Friday, February 02, 2007

Half a day in the cardiology department

My husband and I had to get up while it was still dark to make it to the hospital at my appointed time to have the chemical stress test my doctor ordered. Leaving that early in the morning reminded me of going on vacation when we would leave before the morning rush. To my husband it was nothing different for him, since he leaves the house by 5 a.m. every single weekday (and sometimes on weekends.)

When we got to the hospital I have to give information all over again that I just gave to someone on the telephone yesterday. I guess they have to ask again, and again, and again. I should just type up a sheet of my information and make copies next time. It will save a lot of question and answer sessions.

They first took me back and started an I.V. which is no fun because I have no veins. (Well, of course I have veins, but no good ones for poking.) One nurse tried and tried and no go. Then she bellowed for the "expert" I.V. nurse and she got it into the side of my left hand by my thumb...ouch! However, that vein collapsed. So, they take it out and slap my other hand and tie that plastic thing around the top of my arm as tight as they can get it and finally she found a potential place to poke again. This time it stayed, but it was on the side of my hand again below the thumb. I wasn't going to complain because I just wanted it to be over with.

Then I was told to go back into the waitingroom and wait some more. Lucky my hubby was with so I could have someone to talk to. They eventually called me back and did an MRI echo scan of my heart. That was no biggie, except that my arms fell asleep! This machine moves around and takes pictures of your heart in "slices" while you lay there on a sort of tray-like bed thing with arms above your head. My arms were tingling by the time it was half over and then totally went to sleep on me like your leg does after sitting cross-legged too long. At least during this part of the ordeal you can even leave your clothes, and it was relaxing listening to the machine hum. I almost fell asleep. I have been tired from this sinus infection and not sleeping well. Funny that I got groggy on a hard tray in a cold room!

From there it was back to the waitingroom, but about one minute later they came to get me and take me to what looked like a mini-emergency room with a row of cart beds lined up with curtains for privacy. Had to get undressed and put on one of those open-backed gowns that are so lovely. Then I laid on the cart, shivering while they attached a bunch of electrodes to my chest , While she was busy doing that, another nurse came in and I got to answer questions all over again again, yes...the same questions I was asked about three times already. I think they do that to try to catch inconsistencies in what you tell them or something.

The drops of Dobutamine are started. I was ok at first then my heart started going faster, and I started feeling out of breath as if I was jogging! Weird! More drops, faster breathing and pounding heartbeat. I started feeling dizzy and my scalp was tingly and I told the nurse and she said that was a "normal" side effect. It would have been nice to be forwarned! Then they said I still had a ways to go before my "target" rate of 148. They put in more Dobutamine, and faster my heart went and then chest pains! And I felt like I was going to pass out, even with laying down and I started getting nauseated which they had warned me about. Now, there was a whole team of people around me by that time and one nurse tried to chit chat it up with me to try to distract me or something but I wasn't in the mood for their little chit chat games. Just get the damn test done and get it over with! Afterwards, they had to give me something to slow my heartrate again and that took awhile. I was then sent back to the scan room to have another scan after the stress test was done. Holy cow, that was the strangest experience I have had in a long time!

The medical people can think of the darndest torture tests to put people through. I am waiting for someone to make the Star Trek Tricorder a reality and none of us will have to endure stuff like colonoscopies, angiograms, myleograms, and other uncomfortable invasive testing. They can just wave their little tricorders over our bodies and results and diagnosis will show up on a little screen. Hey, cell phones came from Star Trek ideas, why not tricorders?

The initial results of this is that my heart is not pumping efficiently to my legs and arms. I will find out more on Monday after the cardiologist analyzes the images and talks with my doctor. I did get diet instructions from the cardiologist...low sodium, no table salt, low fat, no red meat or pork (or sausages, hot dogs, bologna and other "mystery meats"), no pop, no caffiene. I have to eat small portions, and eat breakfast, fruit or yogurt mid morning, lunch, fruit, jello or yogurt mid afternoon, dinner and low fat snack for dessert. Lots and lots of water, and green tea.

On Monday, depending on what they find, the doctor will tell me what to do for cardiac rehabilitiation to strengthen the heart muscle and get circulation going in my arms and legs. This all sounds so exhausting already, but I am going to give it a good try because I would at least like to get the mail without getting out of breath or go hiking again and other things I used to enjoy doing.

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