Love Letter


It’s February.  It’s Heart Month.  It’s Valentine’s day week.  I got a love letter in the mail.

Yep, in the mail.  Nope, not from Keith.  From my cardiologist.  Gasp.  It’s not as scandalous as I can try to make it sound…no, but it is still the best love letter I’ve gotten in a while.

Thirteen months ago I found out that I have “heart problems.”  Though I am now convinced that if I weren’t so in tune with my body I probably wouldn’t know about these problems, but since I do, I have to check in with my cardiologist ever so often.  I went in for a check-up a couple of weeks ago and the doc decided to send me in for some more testing.  The test at hand was more cardiopulmonary than many of the tests I have had in the past, a CPX test or some of you may know it better as a VO2 max test.

Let me set the stage.  My cardiologist is a competitive little thing and he loves to challenge me and push me. I think he’s doing it to prove to me that I can have a normal life and no worries even though we see each other on a semi-regular basis (anything more than ever seems regular when it comes to seeing a cardiologist).  Several months ago when I had my stress-echo, he told me I did really well..”made it almost as long as me.”  Although I don’t consider myself all that competitive, I have spent the last 11 months wishing I had outlasted him on my test.  Well, I had the chance last week 🙂

Once they shaved my stomach and chest to prepare for the test (yes, they shave you and no, i had no idea i even had hair there), I was loaded down with electrodes, a fanny pack of sorts, a nose clip, mouth breather thing, pulse ox, blood pressure cuff, on the treadmill, and hooked to 3 different machines with 2 different nurses monitoring the situation, I was ready to go.  The doc didn’t tell me what to aim for but just said to push my hardest.  I decided that if you ever push yourself to heart attack level, this is the best place to do it so I was ready.

Not only is the test kind of tough (by the end I was running fairly quickly and at a 20% incline), the environment is just kind of bizarre.  Because of all the things tied and taped to you, it’s hard to move normally.  Because of the mouth tube, it’s impossible to talk.  My jaw was hurting, I was drooling on myself, my arms were about to fall off (you have to hold on to a bar), my throat was so dry, and worst of all, I was running in a COTTON gown (hot, sticky, and completely open in the front)! I went as long as I could and finally gave the signal to stop.  I was bummed because I felt like my arms were giving out before anything else.  The nurses kept reassuring me that I had a great test and would be hearing from the doctor soon.

Well, anyway, my awesome letter reads..”…your test was superb.  You are in excellent physical conditioning.  Actually, you had the BEST combined cardiopulmonary stress test ever done at the Stern office.”  Woo hoo!  I may not ever win a race but I like to say I won the CPX test at Stern!  I know, nobody else knew we were “racing” and there are likely to be people that eventually beat me but, until then, I am the winner 😉

I’ll revisit my cardiologist in a few months just to touch base and I’ll continue to see him on a regular basis to ensure the murmur and leaks aren’t worsening and in the meantime, I’ll just continue to run and push myself beyond my comfort zones.  Thanks, doc, for the appropriately timed love letter.

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