Yesterday I went to see a new cardiologist. As you’ve read, the cardiologist in town was jerking me around, so I had my rheumatologist refer me to one in LA, which seems to be the only place where shit gets done, so I am now refusing to see doctors in my town. It’s easier to make the trip and get answers than it is to stay in town and get jerked around.
The cardiologist’s office is within Cedars-Sinai medical center, which is a pretty hairy place to be driving around. It was on the 10th floor, which is always a scary thought for me. I hate elevators. There’s something about them that messes with my spinal fluid pressure and makes me feel wobbly for 10 minutes after getting off. I went into the office, which had a pretty cool panoramic view, and did the usual fill-out-100-forms thing.
The nurse called me back to a room, I put one of those awful paper gowns on, and she hooked me up to the ekg. While she was hooking me up, she started to tell a funny story about one of her patients who was a pain in the ass. Somehow we got to talking about women and fucked up plastic surgery, and I was laughing my ass off, but then I had to try really hard not to laugh when she turned on the machine. It only takes 30 seconds, but it was hard not to laugh with her in the room. She was really funny.
The doctor came in after that, and I told him about all the symptoms I’ve been having. He asked a few questions about my history, I’ve never smoked, don’t currently drink, never taken diet pills. He asked me if I ever did coke or amphetamines, and I laughed and said no. He said “You’d be surprised what people say yes to, it is LA.” I told him I don’t even have a cup of coffee anymore because I can’t. It makes my symptoms a lot worse.
I got dressed and went into his office to further sit and discuss my symptoms, and also my other health issues. He decided that I should have an ultrasound, a stress test on the treadmill followed by another ultrasound. They had an appointment open in 2 hours, and I took it so I wouldn’t have to go all the way back down there. My mom and I were both starving and had time to kill, so we decided to find a cafe in the hospital to get some food.
We left the office and got in the elevator, and the funny nurse followed us. I wasn’t really sure why, I thought maybe she forgot to tell me something, but there was another doctor in the elevator so she waited until he was gone. We got out of the elevator and she pointed down the hall to the room where they hold the stress tests. When there were no doctors around she handed my mom what looked like a $5 bill. She said “It’s nothing, just chips and soda money.” I didn’t know what to say. Between having to buy lunch and pay for a lot more parking than we originally thought, she said “This trip just got more expensive for you and I know how hard it is.” She ran off and took the elevator back to the office, and while walking to the cafe we realized she actually handed us $25. We couldn’t believe it. I still don’t know why she did it. I was just completely surprised. There are still good people out there, even if they are hard to find sometimes. I will most certainly be doing something nice for her in return. It wasn’t just free lunch that she gave us, it was comfort in knowing that there are good people out there, and they also happen to be the people taking care of me.
The cafe was pretty nice. It had a Hollywood photography flare to it. The thing I like the most about it was the menu listed the sodium content of each dish, so I could watch my sodium intake, especially since I was about to have tests done. I ordered a turkey burger and sweet potato sticks, which were sort of like baked fries. They were surprisingly good, and I’m not even into sweet potato. All in all, it was decent food.
After we ate we walked around a little, checked out a few of the hospitals gift shops. We sat on a bench outside of one of the shops, and I noticed this sign:
I’ll let you make your own jokes about it. I laughed for a good 20 minutes.
Anyway, 6 o’clock rolled around, and it was time for my test. I was a little nervous. Not scared, but just wanting to get it over with. They took me into the back of the office in a room with a treadmill and no window. It was stuffy. I put on another one of those awesome paper gowns, this time it was more like a shirt. The technician explained the tests to me, and I picked up on his New England accent. My mom is from Massachusetts, and both of us just have to ask him, “You’re not from California, are you? Where you from?” He said he was from Maine. He talked about going back, and missing the food, especially “Lobstah” and “steamiz”. I still haven’t had the opportunity to go to New England, but everything about it feels like home to me because my family is from there.
He did the first ultrasound, then the cardiologist came in and looked it over on the computer screen. They hooked my chest up to a bunch of leads and it was time for the treadmill. I didn’t know until then what exactly I was going to be doing. I started out with a brisk walk, and continued to walk that way for about 5 minutes. My legs started to burn, and my lungs were burning too. It was exhausting. The incline went up, and I had to walk faster for the last 2-3 minutes. It was hard, but I was glad to not be running. I watched my heart rate go up the entire time on the computer screen. When I was done, it was time for another ultrasound to see what my heart looks like when it’s working. My lungs hurt, my legs hurt, and I was pretty tired. The doctor said that everything looked really good. There isn’t anything structurally wrong with my heart, no inflammation, and I have good circulation around my heart. He said that my symptoms are still a mystery, but that they aren’t a ‘sinister mystery’.
So the Lupus isn’t attacking my heart. I won’t have to switch treatments, I can stay on the Benlysta. I’m relieved to find out that my heart is OK. I’d still like to know why I’m having weird symptoms, but it’s not something that I have to be afraid of anymore.