During a backyard ramble the other day, I photographed the above aging dandelion head. Time has wrought it's inevitable changes. The bright yellow bloom is long gone. And the fuzzy, spherical mature head, with its multitude of single-seeded fruits, each attached to a downy, parachute-like pappus, has certainly seen better days. Wind and rain, heat and cold, have each taken their toll.
It should also be said this is all according to plan, the natural order of the dandelion's life. To everything there is a season…
I thought about this bedraggled dandelion head when I sat down to write this post, because I feel about the way it looks—storm-battered, losing my seed, a bit matted and droopy. Actually, I've been tired for a long time—unnaturally so—lacking in energy for months and easily exhausted. And it's all been getting gradually worse. The diagnosis is heart—not pumping function or blockage but speed. My heart beats way too slow.
Like my father, I've had a rather slow resting heart rate all my life—generally averaging something like 55 beats-per-minute (BPM) as opposed to most people who average 72 BPM. This in and of itself is not necessarily an issue. Athletes often have slow resting heart rates—some astonishingly low. I wasn't exactly an athlete, but I was highly active and could easily hoist a 52-pound camera pack, grab a 12-pound tripod, and along with maybe a fly rod, some fishing gear, and a few snacks, set off on a 20-mile round-trip hike into the remote Appalachian backcountry for a day's worth of picture taking and brook trout tempting—and I could do it all over the following day, and the day after. My slow-waltz heartbeat worked just fine.
But those 55 BPM have now slowed to the low 30s, even dipping down to 29 BPM during the 24-hours when I wore a Holter monitor last week. Obviously my ever-increasing fatigue is due to the slower pump delivering a shortage of energy-giving oxygenated blood to my cells. Not to mention that 29 beats per minute is skirting dangerously close to the point of losing consciousness…if not life.
The fix is a pacemaker. It won't turn back the clock to those marathon backcountry heavy-pack hiking days, but I ought to feel a bit better and at least my heartbeat won't be dipping down into the possible check-out rate.
While it isn't exactly minor surgery, it's minimally invasive, routine, and generally safe—or as safe as poking wires into your heart can be. Not that it honestly made all that much difference as to my decision. I understand the procedure and am comfortable with the risks, regardless of the actual outcome. But bottom line, I'm tired of being so tired.
Myladylove and I have had our talks. She knows me better than anyone, knows what I want and need to be happy. And loves me enough to let me decide. That's a rare woman and an uncommon gift. When I discussed everything with the surgeon this afternoon (who it happens is a Nikon man and possibly budding nature photographer) he gave me the option of waiting a while and thinking things over. No, I said, the sooner he could schedule, the better. So it looks like maybe within the next couple of weeks.
Your prayers and thoughts will be appreciated. I'll keep you posted…and write about other matters in the meantime.
However this turns out, it will be an adventure.