Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tests, Tests, and more Tests: The ECHO

Chemo starts Thursday, and this is the week I must have what feels like a million tests. Which are basically the doctors' way of making sure I'm healthy enough to be poisoned at the end of the week. It kind of makes me laugh.

First up, the echocardiogram. (To be honest, I actually had this one already, but was supposed to do it this week, so we're going to pretend). This is basically a fancy ultrasound of the heart. I needed to have this done because the chemo drugs they are giving me have a long-term risk to the heart.

I found this paragraph about an ECG and how it will feel:
"You will be asked to remove your clothes from the waist up and lie on an examination table on your back. Electrodes will be placed on your chest to allow for the test to be done. A gel will be spread on your chest and then the transducer will be applied. You will feel a slight pressure on your chest from the transducer. You may be asked to breathe in a certain way or to roll over onto your left side."

First of all, the one positive thing I have to say about this experience was THEY DID NOT ASK MY BIRTHDATE! NOT ONCE!  I'm pretty sure that someone is going to be fired, but I'm not telling. 

If you have ever had an ultrasound, for example when you were pregnant, you will know a little about what this experience was like. 
The bed: comfortable

The room: dark (I'm initially afraid that I will fall asleep)

The gel: COLD! (Okay, I'm awake!)

The "slight pressure" (mentioned above): MY ASS! I suppose it's not completely their fault that the exact spot they needed to PRESS on the most is right where the incision from my multiple surgeries is. Needless to say, the "slight pressure" on and around it for 45 minutes was not the most enjoyable experience.

The breathing: You know when you go to the doctor and they listen in the stethoscope to your heart? And they ask you to take a deep breath and then let it out? Yeah, that's not what this is like. For the entire 45 minutes you are asked to do the following: breathe normally, breathe in, hold it, breathe out, deep breath, big breath, small breath, half a breath, tiny breath...and on and on and on. Seriously, I don't even know the difference between half a breath and a small breath. Or a deep breath and a big breath. But I do know that when you are doing this for 45 minutes straight, it's a wonder you don't hyperventilate. It did keep my mind off the pain from the "slight pressure" though.

The heartbeat: Ever heard a baby's heartbeat on an ultrasound? Yeah, it's not like that. Or at least my heart beat isn't. I remember my kids' heartbeats being cute and hummingbird like. Mine sounded like a very uneven whooomp-ing sound. A lot like I imagine SETI's transmission searching for life on other planets to sound like. Actually, it's probably what the aliens' reply sounds like.

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