healthy

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Other than choosing to regurgitate the entire undigested contents of her stomach on our bed the other day, Pequenita is leading our animals in staying healthy.

The good news about the others is that all are showing promising signs of improvement.

Delilah had a quick relapse to yelping in pain after her promising signs of normalcy a week or two ago. Happily, that regression was short-lived and she has re-emerged with more of her old vim and vigor once again. We remain cautious about encouraging too much rambunctiousness, lest she experience another similar setback.

She has a second visit to the doggie chiropractor scheduled for next week. We are trying to constrain her activity a reasonable amount until then.

Cayenne’s swollen eye has settled down nicely, but shows signs of still being irritated. Cyndie washed it out again yesterday. Since all the horses were due for a fall visit from the veterinarian, we will have a chance for her eye to be seen this morning when the Doc comes to give all of them some attention.

I’m doing my best to keep up with everybody else’s progress and enjoying increased mobility and reduced pain with every passing day. ‘Nita does her best to keep my legs stretched out and warm for me. I think my tight hamstrings do me no favors at avoiding problems with my lumbar discs.









I have been grossly negligent about stretching and exercising for best back health, but as soon as the trouble showed up last week, I became a planking maniac again. The problem with that was that the muscles of my torso became incredibly stiff and didn’t want to take on the load my ailing back wished they would.

Stretching like a yoga master became the third option.


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November 10, 2017 at 7:00 am

Power Treat

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With thanks to my sister, Judy, I have discovered a new homemade energy treat that offers a sweetness, but is not particularly high in sugar. One reason it is a low sugar snack for me is, my ability to be satisfied with a single serving.

I can get a batch to last more than a month, barely eating one per day.

What makes them so satisfying? I think it is the brilliant balance of ingredients, including crunchy peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, and as of last night, a few of my own enhancements.

With Cyndie’s guidance in the kitchen while making dinner, I concocted a souped-up version of the recipe Judy originally shared with us. Per Judy’s suggestion, we replaced raisins with craisins. Beyond that, I added some millet, chopped coconut, chopped almonds, chia seeds (because Cyndie found some in the cupboard), protein powder, and chopped pumpkin seeds. Finally, as much as I love crunchy peanut butter, I reduced the quantity and finished the amount with the addition of almond butter.

If there is a “super crunch” version of almond butter, I haven’t discovered it yet. I would dearly love to try that.

Cyndie did the honors of buttering her palms and forming the bite-sized balls for me. I’m not that interested in getting my hands covered with ingredients. She shaped these a tiny bit bigger than a previous batch she made from the original recipe. Even when small, my method of enjoying them involves nibbling to get many more bites than one per serving.

At this size, we calculate a single ball is about 3-4 grams of sugar. The average cookie often comes in around 7 grams.

I’m still aiming to stay below 50 grams per day in my average 2000 calorie/day diet. By trying to stay close to 10 grams per meal, I have almost 20 grams of space available each day to keep from being a total party-pooper when treats are served.

Having a choice available with only 4 grams of sugar gives me a quick and easy option and helps me land well below my goal on days when these are the only treat I end up eating.

Of course, this would never have satisfied my old palette, when my sugar addiction was allowed to direct my choices, uncontrolled. Having weaned myself off the high sugar diet, I am now able to get sweet satisfaction from much lower amounts.

It is a great reward to have arrived at a healthy pattern of eating and find out it no longer feels like a place of deprivation. It is perfectly pleasurable and sustainable, as long as I acknowledge and remain vigilant about paying appropriate attention to my history of addiction to the sweet reward my brain celebrates every time I give my body sugar.



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October 31, 2017 at 6:00 am

How’s Everybody?

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Basically, we are all good, but there are some health concerns that continue to linger for some of the Wintervale crew. Time has not healed all wounds.

After the most recent hoof trimming, Cayenne’s showing a tiny bit of improvement. What we cling to there is that she is, at the very least, not worse. She still shows a fair amount of hesitation on her movements, but she doesn’t appear to be in extreme pain.

It’s possible she may have developed a habit of anticipating pain, and she still limps because that is what she has grown used to doing. It sometimes looks like she steps gingerly to protect herself, not because it hurts too much to walk normal.

Now, Delilah, on the other hand, is behaving quite the opposite. She keeps trying to act like she is fine, but continues to have moments of extreme pain. On Tuesday, we resorted to ordering x-rays of her spine and a more thorough blood analysis.

The results of her blood work are not in yet, but the x-ray showed a minor compression between discs 3 and 4. We were told there also appeared to be some abnormal marks or possible lesions on those vertebrae, which the vet is hoping the blood analysis will inform.

We have returned to restricting her movements to a bare minimum. Regardless, she continues to maintain a pretty happy attitude between moments of looking like she’d prefer to do nothing more than lay down and convalesce.

It’s been a long summer of rehabilitation for Cyndie’s shoulder, but it’s not over yet. She continues to have regular physical therapy appointments to improve range of motion. The good news after her most recent follow-up with the surgeon was that he deemed it unnecessary to put her under and break the scar tissue by force. The bad news was the alternative being extended PT with painful aggressive measures to do the same thing.

The therapist used the infamous “cupping therapy” to stretch the scarred tissue across the grain. Makes sense to us, despite a broad belief that cupping is pseudo-science and any benefits are from a placebo effect. Cyndie is growing tired of the pain from her exercises and the ongoing need to push her limits of stretching and rotation.

At the same time, she continues to find ways to function in her daily activities with only minor limitations.

The rest of us are enjoying a grace period of good health. The chickens will be seeing snow for the first time in their lives. Pequenita is happy to be an indoor cat. We brought the horses in out of the windy wet precipitation last night, but we’ll give them a short shift outside for some fresh air before letting them back into their stalls again tonight.

I avoided hitting any deer on my commutes this week. Yesterday morning, I was lucky to not be a part of a 10-car chain reaction crash,  –nor get caught in the significant backup of traffic behind it– when a vehicle hit a deer on I94, right at the bridge between Wisconsin and Minnesota. I had already passed that spot and was well on my way to work by then.

Everyday I don’t hit a deer in October and November is a successful day.

That’s my update on how everybody is doing today. We are thankful for all our good fortune.



Written by johnwhays

October 27, 2017 at 6:00 am