It is time for me to post once again (I am trying my best to post weekly). Thinking about what to share with you, my followers – (sometimes it is funny – other times it is informational for senior citizens), I decided to share an experience I went through this past Thursday. While I have been through this process in the past, events leading up to the day of the test, in addition to the test itself, got me smiling, if only to counteract the “Stress” that could have built up had I allowed it to.
Let me start out my small story by saying that back on the 23rd of March I had a normal scheduled visit with my heart doctor (something I have been doing now since 2004 after going through 4-way by-pass surgery). The visit was good but upon looking at my chart, it was discovered that it had been two years since my last “Stress Test” and so one was scheduled for the 10th of April. Knowing that we had travel plans later in the year, this date was acceptable and so as is the case with our medical system today, a referral and authorization was needed but we were told it was being taken care of.
On the 7th of April I received a telephone call from my heart doctor’s office informing me that they had not yet received authorization for my April 10th visit and unless received within the next day or so, they would have to cancel my appointment and re-schedule. I informed them that I would call my PCP and find out what the delay was as it was of great importance to me that the test be performed before the end of the month.
However, before I could call my PCP, they (my PCP) called me. The purpose of their call was to inform me that they noticed I was scheduled for a “Stress Test” with my heart doctor. Well, duh, they were supposed to be handling the referral and authorization. They went on to say that such a test could be performed in their office and would like to set up an appointment with them. No wonder the heart doctor never received the referral and authorization. Seeing that I did not want to change heart doctors – I informed them I would have to think about it and get back to them.
Problem was though that I did not want to postpone the test as it might be some time before it could be scheduled again and since we had vacation plans set up, didn’t want the re-scheduling to cause us to change upcoming vacation plans.
Fast forward to the 11th of April when my heart doctor called to reschedule my test assuming of course that they could get the necessary authorization. I informed them of the call from my PCP and they (heart doctor) said it was my decision to make. Should I decline to have the test performed at my PCP’s office, call back and reschedule. No problem. Before I go any further here – several things one has to know about me – (1) I hate indecision; (2) I try my best to avoid stressful situations; (3) I despise complication.
Tick tock, tick tock, the clock is running!
Seeing that a decision had to be made, I called my PCP and asked them when could they perform the stress test. April 27, 2017! Not good as it interfered with some vacation plans. Okay, how about April 20, 2017? Works for me! And so the saga begins.
Now my PCP has two offices and naturally the office that would be doing the stress test was not the one we normally frequent. But we knew where it was and left the house in enough time to arrive prior to the appointment time. As a matter of fact, we arrived fifteen minutes early – only to be told, we are running behind as it may be awhile – the nuclear material has not arrived yet. By now I bet you are thinking – “nuclear” – what is with that? Apparently once we reach a certain age, supposedly such a test is easier on senior citizens than the actual treadmill test.
And oh, by the way, the whole procedure takes about four hours – hold that thought cause I will come back to it later. Okay, while waiting for the nuclear medicine to arrive, they insert an IV port into my arm so they can proceed without further delay once the material is onsite. Back to the waiting room.
By the way, keep in mind I had to fast for this – nothing after midnight and it is now 9:30 AM. ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?
Yay, nuclear material arrives – time for me to go “ballistic, or should I say glowing!” Not really – just thought I would put that in there for effect. The technician injects me and then tells me that I need to go back to the waiting room and oh, by the way, the material will go through your system quicker and allow us to get great pictures if, while in the waiting room, you drink not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 glasses of water. Yippee – and me with an incontinence problem due to prostate surgery back in 2004. But, what the hell, seeing that the operation removed not only my prostate but the cancer as well and I have been cancer free now for the past thirteen years, what’s the problem with running to the bathroom every 15 – 30 minutes! Yay……..lucky me!
Okay, with four glasses of water in me, minus the amount I got rid of via several trips to the bathroom, waiting time is over – time for the picture taking episode of this marvelous adventure. Allow me to give you a picture of the chair I had to sit in. Picture the chair you sit in while at your eye doctor, now picture a wide strap of adhesive around your waist and middle that holds you back in the chair so that you are sitting perfectly upright. Oh one other thing, remember the chair you sit in at a lab when they take blood, well, picture that swinging arm rest you place your arm on for them to draw blood. Got it, well, picture that arm rest in front of you for you to rest both your arms folded one over the other in front of you……… at shoulder height. Can’t have your arms dropping and messing up the picture taking. Finally, but before he starts the camera rolling, he drops the second bomb on me – breathe normally – but ……DO NOT MOVE! And by the way, this portion of the test will only take twenty minutes.
Do you know how stressful it is for a senior citizen who has just been told to drink 4 glasses of water in succession (who also has an incontinence problem) to sit twenty minutes without moving. Here is a thought for you – upon making it through the twenty-minute ordeal such as that involving my particular set of circumstances – once it is over, he should be saying to me: “Congratulations, you passed the Stress Test! But, I bet he don’t!
Twenty minutes later, I am released from my bindings and make a beeline to the bathroom – Has anyone out there seen the play “Menopause” – if you did – you know the scene I am referring to – the one where the one gal runs to the bathroom and yells at the top of her lungs “Made It!” Well, that is how I felt once I made it to the bathroom…..”Made It!” And, by the way, no congratulations were provided.
Pictures taken, it is now back to the waiting room. Fifteen or so minutes later they call me back and now it is time to wire me for sound so that they can perform the “Chemical” stress test portion of this procedure. For those of you not familiar with this procedure, they hook you up like they would for an EKG and then inject more material (not nuclear) into the IV. This material is to cause your heart to experience what is similar to how it would feel were you walking on a treadmill.
By the way, you are also told prior to injecting this particular substance into your veins that the fluid being injected is not something you should worry about unless of course you start getting chest pains, feel like you are going to pass out or anything else unusual. Then, they will give you the antidote which, by the way, they will also give you after the test whether you had problems or not. “Oh Goody – Something else to look forward to!”
Okay, actual stress test over – no problems – didn’t have any chest pains, feel like I was going to pass out or anything out of the ordinary. They remove all but four of the little “whatchamacallits” that they use to wire you up and send you back to the waiting room. The four whatchamacallits left on your body will be utilized when you are called back in for – you guessed it – more pictures. Knowing that there were going to be more pictures taken, I once again made several trips to the bathroom before being called back into the room. One thing I can say about the whole procedure is that I did become familiar with where their bathrooms were.
Here he comes again into the waiting room to gather me up so he can take more pictures. Strapped in and wired up – the tech reminds you – don’t forget – breathe normally and most important – DO NOT MOVE – while it was important on the first set of pictures – it is more important during this set of pictures. And oh yes, it will be for not ten, not fifteen, but once again, you will be required to sit here and not move breathing normally for twenty minutes.
Finally, test is over – they unplug me, remove the whatchamacallits, unbind me and inform me that I am free to go. You know what is coming now – don’t you….Yup, I made another mad dash to the restroom, MADE IT! At this point I could go into another long dissertation about the conversation I had with the staff regarding when and who would get the results but that would take – well – ANOTHER TWENTY MINUTES!
So, I will end the story here and just say that I am glad it is over. If I had any concerns about this entire process though – it would be concern for others not in as good a shape as I am as to how they cope with the entire process. While it may be a “stress test” to see how well our heart is performing, in my humble opinion, there is also a form of mental stress we go through as we make our way through the process.
Good news though – and that is – when I do receive the results – and hopefully they will be favorable results – I may not need to do this again for another two years.
Until next time!