Monday, June 11, 2012

There's just one thing that I can't figure out.

Peter Falk, scratching his head.

Remember Peter Falk’s squinty-eyed Lieutenant Columbo? 

We all waited for that moment when he would walk dejectedly away from the murderer (who would be smirking, thinking he had literally gotten away with murder), then pause, scratch his head, turn back to the guilty SOB and apologetically say something like, “There’s just one thing that I can’t figure out.”

Within seconds the tightly knitted veil of deceit would unravel and the killer would have given away the entire case.

Last week, as I left my doctor’s office, I felt like Columbo – but about three minutes slower on the draw. 

By the time I thought of the questions I wanted to ask, the doctor was on to her next patient and I was at the pharmacy dropping off new prescriptions for drugs unrelated to my questions.

A few minutes earlier, the doctor had blithely noted that my ECG results had been normal. Then we spent several minutes discussing my diabetes meds (and even my pearls!), without returning to the ECG and the reasons for ordering the test (the bizarre morning pain that scared the crap out of me).

So many questions ran through my mind:
  • Does that mean it’s not angina?
  • What should I do if it happens again?
  • Could it have been a stroke-type thing? Or a transient ischemic attack?

All of which remain unanswered, except by the internet.

Does that mean it’s not angina?
No. Angina is not usually detected on an ECG unless it actually takes place while the electrodes are stuck to your chest. This works well with normal, activity-related angina, but not with the kind that occurs while you are resting, as I was. ECG is great for showing that there is damaged heart tissue, as is the case with a heart attack.

What should I do if it happens again?
If symptoms do not abate after 5 minutes of sitting up and resting, call 911. In my case, even if the symptoms do ease (with or without coughing), I will get myself to a clinic and ask my questions.

Could it have been a stroke? Or a transient ischemic attack?
Actually, the internet cannot answer this one. I will have to talk to an actual doctor about it.

Which brings me to the best news I’ve had in AGES: I finally have a doctor. Well, sort of. I have a meet-and-greet appointment with a doctor in August. She is in a group practice near our home and is about three years out of school. She probably looks like a teenager. 

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