and THEN

It was a beautiful, still (comparatively) morning, and Bear WANTED to be caught, so I gently grabbed her collar, put on her harness and changed my shoes. Teddy was only too happy to be caught. It’s been almost a week since we’ve been able to GET OUT THERE. Some wind is better than no wind because it keeps the bugs away and it’s cooling.

It was so nice to see the mountains again after a week or so of skies filled with dust. We got out of Bella and hit the trail. A little ways in was a dead and flattened garter snake, a sign that for the next couple of months dogs don’t get to go sniffing around in the bushes and tall grass. Garter snakes are harmless, but they are not the only snakes on this part of the planet. “You stay away from those guys, all of them, living and dead,” I said to Teddy and he may or may not have gotten that but he’ll hear it again and again in the coming months. Looked to me like someone ran over the snake OR a bird dropped it to kill it and then it got run over.

It’s a hungry time out here as I realized (once more) seeing that somebody got a nice meal of scrambled eggs.

Duck or coot, I don’t know. Fox, coyote, badger, skunk, musk rat, raccoon, who knows…

And then my watch rang. I love this Dick Tracy thing. It’s just amazing. It was my doctor’s office. My PA.

“Martha? This is Michelle. How are you?”

“I’m great! I’m out with my dogs and the wind isn’t blowing 100 miles and hour.”

“Be careful what you say,” she said, laughing.

“OK. You’re right. It’s not blowing YET.”

“That’s better.” Then she informed me that the test indicated moderate plaque in my arteries, and the doc is upping my dosage of my meds. I didn’t know what that meant, and my heart was in my throat for a minute. BUT I know how to ask questions such as, “That’s good news, right?”

“Oh yes, that’s good news.” If I were a doc’s office I’d start with “Good news!” and then the rest of it.

While all this was going on I was watching a golden eagle hunt. When I hung up I thought, “Well, if I’m going to get old lady news on my Dick Tracy watch in the middle of nowhere, how could it be better than while I’m watching a golden eagle hunt?” Because, you know, I’d be a poorer human if I never saw an eagle fly.

You can barely see him but he’s there. ❤

Cardiac CT Calcium Test

I went to the local hospital today and forked out $102 for a Cardiac CT Calcium Scoring test. Insurance doesn’t cover it yet. Even though it’s a fantastic diagnostic tool, it’s new.

Why did I do this? Well, my former sister-in-law having open heart surgery was the kicker for me. Added to that, my mom had had a stent inserted into her Carotid artery when she was about my age, and my bro had a stroke in his early 50s. I’ve been on “the usual” cocktail of meds for hypertension for the past 12 years.

In life’s flux, I KNOW ONE thing, and that is I owe my dogs my life. Sounds weird — even to me — but that’s what I learned from COVID. I have these two loving beings dependent on me, irrespective of the things I would like to do in my future, and I want a future. Living alone, this is really and truly 100% MY life even though I have friends who are definitely here for me. It is a matter of responsibility to myself.

The machine is pretty interesting. I think it might have been the first for me — though back in 1976, after I got hit by a truck, I dimly remember being in CT scanner to see if I had a skull fracture. Since I didn’t even get my name right after the truck, I am not sure what happened immediately after except some people picked me up off the street and took me to the hospital.

I was nervous today just being at a hospital, so my blood pressure was up. Normally, it isn’t. But, if my blood pressure were too high, the test wouldn’t work, so lying on the platform I did what I could to get my BP down. What was that? First I thought, “Go to your happy place.” I live in my happy place, so I imagined the Refuge with Bear on a wintry March day with the cranes. Then, I decided to recite poetry to myself and I recited Hopkins’ “The Windhover.” It worked and the test went fine.

The machine “speaks” — nothing too profound, just “Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, hold your breath….you may breathe.” Doesn’t sound like much but being in a metaphorical state of mind from reciting poetry, it seemed pretty significant. Continuing to breathe is the whole point.

The test will go to a cardiologist who will evaluate it and send the results to my doc whose name is Heidi. If there are problems, I have to/should/can make lifestyle changes. The nurse said, “If you want to. That’s your choice.” There are some things I could do without cutting off a body part, but I draw the line at cream in my coffee.

If you’re interested, here is a list of the risk factors.

  • You are male and over 45 years of age.
  • You are female and over 55 years of age, OR you have passed menopause or had your ovaries removed and are not taking estrogen.
  • Your father or brother had a heart attack before age 55 OR your mother or your sister had one before the age of 65.
  • You smoke OR you live/work with someone who smokes regularly.
  • You have a total cholesterol level of 240 or higher.
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • You are 20 pounds or more overweight.
  • You do NOT exercise at least three times a week.
  • You have diabetes OR you need medicine to control your blood flow.

Here’s an article about the procedure. The featured photo is the two bull bison who live at the ranch in front of my hospital/clinic. The females and calves are separated from the boys for now. Along with the bison, I watched a retail hawk swoop down from a tree to pick something.

Here’s “The Windhover” — Hopkins was a Jesuit priest. I didn’t recite it perfectly but so what?

The Windhover

Gerard Manley Hopkins – 1844-1889

I caught this morning morning's minion, king-  
  dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding  
  Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding  
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing  
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
  As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding  
  Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding  
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!  
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here  
  Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!  
  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion  
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,  
  Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.