Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Stress Test (Part II) 

I arrive, accompanied by Wife, at the Cardiologists office for my stress test. I sign in, and a short time later someone calls my name. As I am following the "technician", or whatever she is, to the scene of the stress test, I notice that she reminds me of a bell: small head, narrow shoulders flaring out to a substantial midsection, followed by even wider hips, then skinny legs ending in large feet. I wonder why she doesn't go "Ding-Dong" when she walks!?!

She starts an IV (I'm beginning to wonder if I should seek councelling; I haven't even said anything yet, but just before jabbing the needle in my arm, she, like the nurse in R's office, calls me a "little prick"!). Eventually Dr. C arrives, and even though I explain to him that he just did a stress test on me 18 years ago, making this one redundant, he insists on proceeding with the test anyway.

Dr. C explains that the bell...er, the nurse... will introduce radioactive stuff into my IV periodically, which will cause my heart to speed up. I point out that the very thought is making my heart speed up! Once my heart rate reaches a certain number of beats-per-minute (assuming it doesn't quit first), the nurse will shoot me up with something to slow it down.

I caution Dr. C that we may need to postpone the test, as I am apparently experiencing an anxiety attack; my heart is already racing. Dr. C reassures me by explaining that the entire time he has been talking, the nurse has been pumping nuclear stuff into my circulatory system! He glances at a monitor, gives Nursie a "thumbs up", and asks me how I feel. My heart is bouncing around in my chest, and I can actually hear my pulse. I note that my heartbeat sounds a lot like the drum solo from In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (note to younger readers: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is a song by Iron Butterfly, and if either of your parents attended the original Woodstock, they have it on a "record" [a "record" is an ancient form of data storage, used primarily for music, which served in the interim between "scrolls" and "8 track cassettes"]).

Anyway, just before my heart bounces me off the table, Dr. C tells Nursie, "OK, slow 'im down!". They allow me 15 minutes or so to slow down, then the nurse disconnects the EKG wires and dispatches me to the waiting room while the dye, which she also squirted through the IV, permeates my circulatory system.

After around 40 minutes, the nurse fetches me and takes me to a room containing a "gamma camera". I am to lie, immobile, on a slab about a foot wide. I have to lie there for 30 minutes, and if I move, we will have to start over. I explain that, due to my arthritis, I cannot lie on my back that long. The nurse is unsympathetic; according to her, I have no choice. I decide to give it a try.

[Ever notice how, whenever someone tells you that you have to do something, you are reluctant to do it, even when it is in your best interest? Similarly, when someone tells you not to do something, you tend to do it anyway, right? I'll prove it!

Whatever you do, do not think about a green elephant!

OK. Everyone who thought about a green elephant, raise your hand. See! I told you (uh, you can put your hands down now).]

I somehow made it without moving, only to be told by Nursie that this was only half of the test. She advised that I would need to come back the following week and have pictures of my heart taken without it having first been assaulted by radioactive chemicals. I do not have a medical degree (I sometimes wonder where some folks who do have medical degrees sent off to get them), but the thought occurs to me that we should have been able to do the part where my heart was not racing before Nursie shot me up.

I return the following week and Nursie (who still reminds me of a bell) fetches me from the waiting room and wrangles me into the needle room. Nursie grabs a needle and swabs my arm with alcohol.

Nursie: Little prick.

Me: Bell!!!

(Nursie looks at me, frowns, looks away, frowns some more, then shakes her head vigorously. Nursie knows when she has met her superior in the insult game!)

Anyway, she shoots non-nuclear stuff into my arm, then allows me to languish in the waiting room for about 45 minutes before subjecting me to the "gamma camera" again. When the ordeal is over, Nursie tells me that the test is complete, and that R should have the results in a few days. I leave, convinced that Nursie could rival Wife as a walking stress test!

(To be continued...)