The search continues for the root cause of my long-standing high blood pressure. So, today, we got up early(ish) for another trip to Methodist Hospital. Which is, apparently, part of the New York Presbyterian Healthcare System. Which makes sense, I suppose, given that there is such a thing as Calvinistic Methodism. Apparently, Calvinistic Methodists constitute the congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Wales. So, Methodist Hospital is like having a tiny part of Wales in Park Slope. Sort of.
According to its website, “[t]he story of New York Methodist Hospital goes back to the 1880s, when the Rev. James Monroe Buckley, having lost a dear friend in a tragic accident, persuaded the Methodist Church to build a hospital in Brooklyn.” On that history page, there’s also a short (four minute) video about the history of the hospital, which starts rather interestingly, before losing its way with possibly the worst roller-coaster metaphor ever, discussing the rising income and aspirations of Brooklynites over a backdrop of the Cyclone plummeting towards the ground.
Another odd aspect of the video is that it celebrates 125 years of the hospital, notwithstanding being made, it would seem, 126 years after Methodist’s foundation. I’m guessing this is meant, somehow, to represent the rigmarole and wait involved with checking in for an ECG. Yes, for this morning’s examinations, I had a transthoracic echocardiogram (“TTE”), and some blood taken for further tests. Doesn’t a transthoracic echocardiogram sound awful? If one goes to the relevant wiki page, as we did when my script indicated I was being sent for a TTE, it doesn’t put the mind to rest: “[in a TTE,] the echocardiography transducer… is placed on the… thorax of the subject, and images are taken through the chest wall.” Sounds vaguely horrific, doesn’t it? After that, the next sentence, about how a TTE is “non-invasive, highly accurate and quick” seems to be trying too hard to be reassuring. But, really, it wasn’t so bad; it was, in fact, a standard ECG (for anyone who’s had one). And, since the tech had a student accompanying her, I could listen in to their chat. Not only was it devoid of gasps of horror, much of the conversation seemed to center around my poor, still-beating heart looking pretty normal.
The taking of the blood was also uneventful, with a decent vein located and pierced, and a handful of vials filled, in fairly short order. Not all aspects of being Scottish, it would seem, are unconducive to getting through a hospital visit:
I even got treats on the way home, in the form of a cream puff, a latte and a Doctor Who magazine from the Barnes and Noble. A good morning, all in all, even if there is something about checking in for a hospital appointment that does seem to militate against the stroke or hypertension patient. As a stroke patient, I found it confusing and anxiety-inducing. As a hypertension patient, I find it stressful. Hmmm, maybe we’re getting to the root of the problem….
Another relatively enjoyable — in fact, more so — hospital trip (yep, my life seems to revolve around medically-related trips these days) took place on Thursday evening, when Beth and I headed up the the Weill Cornell Medical Center on the Upper East Side. It was nice to see a bunch of The Young Stroke Survivors, and we heard interesting presentations on upcoming clinical trials and the latest antics of the NYC Outdoors Disability group. Many of the clinical trials centered around hand and hand/arm mechatronic rehabilitation devices. Or, for you Whovians out there, cyber-technology.
I’ve enjoyed learning about this sort of stuff since the first time I was hooked up to Bioness devices at the beginning of my rehab at Rusk. The first of these shot an electric current into my muscles to help me pick up my left toes. Another basically helped my left leg make the movements to pedal a stationary bike I’d been lashed to. I also enjoyed what appeared to be a Dance Dance Revolution game for stroke patients. All in all, as a sci-fi fan, the idea of a rogue physical therapist with a joystick taking control of me and directing my helpless limbs out of the hospital and down the street was perversely appealing.
Anyway, certain of the clinical tests focus on hand and hand/arm robotic assistance. And they concentrate on isometric strengthening and motor control exercises in both the flexion and extension of digits. Or, if you prefer, video games. One about controlling hot air balloons, and another about firefighting. The other studies involved a Botox-style drug intended to provide temporary relief of tight muscles (spasticity relief) for twelve week periods, and a home study utilizing an elbow device intended to assist with bio-feedback to activate and release bicep and triceps muscles. It was an interesting night, and I learned a bunch of stuff I didn’t know about before, like how, exactly, a “double blind” drug study works. I didn’t necessarily fit the profile for many of the studies, but I signed up for a stroke registry database used to recruit for studies. I don’t want to miss out on any Six Million Dollar Man stuff.
<uplifting finish> But, oddly enough, I feel like a much improved guy in the wake of the stroke anyway. <end uplifting finish>