My Heart Will Go On
Wednesday morning I had my much anticipated, oh-so-stressful, stress echo test. As weird as it may seem, I had been more worried about this test than the major surgery next week. I just really didn’t want to do it. Having been “sick” for almost a year, I’m not in great shape – my endurance is really low. I was sure that I was going to humiliate myself running on the treadmill.The test was in the 100 Medical Plaza building – most of my appointments are next door at the 200 building. The 100 building seems much fancier. I found my way to the cardiology suite and checked in. I was given several forms to fill out. Before I was able to complete them, I was called back for the test. The technician lead me to a room in the rear of the suite containing a treadmill with a large machine next to it as well as some ultrasound equipment and a bed.
I changed into a hospital gown – I love those things – that opened in the front. Then the technician stuck a bunch of electrodes all over my chest and had me lay down on the bed. Then she preformed an ultrasound on my heart which was actually cool since I was able to see the screen. I was able to see my own heart pumping.
Then came the portion I was dreading… the treadmill. A nurse came in to monitor the test and a blood pressure cuff was attached to my arm. I was told that I needed to reach a target heart rate of 171 beats per minute. Any time that I felt that it was time to stop, that I couldn’t go on, I was to let them know. They would then help me off the treadmill and I would go straight back to the bed for another ultrasound. Every three minutes, the speed and incline of the treadmill would increase and they would check my blood pressure periodically.
The treadmill started. The first level was a fairly brisk walk, but nothing that I couldn’t handle. My heart rate only went up to 150 beats per minute though. After the three minutes, it sped up. I was still able to walk and my heart rate went up to 165. Three more minutes passed and the speed increased again. Again, I was able to walk, but I could tell if it increased any more, I would have to start running. I was also starting to get really tired. I watched the monitor as my heart rate passed by the 171 target and went up to 180. After a minute, the nurse said that they had gotten the necessary data and to let them know as soon as I needed to stop. I made it about another minute. The treadmill stopped and they rushed me to the bed and performed a second ultrasound. Finished!
The technician brought me to an exam room to wait for the cardiologist. About an hour later (that is NOT an exaggeration), she came in with my results. My heart is completely normal for a 29 year old woman. She gave her complete go-ahead for the surgery and said she would write a glowing recommendation for the surgeons.
Well, that’s one less thing for me to worry about!