Last Monday July 9th, as I was told in “Walk Don’t Bike” I had a cardiac stress test. That consists of being hooked up to an electrocardiogram (ECG) and walking faster and faster up a steeper and steeper incline while the medicos monitor the ECG. It’s a common test and I know other members of our family have had them. The doctors are looking for possible blockages that would cause symptoms of pain or pressure over my heart.
The results were inconclusive. I was told that my atrial fibrillation (afib) was so strong that it masked anything else on the ECG. I was also told that my heart rate had jumped from 85 to 180 bpm very quickly. Five years ago when I trained in spinning classes, it took 20 minutes of very strenuous work to get to that rate and of course I made no attempt to stay that high. Also, after sitting and talking about the test results, I stood up and got dizzy. The nurses immediately took my blood pressure and pulse rate. My blood pressure fell like it is supposed to when you stand up. The heart rate also fell! Definitely not supposed to. Again, my body works a little differently.
Since there were no good results, I was scheduled for a “nuclear stress test” last Friday the13th. For this test, I was injected with a radioactive substance designed to hang around the heart area. Then I was scanned by a machine which makes pictures of the heart and all the blood vessels around the heart. This was the before picture. Because of the afib problem with actual exercise, I was injected with a drug which expands the blood vessels and stimulates the heart and only walked very slowly on the treadmill. After that, I was scanned by the machine again so that the doctors could see any differences.
I just got the results today. Again, not very conclusive. But the cardiologist thinks there are signals of reduced pumping ability in my heart. So on Thursday the 19th, I will have an echocardiogram like I had a couple of months ago but they will be looking for pumping problems.
Yesterday Laurie and I went with some friends to their condo in Frisco in the Colorado mountains. I had intended to stay 3 days and fish. That first night I was up most of the night with shortness of breath, difficulty getting enough air. I also developed a splitting headache and my carcinoid diarrhea started up. We came home this morning and I was feeling much better within a couple of hours. My cardiologist simply says make sure to perform no strenuous exercise.
Once again, I fit the phrase my team surgeon used: “You have the misfortune of being an interesting case!” This seems to me to be equivalent to “May you live in interesting times.” which is reputed to be an ancient Chinese curse.