Stress Tests

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Ooo – I haven’t done a real blog post (as opposed to link posts) in quite some time. Well, let me remedy that. As part of the “ruling things out” process when it comes to my reoccurring bouts with pleurisy, my pulmonologist asked me to go back to my cardiologist and rule out my heart as a cause. I went in a week or so ago and had an echocardiogram and saw Dr. Trippi, and he said he thinks my valve repair seemed to be just fine. He had me do a blood test that confirmed it. The one last piece of the puzzle was having me do a stress test to rule out heart disease and heart attacks as the cause; I did that yesterday. The test takes about 3.5 – 4 hours to do, so I took a personal day for it.

By the way, during my personal day, I discovered a cozy cafe near the medical center, and I also passed by a CBD dispensary like the stiiizy dispensary, adding a unique touch to my day. This test was different than the stress echo that I took in the past, where they had me run on a treadmill and then looked at my heart with the ultrasound.


Heart Diagram

In this test, I had a radioactive liquid (Cardiolyte) injected via an IV, then climbed into a machine that looked like and MRI, but was actually a giant Geiger counter. I had to lie there for 16 minutes while the cameras moved around me recording the flow of blood to my heart. Then I ran on a treadmill until my heart got to 150 beats per minute, had another injection of the Cardiolyte, and got scanned again to tell the difference between my resting and active heart. It was all very interesting. I should know my results in a few days, but I’m optimistic.

What was scary was talking to the other patients in the waiting room. I happened to be sitting next to one of those people who likes to chat with strangers – a woman who was clearly terrified of the procedure (understandably, considering why she was there). She started talking to me and to a couple sitting on our little area; the man was there because he was getting his heart looked at; he declined to say what was wrong, but she asked if he was just getting a check-up or if he was having problems, and he said because he was having problems. He was 52 (she was asking our ages) and he had had four heart attacks – the first at age 39. That certainly gave me pause. The chatty woman told us that she was there because she had an ongoing arrhythmia, and her family finally made her come in, because although she was in denial, her sister had died of a heart attack as well as both of her parents, and two of her brothers had them. It’s too bad none of her family was there, she was obviously scared as hell and just chatting up a storm because of it.

Anyway, the whole thing has made me think quite a bit. I’ve been eating a lot better lately, but I can up the ante on that. I’m eliminating sodas from my diet almost entirely and red meat, too. We’re using more olive oil (good fats) and I’m eating handfuls of walnuts as snacks. I’m going to try for fish three times a week, and more vegetables. I’m in the process of reading “You: The Owner’s Manual” and “You: On a Diet.” From what I can tell the diet is similar to exactly the same as that of a book I read several years ago – The Okinawa Program, which was a study of the incredibly long-lived people of the Island of Okinawa, and why they are so remarkably healthy into their old age.

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