21 August 2009

I Survived an Exercise Stress Test.

Yep, I had one of those the other day. Now that was an experience.

I'd had a few chest pains and given my mother has heart problems, my grandmother died of the same, two uncles have had coronary artery bypass grafts and a cousin has also, I've got a relatively strong history there. I wasn't particularly worried but decided to get it checked out.

On Monday, I went for the initial consult which included a 12 lead ECG and a review by the cardiologist (who was rather gorgeous, by the way). He said I had a soft murmur (kind of makes you want to say "speak up!", doesn't it?). So, to take it one step further, he suggested the exercise stress test. I'd heard of those and knew it involved a treadmill. Not one of my favourite pieces of gym equipment...I can never stay on the bloody thing!

So Wednesday, I front up in my usual walking gear (daggy tee shirt, baggy 3/4 sports pants that are as old as the hills and a battered pair of joggers). I first had an ultrasound (the sonographer was rather lovely too, but a tad young for me...another male, as you might have guessed). I had to "bare my top (oooooh, this is getting exciting) and he attached sticky things all over my left boob, my left side, the central torso and a couple on the right side. He told me to lie on the bed (do you think this is getting slightly steamy?) and attached all these leads to me. Any minute, he was going to turn me on, I thought. It started off well...he turned the lights out and told me to relax. I did that....oh, I was relaxed, all right. Then what a let down...he sat down at the computer! Damn. Suddenly he was there at my side again...ooooh. He leaned over...and jabbed me in the ribs with a cold, wet probe. All business like, he punched away at the keys on the computer only issuing commands like, turn on to your back, hold your breath, breathe normally, turn back to the left, etc. I tell you, it was a real let down after such a promising start.

Then he finished, switched the lights on and attached a monitor around my waist in preparation for the treadmill trial. The doctor came in, smiled and chatted away companionably as if we were in some sort of social situation, instead of me being at a distinct disadvantage of not looking anywhere near my best with two males and all of us in a small room in which the bed was the central fixture.

However, it was treadmill time. I stepped onto the machine and it was turned on. Oh, okay, this isn't too bad, I thought. So I walk along but then I had a nasty thought. "Am I going uphill?" I demanded. The doctor grinned back at me, "You certainly are." "I don't like hills," I retorted, and just heard laughter in return. Then these two decide to have a discussion as to whether I was actually going uphill or downhill, seeing as I was actually walking flat. I decided to break it up. "I really need an iPod," I complained. "You can have my MP3," offered the doctor, then added, "But you probably wouldn't like the music on it." I was just going to ask what kind of music he had when he said, "Right, now, very shortly it's going to get steeper and faster." Whaaaaat!!

I mean, come on, I'm not 20 any more, or even 40. Surely, they'd have some respect for my age. Then the doctor started counting down, "5...4...3...2...1!", pressed a switch and suddenly I found myself striding out, going faster and harder. Actually, because I could really stride out, I found it a little easier...at first. "Oh, look, her heart's confused," said the doctor. I glanced at the computer screen alongside of me and my heart certainly was confused. The lines were jumping up and down like the needle on an earthquake graph. Then just as suddenly they returned to normal...that lovely even pattern of a heart pumping properly, if a tad rapidly. I was rather relieved about that.

I carried on. "I'm not this fit." I gasped. "But you are," replied the doctor. I subsided and kept on hill climbing. I could feel my heart pumping, my blood pounding and my chest heaving. "How much longer?" I begged. "Can you do just 30 seconds more?" asked the doctor. "Okay," I gasped. I was then determined to do the 30 seconds, which doesn't sound much at all...until you're just about on your last legs and gasping for air. Next I heard the welcome sound of "3...2...1" and the machine was switched off. "You can have a glass of Chardonnay when you get home," said the doctor. Bugger waiting until I get home, I thought, I need one now!

Unfortunately, there was no rest. "Quick, quick, back up on the bed. We want to check your heart while it's still racing!" I was only too happy to comply. Aaaah, to relax, lovely. Uh-oh. The next thing I hear is "Right, take a deep breath." I am taking deep breaths, can't you hear me? Then "Hold it." Hold my breath??? You've got to be kidding! I tried, I really did. But my lungs just wanted air. Then I was asked to hold my breath again? All I want is air! Let me breathe! Then again...oh, no, this is too much to ask. But then I hear, "Okay, all finished. You did very well. You completed the exercise test and," this was the doctor, "you have no heart problems." By that time, my breathing was almost back to normal, but I was dazed and if he'd said I had a hole in the heart or something, I don't really think it would have registered just then.

The sonographer then went to the other side of the bed and I thought he was scratching my side...I felt a sharp pulling sensation. "Ow!" from me. "Sorry," he said, not looking that at all. "I'm just trying to get these sticky labels off and they like your skin." I think that was worse than the treadmill...it was definitely worse than eyebrow or leg wax! I know now how those guys on "Dancing with the Stars" felt when they had their chests waxed for some raunchy dance where they showed their chests. I said as much to the sonographer. His response? "Just as well you haven't got a hairy chest!" Charming...

He eventually got all the sticky things off...12 of them there were. I then was given a towel to wipe the gel off my skin, told I was able to get dressed and to just go out to reception. I duly did so and went out to reception where the cost just about had me in cardiac arrest and needing the defibrillator. I handed over my card, was given the receipt and got out of there as fast as I could.

It was a beautiful warm and sunny day outside...I just wanted to get home and nurse my very poor bank account...


Gattina said...

Hahahaha ! (sorry) I just imagine you cabled ! and then on this torture thing, poor girl ! what did they do to you ! but be happy that you are so healthy and in a good shape ! Good reason to fill up your bank account again and visit Europe and me ! We even have Australian Chardoney, lol !


PS. My sons friend and collegue wasn't so lucky he died of a heart attack in his bed. My son found him dead ! He was only 34 ! It's horrible. So to read good news does good !

Jack K. said...

Congratulations on passing your "test". Continue to take good care of yourself. Mitzi and Bella appreciate it.

Cindy said...

I'm glad you're ok. What would the cats have done?
Sorry he didn't notice you more!

Angelo said...

Hi Robyn, geez I never imagined a stress test could ever possibly be as steamy as you described hehe.... I'm glad you didn't have any chest pains during the test, and I hope the final reading is an all clear! Have another glass of chardonnay for me, cheers!

Alice said...

Such a lovely account of your stress test....nearly makes me want to go and have one. Oh, that right, I had one earlier this year, minus the dishy doctors though. Some people have all the luck....lol.

Glad your ticker is fine, Robyn.

Peter said...

Congratulations on your stress test pass, I don't think I would get one... I used the Victa to tidy the spots the rider mower can't get to the other day and was buggered after 10 minutes.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I didn't know that physical testing could be so draining--or, erotic.

This is a wonderful piece, Kat. I really enjoyed reading it.

Merle said...

G'day Dear Robyn ~~ I am glad you survived the stress test. They sure
sound like torture that could cause a heart attack. Glad you got good news. Thanks for your comments on my fall, and yes lucky I had my safety pendant on. And it's good to have the computer up and going again. Now my printer is on the blink.What next?
Have a great week, as I hope to.
Take care, Love, Merle.

Flip Flop Floozie said...

VERY FUNNY post!! You could have left the medical parts out and we would have thought worse..but it was cute!! I know that when you were going through this that the word..CUTE did not come up as FAR as the test went I mean..Not the doctors...smile!!
I have never had one of these but knowing me I will have too one day..Ain't it fun being 64??? Sandy

Liz said...

Did they not think to put the heart murmur down to the gorgeousness of the first doctor?

I hate treadmills too. I'm terrified to let go in case i go flying.

PEA said...

What an experience indeed! hehe Oh Robyn, only you would make a stress test sound so exciting and funny! lol Good to hear you have no heart problems, though, but no doubt now you do after seeing the bill!!!! Yikes! A friend of mine has a friend who went for the stress test and had a heart attack while on the threadmill...what a way to find out you do have heart problems, sheesh!! Anyway, I`m glad you got checked out and that your heart is nice and healthy:-) xoxo

Lifecruiser said...

Ha ha ha! Oh, no, treadmills are the worst! To pay for that torture and not even getting any FUN out of it! Bah!!!!! *giggles*