Since I had bypass surgery in 2000 my cardiologist has been sending me for a cardiac stress test annually.
I guess if I get good marks I am given about a 99% chance of taking the next one. How many other people have odds that good?
It is a very long morning though.
You start by getting injected with a slightly radioactive tracer. They even tell you they will give you a note so Customs will not hold you up at the border. The Canadians don't care - a lot of the people crossing are going to the slots at Fort Erie or Casino Niagara so they make money off you. The US Customs returning actually can and does check that you are not carrying anything harmful and they pick up the tracer.
After you sit for a while they take pictures with a camera that is sort of like a couple of big, rotating boxes and takes about 15 minutes to take a series of pictures around your chest. These are the before pictures taken before the test.
Next comes another wait. This is for the doctor's office.
They check your medications (I was told to skip blood pressure meds and no caffeine for 24 hrs) and they ask if you have eaten (no food for 4 hrs).
You get wired up for an ekg and they put in an iv for the test. You get a shot during the test, through the iv.
The test is simple and effective. You are on a treadmill that they increase from slow to medium to high while they monitor you on the ekg. Your heart is moving fast enough so you can feel it pumping away. The test is well named.
They take off all the patches from the ekg but three. They are constantly asking how you feel.
After that, it is back downstairs for the final series of pictures and to remove the iv.
Next week I go to see the cardiologist and we will discuss the results. Here's hoping for good marks - it's not quite like school.