Monday, March 22, 2021

A Carnivore's Guide To Cardiology- Big Five Oh Round Up Part 3

 Testing, Testing One Two Three

Since these are theoretically cardiology posts, rather than me just complaining about ailments, I suppose I should mention the latest battery of cardiac testing.

While having the standard shop talk with my ever awesome cardiologist, the conversation turned the same way almost every doctor visit did last year, 
"It's been a long time since we've run any tests, and you're fifty now..."

Actually, he looked at the chart and said, "Five Oh!" a bunch of times.  I forgot my age (being internally seven for many common occasions) and thought it was a EKG level or something.  I asked, "What's Five Oh?"  And he replied with, "You."


Then we had our own often repeated conversation.  

Him- "I guess we should do some evaluations...echo, stress test."
Me- "Nuclear?"
Him- "You don't have any symptoms, regular should be fine." 
Me- "I also didn't have an symptoms when I had ninety percent blockage in my right coronary artery."
Him- "Nuclear it is!"

Based on some vision issues, I also mentioned the eye doctor asking about vascular tests. He said, if there's enough of a restriction on blood flow to your head to affect your vision, and we both finished the sentence, "There's waaaaaaaaaaaaaay bigger problems."

I think he likes having a patient who understands the science as much as I like having a doctor who explains things knowing I understand the science.

Thanks to our friendly neighborhood plague, no tests are done in his office anymore, and I had to call the big center over by the mall. I booked my two usual tests in the morning, and got transferred to "Vascular HQ" who gave me an afternoon appointment for the new one. With all the waiting during the nuclear test, I knew I'd have a decent sized book with me anyway, and figured on a reading and power bar party in my car between events.

The day came, I arrived at an ungodly hour in the morning carrying Chico's Daughter's book, and signed in with the gang of other patients all in our masks and doing the solo tango to register and avoid getting within six feet of anyone else.

Upstairs at the testing place, the receptionist was stunned when I told her I was holding on to the second paper for my vascular test.  She asked, "Do they know you're going to be radioactive?"

This was not a question I had any experience with. Yes, I know how nuclear stress tests work, but I never thought about it before.  She called downstairs, and after what sounded liked a hurried search for what fool booked my appointment, they told me I'd have to come back next week when I was emitting less harmful sub-atomic particles.

The echocardiogram, basically a chest ultrasound, came first.  I told the guy I'd learned from previous tests that if I don't hear anything for a while, its usually fine, and if I get a panicked call in a half hour that's when its time to worry. He said he wasn't allowed to officially tell me anything until the doctor read it, but I shouldn't expect a call today.

Then it was over to the excitement of the day, first they injected the dye in me, and laid me on the scanner, where I used my Italian family's skill throughout the constant shifting motion and the loud buzzing noise to take a nap.

Once they woke me up,  it was onto the treadmill.  

Now- My heart rate has already been low for most of my adult life due to exercise and being a large, fur bearing mammal.  I had "borderline" blood pressure issues for years but they were kept under control, until the AMA decided to slap me upside the head by moving that border lower.

The pills I take are supposed to be only blood pressure medication that are supposed to allow heart rate increase when exercising.  (Naturally that means that my insurance doesn't cover them. Luckily my cardiologist is, as mentioned, awesome, and knows a pharmacy with a coupon thingy for it.)   I also stopped taking them several days before the test.

With all that going on, I still found myself surrounded by nurses and medical techs as the belt kept going higher and faster with my pulse staying below the required target rate.

This was fantastic as a sign of health in and of itself, problematic from a "have the test measure what it was supposed to so I can stop before it shoots me across the room Beavis and Butthead like," standpoint.

Thanks to my completely awful and unstable looking loping gait, the gang around me were constantly asking if I was all right, between taking multiple readings that were showing I was all right.  They were very impressed that I kept going full speed at five miles per hour up an incline.  

However, when I expressed doubt, knowing I'd have to let go of the handle for a pressure reading, at being able to Spidey climb a vertical treadmill at Lucy and Ethel dropping chocolates speed, they shut it off.

Instead they did the chemical version of the stress test where they injected an ever so fun medication into my blood stream that dilated every single internal bit of me and immediately made it much more likely that I'd pitch off my seat onto my face than there was of me falling of the turbo conveyor belt. 

They took their readings, injected more radioactive fun juice, and sent me off with some water and Lorna Doones, guaranteeing I'd come back whenever they asked.

After the final scan (also known as Nappy Time) they sent me home with the coolest piece of paper I've ever gotten out of a medical adventure- a "To Whom It May Concern" letter stating I was radioactive...
Y'know in case it came up in conversation or something.

Knowing there was a vast quality of difference in the results when I got an immediate call or was told to make an appointment for the next day before leaving the office, and when it took two weeks to learn the results of the test, I was a bit concerned when the cardiologist's representative called Monday, the first business day after being intravenously irradiated.

My concern grew as the person on the phone read things in a very stilted manner with many a pause after a positive statement that sounded like a "but..." was coming.  

The conversation remained buttless however. In hindsight I believe she read the doctor's notes to me without reading them to herself first, leading to the Shatneresque pauses.   

She finished with, "Continue to treat it with medication like you've been doing."

I said, " So the results are good and healthy then?"
"Yes," she cheerily replied.
"Maybe lead with that next time then, this call was more stressful than the treadmill."

I explained about the quick versus slow results and she explained all nuclear stress test results are reported quickly now because usually they're frequently assigned as a follow up to other problematic tests.


I went back the next week for the vascular flow test.  When I gave my usual spiel about fast versus slow results, the ultra sound tech explained, "For this test, if we let you leave the building the results were good."

The fact that I'm writing this should be a strong indication that the results were, in fact, good.


longbow said...


Jesse said...

Congrats on your buttlessness!

Jeff McGinley said...

Many thanx guys!

Its nice to know something is working in this body.

Dina Roberts said...

I'm glad your results were good!

I've had a very similar phone conversation with a doctor's office. I think there may be a sadistic streak in some of these people.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thank you!

It probably comes down to the call you get is very important to you, but the call they make is one of a whole bunch so they're just reading words, making sure they're accurate.

thanx again!