For the past couple of months I’ve been having these weird “episodes”. I call them that based on the fact that no-one seems to be able to tell me what the real issue is. Basically it feels like someone is sitting on my chest and my arms go numb. Now, normally this sounds like a heart attack right? But it’s obviously not since it never happens when I’m running or riding and passes in less than a minute with no other effects. It happens less than once a month and only at times when my heart is normally at rest.....sitting at the desk, walking through the mall, driving in my truck...watching TV.....
In an effort to figure this out (and appease my wife that I'm not the walking dead) I scheduled an appointment with my doctor. He’s a runner and a pretty straight shooter and after taking my blood pressure, asking me a bunch of questions and listening to my chest, he agreed that it’s probably not my heart, but wanted to schedule an EKG, chest xray and stress test just to rule everything out.
So, I went down to the lab, had the EKG and Xray done and then setup the stress test for this past Tuesday.
The stress test is actually pretty interesting...
Basically you take off your shirt, the nurse wipes you down with alcohol wipes that I’m pretty sure are frozen solid for your enjoyment, then they use sandpaper to rough up your skin - honest, she told me it was sandpaper - and they attach about 12 million little wires to you. (I think in some countries this would be considered foreplay)
After you’re all prepared the nurse explains that the treadmill will automatically increase in speed and elevation regularly until you reach your max heart rate….not sure how they tell what your max is….unless they keep increasing it until you actually die….
Once I’m all set up and on the treadmill (with 12 million wires hanging off me) the cardiologist comes in and starts asking questions. Why are you here, describe your symptoms, when do they happen, what’s your diet like, how often do you exercise…..etc.
I explained that I didn’t think it was my heart since I never have an issue when I run or ride and that I was mainly having all this done to prove to my wife that I didn’t have heart problems.
Immediately, whether from his tone or his posture I wasn’t sure, but I got the distinct feeling he pegged me as a hypochondriac….which I’m not. Ask my wife, I’m the last person to complain about my health and I rarely go to the doctor. Either way, I was now feeling somewhat defensive.
Anyway, when he asked about exercise I told him that I ride my bike about a hundred miles a week and that I had ridden about 40 miles the day before.
To which he replied, “Why do you ride so much?” I was a little dumbfounded by his question and just said, because I enjoy it and exercise is good for you….right?
Well, yes he says, in moderation…but not that much, that’s just excessive. And why would you ride on Monday when it was so hot? You could have died….
I explained that we were in the City so it wasn’t that hot on Monday and I hardly think 3 rides a week to be excessive.
He then went on to ask me, why, if you think you have a heart condition would you be exercising at such an extreme level….again, it’s not extreme and as I stated before, I don’t think I have a heart condition….oh, so now you’re a doctor he asks????
What the h#**? Did I do something to offend this guy? Isn’t he supposed to encourage my healthy lifestyle? Why do I feel like he thinks I’m some sort of idiot? Maybe I should just start smoking and sitting around so he can prescribe some pill and justify his million dollar education….
Anyway, the treadmill starts going, and going, and going…..and finally he says well, you’re on level 7 and aren’t at your target heart rate, you’re obviously healthy, I don’t know why you even came in. (well, it sure as heck wasn’t my idea)
He then asks if I want to keep going or end the test…..by now, I really don’t like this guy and knowing he’s probably late for his golf game or something I tell him Yes, I want to keep going….. finally, at level 8 I reach my target heart rate. Which he says is 150 and he starts slowing down the treadmill, tells me I’m fine and says once the nurse unhooks me from everything I’m free to go…..
At this point, I’ve learned absolutely nothing about these “episodes” and it’s obvious my doctors know even less so I ask him….well, what is it…..to which he replies….it’s obviously just anxiety…… huh? Me?? Yeah, pretty sure he pulled that one out of the back of his fancy smock…..
The good news is my wife is no longer shopping for more expensive life insurance and hasn’t started selling my stuff on Ebay since she’s resigned herself to the fact that she’s stuck with me a little longer
The icing on cake....my regular doctor, whom I actually like, emails me today and says everything looks good but if I want to talk to a "professional" about my anxiety he can set it up.... I DON'T HAVE ANXIETY DAMMIT!!!!!