Inner Panoramic Cameras

I think the only reason I’d go into medicine is because they do have some awesome tech toys. Sometimes awesome in their high techniness, sometimes awesome in their simplicity. I did the cardiac stress testing thing yesterday. It was expected to be not much of anything, but as the cardiologist rightly said, “I’d feel like a real jerk if I missed something that is fairly common.” And there could be some information there. I don’t know. I do know I haven’t gotten a call as of yet, and he said that usually if there’s earth shattering news you know by evening on test day.

I totally dug the scanners. I guess… It was myocardial perfusion imaging, and I believe they used SPECT. I got to see the first scan, which… looked like a colorblind impressionist painter was having a seizure, but it was cool to watch the pictures update as the cameras spun. I’m easily entertained.

If I ever have to do this test again, however, I am taking my chances with a skewed result and using the damned treadmill. I am sure the “simulating exercise” injection did give a clearer picture than the treadmill would have… because my heart rate does not behave normally during exercise. Evidently, neither does my blood pressure (they both should… well, not be so erratic). But good god almighty, that was some horrid shit. I mean… It takes a lot to make me say that. My chest felt much like it does when I… stand up. I mean, it was hard to breathe. It is hard to breathe. But with that came what felt like my muscles being first crushed and then liquified… not in my chest. My chest always feels that way. My hips, my shoulders. I guess I also turned reddish purple, and the cardiologist asked if I was getting hot (the cardiologist overseeing this was a fellow, and looked like my cousin’s son. He was adorable, except I know he was about my cousin’s son’s age, too… I felt friggin’ old).

I wasn’t. I was turning to an oily mass of liquified muscle, it seemed, but I wasn’t feeling flushed at all. When I told them that, they took my blood pressure, which started out sort of high going in (but not bad for me) and shot up (but not to a level I think would correlate to how awful that felt… I mean, it’s been higher at doctor’s visits with me just sitting there) and then it dropped to a higher level than when I came in, but not at all unusual high level for me.

They kept telling me that if the effects weren’t wearing off, they could give me some stuff to counteract the exercise simulation medication. It hit its peak and was absolutely horrendous. I don’t know what my heart rate was… I actually only felt it pounding right before and right after it went full on, but the feeling of having no damn control (I can stop walking on the treadmill, you know?) was really lousy. I obviously have control issues, at least when it comes to making my insides do what I want. Jeez, I wonder why?

But I guess they thought I might be feeling the effects longer than I should, as they offered the stuff to counteract, and I said, “It’s lessening.” About a half minute later it was suggested again, and halfway through the sentence I interrupted, “Wait, it’s…”

And the nurses and cardiologist looked at the EKG and said, “Better now?” I actually said better now with them, but without the raised inflection at the end. I guess it was obvious. And I guess at the very least, my feeling better correlating with it looking better is something. (It’s actually what the Brawny Towel Respiratory Tech guy said after my walk/stair test. Every incident of my reporting increased discomfort coincided with an unexpectedly large jump in heart rate… the idea being something is definitely happening, but we’ve not hit on where or why yet. It’s also why the comprehensive cardiopulmonary test was ordered at a hospital where three or four different specialists review it. It’s why my cardiologist here and my sweet GP said they’d rather see it happen there too… If any arterial lines are required or not, it is a test that needs review from all angles.

So that stuff was unpleasant, I guess mainly because I hate not calling the shots. I am happy, at least, that the next heart and lung one has to be done on a bike, or a treadmill.  I hope that I am in a place that if I ever should need one of these again, it can be done on a treadmill. I probably would have had a lot more residual discomfort had I used the treadmill (I was not right for a good five days after the stair test… well, I’m never right, but it was worse.) The moment when that stuff really kicked in was horrific though. It passed fairly quickly and I felt my usual crappy self for the rest of the day. But what if something had been completely craptastic? These people in there with me didn’t have poker faces, and trust me, if I didn’t feel great and it was a little freaky feeling, if they’d had “oh shit” looks on their faces, I can’t see as that wouldn’t have made me feel a lot worse. I mean, at least if they had “oh shit” faces on the treadmill I could sit down.

I was asked if it felt like that at home. It does, actually. The chest stuff. I said it comes on differently, more gradual. You know, I might feel like I’ve been smacked in the chest, and then it’s kinda hard to breathe and move and I feel cold and I turn blue, and then I’m tired so I go sit down and it starts to feel better hopefully. (Sometimes not, but usually it at least makes me less blue and I do tend to warm up.) I told the baby faced cute as a damn button cardiologist fellow, “If it happened that fast and all at once at home, instead of each stage having its time to peak and be most annoying… If it happened at home exactly like that, I’d be on my ass.”

I was told that was the reason I was lying on a gurney.

Med school is expensive, but I bet that pearl of wisdom was complementary.


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