Today I went to the Queen Elizabeth hospital for my annual heart check up. The first part of the day was waiting. We were there for a good half hour beyond our appointment time. Mother spent the whole time talking, which irritated me a bit. I should have brought a book.
We were eventually called into the echocardiogram. I asked the woman doing it if I could have a print out of a photo from the echocardiogram like last time, but she said they no longer have a printer. However, she did say I could request a video of it, which is even better. I had to lie on my side and hold onto a metal bar above my head (not sure why, it looked a bit wrong) while she scanned me using the ‘cold jelly’. I don’t like it when they refer to things with silly names like that. I’d like to know what the ‘cold jelly’ is actually called. I remember once, years ago, a nurse was preparing me for a scan and she kept going on about a ‘magic cream’ that they’d put on my hand to put me to sleep. I asked her “What’s it really called?” and she told me it was anaesthetic, so I said “Let’s call it that then.”
When I was young and I had an echocardiogram at the Children’s Hospital, there was usually a TV in the room, so I could watch cartoons while they were scanning me. Now I’m at the QE they don’t give you that privilege, so I decided to have a bit of fun. Every now and then I’d hold my breath so that my chest wouldn’t move. As soon as she noticed and went to say something I’d breath again.
After the echocardiogram there was more waiting before my fitness test. The test was lead by a man called Jan Van Vliet. I like to think that’s not his real name, the guy who prints the name badges was just bored that day. He was an alright guy, but I preferred the guy I had before who used to talk to you during the test and make jokes. The assistant was a rather attractive woman, which was annoying because when you’re around a good looking girl you try to look and act cool. But it’s hard to act cool when you look like this:
The worst thing about that get up was the mask. About a minute after he put it on I got an itch on my nose. So I had to spend the next 20 minutes trying to ignore the itch. It also blocked my vision, so I could hardly see the treadmill. The guy and his assistant spent the whole time talking. Just general chit chat. At 7 minutes in the woman said “You’re doing really well.” Had I not had the mask on I’d have said “Oh, you remembered I’m here then.” It was also quite patronising, because at this point I wasn’t even jogging. Again I had a bit of fun during the test. I could see the screen with all the graphs measuring my BP and heart rate and all that stuff, so every now and then I’d breathe erratically (not erotically) to make patterns on the graphs. At one point they had to redo one bit because I’d messed it up. There was also something that caught my eye. On the treadmill there was a picture of a football taped on. I don’t know why this was there. Were they encouraging people to kick the treadmill?
I didn’t do as well as last time. I only managed 11 minutes 30 seconds, which really disappointed me and upset me a bit because it means I’m slowly getting worse. At the end I was really dizzy. I fell off the treadmill and into the seat. They then interrogated me to find out how I felt according to the Borg scale. I don’t know who Borg is, but for some reason his scale goes from 6 (very, very light) to 20 (very, very hard). Why does it start at 6? Had he not heard of the numbers 1-5? Did he grow up with nobody telling him about the first five numbers? He must have thought the minimum number of fridges you can order was 6. Unless he thought the number 6 was the number 1. Anyway, I followed his nonsense scale but couldn’t tell them what I felt (apart from feeling like an idiot of course). They insisted I give them a number, so I chose 16. I wanted something that sounded high, but not like I needed to stay overnight in the hospital to recover from it.
We then went to have some lunch. I wasn’t much in the mood for eating, but I had chicken curry with cabbage and roast potatoes. It cost £5. Five pounds! It’s a good job we were in a hospital. It wasn’t even that nice. Mother, for some reason, opted for plastic cutlery, which snapped twice during her meal. I found this very funny.
We then had just over an hour until the meeting with the consultant. I decided to go for a walk outside. It was really nice weather, nice and hot with a cool breeze. I went over to the Birmingham University and had a wander round. Whilst there I bought a banana. It was a nice banana.
The meeting with the consultant went well. She’s a nice woman that doesn’t try to patronise you, just says it how it is. She said the tests were all good and there’s no real change from last year. As good as that news is, it does annoy me when we spend hours in the hospital only to find out there’s nothing new to tell me. She asked how I got on with my MRI scan before and I said it was okay, so she wants me to have another one in January. I’m quite looking forward to it actually. She also made a joke which I liked. She said “that’ll give us time to stroke our beards… well, Dr. Cliff’s beard.”
So all in all it was an alright day out. Still, it’s a day off work.
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