Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cardiologist Appointment

The doctor ordered an EKG and a nuclear stress test. After making sure that the nuclear stress test was not harmful, we proceeded.

For the nuclear stress test, radioactive dye is injected into the arm. The dye is formulated to target the heart but usually is absorbed by the stomach, pancreas and other assorted innards. The appointment is designed to be 5 hours with a one hour lunch break. The lunch break is necessary as digestion of food rids the dye from everywhere but the heart, thereby leaving a nice pretty picture of the heart to be taken. The dye forces the heart to believe that exercise is occurring so this test is given to those who can't take a standard stress test involving a treadmill.

Over the 4 minutes it takes to inject the dye, 95% of the population suffer side effects including tightness of the chest and/or throat, flushed feeling, headache, etc. These are fully expected and, after making sure that Mom understood she was in no danger, we proceeded, but we prepared for 4 minutes of possible side effects. As the doctor and I questioned Mom about every 45 seconds about side effects, we were all amazed at the fact that the only side effect she reported was a very very slight tightening in her throat. Those of us who know my mama very well know that she belies convention, and this is further proof that she’s just not like everyone else. In this case, we were all grateful.

Lunch time found us at That’s Amore where John walked over from work to meet us. Mom was in fine spirits, having been over the worse part of the test. We laughed and joked through lunch. Now it was just going to be a waiting game as we returned to the cardiologist office.

I watched the Nuclear Technician hook Mom to the cameras and start to take the pictures of the heart. I was absolutely amazed to watch the computer screen display a 3D vision of my mom’s heart beating. It was really fascinating. Even with my little bit of medical knowledge, I could see the valves working beautifully pumping the blood. I could see the aorta and the chambers of the heart. I was in awe.

The technician asked Mom if she wanted anything. Her reply was a 21 year old blond man. The guy laughed and said that he wasn’t 21. Mom looked this middle aged man up and down and up again and said ‘I’ll wait.’ We were rolling. The guy called her his girlfriend, and she was just lit up.

Final prognosis, and I’ll quote the doctor: ‘You have the heart of a 16 year old.’ Even he was amazed at how well her heart is working. She has just a bit of CHF which is to be totally expected at her age but….Amazing. She has some thickening in the top portion of her heart which is why she’s experiencing episodic shortening of breath. The choices are to do further studies (angiograms which are invasive) or just to make an app’t next year to check again. Obviously, the choice was the latter – the doctor allowed us to make the choice and seconded it loudly. Before he left, he asked if he could have a hug and a kiss. I rose to accommodate the request but, alas, it was for dear Gert.

Came home and put Mom to bed at 3. She slept until 7 when she got up for a light dinner. After assuring that she didn’t need anything, I went to bed at 8 pm and slept through to 4 this morning. Nice evening. We all breathed a sigh of relief.

I’ve gone ahead and called off the RV trip though as have to take her to her regular doctor next week for an inhaler – she’ll use this probably daily as prophylaxis against future breathing difficulties. I wouldn’t chance taking her on the road now anyway as we’re both still quite fatigued from the recent excitement. Sharyn (who was going to accompany us on the trip) will still come to us for the week as she wants to be with Gert a while. If Mom’s well, I’ve got some day trips planned – such as tea at the Ritz-Carlton (they’re supposed to have a stupendous tea, and I think it’s just the place for 3 ‘ladies’ to lunch). Sharyn and I will also go to the cabin for a few nights, hopefully, with Mom if she’s up to it. If not, Mom will remain at the Mansion East as we trip off to the Mansion West.

I also realized that, in my quest to give her a fun summer, I’ve been taking her out on days where there is a heat advisory or the air is not good for the elderly. I’ll make more notes in the morning before we schedule our outings. This could result in impromptu cancellations but it’s the best you can do with a 91 year old in tow.

So, all is well again. John’s folks are still in town so they’ll be over for a few nights this week along with some friends for a nice, relaxing grilled dinner.

Oh, I’ve started revamping the Mansion East back yard. It’s amazing looking! For those of you who remember the mud pit, it’s no longer there. I have GRASS, and PLANTS, including the rose bushes I’ve always wanted. John’s Dad planted the roses for me which was very sweet and much appreciated. Pictures follow.
Also, one of my friends asked if she could submit questions for Mom. Absolutely! We're not guaranteeing she'll answer them, but I will certainly ask and document answers. Submit away. Either add a comment to the blog or email me at

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