|Getting the machines ready for my stress test|
Yesterday morning I went through three hours of a very unpleasant experience. It is called a stress test. Seems I have an extra heartbeat. Well, you all know I have a big heart.
The last time I had a stress test was two years ago. This is the followup. Man, that two years went by fast.
So here is what is involved in a stress test. It's a bit more (I would say) than walking on that whatever you call it (which I never liked anyway).
First thing is they stick a needle in a good vein so they can put an IV in your arm. They need to inject you with a fluid that appears on the X-ray camera (not sure if it actually is an X-ray).
|These last four years I've had more needles stuck into me than the rest of my life combined. Next week - flu shot!|
Then you wait. And wait. This is an assembly line process, I was second in line at 8:15 AM yesterday morning.
Then I'm led to the apparatus where you lay down and a humongous camera taking machine descends upon my body. It is in two parts.
Left arm above my heard, right arm on arm rest to be injected. Then DON'T MOVE for TWELVE minutes. Of course I can breath but DON'T MOVE or else they have to start the whole procedure over again. And I'm telling you, you DON'T want to have to go through this procedure any more than necessary. If you have any hint of claustrophobia, you DO NOT want to go through this test. The machine takes pictures at different angles of my chest of this fluid going through my system.
It's over and I go and sit down again only to be called to take the (and I can't think of the name) stress test that you all think is the stress test. Getting on that contraption that they speed up.
|See how happy I am?|
The assistant asks me to lift my shirt (oh, showing my flabby body again, I don't care these days, my glory days are over). She puts these sticky tags on me that are hooked up to the machine. Yes, when she pulls them off later some of my gray chest hairs go with them. I told her "I didn't need those chest hairs anyway."
I'm hooked up and she asks me to "step up" to the contraption. She turns it on. I'm taking baby steps. She says "Take longer strides, and slower." Oh, you want the Butch Walk. Okey dokey, I can do that (I've had LOTS of practice).
She turns on the machine. Slow at first. This isn't so bad but I know this won't last. And it didn't. She speeds it up. She asks "Feeling any pain?" My first thought (which I don't say) is "Lady, I feel pain from the moment I get up in the morning. My body aches all over. I'm 72 years old and I've taken quite a beating, especially the last few years." But I let the Professional Ron swing into action and I say "I'm alright . . . . for now."
She speeds up the contraption. Now I'm starting to huff and puff like the Flabby Old Guy that I am. "Feeling anything?" she asks. "Oh yeah" I answer. "Feeling a tightness in the chest?" She asks. "Yes" I answer. She speeds it up.
Now I'm working. I'm huffing and puffing like the wolf that tried to blow down the brick house of the Third Pig.
She continues to monitor the screen and look at me, making sure I don't collapse right there and create an uncomfortable scene on that placid Friday morning.
I say "That's it." I'm thinking I better stay alive because right before I went into the Cardiovascular office, I got a text message from my co-worker asking me if I could work for her last night because she wasn't feeling well. So much for me relaxing weekend, stress free after this test so I could tend to my hive outbreak.
I'm depended on.
I get off the contraption (still can't think of the name, is this the first signs of my dementia)?
Up with my shirt again so she can rip off those attachments to my no longer six pack ab, 72 year old hairy chest. Chest hairs ripped out, never feels good.
The doctor comes in. Asks when I had the test before. She looks at my chart and says "Oh, I remember you." Well, I am unforgettable to SOME people. She looks at my chart again and says "Has your doctor talked to you about catheterization." Uh well . . . . NO. And he's not going to either. Sure, my family has a history of heart problems (one younger brother on his second pacemaker and the other has an aneurism as well as my late father). NO.
No open heart surgery for this one. Sure, I get pooped out faster these days. I don't have the energy that I used to have. You won't see me playing racquet ball . . . . EVER. But am I going to go down that medical treadmill? NO.
Looking at my chart she did say "Well, your chart is exactly the same as it was two years ago."
Ah ha. Now I remembered what my cardiologist told me two years ago. He said one of my lower ventricle valves wasn't opening properly and the extra heartbeat was my heart trying to compensate for that anomaly. He said this situation was fairly common in someone AS OLD (there we go again with the "YOUR AGE" qualification thing) as you. He said "After all, your heart has been beating non-stop since 1941, eventually it starts slowing down." Tell me about it. So I'm like an old car. Sure, I am. Well, I've kept this old car in pretty good shape with only a few lapses (I did smoke for about seven years). But eventually, no matter how good you take care of the car chassis, it goes. I'm on the downward slide folks.
At that time two years ago my cardiologist suggest that we "monitor" my heart since I didn't want to take more drastic measures like OPERATING ON THAT VALVE. Folks, I would rather die in my sleep of a heart attack than go through another major medical procedure. I'm not saying never, but I just don't think it is necessary at this time. Not going there folks, I'm just not going there.
I got all unhooked and I was burst out the door to my waiting Bill in our car at quarter to noon. He had been sitting there (he never goes into the waiting room) since I drove up at ten of eight. LONG DAY.
Drove home, had lunch, took a nap and I was into work at the hotel. A Friday night crowd. Busy, of course but all nice folks and some very interesting folks. That's what I like about my job.
The red spots of hives on my leg and thighs were in full bloom after yesterday morning's stess test and now another full eight hours of hotel front desk work.
A Day In the Life of Ron folks. It's all good. I'm still ticking and taking a licking. Especially when I got home and I saw a card Bill got from his nephew's children telling him that Bill's 54 year old nephew died suddenly. We all have a Date of Departure folks. Nobody gets out alive. All we can hope for is that we're able to love and be loved the short time we're here on terra firma. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some shopping to do at Food Lion.
Treadmill . . . . I just thought of the contraption's name. Actually "treadmill" is a good metaphor for life. Aren't we all on a treadmill? For some of us it goes slow and others pretty fast. Right now mine is just about right . . . for now anyway.