Rainy night in Georgia

Wednesday evening, without any warning, it started raining hard. Soon there was thunder and lightning, and then some small hail.

What is this stuff falling from the sky?

What is this stuff falling from the sky?

The sky took on a yellowish-pink glow at sunset.

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I had to let the camera use its flash to get the sky to look anything like it did to the eye. The flash caught rain drops, and a hummingbird leaving our feeder (at the left above the red plastic flower on the feeder).

It has been raining for about two hours; the gauge shows 1.12 inches so far, and the weather radar shows a lot of rain to our west.

I don’t know whether Robin’s comment to the last post has anything to do with the rain, but I’m going to ask that she make the same wish the next time we seem to be stuck in a dry rut.

It’s still dry

When I posted on August 6 that we were dry, we had received 2.24 inches of rain since May 10. In the time since, nature has been taunting us with heavy rain to our west, moving our way, and then a few drops when it reaches us. This was the weather radar this morning at 10:40.

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There was a very nice and fairly large thunderstorm passing just north of us. We could hear the thunder. We didn’t even get a sprinkle out of it. We’re at the pushpin.

This was all lined up and heading towards us later in the afternoon.

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We’ll get rain out of this for sure, right. Here it is 20 minutes later

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And then this. It looks like we’re getting rain here, doesn’t it?

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And then it was gone.

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But, look, here comes more, out to the west.

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You know we’ll get a lot of rain out of this one. Here it is, and we’re in it.

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And then it was gone. I checked the rain gauge. Three-tenths of an inch for the day, and this is what it looked like later in the evening.

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So with this 0.3 inches of rain today, we have had 2.58 inches since May 10. The rain chances for the rest of this week are going steadily down, and the forecast is for 90s the rest of the week peaking at 98 F by Friday. I wonder if it will ever rain again.

Heartening results

I went to see one of my two cardiologists on Wednesday to get the results of an echocardiogram I had the previous week. I was diagnosed last summer with reduced heart function. The amount of blood my heart was pumping (the ejection fraction) was measured as 35 percent of the volume of the chamber at rest, which is somewhere between 50 and 65 percent of normal (there is a range because the average amount of blood the heart pumps relative to the volume of the chamber has a range of 55 to 70 percent). An ejection fraction of 35 percent is the point below which dangerous heart arrhythmias can occur, thus indicating that an implantable defibrillator might be warranted. The ejection fraction measured this time was 45 percent, which is somewhere between 64 and 82 percent of normal. This cardiologist, whose specialty is electrophysiology, said he wouldn’t need to see me again.

So this was good news. My heart function has improved by almost 30 percent over the last few months. I’m not sure why. It could have been medications; studies have shown that the medication I’m on can help increase ejection fraction. It could be the increased exercise I started after the diagnosis. Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve ejection fraction. Or I could be recovering from a possible unknown and undiagnosed viral infection.

I suppose it’s also possible that a different person read the echo results and calculated the ejection fraction differently. It’s hard to get a good idea how accurate and repeatable ejection fraction calculations are using a 2D echocardiogram.

The second bit of good news was that the short EKG I had in the office showed no premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). PVCs don’t necessarily indicate a serious heart problem; a lot of people have them with no serious consequences. I, on the other hand, had a very large number of PVCs when I first went to the doctor. I suspected that an EKG would show a decrease in PVCs because the things I associated with them had almost disappeared. Those things included discomfort when I laid on my left side, and the inability of my home blood pressure monitor to count my pulse accurately. When I mentioned to the doctor that there were no PVCs, he said, “But that was only over six seconds.” I said, “Yes, but I had so many before that I would have expected to see some in that time.” He looked back at the previous EKG and agreed with me.

I was relieved as we walked out of the doctor’s office. I had already decided to stop worrying about it, and now I think I actually have a good reason to do that. Leah is also relieved, but she still worries. She also thinks that doctors should be able to say why I had the problem in the first place and why my heart function has improved. I have a much less sanguine attitude about the state of medical knowledge.

I was a little amused by the doctor. I could almost see him losing interest in me as he looked at the echocardiogram results. Since I was no longer a candidate for an implantable defibrillator, I was no longer a candidate to be his patient. He didn’t exactly give us the bum’s rush, but he was not inclined to talk about what might be going on with me.

I guess I understand that attitude. Doctors like him see lots of patients every day (multiple appointments at the same time) and it must be hard to look at every patient as an individual rather than as a heart that needs some work. I do think a doctor ought to be able to hide that attitude.

My heart function is still below normal, but I’m also still asymptomatic. I walk the dogs a couple of miles every day, down the mountain and then back up. When I get back home, I ride a stationary bicycle for 50 minutes. And then I go outside the work on the house. I’m hopeful that my heart function will continue to improve. It will be interesting to hear what the other cardiologist has to say at my appointment in September.

Friday Felines

We caught these three relaxing on the front walk a few days ago.

The Three Amigos

The Three Amigos — Sylvester in black, Zoe in white, and Smokey in gray.

They look pretty comfortable together here, but they aren’t really all that friendly with each other or with any of the other cats.