Tuesday, September 12, 2006

on the plus side

this guy looks sort of like i did during my test, only not quite as good looking....

the friday before labor day i had my VO2 max/ekg/stress test thing at wash u medical school. it was the last evaluation for my breathing issue. it was pretty straightforward: take blood, get on bike, pedal against gradually increasing resistance, take blood again, pedal against gradually increasing resistance, etc. all this while hooked up to machines everywhere.

there were the ekg sticky pads on the chest attached to wires. the kind lady in charge had to shave some little holes in my hairy protective barrier on my chest. then there was the head band that was attached to some other device. also, the little monitor on my finger for O2 levels. lastly, but certainly not leastly, was the mask with the breathing tube along with the nose clip. i have to admit, i looked pretty professional.

well, i looked like a professional athlete who was being tested so that scientists could glean some sort of valuable information so the plebian athletes of the world could benefit from the information. in reality, i just wanted to know why i breath like wheezy joe in "intolerable cruelty".

all was good for the first 13 or 14 minutes. they used 30 watt jumps starting at some ridiculously low level. i was pretty happy keeping an average cadence of 85 or so. it was neat to see the wattage climb. they poked and proded as i went along. in the high 200's, i was lance armstrong. the way i felt, i could go to about 600 or so. the attending doctor, a cyclist himself, was pretty impressed, so were the nurses, who are used to seeing a high of about 90 watts from little old people with one lung.

then, around 315 watts, i didn't feel so good anymore. i kept going, knowing that feeling of "getting there" was coming. that was precisely the time the nurses decided more blood was needed. i was sweating like johan in a mountain bike race, so they had to wipe my wrist down to get to the artery. she missed it. oooooouuuuuch. again. ouuuuuch. all the while, i was reaching my limit. i had not much clue where it was because i was looking at the ceiling, trying not to think about the chinese fighting sword being shoved into my screaming wrist.

done. wet, drippy, sweaty, sticky electrodes everywhere and a big tube in my mouth held there with a neoprene mask not unlike the winter face masks some people use. i was glad that was over.

fast forward to today, the evaluation of the test with my doctor. his name is dr. warren isakow. he is one of, if not the, best doctors i have ever had the pleasure of speaking with. why? because he took the time to listen to, and answer, every one of my ludicrous questions.

on the plus side, my wattage at VO2 max was 356. not nearly as bad as i thought. that was at 162 bpm. i can live with that. (especially if i lost about 15 pounds) on the down side, nothing in the test was out of bounds. the only issue that could be derived from the pages of data was the dip in my breathing test. it's the graph created by breathing in super fast and out super fast and hard. it shows a little physical blockage, but still above normal overall.

"you are a very fit man," was his comment. "your problems don't seem to be coming from your lungs."

fatigue? age? too active of a lifestyle? yes.

alrighty then.

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