My heart on paper

This week, I got the results of some heart tests I underwent. The thing is, I underwent them three years ago.

It had occurred to me in the past that I’d never received any results for these tests, but I simply assumed no news was good news. It turns out no news was lost news.

Well, that could have ended badly.

For a while there, weird things had been happening with my heart. Instead of going bum-ba-bum my heart would suddenly go bum-ba-bloop-OLÉ! This would trigger anxiety, or maybe it was anxiety that triggered my heart. Either way, one day I felt quite certain I was dying so I thought I’d get it checked. It’s amazing how quickly anything involving your heart will get you through the door, even if you do say, “It’s like my heart is making bubbles.”

By the time I was strapped into a heart monitor, though, months had passed, and by then I had made some lifestyle changes that essentially eliminated the problem. Yes, I healed myself. Who needs a doctor in Quebec! Oh wait: there are no doctors in Quebec.

So I didn’t feel particularly worried about not getting the test results because I knew that during the 18-plus hours I was wired into the monitor, my heart hadn’t gone aOOOga-aOOOga!, not even once. And in the end, the reported declared that I was “within the limits of normal,” which is the most any of us can hope for.

Nonetheless, learning that the results had been sitting unopened on some desk for three years was somewhat unsettling. What if something had been wrong? What if the report had read, “While we heard no evidence of arrhythmia, we did hear pan flutes, which suggests the patient may have satyrs”?

But just as unsettling was having my heart laid out before me on paper – my life reduced to pure mechanics, not some fluid, living entity but something that could be tabulated and analyzed. The report turned me into baseball stats.

Over a period of 18 hours and 43 minutes, my heart beat 83,203 times. During that time, there were 12 supraventricular beats. I don’t know what’s meant by supraventricular beats but if I ever release a hip hop album that’s going to be the title.

My overall heartbeat was 74 beats per minute. That’s average. That’s so average it’s boring. When it comes to your heart, boring is good. You don’t want bells and whistles in your heart. Or in your stomach either, so keep those small objects away from children.

My lowest heart rate was 49. This occurred at 4:25 a.m., and considering I was sleeping with wires glued to my chest, I’d say that’s fairly impressive, though I suspect that if I was hairy up front my rate would never have gone below 82.

My heart peaked four hours later at 133 beats. What was happening that Thursday morning to get my heart so excited? Was someone yelling at me at work? Was I yelling at someone? Had my morning coffee just kicked in? Was there dancing that morning? Was one of my co-workers laying down some sick supraventricular beats? Or was I back at the hospital having those suction cups ripped off my nipples? Timing-wise, this last possibility is actually feasible.

But my heartbeat box score didn’t tell the whole tale. What else, I wondered, got my heart going that day? Did I stick my foot in a rubber boot and feel something and scream like a girl, even though it turned out to be not a dead mouse but a ping pong ball? I can’t recall.

Did I hover around my 74 average most of the 18 hours? Was I really that calm three years ago? In my journal, I could find only the following entry two days prior: “A fun game to play is to watch little kids playing baseball and imagining they’re actually stoned.” So I think it’s safe to say I was in a healthy head space.

Did my heart jump that day? Did it skip a beat? Did it sing? Soar? Break? Ache? Whisper? Was it like a wheel? Did it want what it wants?

As fascinating as it was, my heart report was limited. It couldn’t tell me much beyond the mechanics of my day. It could inform me that my heart beat 83,203 but it couldn’t reveal how many beats I have left. It couldn’t tell me much about my soul.

Or maybe that’s in a separate report. Maybe it’s sitting on someone’s desk too. I hope it’s good news…


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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46 Responses to My heart on paper

  1. byebyebeer says:

    I used to have skipped beats all the time and still occasionally get them when I sleep too little. I went so far as to visit the doctor and make plans to wear a monitor, but something came up (think it was crappy insurance) and somehow 8 years have passed.

    “A fun game to play is to watch little kids playing baseball and imagining they’re actually stoned.” Ha! This did my heart good to read. I’m playing this game soon.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Eight years passing sounds like good odds it ain’t no thang, but you should probably follow up for peace of mind. I still get them but only rarely. I find a good cough reboots the system. Seriously.
      Try that game; it’s dope.

  2. pinklightsabre says:

    Kind of epic energy, here. Seems you got your groove on since that time in Maine. I was going to ask about your heart in our last email and now I don’t have to. Still this leaves me wanting MORE.

  3. So – what was someone’s ‘explanation’ that you didn’t get your results? Good thing they didn’t find out that you have a vampire heart (that sparkles). But overall, it’s good to hear your heart is boring.

  4. Twindaddy says:

    Good to know you have a normal heart. Down here, they only call you if the test shows something abnormal. “If you don’t hear from us in the next 3-5 days, you’re good,” they say. That’s great doc, how long will it take for my fingernails to come back after I’ve bitten them all off??

  5. I recognized your problem immediately with the “olé” detail. I’m sorry to report that you suffer from “corazon de frijoles.”

  6. franhunne4u says:

    why can’t I like a comment on your site? I love that “corazon de frijoles” “diagnosis” 😀

  7. My bone density scan results went AWOL for a while, but heart? That’s not cool. Even given you live in Quebec.

  8. Carrie Rubin says:

    Three years for the result?! That’s horrible. I always tell my patients to call if they don’t hear back about a test result within a few days, just in case we dropped the ball and didn’t call with the results. As they did in your case. Yikes! But hey, you got a blog post out of it. 😉

  9. markbialczak says:

    Nothing quite like being told three years later — only because you forced the janitor to look in a forgotten pail — that your heart is ”within the limits of normal.” Tell me that doesn’t sound like the phrase it took 12 lawyers 10 days to agree upon as the least sue-able language they could come up with for heart result letters.

    Did somebody also tell you the delay was your fault, Ross, because you didn’t check the box that said “My heart is like a wheel, let me roll it to you.”

    Seriously, I’m quite glad that you had healed yourself in the interim. Magic Man!

  10. ksbeth says:

    i’m sorry your heart is boring. glad your heart is ticking.

  11. javaj240 says:

    Your life reduced to a series of numbers — now you now how thw average baseball player feels 🙂

  12. Perhaps your heartbeat spiked too 133 bpm because you hit “publish” on another of your spectacular blog posts.

    Do you know who doesn’t have these problems? YOUNG PEOPLE.

  13. Ned's Blog says:

    Now I’m thinking I should call about those colonoscopy tests I took eight years ago. Hopefully there won’t be any mention of supraventricular beats in the report anywhere. Although my lifestyle was a lot crazier then with the new Mexican place in town.

    In all seriousness, though, I’m glad you made the changes you needed for the sake of your heart. Would’ve hated losing you before you had a chance to cut your hip-hop album. Stay well.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Yesterday afternoon, our school took part in our annual Terry Fox Run. (Wikipedia the brother if you want a terrific tail. Considered among the greatest Canadians — and he failed. Something very Canadian about that.) I’m not a runner but I run this every year because I remember Terry Fox and his story touches me at a deep level. All I could think of running was, “If there’s a god of irony, I’ll drop dead any minute now.” Thankfully, no.
      And thanks, Ned.
      – MC Ross Da Boss

      • Ned's Blog says:

        Never heard of him before now. I Wiki’d him and know I won’t forget him. I think “failed” (as I’m sure you do, also) is a relative term in this case. I think there are definitely people put her for a short while to have a lasting impact. The fact that the Terry Fox run is now the largest fundraising event for cancer research is pretty staggering (and no, that’s not a reference to your running.)

        Speaking of irony, I just saw that researchers have developed a treatment for Fox’s form of cancer that makes it highly curable now. It was posted 3 hours ago, so it’s “breaking” news I thought I’d pass along.

        Talk about irony, right?

        The fact that running for this cause and the man it commemorates says a lot about your character, Ross — and nothing I didn’t already figure out for myself.

        Cheers, my friend.

        — 2-White-2-Rap

        • rossmurray1 says:

          Character, the power of individual, it really does matter. The part two of the story is a kid named Steve Fonyo; he completed Terry’s run. But he seemed like a punk, an opportunist, and in the end, he kind of was. It’s not just the acts we do but the reasons.
          I visited his statue in Thunder Bay two years ago. Very moving. I referenced it in my first Freshly Pressed post:
          Aside: As we were going into the Terry Fox building, Abby read a sign: “Hours of Operation 9:00 to 7:00.” She cried, “They do operations here?!?”

          • Ned's Blog says:

            True: without the right intention, even the most selfless act still ends up being selfish.

            And I look forward to reading your first FP after my deadline today.

            There’s no correlation between those last two statements, just so we’re clear.

            Abby… she’s got to be a fun one!

  14. I’d be a very bad doctor for several reasons. (I don’t like blood or sick people for example.) If I found a long-lost normal heart report, I’d be tempted to file it away in order to avoid an awkward conversation about why it took so long to share the results.

  15. Paul says:

    Good Afternoon Mr. Murray:

    We here at the firm of McLaughlin, McLaughlin, Stanhope, and LaPierre bring to you the very best wishes of the Season . Our client, Read-Your-Heart Quebec Inc., has asked us to contact you on their behalf. It has come to their attention that the heart test results you so recently received may not, in fact, be your results. It seems that quite coincidently. a young gentleman in Shanghai, a Rang Mohammed, had his heart read at the same time as you did. Because his initials were the same as yours, your readouts were inadventantly switched due to absolutely, positively, withoutadoubt no fault of our client. We here at the firm of McLaughlin, McLaughlin, Stanhope, and LaPierre specialize in acts of God and it is our finding that this case falls solidly into that category – for which you have no legal recourse. In fact it was your responsibliity to contact our client for your results and they are in no way to be held liable for your inability to do so for over three years.

    It was out of the sheer goodness of our client’s heart that they sent you those results when you failed to call. In fact our clients are considering a law suit for damages to their reputation incurred when you blogged about the delay. Meanwhile, we have been unable to locate Mr. Mohammed in Shanghai who has the only copies of your heart data. We here at the firm of McLaughlin, McLaughlin, Stanhope, and LaPierre suggest that you make an appointment at your local Read-Your-Heart Quebec Inc. outlet to have your test redone. You will be billed for the retest in 12 easy monthly installments so you will hardly miss the money. Please be aware that this time there will be a value-added charge if you fail to call within a reasonable time period.

    We would hope that you will not forget to call for your retest results this time as it was a great inconveniece to our client to have to maintain the results for 3 years waiting for you. I regret to inform you that the quick turnaround time of your last results is unlikely to be reproduced. Your minimum wait will be 4 years and unless you change your initials our client will not be held responsible for sending the improper data to you.

    In closing, we at the firm of McLaughlin, McLaughlin, Stanhope and LaPierre and our clients at Read-Your-Heart Quebec Inc wish you and yours the very best wishes of the Season and many happy returns in the New Year.

    Yours most caringly,
    McLaughlin, McLaughlin, Stanhope and LaPierre

    On behalf of Read-Your-Heart Quebec Inc

  16. pieterk515 says:

    I love those treadmill tests don’t you?

    Especially being 40 and you start panting like a hippo on Viagra after only two minutes. (Sorry I just read a post about dirty books) And once you realise that you sound like a forty year old you try your best to hide the fact that your a 40-year-old, only to risk passing out for trying to control your breathing unnaturally. And all this for the person who is taking down the results are 27. And blonde. And busty.


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