When I was feeling okay, the woman came back and asked what I was having.
I told her I have a bad case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. She asked back “chronic fatigue?”. I told her again it is Chronic Fatigue SYNDROME. I was not having fatigue problem. She gave me the look. Clearly, she doesn’t know what it is.
So, I explained her that what just happened was Orthostatic Intolerance which is common with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, although it wasn’t confirmed for me yet. She asked the term again and written it on the paper.
She complained that my doctor didn’t mention anything about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on the referral letter. Since I’m very loyal to my doctor and trust his effectiveness, her comment annoyed me. Although I didn’t tell her, I know there is a reason if Dr TL didn’t put that in the referral.
When she came back to fetch me for the Stress Test, her attitude has slightly softened.
She took me to the room to do the Stress Test.
First, I sat on an exam table. Other nurse put ECG cables on me. The woman connected IV Saline to the IV line on my arm. The nurse checked my blood pressure.
Then, we all waited. The nurse and the woman were chatting to each other, I just looked at the ECG screen. Occasionally, it made a very strange drop in lines when I moved my head. Or, it could be temporary power failure…
After 10 minutes or so, the Cardiologist entered the room. He greeted me friendly with weak handshake. To my surprise, he didn’t have the arrogant air that many specialists carry with them. He had the atmosphere of everybody’s uncle.
We talked about the conditions and symptoms I have. The reason I was referred for the test was because of abnormal ECG. The Cardiologist asked about chest pain. He, then asked about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
The woman interrupted and complained that my doctor didn’t put anything on the referral. In my attempt of clearing his reputation, I told her a possible reason why he didn’t put Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the referral.
“Many doctors don’t take me serious when they see Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”
The Cardiologist interrupted this time. He gave me affirmative “No”, then explained that he takes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome seriously and he has many Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients. His sincerely surprised me.
I quickly added that my doctor is a good doctor, just in case they misunderstood. The Cardiologist told me that “T (my doctor) is a good man!” This comment also surprised me, and made me smile. He is the first specialist I’ve ever met who showed respect to GPs.
In my small world, cardiologist just became ME/CFS friendly specialist.
He kindly asked me again if my doctor is a good doctor. I responded with “he is a good doctor, patient, and enjoys challenges.” The Cardiologist was impressed by “enjoy challenges”.
Since he asked about my conditions, I informed that I also have asthma and COPD.
“COPD? But you don’t smoke…”
“It’s a result of passive smoking from childhood.”
He seemed impressed. (I told you my doctor enjoys challenges.)
The woman became very tame after this conversation.
Then, it was the time for the Stress Test. The Cardiologist asked me to take asthma reliever puff. I’m not used to taking the puff without spacer, he gave me instruction how to inhale it properly without spacer. Then, they helped me to sit on my wheelchair. Despite of earlier collapse, I was feeling okay. I assumed that IV Saline was helping me recovering quickly.
The Cardiologist asked me what happens if I walk. I told him the simplest version…, I would pass out. He didn’t say anything, but his reaction was like saying “that’s what I thought”. The woman added that I would pass out while sitting. He nodded to her.
I was still connected to ECG leads and IV Saline. The woman injected something into the IV line. She handed me two weights and told me to lift them continuously. I started. She told me to move faster. Well, I was doing my best…
My chest was burning and squeezing as if I was running marathon in full speed. The woman tells me move faster. Then, she told me to open my eyes. When I’m not well, it is hard to keep my eyes open. She told me not to sleep. I told her I wasn’t sleeping, it is because my muscles are getting weak. She then told me to tap my feet while lifting the weights. It was too complicated to do in such distressful situation. I couldn’t. Then, she told me to move my arms faster.
She injected other chemical to the IV line. It brought disgusting taste in my mouth and I breaths out the taste like a dragon shooting fire from its mouth.
I had to keep going for 3 minutes. At the half mark, it was so hard and I wanted to cry. My chest was burning and aching. My arms were getting weaker and shaking.
The Cardiologist cheered that I’m almost close to the end. I could have tea once this is finished.
Finally, I could stop. The woman took weights from my shaking and constricted hands. The Cardiologist monitored the ECG for another 3 minutes. He had a small voice recorder and whispered comments to it occasionally.
It was strange. I was in pains and discomfort as if I just finished marathon run, but I was not sweating at all or was not out of breaths.
He complimented the efforts of the woman and the nurse. Then, he complimented my efforts and said good-bye.
The woman took me back to the Nuclear Medicine for another scan. I told her that I had to settle my account with the receptionist before I go. She told me she would take me back once the scan is done. On the way, she asked how I was going home. She may have realised I’m very sick… I told her that community transport would take me home.
For some reason, I felt chill and couldn’t stop shivering.