The Cardiologist carefully lifted and replaced the stethoscope onto each quadrant, front and back, before listening again to the front with eyes squeezed shut. The “lets give it a listen” full eye contact, and comforting smile disappear instantly.
The words pulse silently in my head, heart murmur, heart murmur, heart murmur a terrible triplet. A new symptom to add to the list. I watch the professional eyes open and then avoid; they never do meet my gaze again.
I want to scream at him. Go ahead asshole tell me. What you hear I see.
It is Poe printed in black bold on thick white cotton bond, this heart tells tales; See him sitting all day long, not moving, watching TV, waiting, see him dizzy, grabbing hold, holding on, see him on the floor, see his lips mumble his not quite conscious first words,
“I don’t want to live like this.”
Cardiologist looks down and away, at his chart, at the wall, says, “his EKG is abnormal,” holds it up, the paper with the squiggly lines held aloft.
…do I look like I can read electronic scrawl?
I silently dare him to look at me, he doesn’t.
Bad girl takes over, refuses to look away; see high-waisted khaki pants, a slight tuck to the left, buttons all done up tight, scrub faced always wears a white undershirt, tightie whities, faithful deck shoes awaiting a deck, a walking ad for L.L. Bean. Safe money says this is an only gets blow jobs on birthdays kinda guy.
Bad girl wants to swear just to see him jump. Big juicy swear words roll around and almost slip out.
He starts asking questions.
“Ever had swelling of your legs?”
“Oh years ago in Rome… I was” Griffy starts, only stopping to inhale as the story is lengthy an requires frequent oxygen intake to complete. I know the end of the story, but the cardio-boy will never hear it he has moved on to question two.
“Do you have shortness of breath?”
“Oh yes… why just today I was out of breath only walking to the chair and”
“Do you tire easily?”
So close …almost got that second answer fully out before the third was asked. Close but no cigar.
“Well I think you’ll need some further testing to exclude cardiac reasons for your fainting.”
“I’m sorry, ” I stammer. ” Isn’t Multiple System Atrophy and the related autonomic mal-functions that cause both high and low blood pressure the cause of Griff’s fainting?”
It is as though I wasn’t in the room. He looks right at Griff and says,
“A 70 % blockage would be enough to cause your symptoms, I recommend further tests.”
Cardiologist man then stands, opens the door, looks down the hall, and says, “you know how to get out of here? They’ll set you up at checkout with the appointments.”
Dr. Oz he isn’t.
“You do know he has MSA a degenerative neurological disorder than is chronic, progressive and fatal?” I add as I get up and start to wheel Griff out.
There was no answer to the query.
First impression note for the field guide he is a silver-haired Tempe Arizona frat boy who thinks waitresses belong beneath him and always put out.
Honey, you are quickly becoming a walking cliché’ … Remember No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Thanks Eleanor, but really this place would piss off Gandhi.
“See the blue light? its right, then another right, down the hall to the blue light, then straight on til you see checkout Take care.” as he disappeared in the opposite direction.
“Blue light?” I hiss. What the fuck is this a super fucking K-mart? Blue light special on aisle three. Blue Light?” I steam out, pushing Griff at a safe but speedy pace, his hair only gets a little bit tossed, we come to a stop at check out.
There isn’t room for the wheelchair in the checkout cubicle, its three by three, three sides, padded, convenient, with a high counter, and two over stuffed chairs in a blue that screams I’m supposed to make you feel comfortable and right at home !
News flash. Your chairs just piss me off.
I wonder if this place has ever heard of access for disabled persons.
All this is before she speaks.
“The doctor wants him to have a chemical stress test as soon as possible.”
“Excuse me? I thought we were referred for an echo cardiogram?”
She makes a fatal mistake by repeating her exact words in exactly the same manner only a hundred decibels louder.
The exchange continues.
“A stress test for a man who is unable to walk the 20 feet down the hall to the bathroom without passing out?” I ask.
“Can he get out of that chair?”
“Well then he won’t have a problem, can he lie down, lie still? ”
“Yes and yes”
“And did you come here for Dr….. ” here she pauses to look at the computer screen as there are no less than 12 attending cardiologist that frequent this lovely Cardiac Care Center. “yes, Dr. M, so you came for DOCTOR M’s advice correct? DOCTOR M-wants him to have a chemical stress test, then an echo.”
Griffy sits head a little tilted, face drawn. I have talked over him literally, and lost my cool, again.
He didn’t need this from me.
I take out the green book, my Dedicated Griffy Information Depository and open to write down the appointments.
It slips on the way out,
Griffy laughs, at least we have this.
If nothing else, I can still make him laugh.