Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm not a good test taker. . .

Last week, I had a regular check up with my Dr. and he tells me that he wants me to go have a STRESS TEST. A little bit of back story, I discovered I had a heart murmur a couple of years ago – probably due to the Phen-fen that I took about 15 years ago – yeah, I know, nice. I just wanted to be skinny, and as a result I get a murmur and have even GAINED about 40+ pounds from 15 years ago. Swell. Coupled with the fact that I come from a long line of heart disease (stroke, attacks, etc. on my fathers’ side) my doc likes to keep an eye on these things. Then, last month I complained of shortness of breath and just basically felt like an elephant had taken up residence ONTOP of my chest. So, doc did an EKG and sent me on my way.

Which brings me to my visit last week, my doc tells me that I do, indeed, have some sort of heart disease. Of course he told me the name of it, but I don’t remember. What I do remember is this: he said, “If you’re going to get a heart disease, this is the one to have, because it’s usually benign.” Phew, that’s a load off ‘eh? Here I am, 30-something and I have HEART DISEASE. But, luckily, I didn’t draw the short straw and I got the “good kind.” What the efff? So, just to be safe – he decides to send me for a stress test. Did I mention that I’ve complained of excruciating headaches (that won’t ever. Go. Away?) and, am highly stressed out at work right now?

Quick back story again: There’s a management position that’s open at work and I’ve interviewed for it. I guess it’s between me and two other people. My boss just came and told me that it will be ANOTHER week until they decide. The job has been “sort of” approved – it’s now in the hand of the President of our company. Gee, I wonder why I’m stressed. This decision was SUPPOSED to be made like LAST WEEK, but now it’s going to be another week of waiting and hearing everyone ask me: ‘have you heard anything yet?’ (Case in point, as I’m typing this – someone just stopped and asked me if I have, indeed, gotten an update.) AHHHHHHHH!! Stop the madness – my nerves just can’t take it anymore. Really, it’s not my nerves – it’s my patience. And of course, I’m trying to give off that whole “management vibe” and trying not to lose my cool, but people, it’s very, very difficult right now!

So, back to my stress test which was yesterday, I was totally fine about it all last week, no biggie, I thought. I’ll be hooked up to some wires and have to run on a treadmill. Not fun, but not bad either. So I was fine. Until, I got in my car and drove myself (all by myself) to the hospital. It was so weird. I guess you could say I was anxious and nervous, but as I drove there, I was MAD. I was IRRITATED BEYOND BELIEF. I don’t know what happened to me – I just became enraged to have to go through this, and most of all, alone. (I think they may actually call this a psychotic break-down, but I could be wrong) So I got myself to the hospital, checked in and started filling out the paperwork. The aide came and got me, was super sweet and made me feel comfortable as we walked the testing area and I even calmed down – a little. Then, I get in the room and the two ladies (nurses, whatever) are like – ‘you need to take your shirt and bra off so we can hook you up.’ Ok, first of all, we all know that I CANNOT STAND poor customer service, and the way they ordered me to strip down so that could wire me up, could have been done in a much nicer tone. I just bit my lip and didn’t say anything and did as I was told ordered.

Now, I’m already anxious and upset, so imagine how my mood progressed as I sat there naked from the waist up while some strange woman is lifting my breasts to stick sensors on me? Yeah, it was a real morale boost, let me tell you. Finally, she finished and I was told to put one of those hospital gowns back on, not my clothes or even my sports bra! Now peeps, my ‘girls’ are big – even after the reduction I had 10 years ago. So I’m thinking ‘you want me to get on a treadmill and run with no support for my girls? Are you effing kidding me?’ Yes. That’s exactly what they had in mind.

Next up, comes the ultra sound of my heart at rest. The person doing this was ok – still no “wow” in the customer service department. I mean, if you’re going to basically “feel me up” with your ultra sonic device, can’t you at least make a little chit-chat? I mean, I usually get one or four drinks before anything along these lines happens, and since you’re a woman? Yeah, I’m going to need a whole lot of alcohol or at least a little bit of chit-chat. Apparently, they don’t offer that class in ultra sound school, either that, or she failed. Anyhoodle, she’s doing her thing – and then she looks at me and says ‘have you ever had breast surgery?’ Again, I’m lying there, completely exposed, and since I did indeed, have surgery, I said yes. I mean seriously – I’m lying there, in all my glory – breasts exposed for all to see – including the scars.

What I wanted to say to her was something like this ‘No. Why do you ask? Oh, you mean those huge scars under my breasts (that go from the middle of my chest to the side of my rib cage? Yes, you see, I have a cutting problem, but I’m fine now, no more razor blades for me, my therapist and I have made much progress over the years.” But I didn’t, I politely answered yes. And then, do you know what she did? (Because I'm not feeling exposed, angry, sad and anxious enough already.) She sighed. “Well,” she huffed, “I have to go get the Dr. and see if this picture is going to work” and abruptly left the room. Leaving me lying there, still exposed with the curtain open for anyone walking by the room to see. I would have just gotten up and ran for the hills had I a: not been half nekkid and b: not wired up like the bionic woman.

The Dr. came in and once again, no “wow” in the customer service department. He just stared at me without saying so much as a ‘hello.’ He just grunted to the woman ‘it’s fine.’ “IT.” I’m now an ‘it.’ Not a patient who’s anxious and scared, I’m an it. It’s third grade all over again. NOBODY wants to be an it.

From that point I got onto the treadmill and had to get my heart rate up to something like 150-160. This took about 10 minutes of walking and then fast walking at what felt like a 90 degree angle. I was literally sweating my balls off throughout all of this. Oh yeah, I sweat. A lot. Even in 17 degree (Ohio’s temp yesterday) weather. (Yet another one of my many endearing qualities that begs the question, ‘why am I single?’)

So, I’m barely holding onto the treadmill because my sweaty palms can no longer grasp anything and the nurse is taking my blood pressure – because really? When you’re struggling to stay on a treadmill at a 90 degree incline it’s a GREAT time for that blood pressure cuff to squeeze the life out of your arm. It’s a friggin’ miracle I didn’t just shoot right off the back of the treadmill.

I finally got my heart rate where it needed to be, and then the nurse hit the “kill switch” on the treadmill and I had to immediately jump off and go back, lie down and have another ultra sound of my left boob heart. Oh yeah, and as an extra bonus – I’m told to hold my breath so they can get a clear picture. I’m freaking hyperventilating and they want me to hold my breath? Where did they learn this routine, Guantanamo? After all of that, I was done. Well, they had to rip off the sensors from my exposed chest – that was the icing on the cake.

I got dressed and was able to leave and that’s EXACTLY what I did – I left ran out of the hospital to my car where I had a complete breakdown. I just had a full on sob-fest/pity party of one and I just felt so alone. I know, I have my friends and family, but I don’t have that “someone” who cares if I’m going to be ok or not and that just really makes me sad. I used to get this way whenever I traveled for work. I’d be ok until I got to my hotel room and realized that there was really no one in my life that really cared if I made it to my destination or not. I used to freak out because I’d think ‘if the plane crashes, or if there’s another terrorist attack (I flew into NYC a lot last year), who would the coroners office call to come claim my body. It’s very disturbing, I know, but these are the thoughts that would go through my very emotional fucked up head.

So there I sat, in a parking deck at .50 per 15 minutes and had a full on meltdown and called my best friend. She of course picks up the phone ready for instant comedy from me about this test, only to hear me wailing like her two year old (who, ironically, is named after me and doing just that in the background). Through sobbing and breath-catching I tell her about my whole ordeal and how lonely I am and blah, blah, blah and eventually, like the BFF she is, she has me laughing so hard that now my tears are from laughter and I’m able to drive out of the parking deck before I ran out of money to pay the meter. She stayed with me on the phone and kept me giggling and back to my old-self by the time I pulled into my drive.

And the whole time we chatted and laughed? Her two year old (shopgirl jr.) sat in the background and SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER because mom just couldn’t do anything to make her happy. I guess both shopgirl’s were having bad days. And mom’s customer service? I’m thinking it was not the “wow” that little miss was expecting. I’m just jealous that it’s still acceptable for little miss jr. to have a full-on meltdown anywhere her heart desires. I on the other hand, had to save it until I was in the privacy of my car.

When I finally got home, I let the Daisy Dog lick me up one side and down the other (which I'm REALLY trying to break her of – well, at least on everyone else) but last night? I needed it.

Tests. I have never done well with test. I hate them.

Well, until I get the results, I guess.

5 comments:

  1. Oh girl, I'm so sorry. I hope your test results are perfect and not the kind that warrant a repeat test in two weeks! And if it makes you feel any better, just because you have a significant other does not mean they will be good in hospital type situations. When I had my last surgery, I told my husband I had to be at the hospital at 5:30 am and his response was, "so, you need me to pick you up from the hospital sometime?" Oh yeah, that's support, baby.

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  2. I'm sorry you went through all that. I almost called you last night to see how things went, but I didn't want to upset you any further. You can always call me... you know I'm lonely too!!!

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  3. Usually I'm all about the clever comments - really, sometimes I'm breathtakingly amusing - but this time I'm just steamed enough to bypass the entertainment and get right to the, er, 'heart' of the matter, which is this:

    You deserved better, at every stage of this experience. Believe it or not, medicine is as competitive a business as anything else, and is also feeling the impact of the economic flame-out (who can afford a co-pay for every little sniffle any more?)

    You need to write a letter to the director of the hospital/medical center/circle of hell that this took place in containing, perhaps, a copy of the more salient details of this blog. CC it to the Ohio state attorney general's office and the doctor's office itself.

    It may not make a lot of difference, but I have to think it will help you feel better about how you did on this 'test'!

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  4. Oh girlfriend! That's awful! I agree with DeNae. I was going to tell you the same thing. I used to work at a hospital. In the exact department that does the torture...stress tests. I KNOW the CEO of my old hospital would have wanted to be made aware of how you were treated. You really need to tell them! I'm sorry you couldn't have come to my old hospital. They're the nicest people ever! They wouldn't have left you all exposed and they would have made chit-chat with you and the doctor that would have come to see you would have been the nicest guy you'd ever meet.

    Seriously though, make them aware!!!

    I'm so glad you found DeNae's blog! She's seriously one of the funniest people I know! Lucky me...she's my siser!

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  5. oh sweetie...I know this was serious and shit, but girl, you are funny. I love your sense of humor and your take on things, and I think we would get along FABULOUSLY!!!!!

    did the girls jump up and hit you in the chin while you were walking fast? No? then they're not THAT big. ;)

    keep us posted....adn Ohio weather sucks big hairy balls.

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