The Old Coot stresses out

If you ever have a heart “thing” and go to a doctor to get it checked out, you’ll probably end up getting a stress test. I had my hiccup a few years ago, and after putting it off for several days, which is part of the “man” code, I went to my regular doctor and he sent me to a cardiologist. FOR A STRESS TEST!

They put you on a treadmill, glue some electrodes to your chest and back and add other attachments to measure blood pressure, pulse rate and a few more things, I think; I wasn’t paying close enough attention since I’d started stressing before the test began.   

They start the treadmill and off you go, for a walk in the park. But pretty soon, they speed it up, and your leisurely walk turns into a jog, then a foot race. It feels like a mugger is chasing you and you’re desperate to escape his clutches. Then, the treadmill starts to tilt; you’re running up hill now and the mugger is still coming. It tilts some more and you’re on your way up Mount Everest. You turn to the doctor and say, “I think I’m having a heart attack!” He says you aren’t and wants you to continue to the top of the mountain. You do, and finally, the treadmill shuts down.

In my case, the doctor turned to me (I could barely hear him over my gasping for air) and said, “You’ve had a positive result.” I smiled and yelled, “Yippee!” Stretched my arm high in the air in his direction to get a hand slap. “No, no,’ he said. “Positive means the test showed some positive artery blockage!” 

“Darn,” I thought to myself, “It’s the first time I heard the word, positive after a medical test, and now he tells me it’s not a good thing.” But, the fix was simple, the Cath Lab crew slipped in a few stents and sent me on my way. I hated the stress test, especially the part where I thought I was having a heart attack. I’m going to ask for something different if I ever need one again. 

It should be done at an airport, in the endless line snaking through security, where you’re wondering what it will be that trips you up and if you’ll make it to your gate in time. And, not get on a plane that CRASHES. The last time I got pulled from the line it was a tiny Swiss Army knife attached to my key chain. It would take 1,000 slashes with its one-inch blade to do any bodily harm. Before that, it was a bottle perfume, one ounce too large. That airport thing would be a real stress test and you wouldn’t have to wear yourself out on a treadmill thinking you’re having a heart attack.  

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