Weekend!

It is the last weekend before Mardi Gras and so what better time to go to the doctor to have your electrocardiogram checked out?

As it turns out, I’ve had high blood pressure the last three times I’ve been to the doctor and that’s the number of times that they force you to stop saying “well, it’s just high because I’m freaking out because I’m at the doctor.”

So when I went to the dermatologist on Tuesday morning (luckily, everything she saw has a name for it in Latin… and none of them start with “m”) and had a something something cystic something removed from the top of the back of my head to be sent off to the lab, they took my blood pressure at both the start and the finish and they sent me downstairs to talk to a doctor who had me take my first electrocardiogram and he told me that my first electrocardiogram was not, in fact, a boring one.
“Do you have any questions?”
“What questions should I be asking?”
He smiled. “Do I have heart disease?”
“Do I have heart disease?”
“Yes, the very beginnings of it.” Then he talked about ventricles and plaque and whatnot.

So then I had a stress test on Wednesday and it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. The nurse was nice and asked if I had any questions and my first question was “how many people have died doing this in the past, oh, year?” “None. None here, anyway.”

Which was good enough for me.

I have LVH, looks like, the nurse at the clinic told me. I’ll get the great big *OFFICIAL* diagnosis at my Primary Care Physician tomorrow.

So they put me on lisinopril (lowest dose!) and that means that I’ve had my last glass of wine.
It was a zinfandel.

It was delicious.

And this weekend will be spent going to the grocery store and buying ingredients and then doing cooking and other prep for my lifestyle diet that begins, once again, on Ash Wednesday.

So… what’s on your docket?

(Image is “Play” by Clare Briggs. Used with permission of the Briggs estate.)


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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37 thoughts on “Weekend!

  1. My birthday is Monday, and I worked hard the past two weekends, so I am declaring this weekend My Birthday (Observed). I am going antiquing and out for lunch and other things I enjoy doing but don’t get to do enough.

    I actually gave my students an extension on an assignment (until Monday) so I wouldn’t feel compelled to spend part of the weekend grading.

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  2. Dang. Sorry to hear this.

    Now I’m more worried about me. My BP has moved up over the last 15 years to the point where something needs to be done. Recently added the symptom that BP and pulse go up by an appropriate amount when I exercise (eg, an hour on the bike) but don’t come back down nearly as quickly as my breathing returns to normal. EKG is normal, blood work is all fine except my red blood cells are somewhat larger than “normal”. The GP wants me to see the practice’s cardiologist before starting any medication, so that’s next month.

    Decision making is more difficult due to my having reached an age where if they look hard enough they’re bound to find things that are wrong.

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  3. Oh, yeah, the stress test.
    Try giving one of those to someone who can muck with their own heart rate.
    Start slow. Increase speed — no heartrate change. Increase speed again — no heartrate change.
    Finally, get frustrated and push the “maximum speed”, at which point the heart rate goes up to something remotely NORMAL for exercise.

    … I know too many trolls.

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  4. I have what’s described as “uncomplicated hypertension” (my doctor seems to think it’s a combo platter of unlucky genes and my being way, way, way too tightly-wound – she very nicely told me, in other words, that I need to “learn to chill the f out”). I take metoprolol which kind of sucks but isn’t too bad. I did have to adjust my daily activity schedule so as not to crash out at 8 pm and want to go to bed then.

    I’ve never had a stress test but I presume I will some day. I’m going to demand the walking-on-a-treadmill kind rather than the “non-exercise” kind because I think there are more “weird” chemicals I could react badly too in the “non-exercise” kind. And I pretty much walk on a treadmill every day of my life (literally, not figuratively, though that too) as it is, so I’m used to exercise.

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    • Here’s what the stress test was for me:

      Show up, the nurse was very kind. I asked my question and she did a kind chuckle of the sort of “I get asked that twice a day, you have nothing to worry about.”

      I removed my shirt and she said something like “you’re a furry one, aren’t ya?” and she took my blood pressure.

      Then she went and shaved off about 9 circles on my chest. “Hey,” I said. “I’ve been growing that since I was 12.”

      Two pads got placed at more or less my collarbone, two pads got placed at more or less the bottom of my ribs in the front, and a half circle on my left side. Then they attached wires to all of the pads. A few years back, Jerry “The King” Lawler suffered a heart attack and the show checked on him in the hospital and he sat there, via remote, and said something like “I’ve got more wires coming out of me than AT&T” and I thought it was one of the cheesy jokes he liked to tell.

      I looked down and thought “I’ve got more wires coming out of me than AT&T.”

      She took my blood pressure again (it hadn’t improved from the shaving) and they attached a little pulse/oxygen monitor to my index finger and she took a reading from that and they put me on a treadmill.

      First, they started me at a 10% grade and a nice clip. A brisk walk. It was easy for me to do but it got my heart rate up. I was easily able to maintain a conversation while walking. They took my blood pressure.

      After 3 minutes of that, they put me at a 15% grade and a faster clip. This was really fast walking. I was still able to keep up a conversation, though. I told a short story about the coup in Qatar during the 70’s. She took my blood pressure.

      After 3 minutes of *THAT*, they put me at a 20% grade and I was just this short of running. I was reduced to monosyllables and, after 30 seconds, the lady told me that she had good readings and I could keep going if I wanted but I could stop when I needed to. She took my blood pressure.

      I thought “I’m going to make it through one gol-danged minute of this” and made it to a grand total of 7 minutes on the treadmill before saying enough. We walked back to the bench with my shirt on it and sat me down. She took my blood pressure.

      She said that my oxygen was good and that it never dipped below 90% (whenever I looked at it, it was 93 or 94). She just had to run the ECG upstairs and she’d be back in a moment.

      A moment passed, the ECG continued spitting out pieces of paper. She came back and took my blood pressure.

      Then we removed each of the little sticky pads by ripping them off and I put my shirt back on and that was the stress test.

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      • Our treadmill is broken. my husband keeps on doing 10% grade and 4.5 mph (or so, it goes up to around 5mph — while walking). He’s certain this is above his Maximum Heart Rate (aka how fast you’re supposed to push yourself to).

        … Guys? Anyone know how stupid this is?

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      • So in the treadmill one, they don’t shoot you full of scary radionuclides and dyes? Good to know. (I am paranoid because a friend of mine nearly died from one of the dyes used in, I think, a CAT scan).

        They won’t have to shave me, so that’s one step less. Though I’m guessing I probably want to wear a sports bra if I ever have one…

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        • I just had my doctor’s appointment where she looked at my test results and talked to me about them.

          She looked at my Tuesday test result and my stress test results and said “well, they both seem abnormal so we don’t exactly have a baseline to test you against because sometimes the test machines read a normal heart as LVH because of a handful of factors…”

          So she scheduled the scary radionuclides and dyes stress test for me.

          I’ll tell you about that one next week, I guess.

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  5. Sorry to hear it Jay, but at least it’s caught early.
    I had to get a doctors note for the flu a couple weeks ago and they really busted my chops bc I hadn’t been there since 2014 when I needed my last doctors note.

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  6. I feel for you, it’s….stressful.

    I’m a bit surprised at no booze with lisinopril. I was able to drink while on it. Oh, and fun fact: One of the most common side effects is a dry, persistent cough. Given lots of things make you cough, tracing it to your BP medicine sometimes takes doctor’s awhile. Cough makes them think allergies or cold, not blood pressure meds.

    Drove a friend of mine batty for almost a year.

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      • Alcohol makes your blood pressure rise and can cause slightly abnormal heart rhythms, which in a young healthy person are no biggie. But in people who are older, it can trigger funky stuff to happen – usually harmless, but quite alarming, and very rarely serious arrhythmias can occur.

        They call this “holiday heart” because ERs see a glut of people with the problem after holidays when people consume alcohol.

        So many times even though alcohol supposedly prevents heart disease, those who already have it, have to stop indulging.

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  7. It has been determined that I am a plague carrier.

    At least that is what my wife is calling me, as I have given her my cold. Other than being banned from society (our house) and made to wear sackcloth, I am watching a bit of snow fall and contemplating going junking (related to what is doing above, but on the end of looking for the things that can be repaired to the level of antique)

    Sorry to hear about your ticker that sucks big time.

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  8. Best of luck, Jay. At least they let you leave, so the results couldn’t have been too bad. I’ve heard too many stories about people sent straight to the admissions desk after their stress test.

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  9. Dang. That sucks Jaybird. I hope it turns out to be something you can manage, physically as well as emotionally. I know in my own case about stuff like that that I’m a worrier and it’s brutal.

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  10. I was on lisinopril for a while, too, and eventually got off of it when I lost some weight. Which was good because I could drink again, but the drinking put some of the weight back on, so that meant having to make some lifestyle adjustments and… Anyway, the trick to getting off of lisinopril is getting the weight down so your resting blood pressure falls. This means, of course, diet control and exercise.

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    • The wacky thing is that on Tuesday, my BP was something like 150/100. For the stress test, it was also 150/100 (until after the test was over, where it dropped to something like 140/90).

      Wednesday night, I took my first lisinopril and Thursday night my second and, today, at the doctor’s office, my BP was 120/80.

      WHICH MAKES ME REALLY SUSPICIOUS

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      • My cardiologist was pretty blunt with “One of the problems we face in cardiology is that people find heart problems very stressful. Which increases their blood pressure, causes more things like PVC’s, and generally makes diagnosis difficult”.

        So worrying about my PVC’s made my PVC’s worse, which made me worry about them more. Which made it hard to sleep, which make my PVC’s worse. And I had a mild case (and PVC’s like mine are harmless anyways!). I ended up in a holter monitor for a month in the end. Now? I don’t even take BP medicine anymore, I just reduced my caffeine intake and exercised a bit more. I went from laying awake, wondering if my heart would just stop to….drinking about half as much caffeine as I normally do. :)

        A nuclear stress test will give them a pretty good idea if there’s anything really wrong, and I can assure you that the state of modern cardiology is pretty solid. (It’s the stuff you don’t know about that tends to get you. Finding out you maybe have some sort of cardiology issue is actually a good sign — they can find out whether it’s something to address or not).

        My dad had some serious issues, a few times, and these days they fix with stent’s (which is a tiny incision, although the four or five hours you have to wait with pressure on it after is really boring he says) what used to take cracking your ribcage open to handle — if they could handle it at all.

        A friend of mine had a serious heart arrhythmia they worried over for years — they finally got an EKG of it when it happened, and the surgery involved two tiny probes and dealing with a single bit of nerve fiber that was causing the issues. In-patient stuff for something that would have eventually killed you 50 years ago. (And again, from family experience — most of the times the tests show nothing wrong. They’re really careful with cardiology problems because your heart is kind of important, and dealing with an issue when it’s just slight hypertension beats dealing with it ten years later when it requires surgery).

        The best advice I’ve got is: Take comfort it’s a minor issue they’re trying to investigate before it becomes a serious one, and that even if it’s the foundation for big problems later on — state of the art is such that those problems aren’t nearly as big as they used to be, and the solutions are often manifold.

        Seriously, it’s a good thing they’re testing you now, not a bad one.

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  11. Junior had to spend a few extra hours at the babysitter last night so I could have some grown up time. As a result of my overwhelming guilt, this weekend is all about mother son bonding. If you need me, I will be in the arcade hating life but pretending not to.

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  12. Walking home from dropping off the car, I went to the little college diner I’ve spoken about before.

    I exchanged pleasantries with the guy behind the counter for a bit and, it being neither football nor baseball season, we quickly got down to brass tacks: What did I want to eat?

    “Well, Lent starts on Wednesday so I need to carb load this weekend”, I told him.

    “Would you like me to make you a bacon cheeseburger with grilled cheese sandwiches as the bun?”

    And I realized that I very, very much did.

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  13. lisinopril?

    I drink all the time. *cough*

    Dude, I’m a old overweight guy. My BP is “elevated”, which is mainly because I don’t like going to the doctor’s office. I’m Type 2 as well. I’m on various meds to control it and I’ve had a A1C of 5.1-5.3 for over 5 years. Exercise. Lots of it. And you know what? (I hate to be preachy) Try jujitsu. I’ve taken it for about a year now and:

    1) My flexibility is better
    2) My endurance is better
    3) SOME of the fat has converted to muscle.
    4) Agility is better
    5) It’s fun.

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