Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stress Test

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Have you ever stressed over a stress test?

Yesterday I had to have a stress test at the doctor’s. Now, I am a really bad person about going to the doctor and before I got sick back in May with strep I hadn’t really been to a doctor since we moved to New Jersey other than when Sam bit me back in 2006 (and you can read about by bizarre emergency room experience here) and the time I was sick with bronchitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. I found a doctor in town that I really like. Well, she’s not a doctor, but a nurse practitioner. 

Before we left for Colorado back in September I had a really hard time dealing with the death of Alex. So much so that one night I found myself sleepwalking (which I have done before in the past when I am stressed) and a couple of days later I ended up in the emergency room at the hospital one night with a severe anxiety attack. That was quite the wake-up call and I knew I needed to seek help, which I did. I went to the doctor and talked to her about it and she came up with a solution. It wasn’t the solution I was expecting, but it was the right one. I am feeling so much better now — I can’t begin to tell you the difference it has made. That set me back on track to catch up on having a way over-due physical.

Much to my dismay I was found to have high blood pressure, something which I have never had my entire life. Getting older sucks! She kind of scared me when she said she wanted me to undergo an echocardiogram and a stress test to make sure my high blood pressure wasn’t stemming from something other than late onset of hypertension (which runs in my family). I balked, saying no one else I knew with high blood pressure had ever had either of those tests, that they had just been prescribed blood pressure medication. She countered that it was just good medical practice and what if it really was something else that would otherwise be overlooked? I caved and scheduled appointments.

Two weeks ago I had my echocardiogram and it was really strange. Basically it’s an ultrasound of your heart and its function, but it was weird. It took about a half an hour. As he moved the ultrasound probe around to different areas I could hear my heart which sounded different in each area. Mostly is sounded like a washing machine with lots of water in it. Creepy. They said I wouldn’t know the results for a few weeks and that it just took time before they were read by the physician. They said not to worry unless the tech immediately called in the doctor during the test. They didn’t, so I figured I was going to live. One down, one to go.

I stressed for a few weeks before my stress test was scheduled. The instructions they sent home with me said I couldn’t eat or drink for four hours before my appointment. I should wear comfortable clothing and rubber soled shoes. No body lotion. No underwire bras. They suggested a change of clothing because I was likely to work up a sweat. I had visions in my head of them running me on a treadmill and not being able to breathe if my asthma kicked in. I’ve never been able to run for very long. What was this going to be like? What if I didn’t pass?

I arrived at the doctor’s office and signed in. They had me sign a waiver saying that I realized I might faint, become out of breath, or in rare cases, suffer a heart attack. Great. Within a few minutes the waiting room was filled with elderly people shuffling along pushing their walkers with bright yellow tennis balls attached to the walker’s back feet. It was so congested that I was thinking someone should maybe direct the traffic flow. A few times I had to turn my feet sideways so that they could pass by without running over my toes. (West Milford is home to a really nice retirement/nursing home so we have a lot of elderly people in town.)

While I waited, yet another elderly couple came out of the back office (both pushing walkers) and were putting their coats on. The wife was having a hard time getting the zipper of her coat to cooperate while the husband and the driver of the van that a had come to collect them looked on. She gave up and the younger woman next to me offered to help her. Her husband barked back, “I think she knows quite well how to work a zipper!” The younger woman persisted and was soon zipping up the older woman’s coat while the whole time the husband kept insisting she didn’t need any help. Once zipped into her coat a huge smile broke over her lovely face. She looked around at the office waiting room and said “I never thought I would come to this point in my life,” and shook her head.  I hope I’m able to smile about it when I’m pushing my own walker. I just hope Rick doesn’t need one too or we’ll constantly be bumping into each other.

Where was I  … ah, yes … my stress test.

Right away the nurse put me at ease and told me it wasn’t much of anything. I would be hooked up to the monitor and walking on the treadmill, not running. They would start out slow, then I would be walking uphill a little faster, and finally at a brisk walk, each for about three minutes. It really didn’t amount to much of anything and I passed with flying colors. He also went over my echocardiogram and said it was excellent. So the conclusion was that I have a healthy heart but a slight blood pressure problem.

At least I don’t need a walker. 


Good news about the stress test.  Sounds like you had more stress before the test than the actual test.  If my Dr.  ever orders a stress test now I’ll know what to expect.  MY asthma would definitely kick in.

C, yes, much ado about nothing! smile

First of all: Those LEAVES!

I have never had a stress test but I’ve been through a lot of other tests typical for someone in middle-age. I usually don’t get too worked up about them because I’m pretty sure they won’t find anything. I guess someday they will, but I won’t think about that until then. smile

Anyway, I’m glad your tests turned out OK. I had an ultrasound of my heart several years ago so I know what you mean about the bizarre washing-machine noise!

Steve: smile
You have a great approach to tests. I wish I could say the same, but the older I get the less confident I am.

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