Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Medicine man

At 62 one tends to start having a few ailments. I didn’t have any that were very serious except some hypertension and I thought I had a going problem but my Dr said I had a growing problem. He told me to forget about it and we could worry about it later. Easy for him to say. He’s young. Then my little brother Gary’s wife Nancy called me to say he was in the hospital in Iowa undergoing a quadruple bypass following his last heart attack. “His last heart attack”. What the hell is she talking about. Gary is 10 years younger than I am and the perfect picture of health, when last I saw him, about 2 years ago in the Black Hills with his wife. They ate healthy, exercised, were trim, didn’t smoke. He and Nancy were climbing mountains and mountain biking for kicks. We were driving from place to place to meet them. It was true but Gary survived and is now doing just excellent. All of this sent me into a depression as I realized that My Grandfather had died of a heart attack, my father died of a heart attack as did my mother. Not good signs especially since I had hypertension and was now experiencing chest pains when I pushed myself very hard. Time to see the Doc. Its funny but when you call your Dr’s office for an appointment and say that you are experiencing chest pains, they get you right in. Gary the Dr. [he is really a PA] took my blood pressure, had the nurse give me an EKG and sent me home with Nitroglycerine pills, copies of my EKG and an appointment with a Cardiologists for the next day. The Cardiologists had his Nurse take my blood pressure, listened to me with his stethoscope, had another Nurse type give me an EKG [EKG #2]. He sent me on my way but with appointments at the local hospital for more tests. At the hospital I was to undergo “Nuclear Stress Tests”. This was a brand new procedure for this hospital and it was all going to be done in brand, new, sparkling facilities deep in the bowels of the hospital. Also know as the basement. I must say, upfront, that all of the people I came into contact with were extremely nice and polite. The service was 1st class. First I had my blood pressure taken and they left the cuff on for future use. Next came another EKG and then Nurse #1 attempted to find a vein and start an IV. The reader must remember that at this time I have already heard about stress tests from all of my, so called friends, have already assumed that I was soon to have a heart attack and this “stress” test was going to give it to me, and the room was cold. I think that everything on my body had shrunk as far as it could and there were no veins to be had. Nurse #1 tried hard to find a vein three times but to no avail. She hurt me each time which was further causing me stress. In came Nurse #2 to give it a go. Nurse #2 took away the bottle of Nitroglycerine pills that I was clutching in my hand and replaced them with a rubber ball, hung my arm over the table and stuck the needle in with success and no pain. Now it is time for the dreaded stress test. I now have an EKG machine hooked up to me, an IV and a blood pressure cuff and I start off walking on the treadmill. My Cardiologists puts down the magazine he had been reading and comes over to observe and as the walking gets harder and harder, I say to myself, in a sing songie type of voice “Nurses to the left of me, Nurses to the right of me and a Cardiologists right behind”. I go and go and I can’t go any further and holler “Uncle” [see note] and everyone panics. No one had remembered to tell me that I was to go as hard as I could and then tell them I couldn’t go anymore but I still had to go for one more minute and it was Very Important that I keep going for that extra minute [sounds really confusing]. Being I am the trooper that I am, I summoned up my superhuman residual strength and completed the test. During the last minute they were squirting some type of radioactive fluid in my veins via the IV and reading my blood pressure. Everyone was shouting “keep it up” “Don’t quit” “ only 35 more seconds” and I felt someone trying to rip my fingers loose from the handle grip but I was having a balance problem. I had a death grip on the bars but the Nurse taking my blood pressure needed for me to loosen up my grip so she could take my blood pressure. My death grip on the bars included the tube from my blood pressure cuff to her gauge. I relaxed and she pumped and all was well. Anyway the test was over and I reveled in the fact that I was still alive. Nurse #2 then helped me back to the table where everyone removed the electronics and tubes that were hooked up. She then announced that I was to leave and go have a greasy lunch [something to do with my gall bladder I think]. I immediately said “ a double quarter pounder with cheese OK”? When I came back I was put into some type of photo machine and then sent on my way. I quizzed the photographer [also know as Nurse #2] as to what was happening and she stated that the machine was recording the x-rays, I believe, that were given off by the radioactive liquid that had been given to me via the IV and moved forward into my veins and heart through the action of me eating a double quarter-pounder and cheese with fries. See those things are not always bad for your heart. The next day I went back and had more radioactive stuff put in my veins and then was sent out to have a greasy breakfast. 2 eggs, sausage, home fries and toast. Upon return I had more pictures taken. 2 days later I returned to my Cardiologist’s office and had another EKG [#4or #5] and a heart ultrasound. I was then asked where the results of all the tests were to be sent. I didn't have the foggiest idea so I just said “my regular doctor”. Apparently they didn't find anything bad because no one was interested anymore. No more money to be made I guess. My Cardiologist called me in last week and told me that I was OK and I should lose some weight and exercise more. Dr Phil told me that, on TV and it didn’t cost me anything. Wonder what an EKG costs now days? My test didn’t cost me anything except the cost of the two meals. The Dr. and the Nurses all got paid I’m sure but then so does Dr. Phil. I wonder who pays these people. God I’m almost dead, or so it seems sometimes, and I have still got all these questions about life. I really don’t think I am going to live long enough to get them all answered. I’m sending in the receipts for my meals to Blue Cross as they were a necessary part of the testing. Good luck you say?

note: In my youth, growing up in South Dakota, “Uncle” meant “I give up”.


Anonymous said...

OMG, I had the same Thalium stress test when I was 50 and had experienced some chest pains.

Your description was exactly the same as I went through even up to the cardiologist reading a magazine while the nurses prepped me. I lasted 11 minutes before I could go no further even with about 7 people shouting and cursing (in a friendly manner) at me.

I like you figured the worst but as with you i only needed to lose some weight and I was also prescribed some "Beta-Blockers" to lower my "slightly elevated" blood pressure.

Now "Old man muser" what you say we compare "colonoscopies".

I'll be polite and let you begin.

Best regards and continuing GOOD health from:

A grumpy old 63 year old

Ted said...

Grumpy old 63 year old.
Thanks for the comment. You asked for it as I am right now working on "colonoscopies". I have to put a disclaimer on the front just so I don't scare potential recepients away. Coming soon. Are you blogging?