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I guess I'm gonna live

June 12, 2008 - Cindy Votruba
Another stormy day, and I’m getting my heart looked at again. This time by using a cardiac echo.

I had gotten to the hospital a little before my 1 p.m. appointment Wednesday. I had checked in at the admissions desk to tell them I was having an echo first and then visiting with a cardiologist. Apparently there was no record of me to have an echo at the hospital. Oh great, I thought, now what. I was told to go over to the clinic.

So I went to the clinic. Turns out that the cardiologist from North Central Heart Institute in Sioux Falls brings his own “echo guy” (sonographer). Well, at least I’m in the right place now.

I was told to fill out a form. I totally blanked on my Social Security number. I couldn’t remember the first five digits to save my life. Oh man, nothing like a little short-term memory loss. I wrote it down, hoping it’s correct.

Then came the wait. I was told to bring a book, so I opened up and started reading. I was almost done with a chapter when the cardiologist, Dr. Gaeckle’s nurse, Arla, announces she’s ready for me.

I’m weighed and my blood pressure is taken. Then Arla goes through this laundry list on my medical history. Hey, I’m new to them. So I’m asked if my parents are still living. What medical conditions do they have — mom, kidney failure, dad, stroke. Check. Am I allergic to any medications, any food? Do you smoke, drink coffee, tea, pop? Have you ever had tuberculosis, bronchitis, pleurisy. Pleurisy? I had no idea what that even was. (Looking it up in the dictionary, since I needed the spelling, pleurisy is inflammation of the pleura, occurring as a complication of a disease, such as pneumonia, accompanied by accumulation of fluid in the pleural cavity, chills, fever and painful breathing and coughing). OK, no pleurisy.

Finally I get visited by Dr. Gaeckle who asks me what horsepower do I feel I’m running at. Um.... Basically he was asking about my limitations, could I walk six blocks without getting shortness of breath. I told him it just depended on the weather. I just don’t do humidity.

Then came the cardiac echo. The last one that I was mainly conscious for was back in September of 2003. I forgot how boring they can be. I’m mainly laying on my left side, staring at a set of coat hooks with my arm sticking out. The sonographer, Eric, is taking photos of my heart. Take a breath. Good, let it out. Take a half-breath. OK, what constitutes a half-breath? I intake a little air. Good. Let it out. Eric’s tapping at the echo machine. I heart whooshes and booms and wondering if that’s a good or bad sound. He’s telling me it’s just the blood flow. My left arm goes numb, I have to move it. After a half-hour, I’m finally done. Yea. I get changed in the restroom as Dr. Gaeckle and Eric are going over my results.

OK, my heart is still in good working order. No part of my heart is enlarged, although there is still a little murmur. Basically, everything is doing what it’s supposed to do. Nothing is leaking or going bad. Just a slightly shifted mitral valve. I was told to come back in five years to have another echo. More or less, Dr. Gaeckle said to “have a good life.”

But I don't know what's causing my palpitations. Guess it's a mystery.

So I guess I’m going to live. For now, anyways.


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