Friday, September 30, 2011

Stress Test

First – the good news. I got to wear my own shirt for the stress test.  The woman who attached the stickers tried to talk me out of it. “You’ll get sweaty.  You’ll get gel on it.” I rode my bike to the stress test center, so I was already sweaty.  Sticker Lady scrubbed me down with what felt like sand paper to get it all off before pasting on the stickers with the little metal buttons.  Then she had me lean onto her to smash them on firmly.  I told her I was glad to have a female doing this. She told me they make sure of that.

Note: this is a place where they have men help arrange your breasts in the mammogram machine. And as soon as I was stickered up, a man came in to do the sonogram, and another man came in as the doctor to warn me that exercise has its dangers.

Sonogram Man slimed me up and got pre-exercise echos. He kept asking me to hold my breath in or out while he took them.  I do yoga. It’s not hard to hold my breath. He told me that as soon as I got off the treadmill I was to get back on the table in the same lying-on-my-left-side position so he could get a post exercise echos.

Then they had me get on a treadmill. I did not know how to use the thing.  I tried walking on it, and the thing moved so quickly that my steps were short.  After about 6 minutes of this, Sticker Lady, who was now watching the heart chart as it printed, told me to let my leg move with the walking belt. This would give me a longer stride and feel more comfortable.  

Every three minutes the machine got faster.  After about 1 minute on level 3, my leg with the new hip started to feel sore, and I felt tired, so I asked them to stop the test.  Sticker Lady seemed surprised, but I insisted.  She’d said I could stop it any time after my heart rate got to 133, and it was over that.  They made a note that I wasn’t short of breath.  Apparently most people let the test go to that point. They wrote down that my reason for quitting was fatigue.  I guess they can’t just write tired.

I got on the table. Sonogram Man rushed over, like it was an emergency. This time it was hard to hold my breath. After exercise I breathe more deeply than before.

It turns out I’m a freak of nature.  My heart pumps the same amount before and after exercise. The doc had never seen this before.  Apparently everybody else on the planet pumps more after exercise.

No wonder I always was the kid nobody wanted on their teams.  No wonder I always felt like any physical activity was harder for me that all the other kids.  No wonder I had to practice for hours every day just to get a C in Physical Education.  And no wonder I continue to exercise daily – it’s a lifelong habit.  And no wonder, I’m suddenly one of the most fit people my age.  Gym was never work for everybody else, so they didn’t have to exercise in order to do it.  They didn’t develop the habit.  Finally an explanation! It really was easier for everybody else.

Of course the doctor didn’t see it my way. He wants to run more tests.  Hey – I got METs 8 quitting when I did. That’s Metabolic Equivalent Tasks. It means I was doing 8 times as much work as the average person does sitting still.  According to the table I found at   8.1 is the beginning of the highest fitness level for women over 60.  METs 6 is average.

 I’m fit.  And I don’t care if I’m a freak.  No more tests.

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