I have a weird heart. Instead of pitty-pat, pitty-pat, mine has this unnerving hesitation; pitty-pat, pitty……pat. It doesn’t do it all the time mind you, usually I don’t even notice, but I have observed a relation between missed beats and stress, mental stress, such as dealing with the wife’s cats. However, the Missus does not deem my condition serious enough to reduce the cat population here in the humble abode. There is such a thing as priorities you know.
The family doctor, on the other hand, took note of the pitty…pat during my last visit and when I mentioned feeling some discomfort in my chest from time to time; he decided we should do a test called a Myocardial Perfusion Scan. It works like this: First you go to the waiting room and wait, hour and half minimum, before they call your name. A lady then comes in with a fat needle and they inject a radioactive isotope INTO YOUR BODY! And all this time, I thought radioactivity was something to be avoided. You then are led into a room with a mean-looking machine made of steel and iron and other cold, scary things where you are told to lie down and be very, very still for 13 minutes. Being still was not a problem. I was too intimidated to move.
Next up was the treadmill, the dreaded treadmill. It started well enough; a pleasant and not unattractive woman pasted the necessary wires to my chest and hit the start button. The pace was leisurely at first. She watched my pitty-pats on the monitor as we chatted over the usual trivia. I asked what her title was. “I’m a treadmill technician,” she said. Now those that know me very well, know that I have an embarrassing lack of social skills. I’m aware of it and should have shut up, but I didn’t.
“So this is all you do, all day?”
She shot me a look and nodded.
“So it’s sort of like working on an assembly line?”
I felt a sudden chill in the room as I saw her reach for the speed control on the treadmill. The pitty-pats shot upward. Then the damn thing got steep, very steep, as she increased the incline to at least 45, maybe 50 degrees. A minute later, I’m panting like a lizard, keeping one eye on the monitor for any missed beats and the other eye on the hallway where I expected to see a team of ER personnel running toward me with a gurney.
A number appeared on the screen. “That’s my target rate isn’t it? That’s where the test ends, right?”
I swore I saw her smirk. “Oh, we need to keep you at that for just a while longer.”
Maybe it was her training as a caretaker to have compassion for the elderly that took over, but she did, at last, turn the treadmill off. She managed one last gotcha as she jerked the suction cups and what little chest hair I have, loose from the skin leaving angry red marks like I’d been attacked by an octopus.
One more 13 minute session with the mean machine and it was over.
The results aren’t in yet, but somehow I have the feeling that no matter what the figures say, the treadmill technician will make sure I flunk that test.