I never sleep well if I have to wake up early the next morning. I’m up at all hours of the night with a strange mix of anxiety and a relentless need to check the time to make sure I haven’t overslept. And so, I was out of bed at 6:00 a.m. this morning, thoroughly exhausted and not looking forward to the day’s menu: a smorgasbord of tests and checks for my annual physical.
All told, it took about three hours. Before getting on the treadmill for my EKG, the technician informed me that my resting heart rate was unusually low – 56 beats per minute. Above 60 is apparently normal. And so, between my run and my ultrasound, I dove down a rabbit hole on low heart rates and the dangers of a condition known as bradycardia which occurs due to Heart Block which, interestingly enough, doesn’t really have anything to do with blockages and is really more about the heart’s inability to quickly process electric signals. According to the site I checked out, a resting heart rate below 60 is not always cause for concern. There are times when a resting heart rate is 40-60 beats a minute. Of course, that’s while someone is sleeping and, to the best of my knowledge, I was not doing that while talking to the technician. After doing an even deeper dive into the pacemakers and their various implantation methods, I felt I was suitably educated/panicked enough to talk to my doctor about it. For his part, however, he seemed less concerned, informing me that last year’s stress test revealed an equally low heart rate (of about 61 beats per minute) along with something called scooping (a micro-second delay in my heart’s beating process) that resulted in a follow-up cardio-ultrasound…that came back negative. Since I have no other symptoms (ie. passing out), it’s no cause for concern. I did mention I have been feeling a lot more tired at night and he essentially officially welcomed me to old age.
Equally disquieting was the ultrasound session which saw the technician being disturbingly thorough in scanning my esophagus tract. The techs are not permitted to reveal their findings (That’s the doctor’s job!) and they must be all be world-class card players because their poker faces are inscrutable – still, I try my best to suss them out, engaging in humorous banter with them off the top, then gauging them for a potential souring in their mood as the session evolves. Has she stopped chit-chatting because she’s focused OR is there a more distressing reason for the change?
Anyway, I mentioned this to my doctor as well and he brought up the scan, assuring me that my results looked absolutely boring – but, of course, we would have to wait a week for the official sign-off. And the results on my bloodwork. To date, so far so good – although my cholesterol was on the high end a couple of years ago before I made some lifestyle change (Eating steel cut Irish oatmeal at night? Doing cardio every night? Increasing my intake of nutty dark chocolate”?).
And that was pretty much that. Blood draw. Flu shot. Shingles vaccine. And a promise to set up a zoom session with a nutritionist to criticize my diet choices.
To celebrate, we took two buses to visit a Japanese restaurant Akemi has been dying to check out. Verdict: mama deshita. .