Too healthy

I visited Cary Cardiology as scheduled on May 10 to have a second echocardiogram, as requested by the cardiologist, Dr. Desai. I couldn’t remember which kind of test an echocardiogram is, but it turned out to be an ultrasound of the heart. This will enable Dr. Desai to measure my ejection fraction, which will help him decide what to do next. (The last time we spoke, he was leaning heavily toward getting rid of the defibrillator that I’ve been wearing since January 3.)

While I was there, I also had some blood drawn for various laboratory tests, and I received a phone call from a nurse today to let me know that the tests were all normal. She said that Dr. Desai hasn’t read my echocardiogram yet, but I can expect another phone call next week to tell me the results.

I got another phone call yesterday that was rather encouraging. I am on the mailing lists of a couple of research organizations in this area that run various studies using paid subjects. It’s a good way to pick up a little extra money while also contributing to medical research. My most recent one involved being a test subject for a new avian flu vaccine — one that has already been approved by the FDA, but they collecting information about side effects. I don’t know whether I received the actual vaccine or a placebo, but I didn’t experience any side effects.

Yesterday’s phone call was about another study for which I had filled out an online questionnaire. It was for heart failure (HF) patients. The call was to ask me a question that wasn’t included in the questionnaire: what class of HF do I have, according to my cardiologist? I wasn’t familiar with that term, so I had to ask for an explanation. It turns out that there are four classes of HF:

  • Class I: No limitation of physical activity. Ordinary physical activity does not cause symptoms of HF (shortness of breath, fatigue, or chest pain).
  • Class II: Slight limitation of physical activity. Comfortable at rest, but ordinary physical activity results in symptoms of HF.
  • Class III: Marked limitation of physical activity. Comfortable at rest, but less than ordinary activity causes symptoms of HF.
  • Class IV: Symptoms occur even at rest; discomfort with any physical activity. Unable to carry on any physical activity without symptoms of HF.

I told the researcher that my cardiologist had never mentioned a classification to me, but I undoubtedly have Class I HF. I described how I was almost certainly Class III when I was admitted to the hospital on December 29, but by the time I was released on January 3, I had none of the listed symptoms. She congratulated me on doing so well, and then said, “Unfortunately, that means you are too healthy to participate in this study.”

I can’t say that I’m disappointed. A little extra cash would be nice, but I would much rather be rejected because I’m too healthy.

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