Last night, I could not fall asleep. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was it the wind from the open window that suddenly blew my bedroom door closed and scared the living hell out of Linus and me? Was it Tom’s muscle relaxer-induced snore that kept me awake? As much as neither of these situations made for ideal sleeping conditions, my mind was fully awake. After an hour, I realized that I was subliminally stressing about my stress test scheduled for the morning.
Knowing that I was not going to be able to lull myself to sleep, I got up. I played on Facebook, read other bloggers’ posts, and watched television. When I finally felt like I tired out my brain, I laid on the couch (I could hear Tom’s cacophonous snoring from the living room). To further relax myself, I attempted breathing exercises, I wrote several blog posts in my head, and I counted sheep. Somewhere in all of that thinking, I fell asleep.
I awoke in a haze. I felt like I do when I take cold medicine: woozy and not quite all there. I had to hurry to get a cup of coffee in because I could not have anything but water for four hours prior to the test.
I decided I needed to relax. It was nothing– jogging on a treadmill– I could do that! I put on my workout clothes and told myself it was not going to be any different from going to the gym. I even thought about pulling a Ben Wallace and wearing a headband, but all I could find was a red one, and I was wearing powder blue shorts– I didn’t want to clash.
I got to the doctor’s office almost a half hour early. I checked in, and the nurse assured me I had at least twenty minutes. Perfect! I had enough time to stretch. I looked around the room, and two septuagenarian looking folks were patiently waiting reading magazines. They were both dressed in street clothes, so I assumed neither was waiting for a stress test. Surely, they would understand that I wouldn’t want to bust a hammy during a stress test? I mean, come on, how embarrassing would that be.
More than anything, I wanted to turn on my iPod. Jamming to O.A.R.’s Hey Girl or Cake’s Stickshifts and Safetybelts could pump me up. I thought about it, I really did, but in the end, I opted out of music. I didn’t want to start a dance party, for God’s sake.
I got on the floor, stretched my legs as far out as they would go, and stretched each leg eight times. Next, I stood and leaned against the wall and did some standing quadricep stretches. I noticed that each of the senior citizens had glanced at me a few times, but neither seemed put out by my actions. I contemplated asking them to join me, but because neither was dressed in sneakers, I thought better of it.
I was feeling pretty loose, when the nurse called me back. We entered a small locker room, and she handed me a gown.
“Excuse me,” I said politely. “I am here for a stress test.”
“Yes,” she said. “Put this on. Take off all garments above the waist and leave the gown open in the front.”
My jaw hit the floor. I was stressed enough about the stress test, but now I had to be exposed as well?
“We check modesty at the door here,” she reassured me.
Okay, I could live with that.
“But how am I going to run on a treadmill without… support?” I indicated my rather well-endowed chest region with my hands, just to make sure she knew what I was talking about.
“Don’t worry, Honey. Very few people ever have to work into a run to elevate their heart rate to where we need it.”
I had to hope she was right.
After some preliminary testing, I began walking on the treadmill. My heart rate would not stay elevated past 124. Every time she raised the speed and the incline, my heart rate would spike, but within seconds, I would get my breathing back under control and my pulse would drop back down. A half hour later, the treadmill was at a pretty steep incline, and she had to kick me into a run. She apologized because I was forced to utilize one forearm for temporary support. Once she got the read she needed, she brought the treadmill back down to a reasonable pace, and I allowed myself to fall free again.
Besides for the embarrassment of being half-naked for the better part of an hour, I left the office feeling pretty good. 1. The nurse never looked alarmed. 2. I went beyond the average expectation and had to run. 3. When it was over, I told her I could go longer and she laughed.
I have high hopes this stress test was precautionary and will result in a positive diagnosis.