'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
HMM, HEART TEST REVEALS SOMETHING-SOMETHING
Yet another excellent annual physical was drawing to a close. Everything looked great. Yes, the ol’ prostate was a bit enlarged, but I already suspected that, based on my regular 3 a.m. visits to the bathroom. However, there were no lumps detected and the PSA reading was perfect. In my book, waking up in the middle of the night is a whole lot better than battling cancer.
My cardiovascular results were even better. My “bad” cholesterol reading was 128. One-twenty-frickin-eight! That’s awesome, especially considering my proclivity for doughnuts, bacon, and the occasional doughnut wrapped in bacon. My blood pressure was 120 over 70. Not too shabby for someone in his mid-50s. The doctor even said to me, “You have the cardiovascular system of a teenager.”
Then he said almost perfunctorily, “Is there anything else I should know?”
I thought to myself, Should I mention it? It’s probably nothing, and he did say I have the cardiovascular system of a teenager. But if I don’t say anything, and, well—
So I finally said, “Um, there is one thing.” And I proceeded to tell the doctor about the few times I experienced a rapid heartbeat in the past couple of months, and the way it made me feel while it was happening (very uncomfortable), and how I felt after my heartbeat went back to normal (very weak), and what my wife said when I told her about it (oops, I never said anything to anyone about it).
He nodded his head as I spoke, and when I was finished he said, “Hmm.” (I don’t know about you, but I HATE it when doctors say, “Hmm.”)
“Well, it’s probably nothing to be concerned about,” he said. “But just in case, we should schedule an echocardiogram and a stress test.”
The following week I had both procedures. The echocardiogram is basically an ultrasound of the heart. It seemed to go fine. Later I had the stress test. They hooked a bunch of wires to my chest and made me walk on a treadmill, which automatically increased in speed every three minutes. After about ten minutes, when I had to jog to keep up with the treadmill, I was breathing fairly heavily and sweating. Then the nurse administering the test said, “OK, that’s enough.” She switched the treadmill speed to a slow walk so I could cool down.
“How’d I do?” I asked her. She replied, “Hmm.” (I don’t know about you, but I HATE it when nurses say, “Hmm.”)
After a pause, she said, “Well, when your heart was working harder, there was a slight something-something, which might indicate something-something insufficient supply of blood and oxygen.” (She used a bunch of medical terms I did not understand, but I definitely caught the “insufficient supply of blood and oxygen” part.)
The nurse smiled and said, “It’s probably nothing to be concerned about. If the doctor thinks we should do further tests, he’ll call you.”
The next day the doctor called. “We need to do a nuclear stress test,” he said. I replied, “Hmm.” (I don’t know about you, but I HATE it when I get so light-headed due to fear, the only word I can say is, “Hmm.”)
I finally squeaked out, “What is that?”
He explained it was another stress test, but this time while on the treadmill they would inject radioactive isotopes something-something, and then take images during the something-something and get a better idea of the something-something supply of blood and oxygen.
Next week I’ll report on the nuclear stress test. In the meantime, all I can say is, “Hmm.”
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