It's Fine, I'm Sure

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 15.678% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I was a medical transcriptionist for five years, which I think everyone should do.  Listening to doctors diagnose their patients lifts a much-needed veil on the idea of Doctors As Gods, and gives you more of an honest portrait of Doctor As Mechanic.  It’s not that doctors are bad people, it’s just that often they’re pretty confused and vexed that this patient isn’t responding to treatment, which is code for “When I do this, it usually works, and now it’s not, and I’m not sure why yet.”  If you work long enough for an orthopedic surgeon, eventually you start diagnosing exactly what he does – you don’t have his knowledge base, and honestly I’m not even sure what a torn rotator cuff is, but by God after working for Dr. George I knew what the symptoms were.
So I know when a doctor shrugs and goes, “No clue.  Let’s run every test on him just to see what turns up.”
Which is what’s happening now.  I had an ECG this morning, and am now wearing a holter monitor for the next 48 hours to take a recording of my daily heart rate.  Next week, I see a sleep doctor, and at some point I have a perfused stress test scheduled, where I go for a jog with an IV in my arm.
The ECG was an ultrasound, in which I laid down and a technician typed with her right hand and ran a sensor over my chest.  Basically, I served as an overweight mouse pad.  It hurt much more than I was expecting, as apparently I have a large chest cavity and she was jabbing that thing into my ribs fiercely enough I was concerned about bruises.
Then I saw my heart.
Normally, I’m thrilled by medical procedures.  You may remember how gleefully I posted the photos of my gum surgery.  But this time was like looking into the void; I saw this grainy convulsing sack of flesh and thought, that’s the failure point.  If that goes, everything I am dies.  My heart, which I’d always thought of as a hard knot of flesh, seemed hideously slack, flopping and thrashing, and it made me sick to view it.  Periodically, the technician would flip on the sound and I’d hear not the reliable tick-tock lub-dup of my heart, but this sloshing noise like a washing machine, hideously organic, like a small child wobbling a huge sheet of plastic back and forth.
I could not watch.  I had to close my eyes.
Then the nurse attached the holster monitor, which will record my heartbeat for the next two days.  I shaved my bear-like chest this morning, and I am surely glad I did, even if by the time I had finished it looked like I had drowned a squirrel in the toilet.  She actually shaved me again, then used a little thumb-sized snippet of sandpaper to ensure the electrodes were in perfect contact with live skin. No dead cells here.
I do, however, have to record every major exertion over the next two days, which sets off my exhibitionist streak.  I do plan on sexing up my wife later tonight, a fact which I will have to dutifully jot down, along with the time.  I may go for a little extra, just to try to impress the technicians with the amount of time my heart rate was elevated.
I’m already calling it “heart-core pornography.”


  1. Melissa
    Oct 11, 2012

    I love that you can make light of anything! “heart-core pornography” is awesome! I also love that you “plan” on sexing her up…I’m sure it has nothing to do with showing off!
    Good luck and I hope what they find is easily managed!

  2. Brian
    Oct 11, 2012

    It’s interesting to see someone with a totally different ECG experience than mine. Then again, I was just having one to see whether I could go on some ADHD medication, and it’s standard procedure to check your heart out if you’ve had problems with it in the past (I’ve had a heart murmur pretty much since I was born, with no serious adverse effects I’ve ever seen.) I had pretty much your normal reaction. I thought it was incredibly cool to be able to lay there and actually watch my own heart beat.

  3. william scathe
    Oct 21, 2012

    Fingers crossed.

  4. Dan Tannenbaum
    Oct 22, 2012

    I hope you feel better soon! I just had a 10 day hospital visit because my heart got wonky again. Ugh. I end up looking like I got mange from all the stupid sensor pads they put on and then rip off.
    You have my prayers that it is just a transitory glitch in the plumbing or the electrical work.
    I’ll keep you in my thoughts…

    • TheFerrett
      Oct 24, 2012

      Thank you. We’ll see what happens; there’s way more tests to run.

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