I couldn’t make it happen, nor could I keep it from occurring. I could walk four miles on a treadmill, trudge across a cotton field with gumbo laden boots, or cut the lawn, with no ill effects. On the other hand, I could be sitting in my study at 5’oclock in the morning and the “feeling” would, for lack of better words, “ride up on me.” It might happen three or four times a day, and then not again for several days. It was extremely odd. I think I knew something was amiss when John Hartley bailed out of the truck one morning with sweep net in hand, and as I reached for my net, I felt a little “lightheaded.” The feeling was frequent enough that I mentioned it to him. Of course, he just told me I was out of shape. I mentioned it to Stacey as well, and I suppose timing is everything, as my annual physical just happened to be scheduled for the following week. It got interesting from here.
Most of the time I have a legal pad full of questions for Dr. Stephens during my physical. This itches, this hurts, what about this, and so on. This time, there was only one line filled in on the yellow paper. Funny feeling between the shoulder blades and lightheadedness was all I had written. My numbers were good for the most part. Blood pressure, cholesterol, PSA, lipids, etc. etc. etc., all good. Just to check it out and be sure though, he ran an EKG. I left the office feeling great and made my appointment for next year. Then the phone rang.
Have you ever heard of a “left bundle branch block?” I hadn’t but when I received the call from the office, I was informed I had one. Now your mind really starts turning. I chuckled when Dr. Stephens’ assistant asked me if I had a cardiologist. I told her not only do I not have one, I don’t even know one. We’ll that’s not totally true, but sort of. I chuckled again when she said, you’re about to know one. Let’s move forward.
I met Dr. Sanders and we had a wonderful visit. He explained my “bundle branch” to me and to check things out further, he scheduled a stress test. I had been through a stress test before, but that’s another story. The nuclear medicine felt weird. I had a little head rush, chills here and there, pictures taken before meds, then afterwards. All in a day’s work. They finished me up promptly and I headed for the house. I didn’t feel anxious at all. Then the phone rang!
“Mr. North, you had an abnormal stress test. We’re going to set up a heart catheterization procedure for you.” Now your mind really begins to race. What does the future hold? Is this the widowmaker? The hardest part about this entire ordeal was the waiting between the time I was made aware of an “issue” and the time for the procedure. To be honest, the funny feeling I was experiencing was also becoming a little more frequent. I did my best to ward off anxiety, but I kept thinking about how many more mornings would I have to hear a gobbler sound off from his limb and would I be able to climb the mountain with my rifle going forward. These were not pleasant thoughts, but realistic thoughts.
The day arrived, finally. Not that it took weeks, just the anticipation seemed endless. Technology is amazing. The small “wire” was inserted through my wrist. I could feel the apparatus snaking its way towards my elbow. I was awake the entire time, but I wasn’t saying much. Trust me, I didn’t want to distract Dr. Sanders in the least. I still remember him saying, about three minutes into the procedure, “we’ve gotta fix that.” Assistants and nurses moved like a fine-tuned machine. I can still hear the words, “stent coming down, stent coming down, stent coming down.” In all, I got five of the small, life saving tubes. The process didn’t take long and as he wrapped up his efforts of giving me a hundred-thousand-mile extended warranty, I asked him a question. “Am I doing something wrong? Am I causing this? I’ll never forget his answer. He replied that we can all do better with our exercise, diet, and lifestyle, but this has a lot to do with genetics. Some of us, the day we are born, are more prone to maybe have a cancer at some point in our life. Others my be more inclined for Alzheimer’s. I got the heart card. What I did do though, was have enough wisdom to “think” I may have an issue and then have enough courage to bring it to my physician’s attention while not fearing what I may need to endure down the road. “Fear not, for the Lord is in control.” Now, if you have been reading my articles for the last decade and a half, you know that many times I drop hints and innuendos stirring you to think and/or contemplate things. Now is no different. I’ll explain.
Most of the time I begin our column describing some inconspicuous sign that fall may be approaching. I usually speak of my pear preserves and the memories of my mother and I in the kitchen preparing the pantry with assorted “necessities” that would sustain us through winter. Sometimes I mention the faint cry of migrating geese as the first flocks migrate south to their wintering grounds. A subtle color change in the sycamore leaves is sometimes a hint. I knew it was close when dad began rummaging through his dove vest making sure 20-gauge and 12-gauge shells weren’t mixed up. I’m sure in my next articles, I will re-visit the same tell-tale signs of fall, but for today, my message is this. I got a new lease on life! Pay attention to what your body tells you and don’t be bashful or afraid if you think something is going on. Readers of my column are far too hard to come by these days, and I want to keep bringing articles to you for many years. Don’t worry, I will keep reminding you of this. And with that said, it’s time for another season of “Outdoors in the Sun.”
The summer has been daunting. From extreme temperatures throughout the season, to horrendous cotton insect pressure, to everyday life struggles, it’s been quite the challenge. With that said though, for the next six months, through fall and winter, I will bring to your fireside dens, homes, and offices, a wide array of topics for your enjoyment. I hope you are looking forward to our column as much as I am looking forward to writing for you. Thank you in advance for this opportunity, and rest assured, this season will be a good one. If you get the chance, drop Wyatt, Jimmye, or me a note if you have a particular subject you would like mentioned. We’ll do our best to accommodate your wishes. So, settle in with your bird dogs, a friendly cabernet, and a glowing fire, and get ready to enjoy what so many of us dream of all year! Finally, it’s here and I can’t wait. See you soon. Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.