Celebrating a Change of Heart

Two years ago, the quality of my life was not great.  The core problem, the heart of the matter, the nitty-gritty of it all, was that my heart was not working properly.  I had developed a heart syndrome called tachy-brady. Sometimes, it is also called sick sinus syndrome.  The first time I heard my primary doctor say to me "I think you have sick sinus syndrome," I was clueless as to what it meant, but I knew it wasn't good.  In truth, she was the first to come up with this diagnosis, one that the nurse practitioner at my cardiologist's office dismissed.  By the time the GP, reading the same sleep study report that my cardiologist had received, made this observation, I already had an extensive file containing drugs tried, tests done, and procedures considered for troubling symptoms of arrhythmia.

A year before the final slump with a heart not functioning correctly, I had a heart ablation to correct tachycardia, a rhythm problem that the heart will sometimes develop that will cause the heart to beat too fast.  After the ablation, I felt wonderful and was able to carry on with my life until about six or eight months later when I again began to experience a wildly beating heart that would leave me exhausted and faint.  A sleep study was ordered to see if I was getting enough oxygen at night.  I wasn't, but adding oxygen at night didn't help my faintness and exhaustion.

 Diagnosing my problem was a process.  It wasn't enough to have a GP say that she thought I had sick sinus syndrome.  Diagnosis for me involved having a small device called a loop recorder implanted in my left breast. This miraculous little device allowed my doctor to see exactly what was going on in this heart of mine when it would decide not to beat properly.  I had the recorder fewer than two weeks before it was determined that I needed a pacemaker.  

Getting that pacemaker changed my heart, the way it beat, and it changed my life.  A pacemaker gave me my life back.  Today, two years ago the miracle of modern medicine allowed for a device to be implanted in my body which would monitor my heart and keep it from going too fast or too slow.  I can now walk longer distances, walk up hills, and I can go about the business of my life with few problems with my heart.  I am so grateful.

Two years ago, just before I received the pacemaker, I remember sitting in the my chair in the living room feeling quite sorry for myself as my husband went out for a long walk in the neighborhood with the dog and without me.  I remember that while he was gone my heart rate went down in the 30's and my blood pressure plummeted so low that I had to call the doctor.  He ordered me to get to the hospital.  It was Easter Sunday.  I did not want to go to the hospital with yet another heart episode, but I had no choice.  When my husband got back from his walk, he had to take me to the hospital.  They almost implanted the pacemaker that night, but finally determined I would be safe to wait a few days for the procedure.

I don't take being able to walk at the altitude where I live for granted.  I am grateful I am able to go for my daily walks and enjoy the beauty of the world around me.  Today, the sky was as blue as it could be.  I never tire of looking at the rock formations near my home.  They fascinate me.  They remind me just why I love to live where I do.  My marmalade cat rock (I love her) looks down on me as I walk by her, and seems to say, "I'm happy to see you out and about today."  (She is the rock formation on the top right.)  The table rock on the lower right is still waiting for one you to come and join me for a tea party on her flat surface.

I never could have made it through the bouts with my health that I have had without the guy by my side, my dear and greatly loved husband.  It is so good to walk through this life with him.  I so love when we go on walks together.  Today, I said, "I love where we live," as we sat on our patio after our walk.  With my camera, I captured this laugh on his face when he brought up my one complaint about where I live, "Except for crawlspace in the basement."  Hey, I'd probably live in crawlspace with the guy, but don't tell him that.  He keeps me laughing.  He keeps me keeping on.

I can't forget how much I love my other loyal companion.  He also is always at my side.  (Except when his master is home.  Then he is by his side.)  I love my Boston boy too.

Today, was such a beautiful day.  The sun was shining.  The sky was blue.  My man was by my side.  Even the daffodils I planted around our new patio last fall were blooming.

On this glorious spring day, I was able to walk 1.9 miles, gaining 137 feet in altitude at an altitude of over 6,600 feet.  My average heart rate was 115 BPM.  Look at this cool map that shows my route.  (Thank you Jim for my Apple watch which tracks such things.)  

I could do this because of that change of heart I had two years ago.  That is something to celebrate.  

Interesting Rock Formations in My Neighborhood

On a recent morning walk, I took some photos of some of the interesting rock formations near our home.  Since I was a child, my imagination has always been activated when I look at rock formations.  In Colorado, we certainly have a lot of famous rock formations.  The Kissing Camels in the Garden of the Gods come to mind.  Perhaps this is why I grew up naming the outcroppings that dot various parts of Colorado.  Last week, without really looking for anything in particular, I happened to see an interesting formation across the road from where we were walking.  Can you see what I saw?

Here is another shot of the same hillside.  Can you see the horse head?  It is a palomino (orange or gold) color, and is located in the center of the photo below.  (I only had my iPhone with me.  I will have to try to get a shot of this on another day.)

Just up the road, from the horse head, I found the perfect spot for a photo shoot.  Jim and Boston posed in front of this rock which is actually right on the corner of a block in the subdivision near where we live.  A house is right behind the rock.  I could probably fool you into thinking we were out in the mountains somewhere when this photo was taken.  

The area where we live has many of these outcroppings of rock.  Their unique shapes have fascinated me since childhood.  Some describe various rocks such as the rock below, as mushroom rocks.  I call this one a table top rock.  This particular rock is located about a block and half from our house on the hillside next to a public park.

Boston, usually on a leash, gets a bit of freedom in the park since no other people or dogs are around on the day we took our walk.  He soon found his favorite rock and perched himself upon it. 

Before long, he was off running into the play area of the park.  I walked along at a more leisurely pace and continued to study the rocks on the hillside.  Up on the top of the hillside, in the middle of the trees, I thought I saw a coyote.  Or was it a rock?  Can you see it?  The formation is near the center of the photo between the trees.  I really could not tell at first if I was seeing a live animal or a rock formation.  After moving my position a few times, I could clearly see it was a rock.  (I told you I have a vivid imagination.)

I have my favorite formations near my home.  This one is an outcropping at the end of my block.

Here is another shot of this rock.  I keep thinking that perhaps the grandchildren and I will walk up here and spread out a tablecloth and have lunch on the top of this rock someday.

One evening this past fall, I ran outside to try and capture a beautiful sunset.  I was too late to get the shot I wanted, but I thought this one was quite nice anyway.

As I leisurely walked home with my camera in hand, I notice a small herd of deer nearly hidden from my view as they grazed in hillside grass at dusk.  My shots of the deer were unsuccessful.  As I tried to get a shot of the animals, I noticed the sight below in my viewfinder.  I didn't notice this interesting nighttime scene with my naked eye.  Do you see that giant cat sitting next to the tree?  (Do you ever see things differently through the viewfinder of your camera?)
I am quite frustrated by blogger right now.  The photo I took at night of this formation is quite dark and spooky.  I can't seem to post it without blogger correcting the light on it.  Any ideas on why this happened?  My photo is very dark with black shadows.  This photo below is nothing like my original photo.

I'd hate to see this huge black cat on Halloween night.  I thought the figure was a bit scary looking.  
The next day, I went back to the same spot to get a photo of this same rock in daylight.  I think she, yes, this rock is a she, is a beautiful marmalade colored cat.  (Jeanie, of The Marmalade Gypsy, this rock is for you!) To the rest of you, this formation may look like a rock, but to me, she is the cat that protects the neighborhood.  
Here is a daytime shot of my two favorite rocks grouped together. 

You may think I live out in the woods.  The beauty of the place where I live is that the woods surround me.  I can be walking in the most beautiful peaceful surrounding within minutes of leaving my house.   After I gaze upon my beautiful rock table and cat rock at the end of my block, I can turnaround and head down the road toward home.  

This photo was taken last fall.  My home is the first one you see on the right.  The porch light is on.  The red truck bed is just to the right of my home.  This photo was taken one half block from the photo of the cat rock.  
I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the interesting sights in my neighborhood. 

Trick or Treat or Smashing Pumpkins?

This morning as I was driving out of our little village, I saw a man standing next to his parked car taking photos of a herd of deer that were munching on the manicured lawns in our neighborhood.  "Must be a tourist," I thought.  Those of us who live here see deer in our yards all day long.  It is quite commonplace to walk around our block of homes and see a herd of five to ten deer grazing near the sidewalk.

I must admit I have a love/hate relationship with these creatures.  At times, I am enthralled with watching them.  This spring, as I awoke one morning, my first sight of the day was of a few baby fawns scampering across the back lawn.  That is a delightful way to start the day.

Then, these creatures eat my flowers, and I am not a very happy lady.  I become determined to keep them from eating my delicate blooms by spraying everything with Liquid Fence.  Learning what plants they really don't like to eat, I concentrate on planting these.  Gardening is a challenge here.

During the spring of the year, we mainly see the doe.  At the beginning of spring, they appear to be quite thin except for their bulging midsections.  Soon, there are reports of one or two of them giving birth to baby fawns in the back yards of various neighbors.  

I must admit it is fun to watch the fawns grow and develop.  As summer progresses, it is interesting to watch the young bucks sprout antlers.  These antlers begin as little buttons and grow a bit bigger day by day.  Soon, these outgrowths are covered in velvet.  

Then, in early fall, the large buck suddenly appear.  I have no idea where they have been since late last fall.  The entire dynamic of the deer population seems to shift.  Life seems less carefree among the herds.  I notice a few of the doe begin to follow a large buck as he proudly and arrogantly walks through my back lawn area.  I also notice that the bucks claim a certain territory and begin to strip the plants of foliage that the other deer have mostly left alone on summer.  I finally give up in protecting my plants.  In fact, I pulled up all the remaining potted plants and placed some pumpkins on the porch as fall decorations.

Imagine my shock today when I glanced out the front door and saw this:

I was actually speaking to my husband on the phone when I noticed this big buck eating one of my pumpkins!  I had no idea deer liked pumpkins.  For some reason, I was pretty upset about this buck thinking he had the right to come up on my porch and claim this pumpkin for his dinner.

I tried to scare him away, but he just nonchalantly licked his chomps.

As you can see, I made quite an impression on him didn't impress him at all.

I hope you can watch the video.  If you can, notice how this creature is biting through that pumpkin.  I was quite intrigued with the power of those jaws.

Each month brings new sights in our neck of the woods.  It is October.  My neighbor asked me today if we get any trick or treaters.  I told her "no."  Last year, I didn't have one trick or treater on my doorstep.  I need to call her tomorrow and revise my answer.  We had trick or treaters early this year.  We had a buck on the porch who went beyond smashing our pumpkins.  He ate one!  

P.S.  I just mentioned to my husband that perhaps we should make sure we throw away the piece of pumpkin the buck left behind.  I don't want Mama Bear to come around and eat that!