A couple weeks ago, my new cardiologist told me to stop taking my high blood pressure medication. He thinks I can manage without it through diet and exercise – but first, he wants to establish what my new baseline blood pressure is. The medication I’ve been on is a beta blocker, which turns out to be pretty hardcore stuff. Five tiny milligrams taken once daily drops my blood pressure by as much as 40 points, and reduces my heart rate by about 30 beats per minute. Taking two by mistake could stop my heart completely.
Since going off the beta blocker, I’ve monitored my blood pressure daily, morning and night. The numbers have gradually ticked higher with each measurement after quitting the medication. Well, Monday morning, I awoke to the alarm with a terrible migraine headache. Every migraine medication I have has written warnings about it raising blood pressure… and I felt that my high blood pressure was the root cause of this migraine. So I opted to take my beta blocker, instead, and lay down for about an hour to let it work.
I got up and threw on some shorts and t-shirt to go see my wife and girls off to school. Everyone was running late, cooking breakfast, packing lunches, grabbing instruments and dance bags for rehearsal and what have you. While my wife was rinsing off the dishes, it occurred to her that the night before she had drawn the water for our brand new Christmas tree from the tap… and we have a water softener. (For the uninitiated, a water softener is a device that removes the “hardness” of water, which can build up calcium deposits on sinks, showers, toilets, appliances, etc., and mess with all the plumbing. Hard water also causes detergents and soaps to not suds up at all. Unfortunately, the water softener accomplishes this removal by filtering the water supply through a large bed of ROCK SALT before sending it through the house plumbing. This renders the water practically lethal to all houseplants and, in this case, our Christmas tree.)
Out came the turkey basters, cups, pitchers and towels. We had to get that tainted water out of the Christmas tree’s full 2-gallon basin. My wife and I worked on it together until she had to take the girls to school.
Normally, I walk with the family to the door to see them off and help manage our two little dogs, who both love to bolt out the door to explore the neighborhood. However, this time I was on a mission to save a Christmas tree. The girls had their usual armloads of gear to get through their lengthy days of school and extracurricular things (dance, violin, viola, etc.). I asked the girls to check their inventory as they headed out the door, because it seems inevitable that something gets forgotten when we’re in a hurry. Then D’Ann asked me to call the dogs to keep them from escaping… except there was only one dog near their feet. We were missing a dog, Phoebe, our shaggy, black, barrel-chested Yorkie mix that seems to catch a new gear every time she gets away from us.
I was livid. The one time that I’m preoccupied saving the Christmas tree, the girls got in a hurry and permitted an escapee. They were already late. This was not shaping up to be a good start to the week.
We scoured the back yard, all the downstairs bedrooms and possible hiding places… no sign of Phoebe. I grabbed my tennis shoes and we all split up and searched the neighborhood. We told every sleepy-eyed newspaper retrieving retiree, jogger, and van-driving mom that we came across to be on the lookout for our furry little black bullet. The search seemed like an eternity. Up and down the streets, the drainage ditches, peeking into the yards with open gates and loose boards… she could’ve been anywhere. By now, I was really, REALLY glad I had taken that beta blocker. Adrenaline had taken over and I wasn’t feeling the headache.
About 30 minutes into it, my youngest daughter decided to go and re-check our house. She looked in the last place any of us would have ever thought to look: the closed laundry room. There, happy as a lark, was our Phoebe (she loves her some socks). She had never barked, never even scratched at the door the entire time we were inside looking for her.
So now I was back on tree-duty. I don’t know how much damage it did, but the trunk was dry for well over a half-hour after getting it out of that salty, softened water. I went to our unsoftened water tap and got fresh water to refill the basin, hoping against hope that we hadn’t already done the tree in.
Through some miracle of time-travel, my wife was able to get the girls to school on time. I, on the other hand, collapsed on the couch with the two fur babies and ended up taking another forty-five minutes to get ready.
There is no moral to this story, except that if you have a headache, deal with it before the day starts… and if you have a water softener, remember it’s a plant-killer… and if you have a pair of Houdini-mutts, everything else can wait until the family is out the door.