Wow, describing a cardiac stress test takes far more words than I expected. This is part 2 of my description of a cardiac stress test. You can see the first part, basically the prep for the stress test, here.

At this point in the story I’m on the treadmill. I have had no caffeine so I’m not sure how I’m going to find the energy to get my heart rate up above 145 but soon enough I find out it doesn’t matter. The treadmill is going to do most of the work, I just have to figure out a way to not fall off.

There are three women in the room with me. At least one is a nurse, one is a tech and I’m not sure what the other one is. They are all wearing scrubs so they clearly have some credentials, they don’t just give anyone scrubs, right?

They’re Trying To Distract Me

The first one is at the computer typing in my blood pressure that the nurse takes every few minutes and shouts to the woman at the computer. The tech, the one who put the tracer in me is just standing behind me as I walk at a very brisk pace on the treadmill. After a few minutes the treadmill gets a little faster. As soon as it starts going faster the nurse starts talking about my nail polish and wondered what the name of the color is. It’s Mermaid by OPI. Her son is getting married in a few months and she’s telling me all about the dress she bought and how since she lost 20 pounds it’s too long so she needs shoes that have a taller heal. I suggest she just get it altered but she says that will cost more than shoes. You don’t need to twist my arm to get new shoes so I get her.

At this point the treadmill is going really fast. They nurse says I have gotten my heart rate above the target and it’s actually at 165! Yay, I’m about to pass out but I manage to hold on to the bar while the nurse takes my blood pressure again – it’s at 180/1. I don’t know what the 1 is for, that doesn’t sound good and I say as much. All three of them laugh and say if it was bad they would have whispered it. I still don’t know why 1 is an okay reading but I will Google it at some point. The nurse asks if I can go for one more minute, they need me to so they can inject another tracer. I say sure, why the hell not and just hope I don’t do anything embarrassing like shit myself like those marathon runners from Kenya do. I’ve been on the treadmill for 6 whole minutes at this point.

The nurse injects the second tracer and I can smell it as it enters my bloodstream. I am not really smelling it, I am just having that sensation.

Take a Break

The treadmill shuts down and they have me take a seat on the bed as they continue to monitor me. We’re still talking about the nurse’s upcoming wedding but I’m too winded to act as if I care. My face is completely flushed and that becomes the next topic of discussion. Yay.

At this point my heart rate is falling back to normal, I keep checking it on Fitbit and am still amazed at how accurate it is because I am still hooked up to the EKG and can see it on the computer monitor too.

I am pleased to see that I have not crapped myself but I do have to pee something fierce. I ask if I can go to the bathroom as the nurse hands me another glass of water to go with my second tracer.

After I pee the tech takes me back into the room with the huge camera. I get back in, raise my arms and try to sleep but I already have to pee again. Not enough to get up but enough to be uncomfortable enough to not be able to sleep.

This time they take pictures of me on my back and then have me flip over too. I guess they can get a better view that way. I don’t really care I just want to go home. I have a splitting headache from lack of caffeine and probably from all the blood that has been circulating due to the treadmill. I plan on taking a nap when I get home.

Wait for Your Results

After they are finished taking the second set of pictures of my heart I am told I can leave and that I should expect the results by the end of the week. This sounds reasonable and go and change back into my bra and shirt. I consider taking the XL gown with me because I have grown fond of it in all its Omar the Tentmaker glory. I didn’t bring a large enough purse so I throw it in the linen hamper.

By the time I get back home I have an email from my doctor telling me that the results of my stress test are normal. You can see the results below.  At first I’m all this is great. Now I can work out with confidence and not worry that I will keel over with a heart attack. But then I get to thinking about what normal really means.

What is Normal?

What is a normal stress test result? Was it normal for someone my age and weight or was it normal for an older person like most of the people who take the test? What if it was normal for someone who had already had a heart attack? Suddenly I am obsessing about what normal means and I start searching for a way to respond to my doctor’s email. Thankfully my daughter walked in at that moment and distracted me from my crazy. Normal is good. I’m not dying. That’s all I need to know.

Taking the stress test was a good thing. I feel better about my health and have more confidence that I can push myself more. I have now consulted with my doctor before starting any exercise or diet so don’t need to feel bad about ignoring that warning for all these years. I have not had a colonoscopy but I have had ass surgery and had mammograms. This was by far the better procedure to have. Next month I’m doing a sleep test to figure out why I wake up 12 times a night (it’s the cat).

Protocol: Bruce Duration (m:s): 07:40 METs: 10.1
Angina Score: 0: no angina Max ST Deviation (mm): 0 Duke TM Score: 7.67
Resting HR (bpm): 74 Resting BP(mmHg): 118 / 80 Position: Sitting
Resting HR(bpm): 72 Resting BP(mmHg): 120 / 78 Position: Standing
Peak HR(bpm): 165 Peak BP(mmHg): 180 / 1 % MPHR: 96 Double Product: 29701
MPHR: 171 Target HR(bpm): 145
Recovery HR(bpm): 87 Recovery BP(mmHg): 120 / 80
BP Response: Normal HR Response: Normal
Stress Termination: sob
Stress Symptoms: Exercise produced shortness of breath.
Meds Given: NONE