Appointment went well!

My appointment at Emory went well! I have been feeling good and am not aware of any problems (and that is a problem itself: a heart that is getting sicker won’t always make you feel bad. A cardiac chamber that is failing won’t cause you any pain, but it will enlarge and cause you to not function as well as you once did. The loss of function happens so slowly that it can easily be passed off as the normal effects of age, and there is no way to detect a changing heart chamber without an x-ray and/or and ECG.) but for some reason I was extremely nervous before my appointment today. We’re not talking just the normal doctor’s office anxiety, but really, really nervous. If someone had slammed a door, you probably would have had to peel me off the ceiling.

And even though I was so nervous, my blood pressure was great. 102/57, which is pretty astounding. For some reason, even with a Funky Heart and blood vessels that interconnect more than the Los Angeles Freeway, my BP has always been close to perfect.

After the BP and the PulseOx test, the nurse brought in the ECG machine and hooked me up. There have really come a long way — today it takes about 20 seconds to produce the ECG sheet; it actually takes longer to place all the sticky pads on the patient than it does to run the test! When I was an infant, you couldn’t even touch the patient or the test (printed on yards of cash register receipt paper) would be invalid. The patient couldn’t move, either, which meant screamin’ young’uns like myself were very difficult. The folks finally came up with a way to get me to hold still without touching me: they’d let me starve! Whenever it was ECG time, they’d put me on the table and hold my bottle right over my mouth. I’d start sucking, being perfectly still the entire time. (Hey, eating is hard work! You have to concentrate!)

I was also able to get my flu shot! I was sitting there waiting on the doctor – you know, those few minutes that they leave you alone after the nurse finishes her examination, but before the doctor gets to you – when the nurse comes in again and asks if I want the flu shot. That was on my list of questions to ask the doctor; I had seen an ad for a drugstore that was distributing the shot a few days before and meant to ask about it. The nurse said that they were recommending them, AND had a supply reserved for the Congenital patients, so I signed the forms and got my shot!

Then my doc comes in and examines me. He always has permission to bring some of his students, so usually he enters the room with three or four young people in tow. Today is no different. I actually enjoy his teaching sessions; he switches back and forth between English and med-talk enough that I’m getting an education, too!

This has changed over the years, too. It used to be that a doctor would ask if he/she could bring a medical student into the room because “We don’t see very many cases like you.” Now he’s bringing in students because the students are choosing Adult Congenital Cardiology. And even if they don’t go that route, studying people like me will help that one day in the future when a sick kid comes into the Emergency Department and no one can make heads or tails of what’s going on. Hopefully that former student will be able to say “Wait a minute, I’ve seen something like this before…”

And although I was nervous – scared to death, actually – everything went great! I’m due back in 4 months. I will see my doctor at the Adult Congenital Heart Association’s (ACHA) Lobby Day 2009 in Washington, DC, and I hope to interview him for the Funky Heart blog. I’m sure that if I had asked today he would have sat down with me right then, but I hadn’t set anything up in advance. And to take up an extra 30 minutes of his time that I didn’t need would not be fair to his other patients, so I’ll do the interview another day.

Tonight’s musical selection is Tom Petty’s Won’t Back Down. I heard this when we stopped at a store on the way to Atlanta; I hadn’t heard it in a while and had almost forgotten how good a song it is. I hope you enjoy it too.


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