Thud thud thud… THUMP. Thudthud?thudthud… THUMP. Ow! As I lay in bed in the wee hours of the morning, several thoughts ran rampant through my head. My, it?s coming early this year. Yeah, I guess I have been more tired and stressed than usual. Hmmm, it?s never hurt like that before. Maybe I should go see a doctor. Nah. I really need to go back to sleep and stop worrying.
See, folks, I?ve had mitral valve prolapse?aka a heart murmur?since I was a kid. It means one of the valves in my heart doesn?t always quite close correctly, so sometimes I have an abnormal heartbeat. When I get overly stressed or fatigued, it gets worse.
As many of you parents out there might guess, the kids put me through the wringer this summer. Usually the fatigue sets in over the holidays, but sure enough, all the signs were there. Still, it had never been quite this painful, so I broke down and made a doctor?s appointment.
I finally dragged myself kicking and screaming to the doctor. He did the exam?and of course my heart was beating normally right then, dang thing. He asked me how I feel about taking a beta blocker to get my ticker back on track.
Sure, I say. He?s the doc, he knows what he?s doing. I dislike taking pills, but I?m starting to realize that if you gotta, you gotta. Off I trotted to the pharmacy with the prescription called in for me.
I started my regimen with high hopes. Sure enough, the painful thudding stopped. The veins in my hands weren?t quite so swollen. So far, so good.
Then, I went to a poultry auction several days later and dropped off some birds at a friend?s house. By the time I headed home, it was after dark. I?d never had a problem with night driving before, but that drive had me hyperventilating when I got home. I had no peripheral vision, so I just about put myself in the ditch. The last car that passed me going the opposite direction blinded me, and by the time I blinked away the spots, I missed a deer by about two feet.
At home, I noticed that when I got up for the necessary in the middle of the night, I saw black blobs in my vision. I crashed into things in the dark. I?m quite surprised I didn?t have a black eye some mornings when I got up. I reassured myself that it just took time for my body to get used to the meds and that it would all pass.
Guess what? It got worse.
I?d walk out at night to shut in the chickens and all I could see was a dark fog. I?d get out of the truck for the short walk to the house and have to shuffle my way in to stay on the path, walking by feel and zeroing in on the porch light.
Of course, my darling husband was stellar and did the night chores for me, but I wanted to try to get back to my old independent self.
I turned on my extra bright LED lights to go out and shut in the chickens. I could only see about two feet in front of me. I needed to shut the truck windows because it was supposed to rain that night, and I reasoned that all I had to do was follow the gravel down to the chicken coop. Windows shut. Check. Spider stick waving. Check. I can see gravel. Good. Why am I not hitting trees with my stick by now?
Squinting around, the horizon to the east did look a little lighter than usual. Yes, I thought. Maybe I?m starting to see better! Then I looked down to my right. Where did all that grass come from? There?s supposed to be a hill of vinca there.
I looked up. Hey, where did all those pine branches go? Shouldn?t I have passed the holding crates by now? Ambling onward, I kept looking to my right and it hit me like the broadside of a barn?where?s the dang BARN?
Sure enough, looking to the right where the barn should have been, my LEDs picked up the glow of the reflector at the corner of the driveway. You could have said I had egg on my face, but I was nowhere near the coop.
Having gotten my bearings, I fumbled my way to the coop and back. On another night, I tried to make a water run to the chickens and ended up in the garage.
Needless to say, I?m not taking those meds anymore, and yes, my night vision is improving. You still won?t have to worry about me driving at night for a while.
Stay tuned for a future episode: Adventures in Gallbladder Surgery!