Monday, September 26, 2011

Episode 8: Stress sucks!

Got a call this morning for the cardiologist who has been trying to get in touch with me for the last week to schedule a treadmill stress test.  I finally agreed to come in, and the nurse decided to pin me down then and there and tell me to come in that afternoon and that I wasn't allowed to eat anything at all until the test.  Suddenly I found myself getting very incredibly hungry, and stayed so until after I was done and finally got something to eat.

Not the healthiest eating today because of it, but I stayed under points, and if I needed to, I could have a banana with my corn chex "dessert" that will help build my fruits and veggies up to where I want them.

So, dressed in my comfy sweats, Nanowrimo T-shirt and tennis shoes, I wandered over to the doctor's office and was greeted by a form explaining that they weren't responsible if I had to have extra tests or if I had a heart attack as I was on the treadmill.  I skimmed the letter, signed it and waited for them to hook me up the machine.

The very kind cardiac nurse offered me a hospital gown made of stiff cotton and approximately 8 sizes too big for me. It felt like a tent, which is sort of impressive in its size.  She then wrapped a belt around my waist and proceeded to rub an abrasive lotion on my skin so that the test nodules would stick better.  She added an octopus looking device - a small black box with numerous wires extending from it- and began to attach the octopus to the indicators around my chest and under my breast.  Then a sock of a blood pressure cuff that wrapped around my arm tightly, and I was ready.

They asked me to sit for five minutes to get a "resting" reading. I read McEwan, barely noticing what was on the page.  My blood pressure was 146/70.. or something close to that. Heart rate at 76.  My target for the day was 157.  Not too bad...Then the very nice nurse practitioner came in, asked if I had any questions (I rarely do) and then stuck me on the treadmill.

It started off slow enough, and then rose to an incline.  I could feel the muscles in my legs begin to burn, and my left arm begin to tingle again, the numbness spreading to my fingers.  The speed increased and the treadmill continued to incline, and I felt my calves continue to burn and the air in my lungs constricting as I struggled.  Looking at the heart monitor, my pulse began to rise.. 100... 100.. 115.  In continued to huff and puff, breathing in deeply through my nose but feeling the pain with every breath.  My chest felt that familiar constricting feeling, but I kept going.  120... 130... 140...  My arm constrained against the blood pressure cuff and I watched the reading of that rise as well.. hitting 160/70.. 165/75.. Everything tingled and hurt and burned.

The nurse warned me that the treadmill would increase in speed and inclination and I can only nod, I cannot speak at all.  It begins to rise and all I can think is "I don't want to pass out... I don't want to pass out."  Breathing has become much more difficult and my lungs feel like someone is squeezing them  together. I can barely catch a breath.  The NP starts to cheer me on.. "Only 5 more.. only 3 more.. you can do it".

Finally... finally, they let me sit down again and start to measure my recovering heart rate.  I watch it slow down on the monitor, the little peaks of the EKG becoming fewer and farther between until my heart rate gets near to 100 again and my breathing starts to normalize. I am still wheezing and fighting a cough, but I made it through. Pink paper cycles through the printer and shows them exactly what my heart was doing.

The nurse explains that I am fine.  My heart is strong, but I still need to lose weight (duh!).  My 10 year survival rate is calculated at 99%. I think I'll be fine.

Good.  I never ever ever want to do that again!


  1. While it sucks you had to go through that, I am so glad that things are ok!! Don't you love when a doctor says, "you really need to lose some weight"? Noooooo, really? Like I don't wake up in this body every morning.

    Hang in there... slow and steady wins the race.

  2. Hehe.. yeah, I know how that feels, Cassy. You get sick of it like a weird broken record and every doctor becomes a clone of each other. Bah!


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