Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Burning Truths & Guineas
Together we share parents each of whom have cardiac issues. We will soon lose our mother to this illness or it's side effects. Our dad is otherwise in reasonable health and has a new edition pacemaker. We hope to enjoy him a few more years. Maybe another decade?
During one of Mama's touch and go hospitalizations, her cardiologist looked at those of us gathered around the bedside and asked this question, " You have each had a cardiac evaluation and baseline stress test, right"? I am sure we looked like a bobble head line up . None of us bobbled affirmatively. He glanced toward our stricken mother then flipped her chart open while saying, " Didn't your grandmother suffer from congestive heart failure too"? She did. Before Doc Cardio left the room he illuminated the genetic probabilities for us.
As far as I can remember we didn't much comment on these illuminations.
None of whipped out our cell phones to schedule stress tests either.
Now that I am the official siblings test guinea I can tell the others to come out of the shadows and step onto the treadmill. It won't kill you. Or hurt you. Really, scouts honor and hope to spit.
I will admit to a wee twinge of anxiety when they started an IV so not once, but twice, I could have radioactive material injected into my bloodstream. I might have asked about the " first do no harm" idea but the folks doing this part of the prep were not docs and who knows what oaths they utilize? At least the IV got started on the first stick and not the sixth.
noteworthy. It's not even hard to be still and not itch the sandpapered areas while they take your vitals and do a baseline EKG before "getting started".
Following this they explain the treadmill, 12% incline at blah-blah speed to get the cardio beats per minute above 140 for a sustained period. The EKG machine records cardiac function under stress and then later an imaging machine allows them to see how well my radioactive injected blood was making the journey through my coronary arteries. Okay. Clever technology to make my blood radioactive so it could be seen without need for scalpels.
They had no cheerful 12 pack cutie standing by to encourage me to " go for the burn" because, trust me, the burn will get there. My daily hour with wii advanced step aerobics is not even vaguely similar to this treadmill routine. I had muscle burns everywhere . Everywhere. And then there was the breathing. That loud, labored sucking noise was indeed coming from me. Twenty years ago , following the great neck breaking debacle, I was forbidden to ever more do any activity which bounces my neck. I have not jogged or run a single step since then. I have not swum laps since moving to the Pond as I do not bathing suit in public. While I do "power walk" and wii, these mild maintenance protocols are not aerobic workouts. It was not pretty. I was a burning, sweat soaked, air sucking mess trying desperately to not end up face down on a treadmill. The "team" chattily tell you everything is fine when your brain is telling you it's time to fall on your knees and repent . They also tell you they will continue to measure cardio function during the "recovery" from the treadmill exertions. Right. As if you could actually hear what they say with that much wooshing in your ears.