Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stress Echocardiography Test

We spent  all of yesterday at home. Carol has finished at the Academy on Friday as it's now Half-Term. They had a day's teacher training and they had some specialist talking about 'Behaviour' or something.

We walked to Milton Keynes Hospital around 11.30 as my appointment was at 12.00. It has been a bright and sunny day, and there really was no point using the car as we'd only have to pay in the hospital car park. We were under the impression that we could get into the hospital through one of the back entrances, but we found most of the doors shut, but we walked round to the front entrance. The place is a maze of corridors and even though there is fairly good signs to wherever you want to go it's a good walk to get to the cardiology department. I've never been for an appointment at the weekend, but apparently they open up the hospital for in-patients appointments in an attempt to cut the waiting times. There were people wandering around the place, but certainly not as many as there usually are mid-week.

We eventually found the cardiology department and was surprised to find only one other person waiting in the waiting room. We sat down, but it was only a short while before a nurse came to collect me and we went into the room where the test was to be done.  I lay on the examination couch and the nurses prepared me for the test, by putting contacts on my chest for the E.C.G. and a cuff on my right arm to take blood pressure. I have said before that I dislike giving blood and anything to do with needles. They needed to put a canular into my arm so that the drug  (Dobutamine) which would be used to run the test and make my heart work faster could be given to me. I was beginning to feel a little queasy, but after a while it went off. The doctor who was to carry out the test came in. It was at this point that the nurse who was attempting to find a vein in my arm so as it put in the canular let the doctor take over. I had two canulars in, one in my left and another in my right arms. They started the machine that pumped the Dobutamine into my body and the test began. After a while I had to lay on my left hand side (a fairly difficult matter as I had so many cables and tubes attached to me) and my head had to be lifted up higher on the couch. Then the doctor used a ultrasound device on my chest to view my heart in action once the effect of the drug took effect. It didn't take long and it made my heart pump faster. I was told it would be rather like the exertion you get when walking up a fairly steep hill. I thought it was rather like running up and down stairs several times. It also gave me a strange tingling sensation in my head, although it wasn't entirely unpleasant. A bit like when you've drunk several pints of beer and you get a sort of light-headed feeling. This test went on for about 15-20 minutes and I had to breath in and out when the doctor took the ultrascan. Then the drug was turned off and the test came to an end. All the cables and tubes were disconnected and I was able to stand up, although I felt rather groggy and one of the nurses gave me some water to drink. I was taken back to the waiting room where Carol was but didn't leave immediately as I still wasn't feeling one hundred percent and wasn't feeling up to walking so we sat in the waiting room for fifteen minutes or so. I was told by the doctor that the scan had shown that there was no major damage to my heart, although it could show the initial clot which had caused the heart attack just over four years ago and that I wouldn't need surgery and that I should continue with my current medication.

We walked home and by then I was feeling really tired. We had something to eat and spent the rest of the day either sleeping or resting.
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