Friday, April 17, 2009


"Dad, if you get to the top of a hill and there are no numbers on your heart monitor, quit pedaling, you're dead!"
-Sarah Milliner, when she gave me a heart monitor for Christmas.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a right spirit within me."
-Psalm 51:10

Thursday at 9:45 am I had an appointment with Dr. Thomas J. Murphy at Athens Cardiology Group.  The appointment was routine and as we met I shared with Dr. Murphy the cross-country ride I will soon begin.  After the discussion he told me he was jealous, that it would be a great ride, and "Let's do a nuclear stress test before you go."
Nuclear stress test is not a good sounding thing.  The first time I ever had a regular stress test I ended up having a heart cath at Athens Regional Medical Center.  But that was just a regular stress test, no nuclear activity involved!  The word nuclear is kind of a scary word anyway, especially when used in sentences with words like Iran, North Korea, and my heart!
The appointment was made and lucky me, I was scheduled for 7:00 am today.  I was the first nuclear stress test of the day.  Of course I was anxious . . . the unknown has a way of doing that to a person.  What would my weekend be like, waiting for the results?  Did Dr. Murphy see something yesterday that tipped him off to a real problem?  What if I can't do the ride?  How would I tell everyone?
So I get this information sheet about my nuclear stress test and it begins with,  "Your test will last approximately 4 hours."  Oh great, there goes my Friday.  "You will undergo an exercise stress test which will give your physician important information about your heart, lungs, blood pressure, and state of physical fitness.  This will be followed by imaging of your heart by a nuclear medicine camera.
"On the morning prior to stress testing you may take your medication with a sip of water only, unless directed not to do so by the physician ordering the test.  Do not take any medications containing theophylline.  Nothing to eat or drink after midnight.  If you have any questions, please ask your doctor or nurse.
"If possible wear comfortable loose-fitting clothing.  Please wear athletic shoes and socks. Ladies wear socks or footies rather than pantyhose.  Any laced shoes (preferably soft-soled) will do fine.  No metal or heavy buttons on shirts.  A sweater is recommended.
"Please do not call the office for results of this exam prior to 48 hours after its completion. You will receive a call from your physician regarding your results.  If your exam is normal and your physician is unable to contact you, you may receive results from one of our nurses.
I arrive at Athens Cardiology Group at 6:30 am and check in at 7.  I was extremely blessed by Ron and Rhonda who encouraged and worked with me through the whole test.  Both made me feel extremely at ease, had great attitudes, and surely must love what they do.
To make a long story short I had an IV inserted where the nuclear tracer was injected, had a ten to twelve minute photo shoot with the heart camera, rested, had an exercise session with the treadmill, rested, had another photo shoot with the heart camera and electrodes, and was discharged to go about my Friday.  Not a bad morning thanks to Ron and Rhonda.
The rest of the day included blood work, a haircut, lunch with the crew, a refueling stop, cleaning the chicken house, moving rabbits, and a start at cleaning my garage.  Sometime in mid-afternoon I received a call from Dr. Murphy,  "Your tests turned out fine, couldn't be better."  Then he added, "I called because I didn't want you waiting around all weekend for the results."  Wow, there's no way I could tell you how I felt at that moment.  I thanked him and the last thing he said was, "Enjoy your ride."
I will enjoy my ride.  I'm okay, maybe not mentally but physically my heart couldn't be better. That's good to know since I will need to have a good heart to keep Sarah's heart monitor showing numbers. Ultimately I will trust the Great Physician with my heart and my ride, but I am well aware that he uses people like Dr. Murphy, Ron, and Rhonda in the lives of people like me.  I will pedal with more confidence and peace.  From deep in my heart I say thank you!

"I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your law is written on my heart."
-Psalm 40:8

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health."
-Proverbs 15:30

"As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person."
-Proverbs 27:19

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