Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. My Header Picture for November shows another favorite place to visit anytime of year, but especially in the Fall. This photo of mine shows you "AUTUMN in the SMOKY MOUNTAINS of Tennessee", and I took this picture on October, 20, 2020.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Cherohala Skyway in Autumn 10/21/20

Come Join us for an Autumn Ride along the Cherohala Skyway,  10/21/20
Dear Blog Friends,  Welcome to a day along the Cherohala Skyway. This is a National Scenic Byway which is 43 miles long,  and gradually heads up and then down the mountain between Robbinsville,  North Carolina and Tellico Plains,  Tennessee.

 Some people call this road the "Mile High Legend" ---since the elevation from the bottom to the top is about a MILE..   The name,  Cherohala comes from the two National Forests it crosses,  the Cherokee National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest.

This beautiful Skyway is never as crowded with people as the Smoky Mountains --so in many ways,  we like it almost better.  The drive itself is awesome ---and there are many overlooks along the way for one to stretch his/her legs and capture some pictures.  And --the area has MANY hiking trails!!!  We highly recommend it.  Hope you enjoy this Autumn's journey with us today --across the Cherohala!!!!

For more information about this amazing area,   click HERE,

We started our journey at an elevation of less than 1000 feet --and drove to the top of the mountain at approximately 5400 feet (and then back down the other side). So--you will enjoy the pictures at various elevations along the way. 

I love to look UP and see the pretty colors along with the blue skies.

Just a big carpet of color!  Wow --wish you could have seen this in person!!!

Different elevation from the last picture,  and not quite as much color! But---I love seeing the colorful mountain ranges in the distance.

I zoomed in here to see all of the RED trees, always my favorites!!

This picture is 'brighter' since the colors really pop out when the sun and blue skies are there.  (As you can tell from precious pictures,  we did have a little trouble with sunshine and blue skies when we were on the Cherohala.)

We stopped at one of the many overlooks and this is what we saw!!!!

I really think that this picture along the Cherohala Skyway says it all on this day (10/21/20). You see some colors at various elevations,  some blue skies,  some mountain ranges,  and some clouds--along with some sunshine. What more could one want?????

For my last picture,  I'll share a picture from our stop at Indian Boundary (on our way back down the mountain).   I love the colors of this tree hanging out over the water. 

Well--that's enough for today.  I used to post many more pictures --but in these crazy, busy times, most people prefer less pictures when looking at a Blog post. So I make myself stop with 10...

I hope you enjoyed seeing DAY TWO of our little Leaf-Peaking Trip.   What a fabulous trip it was this year.   We have taken this trip in the Fall several times --and this year may have been our best one  for colors and great weather.  We spent Day 1 in and around the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Day 2 in and around the Cherohala Skyway.  Between those two days,  we spent the night at a wonderful old INN  (FRYEMONT INN) in Bryson City,  NC.  Excellent rustic inn --with lots of history!

If you missed my photos from Day 1 (in the Smokies),  click HERE.

Have a great week, my friends, and thanks for 'allowing' me to share my A Fib Story last week.  Hopefully, my story can help someone else.  I am feeling better this week --so hopefully I will be able to get out and do more hiking and walking soon.  






Monday, November 9, 2020


Dear Blog Friends,  The Cardiac Catheter Ablation on Nov. 3, 2020 is OVER and I am home doing okay.  Thank so many many of you in the Blog and Facebook world for praying for success for me.  I could 'feel' your love and I needed it.  

 At age 78,  any kind of surgery or procedure is a risk --but I was willing to take that risk hoping that it would control my terrible  Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation so that I could get back to a life that I want to live.

SO---I made it through,  but even now (5 days later),  I will admit that this was the HARDEST  procedure I have ever had.  It was very similar to the one I had 1.5 years ago --but this one just seemed to take its toll on me.  I just hope I don't EVER have to have another one!  

My new doctor said it was an 80% success --but there were a couple of areas in my heart he couldn't 'fix' due to the fact that it might have caused other damage.  I like my doctor --and he seemed disappointed that he couldn't give me 100% success.  He said that I may have to continue taking medications (which cause me so many other side effects such as stomach issues,  eye problems, etc.) in order to keep the A Fib from coming back. 

My response:  I'll take the 80% --and pray for the best.  BUT--I hate the idea of having to continue taking medication in order to stay in Normal Sinus Rhythm.  But---I need to do what I need to do in order to stay alive and kicking!!!!

This is a really interesting book for anyone who wants to learn more about A Fib and Ablations, and especially what Steve Ryan says about doctors and people thinking that A Fib is no big deal and that it can just be ignored.... There are MANY types of A Fib  and many people have one type or another.  Some people only have problems with heart rate and others have the heart rhythm problem.  Some can tolerate medications so that works for them.  If one has problems with LOW heart rate,  that's when a Pacemaker can help... Some can stay in A Fib constantly and never even feel it... ME?  Ha--I'm in the category that I have high heart rate PLUS rapid heart rhythm, and cannot tolerate the heart medications... NOT FUN!!!

My danger when I go in and out of A Fib is possible STROKE.  That is why I am on Xarelto (blood thinner) and will be on it (or some blood thinner) for LIFE... The Xarelto doesn't have any side effects except terrible bruising plus the fact I have to be very careful not to bleed... Someday I may qualify for a Watchman, which is a gadget they put in you to prevent strokes.  That may help me to get off of the Blood Thinner.  BUT--that's in the future IF needed.  

My STORY:    In early 2018,  I was diagnosed with Persistent (ongoing) A Fib...  I spent a year totally in A fib --only taking Heart Rate Medications given to me by a Cardiologist to keep my heart rate from going too high or too low... That was a miserable year for me.  In 2019,  I left my Cardiologist and went to an Electrophysiologist (specialist)  asking/begging for help.  

When first getting  A Fib --I knew NOTHING about any of this.  One of the first things I learned is  noting the difference in Heart Rate and Heart Rhythm, and how it is related to A Fib.  Rate of course is how many Beats Per Minute your heart is beating and Rhythm is the improper or irratic beating (either too fast or too slow) of the heart. My biggest problem has been a rhythm problem, although when I do go into A Fib, my rate goes high also. Scary for me --and prevents me from doing 'much' travel for fear that I will go into A Fib on a trip/away from home.

I also learned the difference in a Cardiologist and an Electrophysiologist (EP).  A Cardiologist works on the plumbing in one's heart and an Electrophysiologist is the electrician of the heart.  OH how I wish I had known this when I first got A Fib... I wouldn't have wasted that first year!  

With Dr. Bradford (my first EP), I first had a procedure (March of 2019) where they shock the heart, called Cardioversion (which immediately put my heart rhythm back to normal --for the first time, since early 2018).  She also put me on an Antiarrhythmic Drug (which I had NEVER been on ) --to help keep my heart rhythm normal.  After that in June of 2019,  I had my first Ablation --which worked well,  and I stayed 'normal' (rate and rhythm)  for about 8 months.  That is when I told everyone that I had my life back... Felt Normal and GREAT!!!!

BUT--in 2020 (what a year for most of us),  I started having what I call A Fib attacks again, off and on with no specific cause/reason.  My heart would race and my heart rhythm was very erratic,  making me feel horrible until it would quit finally on its own.  I had 9 attacks during 2020.

Dr. Bradford moved to North Carolina,  so Dr. Meriweather became my doctor.   After seeing him for the first time, and having him learn my story and my desire not to take drugs (with horrible side effects),  we decided to do another Ablation.  SO here I am!!!!! 

Sorry to be so LONG and so WORDY ---but IF I still have you with me,  the bottom line is:  1. I am doing okay --and  will continue to feel better with each day;  2. I will keep moving forward in my life making the adjustments needed, and not give up;  3. I will TRY to stay positive;  4. Please try to understand that A Fib is complicated and many of us are struggling BIGTIME... One person's A Fib is NOT like someone else's.

One more thought:  I read that by 2030,  there could be as many as 12.1 million people in the United States with some kind of A Fib.   As in Cancer and Diabetes and other diseases,  more money and time needs to be spent to help those of us dealing with A Fib also.  

Here are three links you may be interested in: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/atrial-fibrillation;



Have an awesome week,  and thanks again for your thoughts and prayers.  I truly hate to complain about having A fib since it is NOTHING as serious as what some of you are going through healthwise.  But--it's my story which has altered my wonderful life BIGTIME. Sad thing, as in many diseases,  there is NO cure!