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A Matter of the Heart

As my son and I were ascending the steep and rutted trail leading up to Chestnut Ridge one particularly raw December morning, I felt my heart muscle quivering in my chest, and I became sick at my stomach. I thought I was about to pass out. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but what I was experiencing was actually an episode of a-fib ( atrial fibrillation), something that I wouldn't be diagnosed with until two years later, lying flat on my back in a hospital bed, scared out of my mind.
Chase and I were headed to a spot that I had found while roaming around up there the week before. I thought it would be the perfect place to take him deer hunting, and I'd be able to keep my eyes on him at all times.
When I stopped in my tracks and placed my hand on my chest, he asked me what was wrong. I didn't dare tell him. I figured that the last thing I needed was for my twelve year- old son to start freaking out on me up there in the mountains.
I was joking with my wife the night before our big trip that if something happened to me up there, he'd have to quarter me up and pack me out, one piece at a time. Standing up there on that mountain with my heart beating erratically, it didn't seem quite as funny. I didn't have cell phone service, and we were two miles from the truck.
We went on around the bend and I found a place for us to sit, looking down into a small gorge. We leaned our backs against two oak trees, using the thick laurel as cover. After about ten minutes, my heart began to beat normal again. We stayed there for about two hours after that and didn't see any deer moving, which I could've cared less anyway. I talked him in to calling it a day, and we eased back down the mountain and headed home.

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