Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My First Stress Test - Oh Joy

I can't believe I'm going to write a post about my doctor appointment. I can't believe you kept reading past the first sentence. Both of us are pathetic, really.

This morning I taught my eight o'clock class and put out a few fires. Then I left my office on a bike and headed to the bus station about a mile or two away. Huh? Did he say bike? What, are we in China now? Keep reading, dear bored reader, keep reading.

Sixty degree blue skies greeted my face and hands as I pedalled my newly-repaired, orange Mongoose mountain bike in a February-celebration of Texas winters. (I just now decided to call him "Orangebike". Get it?) The crisp smell of clean air filled my lungs with oxygen, but I'm no Lance Armstrong. I just crawled along at an embarrassing pace. Trying not to look winded, I smiled at passers by.

"He must be saving the environment or something" I heard one mumble under his breath.
"He sure is fat" said another.

I like riding my bike. I like noticing the cracks in the pavement, feeling the gentle up and down slopes to the road, and hearing dogs bark in neighborhoods; these are the things you miss when driving a car. They blurr past you with an other worldliness. You are disconnected from the sensory experience. I also think there is an organic beauty to self-powered transportation. Rocky mountain high.

(But don't get me wrong. I was biking because my car battery is dead. If I had a choice, I would still take the easy way, blurry dogs and all.)

The bus costs a buck fifty and drops me off at my new cardiologist's office across town. Orangebike has ridden in his own special bike rack on the front of the bus. Now I park my bike in that little room between the two sets of sliding glass doors. You know the room, it's where they keep the wheelchairs. Yes, wheelchairs. Good grief. At least the wheelchairs are like cousins to a bike. Maybe he won't feel out of place.

My first impression of the office is that it looks expensive. My second impression is that I am the youngest person in the waiting room by at least two decades. Why am I here, I ask myself. (You may be wondering the same thing. The short answer is that my general practitioner wanted me to see a cardiologist to make sure last month's fainting spells were not heart-related.) Because I am somewhat self-conscious of my weight and general out-of-shapedness, being the youngest person at the cardiologist made me feel embarrassed. It's like being a teenager in third grade, only the opposite.

"Dude, you must be really dumb to be a teenager in third grade."

"Dude, you must be really fat and out of shape to be at the cardiologist at age 41."

While I sat with Moses and Java Man in the waiting room, I sent text messages and made some calls. In retrospect, I may have been trying to prove I was still "young" by brandishing technology. Look at me, I'm a whippersnapper. I was just about to start a crump dancing when they called me back to see the doc.

I liked him. He was crusty and funny and reminded me of the doctor on Battlestar Galactica that smokes cigarettes. He didn't smoke, but he had a similar temperment. He made me do the "stress test". I told him I have plenty of stress already, but he just chuckled and shuffled me off to the back room where Helga keeps her treadmill and Bic razors.

She shaved seven patches of hair off my chest - no cream, no water. She cut the hair in a weird pattern and now, when I take off my shirt, I look like a giant, swollen ace of spades. ♠

"Would you like to use this piece of broken glass, Helga?" I asked her as she shaved me.
"You're a funny man, eh?" she said. "We'll see who's laughing during your stress test."

She put the EKG leads on my chest and started the treadmill. She said the goal was to get my heart rate to like, 800 or something, or to make me explode, whichever came first. I would say that the stress test was on par with a root canal, only with Helga telling me to keep going, over and over.

In short, the doc says my fainting has nothing to do with my heart, and that my EKG looks pretty good, actually. But he also said I need to get more exercise. No surprise. I guess I'll keep riding Orangebike.


Anonymous said...

My most favorite thing about you is that you make me laugh. Out loud. Consistently. Even when I'm angry at you, you make me laugh. You are a gem. And I will love you forever and ever.

Thank you for being my friend.

The M

majorleague007 said...

Well, I can't top THAT, but this blog did crack me up.

Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years said...

Very glad you're o.k. Don't worry about being the youngest one there. When I've gone, my toddler was usually the youngest person in the waiting room.

Missionaries in La Ceiba, Honduras said...

Hey dude - to answer your question about Armenia: about 3,000 people, about 400 houses. Most but not all have electricity. We are currently making a map of the area and are going to be making a census and checking things like that.

Chaos-Jamie said...

dude, that was HILARIOUS!

(does that make me old?)

Mother Mayhem said...

I am 43. I am ancient. Glad that your heart is okay. :o)

Came over from Chaos Jaime's. Enjoyed perusing your posts.

practicallyhealthy said...

You're too funny! this is my first time on your site and definately not the last. I'm a Natural Health Practitioner by trade and I know I can help you, but I don't think I want too:) I want to hear your version of doctors appointments again. You had me tearing!!