"It'll be easy," they said.
But they were wrong! They failed to warn this high-strung, claustrophobic Swede that a stress test would require all her limbs being simultaneously lashed down or incapacitated, whilst in a state of undress, on a tilting bed while she pedaled her flippin' giblets out!
Just slipped their minds!
And then they wondered why her blood pressure spiked to 170/103 rendering the stress test impossible!?!
It was doomed from the start but if you look at the situation from a cockeyed angle, it's kinda' funny. Go ahead! Have a laugh at my expense!
AWOL for Four Years
The unforgettable day in 2018 when my so-thin-a-stiff-wind-would-knock-him-over cardiologist (sporting a heck of a facial twitch) suggested I have my perfectly functioning stomach cut out was the last time cardiology saw my face. I was so shocked, horrified and hurt, I blacked out for a moment...and then burst into tears.
But my stupid stroke of May 2022 forced me back into cardiology's clutches, thankfully, with a kindly non-twitching cardiologist. After hearing my cousin, Chris (RIP), also had a stroke in his early forties due to a hole in his heart, Dr. A had the bright idea of a stress test.
There's history there. It ain't pretty.
I know it's ridiculous to freak out about walking on a treadmill, but back in 2018 I'd never been on the motorized kind. My sole experience with a treadmill was my parents' 1990s Nordic Track driven by leg power. The treadmill belt constantly slipped sideways and got stuck. The leg cramps it caused were awful. Bad memories.
What if I fell on a motorized treadmill!? What if they turned it up so fast I squirted off the end like some hilarious mishap on America's Funniest Home Videos!?
By the time I arrived for my 2018 stress test, I'd worked myself into a lather of treadmill terror. My blood pressure was so high they packed me into a wheelchair, carted me off to the ER and tossed me in a room with no water for four hours.
But M*A*S*H* 4077 was blessedly on the TV so after laughing (with dry mouth!) at Hawkeye's shenanigans for four hours, of course my blood pressure was low enough to be released and go home.
And that was the last time ER or cardiology saw my face until this year.
"We use a recumbent bicycle for stress tests now," cardiology told me, soothingly, last week.
"It'll be so much easier than the old treadmill stress test," they cooed.
And like the perfectionistic, straight-A student I've always been, I was determined to pass the Great 2022 Stress Test with flying colors! This time I wouldn't flunk!
All Gummied Up
Tuesday saw me in a state of grim determination...and all gummied up!
As many of you know, I swear by Flamingo Supplements' Ashwagandha + GABA + L-theanine + Hemp Oil apple gummies to stay calm. When I say those gummies changed my life, I'm not just whistlin' Dixie...and I don't get a dime for plugging the product either. I just want others to be blessed by them as I have been.
After years of Seasonal Affective Disorder and gnawing anxiety/panic attacks, those gummies rewired me from the inside, out! So naturally I ODed on my gummies before Tuesday's stress test plus an extra dose of GABA tablets.
Let's do this little ol' thing!!!
But I forgot one thing: I can control my mood, my facial expression and my actions with calming gummies and the power of my mind. But I can't control my genetics and my body with my mind.
The body never lies. I come from a long line of high-strung Swedes. Genetics will out.
Five's a Crowd
Like any good obsessive, I thought I'd done my homework. YouTube shows happy little videos of people lying comfortable in hospital beds, EKG pads attached, pedaling away. No problem!
But that's not how it's done in the Sanford Health System, Honey!
Unlike my modest 2018 stress test, this time I was ordered to strip off from the waist up without privacy while undressing. And the hospital gown provided didn't nearly meet in the front.
That's when the hot flash hit and my mouth went Sahara dry. Still, as I laid down on the hospital bed, I was grateful all the staff were female.
Thanks to diltiazem, at home my blood pressure is always textbook perfect. But at Sanford!?! 170/103. It was decided a rest might help, so everyone stood around in awkward silence, waiting for Miss Nerves to calm down.
While taking my blood pressure repeatedly in my right arm, they simultaneously started an IV in my left arm. Ow!
Then they drew a seatbelt over my bladder, not my waist, and cinched it down snuggly. My nervous bladder...which I already feared wouldn't stay quiet for the entire 60-90 minute test...was now being squeezed constantly while they explained the tight belt was to keep me on the bed while they tilted the bed.
Tilt the bed!?! Well, they kept that dirty little secret until the last moment! I don't go on Fairground rides for a reason!
As the final coup de grâce to my last shred of serenity, they triple-strapped both feet into the pedals of the recumbent bicycle at the foot of the bed, while questioning "if" I was able to exert myself to pedal.
How do they think I had a stroke in the first place!?! Putting my feet up!?! Who do they think does my housework!?! Takes care of my disabled husband!?! Walks my dog!?! Can throw a fifty pound bag of flour over her shoulder and carry it up a flight of stairs?? Able to exert myself...ppppffftt. It felt like a barely cloaked insult.
So let's review: Both arms were incapacitated, both feet strapped down, my bladder squeezed..and me a textbook claustrophobic! I had no "out," no way to release myself from my fetters and no escape plan. That's when panic surged and I begged for something to be released, either my bladder or my feet, as I was neither pedaling nor tilting yet.
By now there were five women in the room, silent and uncomfortable, waiting for this highly-strung Swede to get her shit together.
Under those circumstances, THAT WAS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.
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Vivaldi...Tried But Failed
Bless her heart, the pretty dark-haired lady doing my ultrasound stepped into the breach. She began chattering cheerfully about Pumpkin Spice Latte and soon all six of us ladies were chatting about one of our favorite topics: food!!!
Another lady put on a classical music playlist at my request. Mmmm, Vivaldi!
It was all kindly meant. The music and small talk helped...but not enough. My shame for being unable to calm down was momentarily mitigated by their awed silence when I told them about undergoing monthly eye injections. I may be terrified of stress tests but they couldn't imagine having eye injections.
By the time they realized my blood pressure wasn't going to decrease, my still-strapped feet were numb.
Another uncomfortable silence fell over the room as I was released from my fetters and all those preparations for naught were undone. Between you, me and the wall, I was almost in tears of disgust with myself for "flunking" yet another stress test.
But I was the only person down on myself. Michael and my friend, "Molly," extended the grace and empathy I never have for myself. Cardiology simply rescheduled a chemical stress test for the same day as my fifth eye injection. Yes, let's pack all the horror into one awful day and get it over with!
Information is So Calming
Last month I suggested that Sanford Health follow the advice of a 1980s Reader's Digest story about an old lady who volunteered as a hand-holder at an eye clinic. I told them, "Of course, big strong men would scoff and tell her they didn't need to hold her hand during their procedures but she'd sit beside them anyways. She chuckled, 'They're the ones who end up squeezing my hand the hardest.' "
A kindly human touch releases powerful endorphins to soothe a troubled soul. Wouldn't it be nice to have hand-holders during stress tests, at the eye clinic and especially the dentist!? (Oddly, I love going to the dentist!)
This month I suggest that Sanford prints a brochure fully disclosing exactly what a stress test entails, with pictures, so Nervous Nellies like me know precisely what to anticipate and can prepare mentally. Or request a Xanax prescription. I've never had one but gummies aren't enough!
Information is soothing. Being blind-sided is scary. Maybe some people find handcuffs sexy but for me being strapped down five ways from Sunday was the stuff that nightmares are made of.
10/6/2022 08:24:47 am
Before Covid I used to trust doctors and hospitals. This episode sounded more like an FBI interrogation of a J6 suspect. Cretins. Please find a doc that will get your BP down to tolerable levels for the sake of you heart, kidneys, spouse and fans.
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