Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stress echo

This morning I wasn't allowed either food or coffee (the latter deprivation a serious one indeed) because I had an early appointment for a "stress echo" test, a phrase I couldn't figure out until I remembered the "echo" in "echocardiogram." My father had two heart attacks, and my doctor reminds me that I'm of the age for vigilance -- so off to the cardiologist's lab I went. Ten sensors were attached to my chest; I lay on a table on my side while another sort of sensor was pressed to my rib cage near my heart. I climbed on a treadmill and began to walk, speed and incline gradually increasing, until I was running, and my heart-rate had reached the level of intensity the technicians wanted.

Then I had to lie down again, quickly, on the table, and the sensor was pressed to my skin again. And then, when they were done, I turned my head and saw, on a video screen, my own heart. It was golden, and pulsing, and resembled a cross between a Georgia O'Keefe flower and a jellyfish. On the left hand side, it was pulsing at its normal rate; on the right, it was contracting furiously -- so strange to think of all my blood pouring through that aperture! During how little of history have people been able to see their own beating heats? I couldn't resist asking the technician how it looked. He said, "Really great."


Elisabeth said...

It's great that you have a 'great' heart, Mark, despite the sad story of your father's heart.

Your heart it seems is both beautiful and sound. I'm pleased for you.

I dread the thought of what mine looks like under the echo. I've yet to see.

My father died of a heart attack, a series of heart attacks, but there were extenuating circumstances like emphysema from forty years of heavy smoking and liquid filled lung sacs.

At least mine are probably clear. Hopefully yours are too along with your pristine heart.


Paul Lisicky said...

Golden. "A cross between a Georgia O'Keefe flower and a jellyfish." Keep that.

Mim said...

Great Heart!


Good news Mark. Stay safe, stay healthy.
signed Bobby C. Elijah, MO.

Patricia Murphy, a resident of said...

Mark Doty, I am not the least bit surprised to hear that you have a great heart. I've suspected as much for years.

Sounds like there's gonna be a poem called "Strees Echo".

David@Montreal said...

Mark,great news on the stress echo results, however
that the man who lived 'Heaven's Coast' and so much of that very fine poetry has a heart of gold shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

Does that mean a new nickname for you, eh 'Golden Boy?'

Erik Hanson said...

Isn't that an incredible experience? I had these tests done a few years ago too and to see this tiny vital organ working away on a video monitor reminds us how fragile and miraculous this body we inhabit is. I'm glad yours is great!

John Guzlowski said...

Hi, Mark, I couldn't help but stopping by when I saw the stress test heading. I just had my first ever stress test this week, and I failed! It surprised me to no end. I'm a 30 year vegetarian who does an hour of aerobics each day and doesn't smoke or drink or have much stress. Did I mention I've been doing yoga for the last 7 years?

In fact, I never had any heart problems until I had a heart attack while on a recent cruise.

Maybe you'd like to read about my adventures as a Heart Attack specialist?