Thursday, August 31, 2017

Meeting "my Cardiologist"

"Wow, I really like this guy."

"My cardiologist." I have not warmed up to that phrase though I like the man whom it depicts quite a lot. Ellie and I went to see him several weeks after my family doctor had suggested it because of some blood work and an echocardiogram showing some slight heart irregularities. Dr Sam
( name changed ) was both very pleasant and young enough to be my son.

While waiting for the appointment, I vacillated between wondering what awful news he was going to pull from the data and feeling confident all was well … sure my case was interesting, possibly worthy of further study, but the further study would be no more than returning in six months to a year to be tested again.

I also wondered how I'd handle a stress test, which my doctor said may be necessary. Would I be able to pass one or would I have a heart attack trying? ( Walking is something I was used to doing, albeit neither swiftly nor uphill. ) Though I did not have nightmares about this topic I did find myself thinking about it a lot, especially as I went to sleep.

After introductions all around … "Well," he said, "let's talk about your heart."

"Fair enough; I'm pretty sure that's why I'm here."

The long and short of it was that my case is unusual ( and if I ever don't want to be unusual it's when I'm in a doctor's office ). My EKG was only "pretty" normal; there was a hint that I had a heart attack some time ago. The echocardiogram suggested the same thing - but only when viewing from a specific angle. From all other angles, all was fine. The radiologist had concluded I did have the long-ago heart attack but my cardiologist
( there's that phrase again ) wasn't so sure given that it seemed to indicate that from only one viewing angle.

"My gut," he said, "tells me it's a false positive. … But I've been wrong before, and what I'd like to do is give you a low dose of linsinopril, which will strengthen your heart, and in four to six weeks give you a nuclear stress test. This will help us be sure."

"Heart medication? Me? Who are we kidding? No!" I thought. "I really don't want to take heart medication," I said.

"OK," he replied, "no medication and we'll do the stress test next week. How's that?"

"Wow, I really like this guy," coursed through my being. "OK, you're on; let's do that."

He explained the test, wanting me to understand it completely, and sent his nurse in to schedule it.

The test consisted of an injection of a nuclear trace material to get a good picture of the blood in my heart, resting while that had time to fully flow, taking the picture, the stress test itself, another injection, rest and two more pictures. The actual stress test consisted of walking on an inclined tread mill, then the tread mill was sped up and inclined some more, until my heart rate reached eight-five percent of its safe maximum, monitoring my blood pressure and heart rate all the time.

I felt I did well; no chest pain, breathing differently only enough to know I was working, and feeling some stress in my knees and legs. The test administrator thanked me and said I did well. All that was left, then, was to hear the results.

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