Saturday, December 1, 2007

Cardiac Stress Test

Originally my appointment was at 7:15 but the day before a nurse called and asked if I could change it to 11 and could I get there 15 minutes early.

I could. And I did.

A nurse, the same one who called me the previous day, and that I think was likely in her early 40's escorted me from the registration area down a couple of corridors and into a room with a treadmill and a number of other hospital objects. Another nurse was in the room. I think she's still in her 20's probably. She talked all the time and her voice was loud. I heard her say something about teaching and I thought to myself that she definitely had the voice for it.

My nurse, the quieter, asked me to sit on an exam table and lift my shirt. She took a safety razor and cut hair away on my chest. Huh. I don't remember having so much hair on my chest. I definitely remember wishing I had some when I was young.

She rather quickly affixed a bunch of little adhesive squares to my newly shaved spots. Then she had me hold a junction box kind of thing that had electric leads coming out of it. Those leads snapped onto the little squares. The junction box was strapped around my middle with a belt.

The wires ran into a monitor that was also connected to the treadmill.

While I was sitting there she took my blood pressure and asked me if I was nervous. I said "yes, I was." And she wanted to know why. I think that's an interesting question in itself. That medical professionals think it strange for someone to be nervous about taking a stress test seems about as peculiar to me as a cop asking why you're nervous when he stops you.

I told her that hospitals in general and nurses and doctors in particular made me nervous. Besides that I'd never had a stress test and it was stressing me out. She had the other nurse take my pressure too. They said it was pretty high. I said it was their fault.

Then they told me we were waiting on the doctor and that he would be there shortly and that I could lie down if I wanted.

I didn't really want to lie down but there wasn't much else to do so I did. They left. It was me and this monitor that was hooked both to the treadmill and my electric leads. I occupied my time by watching my pulse rate which was clearly visible.

At first the display showed about 100. But now that I was reclining the readout was declining. Finally it was in the mid 50's and kind of stayed there. I wondered if I could make it change at will - you know - like with only the power of my mind. I used to do that in study hall and at various other times in my life when I was stuck somewhere with nothing to do. I would concentrate on moving an object by sheer will power of my mind. Never did work then and didn't work now either.

On occasion one or the other nurse would stick her head in and ask me if I was alright. I wondered why I wouldn't be alright. But I suppose they are used to people who are having heart attacks. After a particularly long spell the loud nurse came in and asked if I was counting the holes in the ceiling tile. I never was much on counting holes in ceiling tiles. Then she wanted to know if I was counting dust bunnies. And then I kind of tuned her out but I could still hear her in the background talking about the dust bunnies and holes and stuff. Finally she left much to my relief. I think she never missed a word.

The doctor arrived about noon so I had been there about an hour and 15 minutes by that time. He was also a youngish fellow and rather small of stature and maybe some oriental influence, or maybe not. I'm not so good on that stuff. He was certainly direct. There was no foreplay, no introduction, no small talk, no anything except a quick, and quietly said, "Are you ready?" I thought he made a good counterbalance to the noisy nurse.

And I was very ready. In fact I had been ready at 10:45 when I got there. I don't know why I wouldn't have been ready. I hadn't gotten less ready in the meantime.

So the doctor told me to step on the treadmill. I'd been given instructions by ms. quiet.

He left as soon as the machine was switched on. I thought it a little odd. I said "What does he do?" My nurse said that we had to have a doctor for safety. So I guess if I fell over dying he was supposed to save me. Seemed strange though since the test was being conducted in a hospital. Surely there were some other doctors in there somewhere.

The treadmill started out pretty slowly and pretty much flat. But every 3 minutes the machine's pace and incline increased. Finally I was starting to walk pretty fast on a pretty good incline. I told them I was going to have to switch into a jog and breathe in and out of my mouth if it kept increasing. They said it was up to me and I said well I don't really want to jog and they turned the machine off. The doc would have been quite happy to have continue I think. And I could have. But it just seems kind of unseemly to have start gulping air and jogging in front of people. I have enough trouble doing that when I am jogging outside and cars pass carrying people I have no acquaintance with whatsoever. But when you need air enough you definitely gulp it regardless who is around.

The other nurse, ms. loud, occasionally had been taking my blood pressure. It hardly changed any but it had started out high already she said. Funny thing is that once the test was complete my blood pressure came right down. I guess I was very nervous about it.

They told me I was at a 15 degree incline and walking at a pace of 4.5 mph or 13-1/3 minutes per mile. My heart rate achieved 170 for a high but just momentarily. That's kind of funny because I told my doc that I was getting up in the 170's and that's why he wanted me to have the stress test. This doc said that was ok if I felt like it.

Doc said that everything seemed fine but he would analyze the computer data and then get with my doctor.

After a drink of water the quiet nurse escorted me out of the building.

I guess I passed.


Lori1955 said...

Oh gosh Terry, I used to do the same thing, trying to move objects with my mind. LOL

I'm glad the stress test turned out ok. I am a bit worried about the blood pressure though. Do you have a monitor at home? If not it might be a good idea to have one. Of course my BP always goes up in a doctors office too.

flintysooner said...

I take my blood pressure at home quite a bit. Started doing it when I was trying to take dad's years back. Usually it home it is like 124/76 or lower.

But I go to the doctor's office and it often goes a lot higher. The fact that I know that makes it worse, too, because then I start worrying about it.

nancy said...

it is not uncommon for one's b/p to go up en at the dotor's office. it's good that you take it periodically at home.

i'm sorry your experience wasn't better with ms. quiet/ms. loud. i had to laugh. then i was wondering how you would describe me!!!

sounds like it turned out ok for wich i'm glad!

SKYGIRL said...

Flinty, I am wreck in the Doctor's Office too! Sometimes I wonder if I may have had a VERY unpleasent experience as a kid, in one?

The new ones are the worst, and I was sitting in a Periodontist chair, and new they were preping me for Gum Surgery, and I was scared to death? They had a wrist cuff bp meter, that I have decided couldn't possibly be accurate? It said m BP was 190/130 or something awful, like that?

The Nurse said we'd take it again, in a few minutes, and did, it came down a little, but still not great. The Surgeon comes in, and I asked him if it was time to call 911, and he says "It's not that bad?" but he was refering to the second reading?

Anywho, it has been border-line in my Primary's Office,(that I really like, and always feel very relaxed) and since both my Parents, had & have High Blood Preasure, I should probably consider medication, but not wild about that idea.

I've never had a Stress-Test, and like I sai,d I am pretty sure I would fail! Or I'd be one of those freak people that had a heaart-attack right then & there, from the STRESS! LOL!

flintysooner said...

Why nancy you would be ms. nice I am certain.

I sympathize sky. I think I am going to buy one of those wrist cuff deals.

*(¯`·¸*Chris*¸·´¯)* said...

The wrost cuff things are nice. Actually, my dad had one I would be more than glad to give you if we can communicate in some fashion. I will send it to you to have. I think your email pops up when you post on my blog. I will go back and check and try it that way.

~Betsy said...

I've never done the stress test thing either, but Dad did one every 6 months. He always got a clean bill of health except for the year he needed bypass. They found 5 blockages!

Only you would name the nurses Ms. Quiet and Ms. Loud! I laughed out loud.

For what it's worth, I have always been a ceiling-tile-hole-counter. Not so much a dust bunny counter.

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Your post made me chuckle when it came to the nurses. Glad you passed the test.