Not knowing what to expect, I turned up at the cardiologist's office early in the morning. The first thing that happened is that I virtually had to strip down for a "resting ECG." This sort of thing makes me really nervous and I kid you not, I felt my heart rate speed up as I lay there waiting for the nurse to finish putting all the little tabs on me. Anticipation alone is enough to do it so I really don't know how accurate a resting cardiogram it really was. The lady didn't comment.
Next, I was sent to wait in a little booth until I was called for the "Stress Test". I could clearly hear the gentleman before me having his go. I don't know what he looked like, only that the staff with him were very complimentary. "This result is far better than we expected, Mr Whatever-his-name-was! I can't believe you're as old as you say you are, either. You look about 28 years old, tops! We're just going to turn up the machine for another 20 seconds. Wow! You're marvellous. With a machine like that, you have nothing to worry about."
I sat there and made up my mind to blitz that thing when it was my turn. I like to kid myself that with my active lifestyle, I'm fairly fit. It was only a treadmill, after all. Surely I could put on a good show. Well, when they called me in, I was introduced to a cocky looking little doctor who would've been younger than I am. I hate it when doctors appear younger than me and it's been happening more and more often lately. I told him that I do an aerobics work-out three times a week. (I've got a bit lax over recent months but I was doing it once or twice not that long ago so I thought I could get away with stretching the truth.) He said, "You have nothing to worry about then. You're obviously young and fit!" So far so good.
As soon as they made sure all my little tags were in the right spots and turned on the treadmill, they began commenting, "We must've given you quite a scare. Your heart rate is up already pretty fast." The funny thing was I didn't feel as if I was panting or working very hard. But the young guy started asking, "How many aerobic workouts do you do? I'm surprised that someone as fit as you claim to be is already working so hard at this level! It's not dangerous but, my word, quite astonishing. So do you go to a gym?"
I had to admit that I do it in my own house in front of my TV, and then he said, "Oh, I see, you meant the housewife's, Jane Fonda style, Clayton's aerobics, did you?" in that same polite voice. If I wasn't on that treadmill I would've felt like punching him one. I did begin to get a bit breathless when he and the nurse started asking me about my occupation. Then, when I mentioned homeschooling, they asked all the standard questions such as, "Where do you find your curriculum?" and "How about socialisation?" and "Why would you even want to do that?" Under the circumstances, I felt as if I was a bit too distracted to give justice to my replies. I can tell you, doing a exercise work-out and trying to think on my feet at the same time is a combination that did make me start puffing and panting.
The young guy said, "Incredible" and "How curious" and "Remarkable" a few more times before they let me go. I don't know whether he was going on about my homeschooling comments or what he perceived to be my general lack of fitness. I groaned to myself as I went out, wondering how many more surprises were in store for me.
As it turned out, the cardiologist appeared to be younger than me too! It didn't bode well, I thought. But he told me, "Your exercise test was quite good, actually."
Then, I said, "That amazes me. Your friend in there made it sound as if I was a bit out of shape."
He just gave a bit of a laugh and said, "Even though your heart rate was fast, your blood pressure was doing what it was supposed to be doing." Then he said all the things doctors are obliged to say. "You did quite right and your GP did quite right to refer you to us, but on the whole, we don't need to see you again at this stage so just go home and get on with your life and stop taking the aspirin they prescribed." So I walked out of the place far lighter in both wallet and heart. At least we'll get some of that money back from Medicare within a few weeks and I've decided to treat the whole thing as a bit of a wake-up call to get fitter again.