The day was a dreaded one. It started off with a bang! I woke early to get ready for my appointment. I had an aura in the shower. The crescent-shaped lights were flashing in the front of my vision. In the past, they only flashed (brighter) and moved from one side of my vision to the other.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how fearful I was concerning my Nuclear Stress Test. After eating my “light breakfast” and drinking a little orange juice, we headed on our trip to the Cardiology Clinic. I felt so sick on the 1 1/2 hour trip. I wasn’t allowed to have coffee or soda. I was overwhelmed with all my miserable symptoms: nausea, fatigue, and pain. I slept much of the way.
After checking in at the clinic, I almost fell asleep in the waiting room. I had worn my comfortable clothes and walking shoes. The first step of my test was to get an IV. Then, I had to wait in a cold waiting room. It was so annoying that I had to change into a hospital gown. I looked so elegant walking around in this ugly contraption.
The imaging machine moved around my chest slowly. It was taking pictures of my heart from all directions. It wasn’t loud, like an MRI, but was a little creepy. When the machine was just a few inches above my chest, it kind of freaked me out. But, the dreaded part was still to come.
After getting hooked up to all the EKG electrodes, the nurses explained the stress test. My goal was to walk on the treadmill and get to my maximum heart rate. They were to start me at a slope and at the super fast speed of 1.7 mph. I wondered if I could even survive it. My pain was already at such a high level.
My feet and ankles were throbbing before I ever stood up. I determined that if I could still stand and move I WAS going to do this! The nurse said that if I couldn’t reach my max heart rate, they would inject me with another drug. I really didn’t want to try that!
I made it through the first round of walking, but I was already having terrible shortness of breath. I was quickly reaching about 70% of my rate, and I pushed ahead. I was screaming inside, panting and light-headed. The nurses were cheering me on, telling me how close I was getting to my goal.
As the speed increased to 3 mph, I felt horrible pain in my feet and ankles. The sciatica was causing severe pain down my left side. Getting to 90% gave me courage, but from there to the end, I felt very strange. It reminded me of my childbirth labor, where you are feeling a little out of yourself. I was basically huffing and puffing, forcing my feet to keep moving. I couldn’t really pick them up anymore, but somehow made myself continue.
As the nurses counted down…..5-4-3-2-1! Wow! Chest pain hit me hard. The next command was “Inject”, to the nurse shooting the radioactive fluid into my vein. Just then, they started to slow me down and stopped the awful treadmill. I hurt and was gasping for air. Finally sitting down, the kind nurse brought me some water. My heart started to slow gradually, along with my gasping.
We made our way back to the imaging room. Now came10 more minutes of heart pictures. At least by now, my breathing was regular and I was able to lay down. It was all over, I got dressed, and left. I felt so nauseated, hungry, and thirsty. My husband got me something to eat, as I gulped down another bottle of water. I loved finally getting a cup of coffee!
The after-effects have been severe pain and exhaustion. I’m sure tomorrow will be even worse. Waiting on my results is worrisome, because the nurse pointed out an event on my EKG. She said that the pictures with radioactive solution should help the doctors know exactly what caused the event that correlated with my chest pain.
My mind will probably think all kinds of things, until I hear from the doctor. But, waiting on test results is a huge part of life with chronic illness. I’m getting to be a pro at waiting.
@2019, copyright Lisa Ehrman
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical expert. This post describes my experiences and opinions. This is not to be viewed as medical advice. If you have any medical concerns, please contact your local doctor.