June 19th, 2009

chill relaxed

Another brief gasp of air...

Sorry I haven't posted in a while...

The short story is I'm still having medical issues, still unemployed, and still working on my ADHD.

The long story:

Medical: During a routine visit to my primary, I mentioned having some chest pain but not like a heart attack... she and I both agreed it was skeletal-muscular in origin, but just as a precaution she had me take an EKG.  Surprisingly, she found something... and it wasn't my MVP murmur. Joy.  So, off to the cardiologist for a "stress test"... the infamous treadmill.  As the technician is abrading my skin to apply the sensors in their gelatinous adhesive, she mentions that if they determine there's reasons for a more detailed exam (i.e. they found something in the treadmill test), I would get to do this all over again, only with the added adventure of a radioactive isotope injected into my bloodstream.  I said, "Knowing my general history of tests, I'll end up doing that one too."  While going through the progressively faster and steeper treadmill test, I chatted amiably with the tech, who was impressed I could still talk.   I managed to complete the treadmill test without my asthma hitting me (as it's wont to do with hard exercise), she praised me and assured me that I probably won't need the second test.

Ah, but she doesn't know my body like I do.  Sure enough, I got the phonecall  less than a week later to inform me that the cardiologist wanted to do the second treadmill test... whee.

The second test was more extreme in a number of ways: The test was expected to take 4 hours.  I had to fast beforehand, then after they abraded my skin for a second time (Fortunately, this was 2 weeks later than the first test, so the nasty rash-irritation scars from the first abrading had healed) and rigged me up with all the monitoring sensors, they added an IV shunt on the back of my right hand.  It was painful enough that I started going into shock and told them so -- having to explain in detail the sensations to a disbelieving medical professional is always an annoyance, but at least this time the technician from the first test showed up, saw me, and quickly moved me onto a table to recover  (I apparently had crossed the threshold where my face was sheet white) which took me 10 minutes or so.  Once my color was back, it was time to inject the isotope into my system, wait several minutes for it to get to my heart; Then we shuffled over to the medical imager, where I laid down in the narrow bed and held still for a 25-minute exposure in their MRI-like camera. 

I don't mind the idle time, I can fall asleep like that.  But in no time at all it was that dreaded treadmill run again, only this time I had a specific target heartrate to get up to... and both the isotope/camera tech and the treadmill tech were shouting me on for those last 5 minutes.  This time my asthma did hit me, and after I was injected with the isotope a second time, I took a couple of hits from my inhaler and got to wait in a waiting room for the needed 15 minutes for it to reach my heart.  The waiting room rest period was also the first time I could eat, and I heartily tore into my tuna insta-snack while chatting with another lady who was also there for the same test.  Then it was time to shuffle back to the camera room, this time for a 'shorter' exposure time of 18 minutes.  Once that was done, the sensors came off and I was free to glow -- err, go.

Arriving home and feeling a little wonky from the test, I allowed partypup to play with his christmas gift -- a hobby giegercounter.  The supposedly radioactive marble that came with it barely got a peep from the instrument, but as he pointed it at me ... K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K!  That was rather surprising... and I was 12 feet away from him.  It became an interesting investigation to see how long I would remain 'hot' and how fast the decay was.   But what was also interesting was an effect I didn't think about at first: Anything I touched would briefly also triggur the sensitive device.  Point giegercounter at cat: one tick, at most.  I hug the cat, then step back, and the instrument came alive with the sound of angry crickets.  

Cool. :)

Hours later, I'm upstairs in my room weeding through my email, and I hear the klik-klik-klik of the counter, the clicking getting stronger and faster as Cory tracked up the stairs... I apparently left a trail.

It took well over a week for the isotope to become inert and/or removed from my body... the liver and my lymph nodes the last holdouts.  In the meantime, I had found a psychiatrist who specialized in AD/HD that could give me a more accurate diagnosis, but she lived in San Francisco.  My other medical issues of IBS still happen, though must less often, but still all the various physical ailments seem to have a common theme: attributed to, or exacerbated by stress.  And the biggest stress in my life is my AD/HD disability and the years of coping with it (not very successfully).   So, after a month of driving to SF for these consultation sessions, I'm now in the phase where I'm getting coaching help (finally!) to build structure for my time management issues and techniques to manage my anxiety and stress.

Oh, and the heart test?  "Normal".   Feh.

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