Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Life - Day Before the Wedding - Physical

This is a bit post-dated as the wedding took place October 6 and I'm writing about the 5th and the 4th. With that in mind...

Thursday was a chaotic day with lots of small, miscellaneous things to do. It was the last day for us to get things done before the whirlwind of an already planned out Friday. Since Thursday was really us getting down to the southwest corner of Connecticut, I'll skip the "And then we ate breakfast - coffee and eggs for me" kind of post.

Friday morning we were up reasonably early to go pick up my best man. He flew in on the red-eye after a busy schedule back where he lives - on the other coast of the US. Because he'd be without a car, he joined us on our first round of errands (his wife would later join him/us driving her mom's car). At about 1 in the afternoon we'd swap cars (the missus would keep her car, we'd borrow my brother's), and go meet up for a ride with a couple of the boys from back in the day.

But I get ahead of myself.

We had breakfast at a diner which has a special meaning for the missus and myself. Although not a five star restaurant, it is where the we pretty much established our relationship over coffees and breakfasts. I think those kinds of meals are good for illuminating some of the other's traits - how one handles money, a mistaken order, cold coffee (or no coffee), even how one opens a door. It should be apparent that over the three or four years we ate there we decided we liked the person sitting across (and sometimes next to) us.

After this nostalgic meal (completely lost on the Best Man), we went to the doctor - I had a physical scheduled for late that morning. A little crazy as the office is 1.5 hours away from where I now live, but I like my doctor. More importantly, I trust him.

I trust him because he was the one that told me about my heart problem - some backwards thing on my EKG. He told me that if he'd seen my EKG with no other information, he'd figure he was looking at a guy having a heart attack. As a favor to me and any EMTs that might find me unconscious, he gave me a copy of the EKG with some appropriately illegible notes. A teammate who is also a doctor deciphered it quite easily (I guess doctors have their own secret handbook, just like I know Cat 2s have them). Basically it says that "This is normal and this guy is NOT having a heart attack and don't defibulate him."

I carry a reduced copy of it, laminated, in my wallet.

Here it is, with Tiger present for scale.

He told me that if I ever wanted a day off, I should wander into an emergency room rubbing my chest. I wouldn't need to say a word, he told me, and I'd be detained for a day or two for observation.

I haven't done this so far.

Anyway, the missus had some questions for the doc, my best man had no vehicle, so the three of us tramped into the office together. I felt like Britney Spears with her posse trailing her.

Minus the blond hair. And bare midriff. And with a much reduced posse. And... well, you know.

We were shown the waiting room, a circular bit with a bazillion medical pamphlets, all proclaiming how you might be afflicted with something for which they have a drug, and ask you doctor about it.

The best man (I'll name him - let's call him Rich) is a subtlely mischievous kind of guy. He managed to find a testosterone test - an electric one - and tried to use it. It had a gauge and a bunch of yes/no phrases, and it would tell you if you might be suffering from low testosterone. To his (and our) dismay, the batteries were so dead they were bloating. I went to the nice receptionist and asked for both batteries and wondered out loud if we could keep it. She said yes to both and got us some batteries. Properly armed I returned to the waiting room.

We found a couple Yes answers got you the prize - "You might have low testosterone". I started wondering if perhaps my "deterioration in my ability to play sports" (an actual yes/no phrase) was perhaps related to low testosterone.

I may have low testosterone.

Of course this test could be customized for specific professions. Like, let's see, maybe, um, bike racers?

Imagine the bike-specific phrases.

"I feel tired 14 days into a 21 day stage race"
"I can't outsprint Bettini"
"My name is Flo.."

I hate when the ink rubs off and you can't read the whole phrase. I suppose if your name is like that Florence Griffith-Joyner and most of it is rubbed off...

The nurse called me in for my prelims - weight, blood pressure, things like that. I was 184 lbs (aye caramba), bp was 120/80 (seems high but I wasn't feeling quite myself), and pulse 56 (not bad, but then again, I think I was a bit sick). The last time I went she weighed me, and when I hit over 180, she looked at me in surprise and said "You don't look that heavy - I thought you were 165 or so."

"I'm just dense," I replied, straight-faced.

She gave me a look like "Do you know what you just said?". I didn't elaborate and giggled inside. When I mentioned that from the last visit she told me that she'd laughed when she left the room. This time she didn't wait till she left - she was chuckling walking out the door.

The doc came in, said my cholesterol was high again. I forget the number but it's back over 200 (bad stuff) and I think almost 300 total. Since I'd gotten the bad stuff to 135 and my total to around 200 before, I figured it was the lack of exercise and lots of cholesterol type food that contributed. See, before the blood test I was eating 5 or so enormous hamburgers a day, meat loaf, and not a lot of veggies. The beef was leftover from my birthday bash and was so good I felt obliged to try and finish a whole Costco bag of ground sirloin patties - I couldn't eat the last two.

That makes it almost 16 1/3 pound patties in a week or so - about five pounds of beef. To be fair the missus had some meatloaf (but not any burgers). So maybe I had 4.5 pounds. Whatever.

The missus asked her questions and reminded me of mine - in no particular order "Why am I getting sick more than before?" and "Are there any issues with a guy 45 or so having kids?". I forget the other questions but the missus asked them - that's why she was there.

I asked about testosterone and the electronic test in the waiting room. Hey, if I have a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) for androgen... But my plans for winning the Green Jersey in the Tour were smashed when the doc dismissed the test - "They all want you to medicate" or something to that effect.


Most important to me though was my hematocrit. It's quite high naturally and I was hoping for a 50%. It's like getting a speeding ticket on a bike I guess - if my 'crit was over 50% I could take two weeks off from racing. And I figured the five pounds of beef should have helped - all that iron and other red blood cell stuff. So I quickly looked at the sheet.


My heart sank. Lower than before - in my last four physicals I'd gone from 49 to 48 to 47 to 46. Overall though, except for the cholesterol and my weight, things were reasonably fine. Of course I want to lose weight (getting up that hill at Bethel is a real pain when you're carrying 20 or 30 extra pounds), I'd like to lower my cholesterol so it's not something I have to think about, and I really, really want to break that magical 50% barrier for my hematocrit.


I wonder if they have an electronic test for anemia.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Inverted T wave.

Means the cardiac muscle repolarizes in the opposite direction from normal.

Not much to be concerned with unless accompanied by chest pain or other symptoms.

I love throwing around Paramedic knowledge when I can. :)