Stress test

I had a stress test today.

I thought they were going to get me into a  room and say stressful things like “We just got a phone call. Your house had burned down.”  Or “The Income Tax dept. called wanting to see your records for the last twenty years.”

Instead, they hooked me up to a bunch of electrodes. I thought they were going to electrocute me. “Make it quick”, I said. “I don’t want to suffer.”

“You must be really anxious about this test,” the technician said. “Your blood pressure is 1 gazillion over a million.” That made me nervous.

She turned on the machine. My soles had sticky sap on them from the Fir tree outside my garage. They stuck to the treadmill.

“Help!” I said. I was hanging onto the wooden bar for dear life while the machine tried to turn me into Plastic Man.

“Walk,” she said. “Walk.”

“The gum,” I wheezed. It did no good.

She turned the machine up. Faster, faster, higher, faster.

My heart hit 133. She turned off the machine. I was only on stage 2. Never even got close to stage 3. I could have done better without the gum.

“Let’s do it again,” I said, “in my sock feet.”

“Your chart looks fine,” she replied. “You’ll hear from your family doctor in a week.”

I could have avoided this by not telling my GP that I got short of breath hiking up McInnis Rise to my house. McInnis Rise, if it was in Europe, would be one of the Alps. To buy groceries, I have to walk up the rise to the top, then down, down, down until I get to the corner of Cook, Cloverdale and Qaudra, then risk my life sprinting across the corner where all streets converge.

On the way back, I have one bag of groceries. I feel like a Sherpa in Nepal. Sometimes, I have two bags of groceries. I feel like two Sherpas in Nepal. There was a time when I would have run up this road. With the groceries. Those were the days of rock climbing, hiking, folk dancing. My idea of exercise nowadays is lifting my cup of coffee.

I got home and exercised my arm by using a large cup full to the top but the treadmill haunted me. What if, instead of those little blips on the chart, the line had been flat? What if she’d looked at the chart and said, “You may not know it but you’ve been dead for some time.” That sort of thing.

I went to Playfair Park and walked around it three times. So there. It’s a start.

The problem is inertia and cookies, inertia and puddings, inertia and ice cream. Occasionally, inertia and chocolate bars.

Tomorrow, I promise, I will, absolutely, go for that walk around Playfair Park again. For sure. No matter what. Every day. Rain or shine.

And buy a heavier coffee cup.

(You know this isn’t me. He’s got hair. He’s young. He’s good looking. I can’t imagine why he’s taking a stress test. )