cardiac quandry

Today I had an appointment to get checked out with my doctor. Originally my appointment was scheduled for Monday, but it conflicted with the delivery time for my washing machine. And for some reason the delivery company was unable to reschedule, whereas it’s fairly easy to reschedule a doctor’s appointment with my HMO.

One of the guys that delivered my washer looked a lot like Sammy Sosa. It’s good to know that he found a career after baseball. I bet those steroids come in handy when moving heavy washers and refrigerators.

The new washer is pretty cool, it automatically senses how much clothes are in it, and adjusts the water level accordingly. Very cool. (Raving about a washer… Sigh, I am an old man…)

It turns out that my doctor has been out sick for the entire week. So I saw a different doctor today. Apparently most of her patients are women and children. For reading material I had my choice between InStyle magazine and Clifford’s Family. I chose Clifford. It was a good read, right at my 2nd grade reading level.

When I told the doctor I had fainted after a bike ride, she scheduled me for a whole bunch of tests. First there were the normal blood pressure and stethoscope tests. From there it went to chest x-rays and EKGs. Everything checked out okay, so she scheduled some more tests, which required me to drive out to a larger hospital in Sacramento. She reassured me that I was fine, she just wanted to run some tests just to make sure I was fine. That actually wasn’t all that reassuring.

What was even less reassuring was when I got to the cardiology department in Sacramento, I was the only person in the waiting room who wasn’t a senior citizen. The good thing about that though was there was at least better reading material for me, golf and fishing magazines. (I guess I have old man hobbies…)

They scheduled me for an echocardiogram. While I was undressing I snuck a picture of the machine. Apparently it’s like an ultrasound, except it’s for your heart. The tech had me lay on my left side, so my face was right in front of the monitor. She put some gooey substance on a probe and then stuck it at my chest. Suddenly in front of my face was a picture of my own heart beating in real time.

When I donate blood, I don’t like to look at the bags of blood that they collect. I get this queasy feeling. I even get that feeling when I read Wikipedia articles about health. So the fact that I was looking at my own heart beating in real time was just too much for me. I felt dizzy and had to close my eyes for the rest of the time the tech was probing me. I hope that doesn’t mess up the results of the test. It’s kind of ironic in a way. A test to determine why I fainted almost made me faint…

Then they sent me to another area where they glued and taped a set of EKG probes to my chest. They hooked them up to this thing that was sort of like a pager, except that it had wires connected to my chest, and it measured my heart’s electrical activity. So I guess actually it’s nothing like a pager, except for how it looks. I have to wear this device for an entire 24 hours– I don’t know how I’m supposed to sleep with all these wires coming out of my chest.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my heart. At least that’s what I’m hoping and praying for. I feel fine. I’m glad that they’re running all these tests though, I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry. This whole experience has made me appreciate the health care I receive a lot more. I have a friend who doesn’t have good health insurance. He gets the bare minimum of coverage through Medi-Cal. His experience is completely different. It took him a week to see a doctor in a clinic, and it took him a week to get an X-ray, and then it took another week for a follow up exam with the doctor to interpret the X-ray. I’ve always been able to get an X-ray the same day. When I went in for a knee X-ray last year, my doctor was even able to have it looked at by an orthopedic specialist within the hour.

The differences in our experiences with the healthcare system has made me realized how blessed I am with the coverage I have. The other thing I’ve realized is that I should be more conscious of my health. In general, I don’t think I eat particularly unhealthy, and I think I do get more exercise than the average American, but I realize now that good health is a blessing, and I should do more to maintain it.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • My health plan (seriously I’m blessed to have good health coverage)
  • Good health so far, and this new realization that I should do more to keep it

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