A Stress Test

Stress at a plane with an arbitrary orientatio...

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Our entire summer could easily qualify as pushing the emotional boundaries, but aside from a few ER trips and a two nighter at the hospital, it hasn’t pushed me physically over the edge.

During the years I took care of my late husband, solo-parented and held a full-time job as a middle school teacher, I regularly broke physical stress limits.

I averaged 5 hours of sleep a night, worked out sporadically and ate just as haphazardly. When the body protested – and it manifested its displeasure vehemently – I ignored it.

“Suck it up, Buttercup.” Was my response. And for the most part it did and gave me what I wanted.

Today the old bag of bones is not so willing.

Less than 7 hours of sleep?

I don’t think so, says the body. We will now be sick.

Seriously, my body goes on strike if it is asked to do anything even remotely reminding it of days of yore.

So, this summer’s events have really only pushed my emotional buttons and redirected my thoughts to dark places I remember but have no real interest in revisiting.

This morning the phone rang. And rang. And rang.

Not quite 9:30 and I was still in bed.

Vaguely I recalled Rob getting up earlier and wondered why he wasn’t picking up, so I scrambled across to his side and grabbed the receiver from the nightstand.

“Hello,” I wheezed.

“May I speak with Robert?”

Robert is official. Someone who has business with him calls him “Robert” whereas telemarketers ask for him with a “Mr” followed by a rather East Indian pronunciation of our last name.

“Hang on,” I tell the woman as I scramble into my robe and head down the stairs to hunt up my husband.

He is nowhere but Dee is in the kitchen getting her breakfast.

“Where are the waffles?” she asks.

“Where’s Dad?” I reply.

“Oh, I haven’t seen him,” she tells me.

I have sent her out to the garage to look for him before I remember he had a doctor appointment in town.

“May I take a message,” I ask.

“This is a reminder about his stress test tomorrow with Dr. La at the crack of dawn,” and she begins to ramble off instructions for preparation.

“What?” I interrupt. “He has an appointment tomorrow? I thought it was this afternoon. No one told us about tomorrow.”

“Yes, ” clearly she is annoyed. She is a robo-receptionist and I am asking questions that prevent her from merely vomiting information and moving on to the next patient call on her list. “well, today is the rehab intake and tomorrow is the stress test.”

Which tells me all of nothing and it par for the Canadian medical experience course. In fact, I think the motto of Alberta Health is “information is for the professionals; just listen and obey”.

“He should take all his medication as usual, eat a light breakfast, dress appropriately as he will be on the treadmill and refrain from smoking prior to the test.”


When Rob got home, I told him about the appointment.

“Oh, it’s probably about my back to work release,” he said. “What time do I have to be there?”

“Dawn, more or less.”


We live outside of the city, an early morning appointment – factoring the rush hour means everybody up and ready with the sun – or there ’bouts.

“That’s pretty early for you and Dee,” he remarked. “Assuming you are coming along.”

“I was planning to. Don’t you want me there?”

“Well, yeah, just in case I drop dead it would probably be a good idea.”

“I wish, ” I replied, ” I could say that it hadn’t occurred to me that you might die, but it totally did.”

Why? I mean people take stress tests every day and mainly survive. My near 80 year-old mother just had one in the spring and emerged just tired.

Rob’s late brother-in-law, however, dropped dead after his.

I suppose that’s what they mean by “context”.

I reminded again by all this that I haven’t cried. Teared up once at the hospital the day of the angioplasty when they “lost” Rob for about an hour, but haven’t cried.

It’s like I am waiting for something to cry about because, as it’s been pointed out to me, nothing awful has happened to me.

And the point has been taken. So I suck it up like the Buttercup I am.

6 thoughts on “A Stress Test

  1. As I read this, I could only think back to a visitation I once went to. The family had just lost a loved one that was way too young to die. The illness and death were tough on both the daughter and mother. I can’t imagine them going through something similar again. I hope everything turned out ok.

    1. Rob is doing really well, but it was a sobering experience. Lifestyle changes are underway and reassessing of goals.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope things are well with you. I see you sometimes on FB via SarahK.

  2. love the graphic, but to really capture what you’re dealing with needs 3-dimensions. perhaps 4, if you can model it over time… hoping that all goes well, from the early morning wake up call to the whole ‘not dying’ thing….

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