Finally. A break.
I’ve been really busy lately, attending my French vacation “crash course”. We’re supposed to cover everything people usually do in one whole semester in 6 days. How mad is that? We’ve completed our syllabus and are taking our exam on the coming Monday.
Apart from desperately trying to catch up with the fast-as-a-bullet-train language, I’m also attending to personal matters, i.e. health issues. Just a week ago, I was saying how I could be a sloth and do whatever that comes to my mind. Someone out there was listening and was out to get me and I think he/she succeeded.
So on Monday, I rushed straight to the hospital after my class for a long-delayed appointment. Apparently, I was far too busy to get my poor, sickly body scanned through during the school term. I’m glad I didn’t postpone it further.
And so, this typical 17-year-old girl walks into the spacious, modern-looking foyer of the hospital, feeling light-headed with fear. I wonder why my adrenaline supply never runs out. It bugs me. Anyway, I entered the glass (they made it clear on the appointment notification that it was the glass one) lift lobby and rode the lift to level 3.
I took a left turn and entered the department called ‘Diagnostic Cardiac Laboratories‘. Before you send my mother condolences, let me reassure you that I’m not about to die so soon. What I was in for was the ‘Tilt Table Test’ or TTT for short. And yes, I was tilted.
Before I lay on the ‘clinical’ bed, I had to undress and I don’t know about you, but me taking off my clothes in front of a stranger feels like I’m about to do something bad and someone’s watching me do it. I managed in the end, feeling extremely awkward.
Next, I had wires stuck on my chest and abdomen. They used 3M branded sticky pads (I had a tough time in the bathroom washing off the dirt that stuck on my belly when I got home). I also had something wrapped around my left arm to take my blood pressure every 5 minutes. Apart from feeling numb and sporting a few abrasions after all that squeezing, I’m relieved to say that she’s fine. I also wore a belt-like strap with a huge device with the wires connecting to my body and exiting through a thick tube to the machine. My honest opinion: I looked like a human bomb. Feeling a little excited over experiencing the life of a terrorist without having to blow myself up, I lay down.
Strapped in position, I was tilted to an almost upright position and as mentioned above, had my left arm squashed by that wretched device every 5 minutes. The technician, a very nice and motherly woman, asked me if I felt alright now and then. The test would last 45 minutes, I was told. Ah, my poor mother, sitting alone outside (she had to be present because I’m a minor), not knowing how I was, while I was strapped to the bed-like thing with my weight still fully supported by my feet. The novelty of being tilted up and down wore off after I learnt that I had to stay in the exact same position for the whole duration of the test. Bother.
The next-door technician, another middle-aged woman, poked in now and then. She didn’t help by exclaiming at my naturally lower-than-normal blood pressure and asking me if I felt giddy in a worried tone. While staring at the smoke detector on the ceiling, I was dealt another surprise. Well, well, turned out that at the 30 minute mark, a doctor will come over to spray some chemical (something called GTN) into my mouth to dilate my blood vessels. I wasn’t told why, only that my heart rate would increase.
As soon as the bottle of spray appeared, cold sweat formed all over my body. Was I going to experience side effects? Was I, worse still, going to faint? Yes, I was told that the test would be terminated immediately should I faint, but can you imagine telling yourself, “Oh, in the next 5 minutes, I’m going to blackout. No big deal”? The ECG was a dead giveaway to my fear. Stupid thing showed my heart rate shooting up. The technicians were amused, much to my irritation. I don’t usually wear my heart on my sleeves and having people know how I feel when I don’t want them to makes me feel excruciatingly uncomfortable. The spray went under my tongue. I’m sorry to say that it was minty to a numbing extent (though I was lucky it wasn’t bitter like I’d expected it to be). This time, the distaste was shown clearly on my face. By this time, I was feeling literally hot and bothered. I could feel heat emanating from my back and legs. I thought it was a consequence of standing for a prolonged period, so with a forced smile, I told the technician I was alright when she asked.
As expected, my heart rate started increasing to above 100. Coupled with the heat, I felt fidgety and less comfortable than I would ever be that day. After what seemed like forever, my heart rate started decreasing. Feeling slightly annoyed that the doctor’s suspicion of me thinking too much about my condition was going to be true, I began wishing to be ‘defused‘. Being a human bomb wasn’t fun anymore.
Then… Something happened.
The machine in front of me started looking glossy. Everything began to sparkle. Vampires in the room? I’m not so sure. However, what I was sure of was that after the initial shimmering, the world slowly dimmed. Oh no. Giddy I was. I couldn’t even speak a full sentence. The discomfort was extreme. All I could do was gasp and pant and shake my head when the technicians questioned me. Scared I was too. The blackout was longer than my usual spells and they couldn’t stop the test until they had taken my blood pressure at that crucial moment. They tried comforting me, telling me it was alright because the doctor was around. I could barely make out the jagged lines denoting every beat of my heart on the computer screen. The technician was showing the doctor something on the ECG. I groaned and moaned and panted and gasped. “No. Stop. Stop.”
Both my arms started feeling numb and I felt that already familiar squeeze on my left.
“Blood pressure’s 59.”
“Dropping to 57.”
Okay, I thought, I’m going to die. Bye bye world. Why won’t you shut up and turn completely black soon so my agony is minimized? But my body just didn’t like being called a weakling. I didn’t lose consciousness at all, even though I was half-expected to. I just wanted it to be over. Get those frickin’ wires off my body and let me down for goodness sake. I felt like I was an experiment that went wrong. You know those sci-fi movies where the mad scientist sticks wires on a person and does tests with them and something goes wrong and the person turns into a mutant? Ask me about it.
After being tilted back to the reclining position, I slowly regained my sight and feeling in my arms. While resting in that position, the doctor told me the test was likely to be positive. Hah! I was definitely NOT delusional.
I’m glad to say that 4 days after the ordeal, I’m back to being myself. Fortunately, or not, I still behave like a normal human being. I can’t turn invisible, or fly, or teleport. Maybe that’s not such a good thing after all…