I Only Have Isotopes For You,
Or How to Lower Your Self Esteem In One Afternoon
I had one of those nuclear isotope stress tests recently. The test that employs a trained professional with a disturbing glint in his eye, who shoots you full of plutonium or FlufferNutter, I'm not sure which, but the result is that now the blood pumping through your heart is visible from outer space.
You are then denied your clothing from the waist up and plastered with electrodes arranged upon your chest in the traditional 'Cross Your Heart Hope To Die Stick A Needle In Your Eye' design.
At this point, I sense my Generation X nurse suppressing a laugh as she connects wires to the electrodes and catches sight of my mid-life figure now on display like so much mackerel at the fish market. But I could have imagined it.
Now that I'm wired, I can have the one-size-fits-an-Olson-twin-gown, the faded blue one with that weird little pattern on it that you can never quite identify. Are these stars? Paisleys? A fleur-de-lis pattern? Or merely something to make you crazy and feel worse than you already do?
Upsy-daisy, onto the treadmill, which another perky nurse sets on high speed and at a nice little incline (think Everest). "We want to get your heart rate up to 143," she chirps, "for five minutes--the target for someone your age." (Yes, someone my age who gets up before noon, believes exercise is more than swiveling her chair around to change the CD in the stereo behind her, and doesn’t determine her diet by whether the snack bag makes crinkly sounds or not.)
Huzzah! I make my five minutes. Time for another injection of FlufferNutter or is it that liquid that collects at the bottom of the refrigerator that no one wants to clean.
And off we go to the heart photographer. I’m asked to balance on a narrow reclining chair, still in my charming fleur-de-lis gown, my arms above my head in what I hope is not an alluring manner. A camera contraption rotates above my chest for the next twenty minutes taking pictures of the radioactive blood swooshing around in my heart. I am told I must not move during this time. All the while Jimmy Buffett music is wafting into the room through speakers in the ceiling. The photographer wears a Hawaiian shirt. I find this oddly comforting and yet, a trifle unsettling.
So, I balance and Dr. Parrothead hums along to Margaritaville, adjusts dials and records data about my dubious heart. Around the time my arms lose all feeling, a bell dings, signifying either I am free to recompose myself and learn to drive with my feet, or perhaps the doctor’s burritos are ready.Apparently, I'm finished. I'm told I can get dressed and as a parting gift I may pay the receptionist a tidy sum on my way out.
And just think, Thursday, I get to have a colonoscopy.