Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘pain

Shared Pain

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It’s the time of year when the bucks traversing our woods are leaving plenty of calling cards. I always wonder if we are seeing marks from just one, or if there are competitors making their presence known.

Cyndie came upon this spot of cleared leaves beside the trail yesterday morning.

Just a short distance away, I found a tree with bark scraped off.

Delilah took particular interest in scents along the path, so I expect there is a lot of aroma communication going on out there.

It is much nicer experiencing the deer activity in our forest than it is dodging them on the road. There have been an unsettling number of deer hit by traffic and staining the road surface on my route to the day-job this year.

If one of the local hunters don’t take down the buck that is visiting our property, I’m hoping I might get a chance for a shed antler.

It will be an opportunity to scour our woods, off-trail with Delilah after the hunting season is over. I just need her health to improve enough that we can ease her activity restrictions.

She had a second treatment from a dog chiropractor last night, where Cyndie learned of a massage technique we are hoping will continue to relieve Delilah of her pain.

The dog and I are on parallel paths of recovery. I’m not using massage to calm my troublesome back, but have returned to my regimen of exercises and stretches to strengthen my core and improve flexibility.

It doesn’t seem like it should work as well has it has for me, but in a rather short amount of time I have regained a remarkable amount of mobility and am enjoying much less pain. The lingering symptom is a constant dull reminder of not-quite-pain in the lumbar region of my spine that occasionally warns me with brief increases of sensation a couple of notches down from the real thing.

Little hints that I’m not all good, even though I’m not feeling all that bad.

I understand exactly what Delilah is going through.

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Written by johnwhays

November 15, 2017 at 7:00 am

Epic Normal

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Some days are just days. The simple steps of tending to basic maintenance and chores that happen every day can become so routine they fade to obscurity.

Yet, living it feels anything but obscure. Each simple accomplishment brings huge satisfaction.

This weekend, having our son, Julian, visit to pick up a package that Fed-Ex delivered here, and recruiting his help with some compost distribution and wood splitting, were particularly rewarding.

We used the Grizzly to pull trailer loads of wood, and with him driving, I gained a perspective of the squeaky brakes that helped to push me toward finally taking it in to professionals for service. Julian helped me get the ATV secured in the bed of our truck and I dropped it off in River Falls.

It could be several weeks until I see it again, so we are hoping there won’t be significant need for clearing the driveway of snow until well after that.

Maybe in a sympathetic response to Delilah’s painful condition, I experienced a return of degenerating disc symptoms as I leaned forward to pick up a piece of firewood, which brought a quick end to the delightful progress we were accomplishing. I’m on limited duty once again.

Luckily, that presented no disruption to a planned visit from a co-worker and her husband. She wanted to surprise him with the trip because he has a big appreciation for the majesty of horses, despite little access to them. Cyndie was wise enough to guide some time inside the fence for them, a step that is reserved for very few visitors.

As always, Legacy proved the consummate companion for the interaction with his herd-leading confident calmness. Dezirea couldn’t spare but a moment to accommodate us, as her attention was otherwise fixed on something in the distance that I couldn’t see.

Regardless the obscuring nature of the inherent normal-ness of the weekend, it all felt perfectly epic.

Given the right perspective, living in the moment can provide that result.

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Written by johnwhays

November 5, 2017 at 10:43 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.

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Written by johnwhays

October 27, 2017 at 6:00 am

Pained Puppy

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Our doggie girl is a hurtin’ unit right now. Unfortunately, we don’t know what happened to cause her all this pain, but she is wincing with a shrill whine with disturbing frequency. Like dogs do, in between the bouts of sharp pain, she acts like all is well and good, but we know better.

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Cyndie took Delilah to the vet last week and their guess-timate of a diagnosis was possible arthritis or bulging disc in her back. They prescribed an anti-inflammatory pain reliever. A few days later, when Delilah woke in extreme pain and was trembling, Cyndie made another trip to the vet.

That visit included a blood test to rule out Lyme disease and ended up with a prescription for muscle relaxants. They still think the problem is in her back. Oh, and they also issued a strict order of total restriction of activity for two weeks. How are we supposed to accomplish that?

Yesterday, Cyndie called me at work and asked me to stop at the vet on my way home to pick up a new pain med. Delilah did not have a good day.

Today, we are hoping for any sign of improvement, because nothing so far seems to be bringing her relief. At this point, the total activity restriction seems like it will cause her more angst than the pain. Poor girl doesn’t understand why she isn’t patrolling the perimeter three times a day anymore.

I think she’s worried some unauthorized intruders might trespass on her turf if she is not on the job doing her regular rounds.

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Written by johnwhays

September 29, 2017 at 6:00 am

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Disaster Averted

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Not my eyes again! Why did it have to be my eye?

img_1831eWe use a retractable leash for Delilah and yesterday’s wet snow was sticking to it something fierce, occasionally plugging the return function. When I took her in the barn on my way to feed the horses, I hung the leash on the hook I use every time we go through this routine.

From that distance, Delilah can wander out far enough to see the horses while I do a little housekeeping under the overhang, prior to serving their feed pans. Before bringing out the feed, I stop to temporarily lock the retraction on the leash, after shortening the reach to a point where Delilah can’t disturb the herd while they eat.

Her past performances have dictated her fate. She can sit by herself in the barn while they munch.

With the retracting feature off, the extended wet leash was laying on the sand floor of the barn. When I was done with horse duties and ready to take Delilah for an extended walk, I grabbed the leash with an instantaneous thought that I should run it through my gloved hand to scrape the grit off it before it spooled up.

dscn5526eI didn’t quite think it through all the way.

With my right gloved hand, I grabbed the leash between Delilah and the ground. Leaving the spool on the hook, I reached up with my left hand to release the lock. I don’t know if it is obvious to you as you read this, but I had grabbed the wrong side of the leash with my right hand.

The result was so fast I didn’t have time to blink as the spool spun and whiplashed the wet gravelly leash across my face in the ultimate insult.

WHAP! Take that!

My right eye closed in time, but the left eye got a rude stinging slap and enough sand to wreck a day. What happens when something touches your eyeball? You close it as fast as you can! I closed mine over some grains of sand that immediately lodged under my eyelid.

It hurt to blink. It hurt to leave it open. It hurt to hold it closed. It hurt bad enough to make me cry, but I think the tear ducts were plugged with sand, because there weren’t enough tears to wash it out and end my dilemma.

Delilah was kind enough to just sit there while I flinched and cursed and cried and stumbled around. When I knew it wasn’t going to self-remedy, I had to cancel Delilah’s walk and rush back to the house for help.

It’s always wonderful when the person convalescing suddenly has to step up and become the care-giver. Cyndie didn’t hesitate to rush her walker into the bathroom with me to start hosing the eye down with her saline solution.

I really don’t like getting squirted in the eye. That stung and made my eye try to close, which hurt tremendously because there was still sand under the eyelid. I wished I could fold my eyelid like some kids used to do when I was in grade school.

Cyndie worked heroically to clean it out as much as possible and added a drop of something to sooth the eye. I tried laying face down and just letting my eye rest. I figured it was possible that I had scratched my eye and that was what was hurting every time I blinked, so I was about to just wait it out.

Then I stood up again and grabbed my eyelash for the umpteenth time to pull it away from my eye. It was something of an instinctual reaction. I just felt like there was something under my eye lid.

With a blink, I determined that’s exactly what I was feeling, because the stinging pain was suddenly gone. Just like that, I was back to my old self, blinking pain-free.

Disaster averted.

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Written by johnwhays

December 5, 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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Monumental Improvement

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Tuesday morning I received the most wonderful news from Cyndie as she made her way down the hall from the bedroom after waking. I expected from the sound of her voice that the message was going to be good, but she caught me by surprise with how good.

It wasn’t simply that, for the first time since her hip replacement surgery over two weeks ago, she had gotten a good night’s sleep, it was the best she has slept in years! I do believe she is experiencing the improvement that so many people have described to us after having gone through their own similar surgeries.

The pain from that old arthritic joint is gone. Her description of the improvement helps me to better grasp how much pain she has been living with, and for how long she has been struggling to endure it. As often as I witnessed her pain in person over the years, I still lacked an accurate sense of what exactly she was dealing with.

She hasn’t even enjoyed a good, full night of sleep in years. Her amazing ability to cope with it as well as she has all this time had led me to interpret it as not being that major a problem. The sudden return of the light in her eyes and joy in her voice has opened my eyes to the fact of how much her spirit and energy have been repressed for far too long.

She seems so much better now that I am wondering if maybe I should look into a lower back replacement for the days my degenerating discs make me uncomfortable. She’s doing that well!

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Written by johnwhays

December 3, 2014 at 7:00 am