Sunday, October 12, 2008

Stressing about testing

Some people celebrate the onset of middle age with a new Volvo C70 hard-top convertible (uh, that would be My Love). Me -- I spent it trying to maintain my dignity by not flying off the back of a moving treadmill.

If you've never taken a stress test before, you've probably seen one done on any of the zillion of medical shows on TV these days. My turn on it resembled a cross between "Mystery Diagnosis" and "Scrubs."

In retrospect, I'm happy it just didn't turn into "CSI." After all, who hasn't heard the following story at least once in their lives:

"(INSERT NAME HERE) was doing just fine. Then he went to the doctor for a physical and BAM! Coronary on the treadmill. Had to scrape bits of him off the walls."

I asked my test technician about this, hoping to uncover an urban myth.

"Oh, sure," he said. "It happens."

Someone should tell him that such an honest answer is not the way to an "exceeds my expectations" score on the patient satisfaction survey.

"But," he continued, "if you are going to have a heart attack, having one of during the stress test is the best time. You're already hooked up to all the right monitors and you're surrounded by doctors and the necessary equipment to save your life."

Then he started shaving my chest.

This was the second time a man had ever shaved me before. While not on my list of life's pleasures, this go-round did beat the time it was performed by the urologist.

And, we're moving, we're moving …

So, now, I've got circular sticky patches and wires galore on my body. Zero hour has come.

"You'll be walking at a brisk pace, 3.3 miles per hour," he said. Every minute, the incline will increase one degree. Don't hold onto the bar. Just use it to balance yourself briefly when you need to. Let's go."

The first few minutes were deceivingly simple. I'm on a lovely stroll! Up a little hill! Watching "SportsCenter" and debating the evils of the designated hitter with a man in a white jumpsuit! How pleasant.

After five minutes, I'm eying the clinic's "stress test record holders" who are framed on the wall in front of me. I recognize a few names. They're all marathon runners. Hey, only 26 minutes more to go before I kick their asses!

Then, somewhere around Minute 13, I started rocketing through the Five Stages of Grief over my own body's flabbiness:

Denial -- That clock has got to be slow. It's been at least an hour!

Anger -- I am going to kill my wife for talking me into this stupid physical!

Bargaining -- If I live, I'm never even THINKING about cheese again. Or red meat. I'll give up sugar, too. Jane! Get me off this crazy thing!

Depression -- Dear Lord, I'm going to die in a backless paper gown.

Acceptance -- This gown is a lovely shade of blue, isn't it. Carolina? Mmmm, more of a periwinkle, I think. It will go nice with the blood splatters.

I made it to 22 minutes, 17 seconds before my legs went jelly. I probably could have stumbled and sweated another two minutes to move from the "good" to "excellent" health category; however, being wheeled out on a gurney would have been so anticlimactic.

If you enjoy my pain, go to, register and give a smiley face ... and some oxygen -- stat!


  1. Glad to hear that you won't be kicking the bucket anytime soon. And that you have a baby-smooth chest. I think.

  2. So the lesson is, don't get a physical and you'll be fine. Got it!

  3. The man in the graphic already appears to be dead. At the very least, quite close to it. Good to know you won't be used as future medical modeling purposes.

    Or will you...

    Also, you killed me with this. I actually am dead now from the laughing. Irony - you get to live and I die. You've got that on your hands now.

  4. You've now given me a very rational fear of dying in a backless gown.

    Though, at least when I vacate my bowels, I'll be free and clear instead of the slightly ickier alternative.

    These are the things I think of.

    P.S. Among the other things I think of is the fact that Black Hockey Jesus just showed you up at DadCentric, so you've gotta come back with a fierce uppercut to put him back in his place.

  5. Loved the diagram - you should get Photoshop lessons from Manager Mom and put your face on the patient. You could put Manager Mom's face as the nurse for extra giggles.

  6. Manager MILF - I'll let you look under the hood and jugde for yourself.

    Holmes - Good health can kill ya.

    FADKOG - I must perform mouth-to-mouth on you. And some chest compression.

    LiteralDan - Always with the poop jokes. You're a pro.

    CTMom - I would never tread on Manager MiLF's schtick. Unless Manager Dad and My Love approve.

  7. Can't figure out why you had to wear a blue backless gown for this stress test??

  8. Congrats on your successful test. Kevin Costner did a cycling movie back in the early 80s -- American Flyers. In it he performs a stress test in an athlete testing facility and sets some record -- 22 minutes, 16 seconds, I think. Marcus Sommers has nothing on you.

  9. Denise - Because its all about looking good when you face death in the eye.

    AMR - But didn't he suffer an anurysm later in that flick.

  10. Ah- the urological shave. My husband still has nightmares about his. The vasectomy was nothing compared to that....
    Good times.
    Glad you you're good.

  11. mmmmmm...nothin's sexier than a fish-belly white chest. Love the 5 stages of grief, very appropriate!

  12. It takes a brave man to write that - I salute you sir. But to make it funny (takes hat off) ...

  13. Ms. Moon - Now if you were doing the shaving ...

    Sally HP - And fish white it 'tis.

    Chris - Some day, you'll feel the pain, too. Just you wait.

  14. Dude. How did I not realize that you'd get your chest shaved? HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT?

    Because if I had, I'd have stuck with nursing a HELL of a lot longer.

  15. i would hope that if you were to die in your backless paper gown, that you would die face down-ass up. lol

  16. I've recently made a decision...I'm going to bring my own robe when I visit the doctor. Something flashy and hip. At least you got a butt show GOWN. When I go to the OB I get a paper jacket...Seriously dude, a paper jacket.

  17. Yeah, but his brother won the Hell of the West!

  18. I like how instead of reassuring you that a heart attack wasn't likely on the treadmill, you were told the positives about having one a treadmill! Scrubs was one of my favorite shows.

  19. Having your chest shaved is for amateurs; try squashing your manboobs into a mammogram thingy. I mean, if you're curious.

  20. Ah, the stress test. One of the more benign medical tortures they can think of to do to you.

    My vote is 'periwinkle' for the blue paper gown. I had a patient who came out of the dressing room naked from the waist up, legs in the arm holes, gown trailing on the floor. He asked me if I'd help tie it for him.

    Amazing how stupid people can be.

  21. Becks - Maybe if it was a woman shaving me, I wouldn't have felt so skivvy.

    nesbit - isn't that the only way to go down

    k - better than a paper g-string.

    alex - I'd love Eliot in a that head nurse outfit again. But that just me.

    dgm - i'll take your word for it.

    deb - men get like that when they are blinded by your beauty

  22. LOL! I recall you telling us about the first time you were "shaved."

    Seriously, I think I need one of these too. the test not the shaving or hospital gown.

    "But," he continued, "if you are going to have a heart attack, having one of during the stress test is the best time. You're already hooked up to all the right monitors and you're surrounded by doctors and the necessary equipment to save your life."

    I still find little comfort in this.

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