I've been having chest pains over the past few weeks. A sharp, vertical blade of pain whose strength ranged from a barely-noticeable twinge to a slice of near-agony in certain positions.
That the onset coincided with my longer commute and my growing tendency to use the curls on my racing-style bike's handle bars; that it did not seem to correlate with physical exertion; and that I had an appointment with my GP scheduled for last Tuesday all combined towards my decision not to rush off to Emergency but rather, to wait for the scheduled consultation.
Did I mention that I (and Raven) have actually managed to land a family doctor? No? Well, Raven and I have landed a family doctor. She is a young Doctor who had been (and still is) working out of a local walk-in clinic and Raven and I both found her personable, intelligent and willing to take time to answer questions. Further, she tends to suggest exercise or stretches rather than jump towards prescribing pills. When she mentioned that she was starting a private practice, Raven and I leapt to sign up.
That was probably nearly two years ago. Whether for reasons of bureaucracy or something else entirely, it took nearly that long for things to be made official. But it happened, and I went in for my first physical with Dr. Chow as my Primary Care Physician a week ago.
I told her I was feeling pretty good, "I think." She confirmed my "excellent" blood pressure and my resting heart rate of 54 beats per minute (which, ahem, the internet tells me is that of an athlete), then prodded my chest a little here and there. "I'm pretty sure it's costochondritis," she said. "Inflamation of the cartilage in the ribs." She said she wanted me to have some tests done, to be sure, "but mostly to have a baseline of your heart functioning for the future," she said.
And so it was that, yesterday, I found myself in a small room, shirtless, with a technician scraping away at me with (really!) sandpaper, before attaching electrodes to the tender spots, all attached to a belt that looked like nothing so much as (I thought, but did not say) a suicide bomber's detonator.
The machine itself looked pretty much exactly like a treadmill in a gym but, the technician told me, has an extra level of inclination — I think it maxed out at 14%. At least, that's where I maxed out, when 10 minutes 24 seconds in and panting and sweaty, I cried Uncle. I had passed my target heart rate of 158 beats per minute a minute and a half before but learned that jogging "uphill" even for a brief time is harder than it looks.
The technician was, happily, willing to give me the benefit of her experience. "Off the record," she said, "I don't see any problems. But of course, the doctor will send the results to your doctor."
The stretches Dr. Chow had recommended had already been working, but the relief I felt surprised me. I hadn't, consciously, thought there was much chance I actually had something wrong with my heart but, apparently, my subconscious was a lot more concerned.
And meanwhile, if anyone is keeping track, I'll be seeing a specialist about my arthritis in December; 'till then, I trust the ibuprofen will keep that pain relatively muted.
P.S. to my American readers. I have no private health coverage; none of this cost me a penny out-of-pocket. I think that's a very good thing.
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