Stress Tests

I mentioned that I was having a stress test. It’s actually a couple of stress tests administered on sequential days; one a resting test, the other an active treadmill test. The instruction sheet says I have to fast 4 hours before each test. They inject me with something radioactive and send me off to eat a “fatty” meal and drink 3 or 4 cups of liquid. Have you ever been instructed to eat a “fatty” meal? I’m thinking sausage, fried eggs, and a big buttermilk biscuit with an extra slather of butter as prepared by the chefs at Big Rig fits the bill. In fact almost anything you order at Big Rig would fit the bill. Wonder if he’ll tell me I have a heart related problem from eating too much fatty food? I asked the lab tech what constituted a fatty meal and he concurred that any Big Rig fare was likely to meet all the criteria and that I didn’t have to go as far as a triple cheese burger to meet the intent. I also asked him why the fatty meal. Seems that the radioactive material they inject ends up being filtered out in your liver and fatty foods get the liver working over time to take care of the bad stuff. So if you ever ingest anything radioactive, head for your local Big Rig equivalent.

The resting test was nothing. You get the shot, eat the meal, and then have some kind of geiger counter scanner circle your chest taking pictures – about 15 minutes and totally passive. The treadmill was a bit more stressful. They injected the material, hooked me up to an electro cardiogram machine and then started up the treadmill. The objective is to get my heart rate up to a target rate. For me it was 126 but I think the number is a function of your age and maybe other things. They incrementally increase the speed and inclination every 3 minutes while checking your blood pressure every couple of minutes. I was straining when it topped the target rate and my BP was 190/90, higher than I’ve ever seen it. He asked me if I wanted to continue another level and I told him that I was ready to quit anytime he was assuming he had all the data he needed. My legs were getting rubbery so he let me off the hook. Then the fatty meal piece and come back for another round of picture taking with the geiger counter. A couple of guys I talked to had to jump off the machine so I guess I did OK. Before leaving the facility they installed a monitor which is a cell phone looking device with leads connecting to sensors glued to my chest. I have to wear that for 24 hours and then bring the monitor back for analysis next week. I have a diary to maintain so they can sync up between what was happening externally to what the data shows. So far, 6 hours into it, no diary entries. The part I’m most fearful of is removing the sensors from my chest. You know they have them well glued on so ripping out chest hairs or even thinking about ripping out chest hairs is stressful. Other than that, I’m guessing this is much ado about nothing but if it will make the doc feel better, who am I to spoil his day. I won’t know the results of all this until later next week.

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