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Testing, Testing

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

By Paul Willgoss

"You’re looking forward to that test..."

An immortal line from my manager, as I sent her the dates of the 24-hour ECG and the cardiac MRI, and bemoaned the lack of a date for my exercise test.

My cardiologist is doing what they all should do and is checking a marginal difference in my pulmonary valve and ventricles from last year. The changes are being set against the fact that I’ve run my two fastest marathons this year, and knocked a chunk of my course time for my favourite ultra.

Real life isn’t like an episode of House, so I’m being sent for a series of tests over a six-month period, to see what’s going on and whether it’s anything to worry too much about. For me the series of tests will be treated as they normally are as an opportunity to test the system under controlled and/or measured conditions. The MRI there is nothing I can do, apart from lay back and think of England.

The 24-hour ECG I use to test out my favourite sports, and my cardiac response, so a walk, a hard series of climbs and the element the hospital finds most unusual—a 5-mile jog back to get it taken off. Just for fun I’ll even throw in some meetings with people who irritate me, and a decent curry.

And then there’s the exercise tolerance test, on a static bike. I’m not a cyclist—the gears get in the way of me “feeling” the exercise (I know, I’m weird), so I’ve been trying things on the bike in the gym. The serious point is if you’ve never ridden a bike in a gym before you’re going to be nervous and may not perform normally. Remove as many unknowns as possible and the test should be a better reading…

So, 45 minutes on a bike. Yes, I manage to clunk my feet on the cross beam. Yes, my trial 45 minutes is greatly aided by Netflix, a fire tablet and a waterproof cover to keep my sweat off. Yes, I’m not sure that “ramps” setting is the best analogue. But I’m knocking out 14 miles so at the very least the test conditions shouldn’t freak me out.

So, to answer my boss’s question: "You’re looking forward to this test, aren’t you?"

Hell yes.


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