I love going to my cardiologist. The experience always supplies me with a ton of fodder for my blog. So, I had a follow-up echocardiogram to see if my heart function had changed since the cardiac catheterization in which I was pronounced normal a few months ago. Low and behold, the cardiac output performance was still down in the dumps where it was when I had the first echocardiogram, making me wonder about the accuracy of the cath. Today I had the follow-up consult with the doctor so he could tell me my heart was still beating like a sluggish, arthritic, half-filled water balloon. Little did he know that my primary care physician, who I saw last week, had already informed me of this tidbit of happy information. (Yes, I’m to the age where my social life consists of doctors’ appointments.)

Every time I go to the cardiologist, it is a process—starting with the pre-check-in done on my phone. The pre-check-in asks every single question that I already answered when I first filled out my ream of paperwork, such as name, age, spouse, insurance (please make copies of your cards, yet again, using your phone), favorite movie, and grandmother’s senior prom date. Each time. I can’t simply say, “Nothing’s changed.” I have to verify each and every piece of information before I can proceed to the next step. You’d think I’d be done after that, but you’d be wrong. Next, I receive a text message asking me to confirm the appointment.

On the day of the appointment, I have to pass the Covid table test, where I’ve stopped checking off “shortness of breath” on the form because it upsets the intake person, and I’m tired of explaining that “shortness of breath” is WHY I’m being seen in the first place. Once in the waiting room, I’m called back for the usual weight, blood pressure, pulse ox, and other preliminary necessities before being returned to the waiting room for another half-hour, or three or four. At each step, I’m asked, “Can you tell me your date of birth?” By about the fourth time, I’m really tempted to say, “No I can’t. Just assign me one.”

Finally, I’m in an exam room, but there is still another hurdle to overcome. An ECG has been ordered. After asking me if I can tell her my date of birth, the technician has a difficult time getting one of the leads to work. Which makes me seriously doubt the accuracy of the readings on the machine when the perky twelve-year old PA, playing doctor in her pristine white coat, makes her appearance and says, “It looks like you have atrial fib, but I’m going to have the doctor look at this to be sure.” Um, could we just skip to the chase and let me confer with someone who’s had more medical training than I have? I wonder how much Medicare is being billed for her services.  She asks me if I’ve had any heart palpitations, to which I answer no. She asks if I’ve had any shortness of breath, to which I have to restrain myself from mentioning she might want to actually look at the chart for the reason I’ve been coming here for almost a year. Then she goes on to ask me if I want cardiac conversion, a procedure in which they attempt to shock my heart back into normal rhythm. She says this in the same manner that I am used to hearing, “Do you want fries with that?”

She seems baffled when I tell her I don’t know. What does she expect? “Sure, bring those paddles in and zap me with a few thousand volts. Oh, and can I have fries with that?” How about, “HECK no! Does anyone in their right mind WANT cardiac conversion?” How about, “Perhaps I should talk to the actual doctor, you know, the one who went to medical school, about the potential risks and benefits of this procedure?” She finally says, “I’ll just tell the doctor you’re undecided.” Yes, you do that. Just go away and get the doctor. And my order of fries.  

So, here I am again. I came to my appointment this morning hoping to be finally released from ever requiring the services of this office again, and now we are on to MORE SCARY PROCEDURES! I think I even heard the words, “pacemaker” in there somewhere. This is what I get for not smoking, watching my weight, and exercising! Let that be a lesson to you.