The South Wind
Climbing the hill was always tough but for a thousand times, successfully done! Utilizing the easiest terrain gradient in a circuitous manner avoiding soft earth under the carpet of oak leaves to avoid slippage, the crest would finally be accomplished. Enough flat ground on the ridge top would allow recuperation prior to climbing the tree perch chosen for this day. This day a warm feeling in my chest was unique as the twenty-degree temperature air taken for breath was the opposite! Were the lung ailments unique to my mother now reflecting their evil in the offspring of her eldest son? After pausing briefly, the climb was completed.
Later while walking across the cornfield with stalks still protruding from the ground, snow present in windswept volume against the row of stalks, the warm south wind again entered my lungs. Slowing to a creep, forcing the breath through my nose might alleviate this feeling? The chest desired more air than nose entry could produce, gulping for air until the feeling subsided was necessary. Surely my resistance to the colder air was the beginning of lung problem to be dealt with in the future! Now on the stand, the episode was forgotten.
Over the years the warm south wind would visit even in walk with my spouse, Kelleye. She was able to sustain a pace far faster than mine but the “mindset of my athletic past” would force me to suck it up and keep pace although the warm wind was applying pressure to my chest. After all, my age was continuing to escalate up the numbers ladder!
Through the years the seasons seemed colder, the days longer and my stamina weakening. Again, father time was exerting his unbending vengeance! Staying in bed seemed the better idea on those tough days – no need to shoot another Buck or Tom as my history had proven my ability to accomplish those feats! Ten mile hikes were done with Kelleye with minimal problem. Twelve pull ups for a sixty year old man at two hundred and fifty pounds were good enough for me!
The warm south wind would visit more frequently, often so minimal as to disguise it’s presence. Although mentioned in physicals taken over the years, it hid behind only slightly elevated negatives provided by the lab work! Dragging a two hundred plus pound buck from the timber was not an option now as age and intellect had both risen, albeit not at the same rate! Climbing the hill now is mastered in small steps up the mountain to avoid overexertion and to avoid visits from the South Wind.
At the insistence of my spouse, my annual physical revealed the usual culprits – slightly high reading in both, weight, cholesterol and now obvious higher blood pressure. I was sure to get the “improve diet, exercise and lose weight speech although my physique was superior to all patients, care givers and the general public, in my opinion. I mentioned the “South Wind” to my doctor, she suggested a Heart Scan available through the hospital for eighty dollars. My usual excuses were not accepted by the Doctor – I would be given two weeks to improve my blood pressure. If no improvement – medication would be in my future! I cut weight, improved diet and began walking to prove my mettle. Unfortunately, the improvement was slight and the heart scan was scheduled as an afterthought as those who know me will attest spending eighty dollars is tough!
Prior to the scheduled scan, my workout included seated Dumb Bell Curls utilizing a seventy-pound Dumb Bell! I reasoned a pass should be given for my strength at the very least! After the scan, I was taken into a special room set up for presentation on the big screen of my results. The chairs were especially comfortable, all this for eighty dollars? The Radiologist Fee would be much more than that in normal circumstances – the eighty dollars had been well spent! The attractive and fit nurse manned the computer key board and the Radiologist was a known professional. The image of my heart on the screen was Greek to me but I reasoned if my interpretation was correct – I would be 60/40 to the Good or 40/60 to the bad! I fully expected to find some blockage with the usual speech to improve my lifestyle to avoid future problems.
Although the start was good – my Carotid Arteries were good and the flow of blood to my legs was also good! My experience in presentations was the Good News is always shared first but I was not prepared for the next statement! Your heart is diseased the radiologist exclaimed! At first, the desire to not believe the professional was my response but his girl at the controls picked a few shots of my heart to prove their point! I am sure they did not show me the really scary visuals! Rebounding nicely, I quoted the words of Julius Cesar on the day of his assassination, “the sweetest form of death is to never know it is coming”, I told them they had ruined this for me! Both exhibited great laughter, but it was not that funny for me!
Sparing the details thereafter, despite my stellar, in my opinion, stress test and obvious physical prowess – I flunked! My spouse, a nurse by trade, recognized immediately my heart blockage was in the most serious of locations referred to those in the field as the “Widow Maker” Artery! Despite my antics with the staff at the hospital, my Cardiologist fixed me up with two stents and a pharmacy full of drugs to take and I am promised a second chance on life!
My advice to readers of this article is to not follow the bull headed, pseudo personal medical analysis of this writer who chose to ignore the obvious signs of my worsening condition! Having dropped to an almost girlish two hundred and forty pounds and now working to improve my previous diet of “Dr Pepper and Oatmeal Cookies” to a more heart healthy diet and regimented exercise routine, my future looks good! Having never taken a Medication in my lifetime, Kelleye, my spouse assures me the pharmacist will be my future friend but my trips to the outdoors will not be interrupted by the warm “South Wind” in the future!