Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Oh, The Stress (Test)

My doctor was really in "worry-wart" mode during my annual physical this year. He was handing out new prescriptions like they were candy. And it took some convincing to enlighten his nurse that I DID just have a tetanus shot. In fact, it took place last year in this very office. After some digging through my chart, she finally saw the note and agreed.

But I couldn't wriggle free of a commitment to an EKG treadmill stress test for my heart. I did have one seven years ago, but the doctor still had concerns and scheduled me for another.

That happened today. I'm not a big fan of stress EKGs. After my first one, done when I was forty, I nearly fainted. During the last one they found some minor defect in the way my ticker was working. Nothing to worry about then, but now it's seven years later. So I was nervous enough that I purchased a daily pass to my own recreation center yesterday to do my own trial run on their treadmill. I did 20 minutes, worked up a healthy sweat, and suffered no ill effects. Boo-yeah.

Of course, when you're actually at the cardiology center, little things can unnerve you. Like not having the right paperwork with me and hearing threats to cancel the test right then and there. Thankfully, my primary care doctor faxed the paperwork over while we waited. Then the examining nurse found a tic on my leg.

A tic? As in blood-sucking parasite? The nurse snatched him off but how unnerving is that? I wanted to strip naked right there and ask her if there were any more trying to burrow their way into my blood supply, of which I would obviously need every drop right now.

Then I started walking the treadmill. What they do is increase the intensity, both the speed and the incline, every two minutes until you either collapse or quit on your own. Then they stop it immediately and you lie down for a quick chest scan, forcing your heart to operate in kind of a crisis mode.

First two minutes were a walk in the park. The next two minutes were still a walk in the park, only going slightly uphill and quicker. Then the pace picked up, as if you were walking quickly through the park alone at night while hearing strange noises.

Then the nurse mentioned that if I were the competitive type, the last time I did this test I made it over 13 minutes. What?? Whom was I dealing with here? Is she a Jillian wannabe from The Biggest Loser TV program? Was her father a drill sergeant with the Marines? My number one goal here is self-preservation, not beating a stamina milestone recorded when seven years younger.

Now, approaching ten minutes, I felt as if I were jogging lightly up Mount Everest. But my heart rate was still in the 130 beats per minute range. Not that high. When ten minutes kicked in, it felt as if I were doing a moderate jog up Mt. Everest, while carrying a pack animal on my back, his pack included. I did see my heart rate rise to 150 bpm, almost 160.

"I can do 12 minutes, " I proposed. They seemed satisfied with that, even counting me down the last 15 seconds. Cool. Felt like I was on a game show. But then the treadmill abruptly stopped and they put me on the gurney for the heart scan. Whoa, everything started to go white. I tried to sit up but they said, "You're okay" and made me lie down again. Eventually things returned to normal.

Whew, glad that's over. No chest pain, abnormal dizziness or shortness of brreath. I say I passed, never mind the doctor. But then a letter from my primary care doctor awaited me when I arrived home tonight. He wants me to make an appointment with him to go over my latest lab results.



Blogger TechnoBabe said...

Sounds like your heart held up great under the conditioned stress and you were glad to have it over with. You must have health insurance because the doctor wants to tell you you did well on the heart thingamajingy test.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Carine said...

good for you in so many ways Dave.

I had a bit of a heart incident about 7 or so years ago-My RA actually caused some inflammation around my heart. Thankfully, my rheumy and the ER dr had a nice chat and stopped at the EKG. But he does make me check this out every year.
Plus, since both parents have heart conditions-he's a bit more hands on w/ any and all irregularities.

Good (?) news-you got the stress test, I'm getting a colonoscopy.

Isn't getting older fun????

12:42 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

TECHNOBABE--I've never had the doctor call me in just to give me good news. It's mediocre at best. I think I'll take my time calling him for the appointment. Ignorance is bliss.

CARINE--I agree, you can't take chances where your heart is concerned. Or your colon!

5:50 PM  
Anonymous bonnie said...

I promise to keep this short. Yoga for the heart! LeBron James practices yoga and blogs about it: What are you waiting for, Dave?

Yoga plays an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases that includes recurrence of heart attacks, hypertension and coronary heart diseases. Yoga influences the hypothalamus directly, the area of the brain that controls endocrine activity, and helps prevent heart attacks.

A complete yoga program involves exercises (asanas),breath control(pranayama), sleep control(yoga Nidra) and mind control(meditation).These are the tenets for cardiac health, and perhaps the reason why cardiologists universally recommend yoga to their patients. The curative benefits of yoga enhance heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic stress, boost the immune system and enhance cognitive ability.

Heart disease is a problem of modern times. It is psychosomatic in nature. Improper lifestyle, faulty diet and negative thinking play an important part in triggering heart disease. Our thoughts, feelings and emotions affect our body and mind. Negative emotions spark chemical processes throughout the entire body. Any irritation in the lining of arterial walls - which includes high levels of fat in the blood, smoking and high blood pressure- can trigger heart diseases.

Vedic wisdom in yoga places emphasis on four aspects that have a direct bearing on health:

Achaar (character and conduct): It stands for moral virtues - truthfulness, chastity, compassion and kindness.

Vichaar (perception or the way we think): The way we think influences our way of life. Develop a positive outlook in life and remove negative thoughts from the mind.

Vyayahaar (the way we behave):It pays to replace undesirable habits with positive ones. If we fear change and cling to old, negative habits, we cannot succeed in yoga.

Ahaar (diet or the food we eat): Food sustains our body. What we eat affects our mind directly. Intake of proper and healthy food nourishes body and mind. Avoid over-eating and eat in moderation.

Any imbalance in any of these aspects results in disharmony of the body, mind and soul. This paves the way for diseases.

In addition, mental relaxation through meditation and yoga contribute immensely in offsetting arteriosclerosis (coronary artery blocked due to the deposition of fats on the inner walls of the heart). Thus, owing to its many positive effects, direct and indirect on the cardiovascular system, yoga assumes a pivotal role in heart care.

My eldest daughter works on Wall St. and her company pays for her yoga. Jivamukti on Broadway is the largest yoga center in the world and is owned by SPARTAN alum, David Life!

Namaste, Dave!

7:11 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

BONNIE--Sounds like you've been listening to the teachings of Baba Ramdev too much. LeBron James has a blog? I'll bet he pays someone to write one for him. He can afford it now that Izzo won't be his coach.

I still put yoga in the same category as jazzercize, dancefit, zumba, etc. Fitness for the fairer sex. But I know someone who is a receptionist at a yoga center so I'll ask her how many men enter her domain.

At my age, tying my shoes feels the equivalent of yoga. And my laces often come undone. Kudos to your daughter but I hope the taxpayer bailouts aren't funding her yoga lessons. I'm hoping to retire this century.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thing you took that stress test before the family fantasy football league.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

ANONYMOUS--Hea, I did another mock fantasy draft last night. I'm looking to win BOTH my money league and the family league this year, not just the one like I did last year.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Dave ~~ What a time you had on the treadmill - glad you made it OK
I haven't had one of those, nor do I want to. I don't like it when the doctors ring us. Often not good news
but I hope yours is not.
Thanks for your comments and glad you got the last question right
about the crocodiles in the river.
Sorry it has been so hot for you, but
air conditioners are wonderful.
Take good care of yourself, my friend
Regards, Merle.

4:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that letter told you that you'll need to be hooked up during your fantasy football draft. That's when your heart is in "crisis mode." Moreover when you end up losing your first 4 games and are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs is when you need to be hooked up.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

MERLE--Back up into the 90s this week. Air conditioners are nice but I hate to see my next electric bill.

ANONYMOUS--Not to worry. I've done about a half dozen mock drafts thus far. A draft strategy is coming together. I almost feel sorry for the other team managers in my leagues. Domination, that's what I'm going for this year.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous betty said...

Wow, that's daunting to receive such a letter from your doctor. I'd be an absolute nervous wreck!

That stress test doesn't sound safe to me. I wonder how many people have heart attacks while undergoing the doctor's stress test?

Let's hope that tic wasn't carrying Lyme disease. Maybe that's what the doctor wants to tell you.

Keep us posted! And make that appointment if you haven't already!


9:26 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

My wife mentioned too that tics carry Lyme disease. Maybe that's why I have been so tired lately.

I go back to the doctor tomorrow to hear what he has to say about my lab results.

9:23 AM  

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