* please note – this post recalls the events of April 16, 2008, just days before I would be told I was in need of emergency heart surgery
My nuclear stress test is at 7:00am. I need to leave my house around 6:00am to get there in time. I see the girls off to daycare before I leave and tell Wendy I will see her after I am done. Dressed in comfortable garb for exercise, shorts and a t-shirt, and sneakers, I headed off to the doctor’s office. Of course, I was weighed first of all. I assume this was to determine the amount of dye I would get. Then my “favorite” part, no, not really (see page “U.R.Sharpe”), inserting a catheter to inject the radioactive dye for the picture part of the test.
Once the catheter was placed, I returned back to the waiting room. The pace has picked up as people are escorted to their stationary tracks. I was called back to my room around 8:00am. My technician’s name is Stephanie. She was young, perky, and definitely gave off no sign that her job was to look for “real bad stuff”. Stephanie explained everything that I would be doing throughout the morning, and the early afternoon.
I was told to take off my shirt. Stephanie pulled out a harness of wires and several pieces of tape. But before that, there was some cleaning up to do. Out came a dry Bic disposable razor and she proceeded to shave my upper torso. Never having been a competitive swimmer, this experience was new to me. Actually it was odd. I have never shaved anything other than facial. Thank goodness, I do not wear a human sweater. So it did not take long for clean up.
Stephanie took the adhesive pads and stuck all of them, I think it was ten to various parts of my torso. Then the wires were connected. After I was hooked up, another technician came into the room. I did not catch her name, but she would be reading the monitors as I walked. She explained that the belt would speed up and the angle of the climb would get higher every three minutes.
One important detail left out was how long the test would last. But I was not worried as my father had gone through one of these, and he is not one of the most athletic people I know. I did expect to get further than what I did, barely over a minute (of evidently a twelve minute test).
I do not want to brag about how fast I pick up on warning signs or alerts, because I cannot, because I do not. As the belt came to a stop, I was asked to step off the belt, and have a seat. The other technician said the test would go no further as some sort of “event” appeared on the EKG. I had the same symptoms as always, tightness in the chest, and just as always, the symptoms faded. The wires were disconnected, and the pads removed.
I was escorted back to the room where the catheter had been inserted, and another round of dye had to be injected. I returned back to the waiting room, to wait for another round of pictures, this time with my heart having been put under stress. Still, I had no idea what my body was about to have revealed.
Following the second round of pictures, I went back for the final time back to the waiting room. Only something bizarre had begun to happen. Patients who had arrived after me, were going home before me. And just like that, not just one light bulb, but many lit up. Something was wrong. And then…
“Mr. Edelman, if you would come back with me,” Stephanie had called me. “Dr. S. would like to talk with you about your test.”
I had a blockage. 100% certain. Dr. S did not even want me going home. He wanted me checking in to their cardiac cath lab immediately. I’ll spare the lengthy conversation (you can read about it on the page CABG – Not Just a Green Leafy Vegetable). But Dr. S. allowed me to go home, but do nothing. I was to go in first thing the next morning for stenting.