Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I went to the doctor and came home wired to blow

I went to the Doctor today. Just a checkup, and so far everything is looking good. Of course, I do have to go back for a follow-up tomorrow, because what would a good checkup be if it weren't a 2 day production?

The reason I have to go back is because I'm wearing an incredibly silly piece of equipment called an ambulatory electrocardiography device. For those of you who don't habla Espanol, that's doctor for "Holter monitor." I currently look like the Matrix just gave birth to a suicide bomber. In fact, my Doctor's only instructions were, "Don't get it wet, and don't go near any airports." Yikes. I have to assume there is precedent for both.

The dumbest part about this scenario is that there's nothing wrong with me. The Doc actually marveled at the health of my heart -- apparently a seated heart rate of 47 is Lance Armstrong outstanding -- and asked if I run marathons. Life ain't a track meet, Doc, you know this. "But Schiff," you might be saying, "if you're perfectly healthy, why are you strapped to a half dozen electrodes monitoring your heart's every flit and flutter?" Why, what a verbosely poignant question of you to ask. Allow me to explain.

The reason I am subjecting myself to this 24-hour human lab test is because way back in the fall of 2008 I was battling random bouts of lightheadedness that would come and go without warning or accompanying systems. I took all the requisite test at my hometown doctor in Jersey and of course came through with flying colors. I'm the marathon man, remember? However, in the spirit of being thorough, my doctor suggested that I wear one of these things for 24 hours, just to see if anything comes up. I sat on that suggestion for the next 5 months, until the Doctor today gave me his glowing review of my heart. "Interesting to hear you say that, because as a matter of fact, just a few months ago I was told that my heart needs to be monitored for 24 straight hours with an ungainly belt," I replied. "Well then, let's get you strapped in!" said Herr Doctor. You know what happened after that.

The thing that I find funny about all this is that while I know I'm in fine shape, because I have the Holter monitor on, I feel like I should be in pain. As though if I'm not in extreme discomfort, I'm wearing this thing all for nothing. Or because I, a fully healthy individual, am walking around looking like a human extension cord, some crusty old geezer with a legitimate arrhythmia is not receiving the sufficient care he needs. This of course makes no sense, but in my twisted mind it stands to reason that if I'm recording every heartbeat for 24 hours, it should be because I'm experiencing some discomfort worse than the tugging of the electrodes on my chest hair (not that this isn't excessively annoying).

One final note on the Holter monitor. After the nurse got me all outfitted, she handed me a little pamphlet with a chart and told me to jot down every single thing I do during the next 24 hours in detail. Here is a direct quote from the instructions:

"For anything you do during this procedure, sitting, eating, taking medication, walking, strenuous exercise, smoking, bowel movements, urinating, sexual intercourse, etc. . ."

Apparently a Holter monitor is also the most fun medical device ever invented. Considering that smoking, shitting, and sexing were all listed among the things you must record in detail if you do them while wearing the Holter, it seems logical to me that these activities and others like them are not discouraged at all, but rather quite noteworthy. And it is in that spirit that I will take to the streets tonight and pretend to give a shit about St. Patrick's Day with thousands of my best fake-Irish friends.

Speaking of which, we're gonna need a little drinking music. The Ting Tings aren't quite Irish, but they're from the UK, they're on Jimmy Fallon tonight and -- would you look at that -- they're on the bill for Bonnaroo 2009. You knew them before you knew you knew them. If you don't believe me, watch this iPod commercial (which probably burned a hole in your ears for months last year), then feast your ears on three of their bouncy pop singles that you probably know already without even realizing it. 85 days til the 'Roo!

Ting Tings

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