Saturday, March 23, 2019

So, I Survived

     But mind that third step -- it's a doozy!

     Went in for a cardiac stress test.  Since I have that bum knee, the treadmill was out and that left chemistry.

     To start with, they plumb you with a nice IV and shoot you up with some nice thallium, from a syringe that lives in a nice lead-lined container.  That percolates around a good long while and then they stick you in an X-ray machine, where (if you're me), some part of the process sends interesting lines of white light through your closed eyes.*

     So far, so good.  Heck, you can even get a warmed blanket for the X-raying if you'd like one, which I did.

     But that's just the baseline state.  They need to see what it looks like when the blood's really getting everywhere.  If you can't accomplish this with exercise, you're going to have to get a vasodialator drug.

     Here's a fun fact: do you know what happens to the pressure inside a closed space if the enclosed volume suddenly expands?  It decreases.  Dramatically.

     For this step, they put you on a hospital bed, elevated like a chaise lounge.  You're wired up to an EKG and an automatic blood pressure cuff.  A computer keeps track of the data and spits out a classic EKG chart as it goes. 

     They would not put you in that bed if it wasn't going to be necessary.  At the beginning, my blood pressure was markedly higher than usual -- I have white-coat syndrome and, look, I was scared, okay?

     There's a cute plumbing attachment for the IV with two syringe ports at ninety degrees and a tiny valve.  The nurse has two sets, fully populated.  They check the IV and hook up the first set, one full syringe, the other, and disconnect it and hook up the next.  That one's got one plastic syringe like the first two and another in a thick, science-fictional metal jacket, which is more thalliu--

     BAM!

     The world suddenly got very small and far away.  I got very dizzy very fast.  The blood pressure cuff cycled about then and I was about aware enough to glance over and get the numbers, 125 over a ridiculously low figure.

     The nurse finished the final two syringes and looked at me.  The other nurse (yes, you get two, though the secondary one is helping everyone else, as well) leaned in and asked, "How are you feeling?"

     "Disassociative."  It might not have been the right answer, so I tried again.  "Distant.  Disconnected."

     She told me, "It'll pass pretty soon,  Just lay here a bit."

     I did, and passed the time by watching my blood pressure go up every time the cuff cycled.  When she came back, she asked, "Coke or Diet Coke?"

     Yes, there are refreshments: your choice of Coca-Cola.  Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor and a good one.  They could hand out pills but Dr. John Stith Pemberton's concoction is inexpensive, shelf-storable and delivers a consistent, patient-metered dose to reverse the effects of the vasodilator now that its work is done.

     Once my blood pressure was back to normal, they sent me out with a hall pass and told me I could have lunch if I liked, just be back in forty minutes.

     Tam had come with me.  There's a cafeteria in the basement of the place (the lobby smells wonderful!) and we lost no time in going for food.  A cup of hot coffee and a lean grilled low-sodium hamburger later, I had my second trip through the X-ray machine and they set me free.

     I was exhausted.  I came home, sat down, nodded off, went to the computer, sat down, nodded off, and then it was almost sundown.  Tam hauled me out for supper and I managed to stay awake through it but I was asleep again not long after we returned home.

     I hope they don't have to do this to me again soon.
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* I noticed this when they did a 3-D CAT scan of my head, looking at the hole(s) in my left cheekbone.  When the beam passed though the right spot, it made white circles in my vision!  This is not a superpower -- zap energetic wavicles through the visual system and you will get a reaction.  Apollo astronauts reported seeing occasional "white streaks" with their eyes closed, as cosmic rays passed through their eyes.

9 comments:

B said...

yeah, when I did that test (exercise, not chemicals) I was pretty "Hot" for about 12 hours. So was my urine. Since I had a CDV-715, I had to try it out.

It passes quickly, but for a time I was measurably radioactive.

JayNola said...

Glad you made it through alright. Last scan I had was a pet ct that had me hooked up straight to the radioactive isotope generator by IV since the isotope, rhodium?, has a half life of 7 seconds. They bring a new generator to the hospital every 28 days the tech told me. My shoulders ached for days from holding them above my head in the tube for 1-1/2 hours.

Paul said...

I've pretty much given up going to the doctors. They can't find anything and you have to wait till something is failing before they have a clue. Wait for the big one and ride the van, then maybe they will be able to what is wrong.

But glad you managed to survive that test.

Roberta X said...

Paul, I have put this test off at least once before, maybe twice, and we're talking starting some years back. It really was time.

james said...

Just did the same thing a week ago. Instead of disassociation I experienced a chemical taste in the back of my throat and a little shortness of breath. Test was done because of a slightly abnormal EKG for pre-surgery physical for a knee replacement(get that in 2 weeks). Turns out my heart is OK but I have an enlarged aorta. Get a CT scan for that in a month. Getting old aint for sissies. Good luck on your voyage to better health.

James Johnson, ex-nuke

waepnedmann said...

My dad always wins the "I Am Sicker Than You Game" with anyone foolish enough to challenge him to a match.
I think he cheats.
He will probably outlive me.

I am certain that I recall from readings past that you keep a doctor visit book for use in the waiting rooms (their magazine selections are less than enticing).
I have an Audio book for physical therapy. You might consider that when it comes time for the knee repair.

Get better, There is still a lot of joy ahead in life.

Gregory Cotton said...

I was lucky and could do the exercise version, several times over the years. In trying to keep my aviation medical I let them do an angiogram and woke up with a stent. No problem, they went in through my wrist and I was home by 4 PM and no after effects. That was 4 years ago and everything is still fine. I went back a bit less than two years ago to try to get my medical back since the company wanted me back part time. They found a 74 % blockage of a different artery but didn't stent it since they were trying to get me through the medicall. Still no medical and I'll probably be back for a stent in a couple of years. The upside is that I'm still back part time as an instructor since I don't need a medical for that. I'll be 72 on Saturday so things are looking up!

Kevin said...

BTDT when I was being evaluated for the liver transplant. Except they had to do it twice because they couldn't get my BP and heart rate up high enough the first time around.

I have since discovered that I can still stay standing when my blood pressure is 55/30. The world is kinda white and hissy, but I don't lose consciousness.

Now I kinda wonder what my BP has to drop to FOR me to lose consciousness.

Glad you're over that. I wouldn't look forward to having to do it again.

Comrade Misfit said...

I had a nuclear/chemical stress test last year. There wasn't a cafeteria there, so I packed a lunch. I saw that everyone else there for one (about five people) hadn't thought that far ahead.

They asked if I was making an airline trip before booking the test.

Anyway, the only time that I've seen the "eyeball streak" was when I was lying in bed with my eyes shut. I figured that was a cosmic ray. Pretty cool.