A life update

I stopped blogging for awhile there, huh?

Let me try to let you know what’s happened since I stopped doing the daily recovery posts back in December.

I guess the most important thing is that my heart recovered.

results showing a normal ejection fraction of 55-60%
My echocardiogram results, February 1, 2017

This news came on February 1 with an echocardiogram. I was astonished; I thought my heart might have improved a little, but the result was an ejection fraction of 55-60% (normal). Heart Failure Part Deux was far shorter than the first time around! I credit it to three things: 1) the heart medication, obviously; 2) I changed my diet and started exercising right away; and 3) I started out 120 pounds lighter than I was the last time. I am pretty confident that #3 played a major role, and I am so thankful to have had weight loss surgery.

Other than that, I have been playing Medication Roulette and going to therapy to deal with various things. Sometimes it seemed to be going well and then something would go wrong. Things seem to be looking more promising now. We’ll see, I guess. The latest issue is that a medication I was taking was causing me to be tired all the time. No amount of sleep was ever enough; I was always drowsy and had no energy to do anything. So I switched off it back to a lower dose of one I had been taking before. We had switched off that one because I had an anxiety attack and things got really, really bad, but I think the problem was that the dose had been increased. So back to the original dose. Fingers crossed. (I can’t take extended release medications, and this seems to rule out a lot of options.)

Unfortunately, coming off the medicine that made me drowsy has been very difficult. At first we tried cold turkey, but doing that made me too sick to function. Next we tried to wean me off it, which went better at first, but now, at the end of the weaning period I seem to not have weaned slowly enough. More on this below, but first some fun things.

The winter was pretty mild, with occasional arctic blasts, resulting in Gibbs Gardens’ daffodils blooming early. They moved their opening from March 1 to February 18; I went on Sunday, February 19, because Saturday was rainy. It was a beautiful day and the daffodils were everywhere.

wide shot of daffodils all over a hill
Daffodils at Gibbs Gardens, February 19, 2017
daffodils in the foreground extending all the way back to the horizon up a hill
Daffodils at Gibbs Gardens, February 19, 2017
closeup of two daffodils with other daffodils behind them
Daffodils at Gibbs Gardens, February 19, 2017

There were also cherry blossoms!

detail shot of cherry blossoms
Cherry blossoms at Gibbs Gardens, February 19, 2017

It got kind of cold again for awhile, but then on March 11 I went hiking at Vickery Creek in Roswell. It was a fantastic hike and I want to go back soon…especially since I didn’t get to see the mill ruins. (I did see the manmade waterfalls though!)

a broad manmade spillway
Roswell Mill waterfall, Vickery Creek, March 11, 2017

On March 19 I went to Arabia Mountain with Charles and Heidi. We took their dog Ginny with us :) I had been to the area before on my own, but I was on the wrong side of the street and never climbed the actual mountain. We did the Mountain Top Trail. Arabia Mountain is like Stone Mountain, except it’s smaller and it has these amazing little pools of plant life in its “craters”. One of the plants is this strange, almost coral-looking red stuff called diamorpha. It was everywhere and I got lots of pictures.

a wide shot of odd red plants inside a rocky crater
Diamorpha at Arabia Mountain, March 19, 2017

I was unable to hike, or really go anywhere, this past weekend due to withdrawal symptoms from the medication I switched off of. I actually had to leave work early because of it. I would get extraordinarily dizzy, and when I’d move my eyes I’d hear strange echoes in my head. It was very unpleasant. The symptoms lasted until Monday morning, when I gave in and took half a pill. Since then I’ve been all right, but I’m prepared to take another one tomorrow if necessary, because that dizziness is no joke.

I want to try to hike/visit a garden every weekend now that the weather’s nice, because being outside makes me feel so great. I’m considering Piedmont Park and the Botanical Garden for this weekend but I heard on the radio that Zoo Atlanta has a new Treetop Trail and it sounds really fun. There’s also Kennesaw Mountain, which I’ve been to before but never in spring, and Smith-Gilbert Gardens, and Sweetwater Creek, and Stone Mountain, as well as plenty of places I haven’t been yet.

Just thinking about being outside has made me feel a lot better than I did when I started writing this post :)

Well, I’m sure I could ramble on about more stuff, but it’s past my bedtime, so I’ll sign off here.

A cherry blossom adventure in Conyers

March, for the most part, was cold and miserable, with occasional freak snow flurries in the mornings. Trees only haltingly started blooming toward the end of the month.

I had known for some time that Macon had a Cherry Blossom Festival, and I’d made tentative plans to go…but the forecast for my intended weekend, March 23 and 24, was horrendous, chilly and rainy. Given the weather of the previous few weeks, I estimated that the cherry trees wouldn’t even have been in bloom anyway.

The next weekend, though, felt just right for cherry blossoms. While I didn’t quite have time for a road trip to Macon, I figured I could find some trees closer to home. A bit of googling turned up the fact that there had been a cherry blossom festival in nearby Conyers, Georgia, the same weekend as Macon’s. According to the website, that city has plenty of cherry trees to enjoy. I was busy with chores on Saturday, so on Sunday, March 31, which happened to be Easter, I headed east on I-20 to the town I always pass going to and from Augusta.

I’d read that both downtown Conyers and the nearby Georgia International Horse Park had lots of cherry trees. I decided to hit downtown first, as I love exploring small towns. Conyers did not disappoint! Not only did I find the cherry blossoms I was after, but I saw a cute and vibrant downtown and plenty of other flowering trees and plants.

Cherry blossoms in downtown Conyers, Georgia

Evans Pharmacy, Conyers, Georgia

Fallen blossoms, Conyers, Georgia

Downtown Conyers even has its own miniature botanical garden.

Lewis Vaughn Botanical Garden, Conyers, Georgia

Lewis Vaughn Botanical Garden, Conyers, Georgia

By the time I’d explored Main Street and the Lewis Vaughn Botanical Garden, I was pretty tired and thirsty, so I stopped at Creamberry’s Ice Cream–the only open store I saw downtown–and got a sundae and a bottled water.

Creamberry's Ice Cream, Conyers, Georgia

Sundae and water at Creamberry's Ice Cream, Conyers, Georgia

After that it was back to exploring. I found a few interesting buildings as I approached the train tracks, and when I actually got to the tracks, I discovered the cherry blossom mother lode.

The Pointe Tavern, Conyers, Georgia

Cherry blossoms along train tracks in Conyers, Georgia

The overcast sky started to clear up just then, so I was able to get some reasonably good shots.

Cherry blossom, Conyers, Georgia

Colorful buildings, downtown Conyers, Georgia

Cherry blossoms, Conyers, Georgia

When I reached the end of the long line of cherry trees, I turned back in toward downtown Conyers, passing the Welcome Center and cutting through to the public parking lot where I’d left my car.

This probably would have been enough, but I still felt like exploring, so I charted the way to the Georgia International Horse Park with my phone. After all, if the cherry blossom festival was held there, there had to be more cherry blossoms, right?

At first I was disappointed, though. Road construction detoured me away from the main entrance, and I ended up driving onto the horse park through a side gate. There were barely any trees at all around the stables and tracks, let alone cherry trees. I drove around the perimeter and didn’t see anything worth stopping for beyond a creek I’d noticed upon arrival. Disheartened, I took the first exit I came across back to the road…and across the street I spotted a nature preserve. I hopped across the road into the parking lot, parked my car, and marched down the hiking trail without a second thought.

Big Haynes Creek Nature Center is nestled along the creek I’d seen from the horse park. The trail led me back through the woods to an absolutely gorgeous wetland area.

Big Haynes Creek Nature Center

The trail winds along a large body of water, upon which I saw Canada geese, a heron, and a surging splash in the distance that may have been a beaver or muskrat (or an alligator). I spent considerable time sitting at the boardwalk area, basking in the beauty I’d found.Boardwalk at Big Haynes Creek, Conyers, GeorgiaHeron, Big Haynes Creek, Conyers, GeorgiaBig Haynes Creek Nature Center, Conyers, GeorgiaBeyond the boardwalk, the trail curves into the forest alongside the creek, past a water purification plant and eventually back to the parking area. Along the way, educational signs and activities share information about local plants and wildlife and the water purification process. I even saw more flowers. It’s a really nice little nature center.

Flowering vine along Big Haynes Creek, Conyers, Georgia

At this point, I was fully satisfied with my Conyers adventure. I got back on the road expecting that to be it. But I ended up leaving the Georgia International Horse Park property a different way than I’d come in, and that meant I finally found the main entrance–and its stands and stands of cherry trees.

Cherry trees at Georgia International Horse Park, Conyers

The cherry blossom-lined road out of the horse park was the perfect endcap to an amazing adventure in Conyers.

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