Stress tested

It’s been a long day out, today!

I had an appointment at a nearby city to do a stress test. Part of the ongoing testing to try and figure out why my stamina has dropped so severely since last summer, and trace the source of my fatigue. This is one of the tests to see if there might be problems with my heart.

My daughters were both able to come with me, too, so that was nice. đŸ™‚

When I was called for the appointment, I was told to arrive for 12:45 to check in, and the procedure would start at 1.

I got there just before 12:30, and when the receptionist looked me up, she said I was actually scheduled for 12:30 and 12:45! Which is weird, but I don’t mind getting medical appointments over with early!

For the test, I had a blood pressure cuff put on, and was wired up with something like a dozen wires to monitor my heart. The box they split off from was strapped around my waist, and then long cables were attached to both the blood pressure cuff and the box at my waist. I was also asked a bunch of questions as to what I was feeling that was a concern, as well as the usual lifestyle questions.

I don’t quite know how to answer when I get asked if I “work”. I don’t have a paying job, but taking care of this place is basically how we pay the rent, so my “job” is a sort of custodian. I did appreciate how they responded – or, rather, didn’t respond – when I tried to explain what I do, and what sort of physical activity I get, as well as my comparison between what I could do last year, and what I can do this year. Being a woman of generous proportions, I’m used to getting that “yeah… right” response when I describe the level of manual labour I do. I get the same sort of response when I am asked about my diet and I explain that I am mostly a from-scratch cook, and no I don’t sit on my butt all day shoving junk food down my gullet. Since I’m fat, they typically refuse to believe me. That didn’t happen here. When the doctor was asking me questions and I described some of this, he took notes. Then, as the tech was working on me, I could hear him softly recording notes about my case and my answers to his questions, and it was all just matter of factly noted.

It was refreshing.

The first thing they needed to do was get a base measurement of my blood pressure and heart, so they had me in a chair where I was to just sit and try to stay relaxed for a while. The problem with that, though, was the vinyl upholstery. I kept feeling like I was about to slide right out! LOL

Then they put me on a treadmill. They explained they would start me off slowly, then increase the speed a bit, as well as the incline, until my heart rate reached a certain point. I don’t know what that number was, but it took me 4 minutes to reach it. That’s when the speed and incline were increased.

Unfortunately, this is where my lack of stamina became an issue. I actually thought my knee would be a problem, first, as it started getting very snarky with me, but in the end, I just felt me reaching my limit. I know myself well enough by now that if I push myself too hard, it has some unpleasant consequences, so I had to ask them to stop early.

Thankfully, it was enough time for them to get the readings they needed.

Then, it was back into the chair to rest until my heart rate dropped back to the base line I started at.

All the while, my blood pressure was repeatedly taken. At one point, though, the tech wasn’t getting a reading and had to come over and hold my arm up while another reading was taken.

Once the base line was reached, I was unhooked and could get dressed again, then waited as the doctor went over the readings.

He was able to tell me right away that, from what he could see, there was no further need for testing. Everything looked like it should.

Which is… good?

He did make a point of adding that, while nothing was jumping out as a problem in the readings, that doesn’t mean I couldn’t suddenly drop from a heart attack tomorrow. He stressed to take any symptoms seriously, and that if I started feeling shortness of breath, etc., going to the emergency to get it checked is a good idea.

As for my symptoms, it was basically guesswork at this point. He suggested it could simply be that, as I am getting older, I am losing my conditioning faster, so the drop in physical activity in the winter might be enough to explain it. He recommended getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity in a week. He mentioned “like a brisk walk” as an example of activity, so I had to clarify if the sort of work I do around the yard counted, and yes. It does. So, basically, I got almost all my 150 minutes for the week done just by finishing up with the broken tire planter. LOL However, he suggests trying to do something daily. Not usually a problem. He also suggested that losing 5-10% in body weight might help, but he was really stressing the “might” part.

And that was it! I was done.

I caught up with my daughters, and off we went. They were sweethearts and bought lunch. Which was actually breakfast for them. We went to a Boston Pizza and even wound up getting a pizza to share.

Bourbon Chicken.

It was new on the menu, and absolutely amazing! It included caramelized red onions, which made for a surprisingly sweet pizza. It was a combination that worked very well!

We then took advantage of being near stores we don’t usually get to and did a bit of shopping before finally heading home.

Meanwhile, on the home front…

My husband got a call yesterday from the angiogram department. They wanted to make an appointment for another one. He kept bringing up the issues of last time, and that he can’t wait around for an hour or more, but every time he did, she went back to “yes, you come in at this time, you get registered and processed, and then you have to wait…”

There was simply no accommodation for his disability.

What I don’t understand is why they need patients to come in a full hour before the procedure to register and be processed, when that part takes only a couple of minutes. It would be easier to handle the procedure itself being late – those things happen, of course – if there weren’t already an hour of waiting actually scheduled in. Could they not have the procedure booked for, say, 11, and let him come in and register at 10:45? Apparently, that’s not an option.

After going back and forth on the phone and being repeatedly told he would have to wait, he finally just said thank you, and hung up.

While we were gone today, they called again. My husband wasn’t able to get to the phone before the machine took the call, so a message was left. The call was from the woman he actually saw at his appointment, so a member of the cardiac team, not the angiogram department. Unfortunately, the message is in French, so I have no idea what she said.

He really should get this procedure done, but he simply can’t handle a repeat of what happened last time, and from the sounds of it, that delay even beyond the scheduled 1 hour wait was very typical.

Well, we’ll figure it out at some point.

So it’s good news for me, not so good news for him, on the medical front. :-/

The Re-Farmer

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