Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Thinking you might be ill is not as bad as actually having something wrong with you, but it can be wearing on your psyche.

I went for a stress test today. Haven't had one in some years. Part of that has been moving to Europe, jumping through hoops to secure residency, and then maybe thinking about getting settled with doctors, dentists, etc. (I did take out some health insurance to cover emergencies, as Obamacare doesn't do me much good over here ... nor will Medicare, for that matter.)

Donna-Lane had noticed, a few weeks back, that I was breathing heavy after coming up the stairs. That was not new, but that it was a relatively short flight of steps was.

After that, I started to become hyper-aware of every ache my body was giving off. Did my left knee feel worse - the one I wrenched when I fell through the garage attic ceiling several years ago ... and had previously only hurt when I twisted it a certain way? Is the pain in my arm and elbow from resting it too much when at the computer, or propping it on the open window when driving, or holding too many books while reading in bed? Or all three? What about those occasional tick in my chest - just gas? The lower back pain, well, that's rather constant and varies only in intensity. Definitely too much time at the computer.

At D-L's urging, I went to see her doctor in Geneva. Tennis elbow was one diagnosis. Nothing else obviously out of kilter, but he wanted me to do the stress test and get an EKG just in case. So today was the bicycle pedaling; tomorrow is the chest x-ray.

Anticipating a stress test can itself be stressful. There's always the possibility of a problem. And then what? They wired me up, and I got on the stationary bike and began pumping. Set a pretty good pace. Not going to do the Alps in the Tour de France, but felt good. Then they increased the tension, Still good. Another increase. Maintaining the desired speed, but breathing was becoming more difficult. I pumped as long as I could before my mouth went completely dry and I didn't think I could push any further. Blood pressure had started at 11/8 and risen to 15/8 before settling back as I lay on the examination table.

To my surprise, the doctor said no anomalies in the results. The word "normal" never sounded so good.

Now maybe I can ease off noticing every twitch. And D-L can stop worrying that she'll need to schedule the rest of her chemo treatments around my heart surgery.

How is it that my physical condition is no different than yesterday ... but I feel so much better?

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