Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Cardiologist

Remember that Medicare Wellness Check?  The one where the physician was not allowed to touch me?  The one where the required EKG showed an abnormality which sent me to a cardiologist for an evaluate and treat appointment?  It seems that, upon reading the first post,  those closest to me (aka The Cuters) were quite concerned about the health of their maternal unit.

"Don't do that to me again, woman!" was the Little's advice; the Big one was anxious for reassurance.  If any of you are also worried, let me reassure you - I am fine.

I arrived early, because that's what I do.  The paperwork took a few minutes to complete and then I was ushered into a treatment room.  The technician, a 40-something fellow, 6'4" tall and sturdily built, helped me stow my possessions, gave me a gown (open in the front), and left with instructions to open the door when I was ready.

He came right in, once I was (barely) covered by the short, pink, cloth demi-gown.  He wondered why I was laughing.  I suggested that if he was going to be taking my blood pressure and my pulse he should probably take Rush Limbaugh off the radio.

He did.  Classic Rock was more to my liking.  I did some deep breathing to relax and remove all things Trumpian from my brain as the tech attached electrodes to my chest and sides, underneath and next to places that strangers do not usually touch.  All my medical care is now delivered by women; it took some getting used to before I could begin to go with the flow.

Lying on my left side, a gooey ultrasound probe pressed to my flesh, we watched my heart beat on the monitor. He measured all the chambers from all the angles, cautioning me to lie still and breath evenly.  I saw my mitral valve open and close.  I saw colorful splotches representing blood entering and exiting.  I was no longer anxious about being half naked in front of a man I barely knew; I was fascinated by the imaging of my body.

Once the preliminary results were documented, the physician came in.  He explained the procedure - 3 minutes on the treadmill at a slight incline and a speed of 1.7, "which is really slow and usually very hard for to walk on."  (I didn't tell him that 1.7 was what I did for my own work-outs in the gym; I was too embarrassed to admit that I was so slow.) Then, the incline would be raised to 14% and the speed raised to 3.4.  I was expected to complete 3 minutes there, then rush over to the table, lie down exactly as before, and the tech would ultrasound my heart again.

3.4 at 14%..... they must have read the horror on my face.  The tech smiled as I murmured "I'm not sure I can manage that."  Showing me the big, red, STOP button, he promised to push it the moment I asked for help and reminding me that I wasn't that big and he was certain that he could catch me.

I strode evenly and carefully and breathed deeply and fully and held on tightly as the machine began to slant and speed up but I kept on keeping on.... breathing and sweating and then laughing as the physician mused that "We're having a hard time getting your heart rate up.  You are in really good shape."

And, in fact, I am.  My heart pumps strongly.  There are no stray leakages.  The EKG read normally throughout the test.  The results?  "I can tell you with 90% certainty that you have no blockages of more than 60-70% .  You are fine.  Don't worry."

I'm choosing to focus on the last two sentences.  I can't really parse the first one.

Thanks, Medicare, for the opportunity to garner a compliment from an authority.  It's nice to know that I am in really good shape.  I just wish that I didn't have to pay for it in advance with a month's worth of angst.


  1. Good diagnosis, indeed. Always happy to hear those words, you are fine.


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