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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Angels and Arm Pains

On the long drive home from West Palm Beach in January, a straight-through marathon of some 1500 miles and 26 hours that Valer and I drove while Shirl rode along sleeping, I heard the singing of Christmas carols in the sound of the tires.  I listened in my head to beautiful multi-part harmonies to "Angels We Have Heard on High," over and over for miles on end, much like the linked version, and other Christmas songs, as well.  I sometimes sang along.  I told Vali and Shirl about it.  "I am hearing the music of the spheres," I said.  "The voices of angels."

Then, while driving I had a couple of hours of upper arm pain. It was in my left arm, and it was an ache from my shoulder to my elbow, not a sharp pain, but deep, and persistent.

In late January I had a regular appointment with my endocrinologist (diabetes specialist), Dr. John Turco of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.  When he asked about any new symptoms, I mentioned that arm pain to Dr. T., who replied, "You can expect a call from your primary physician.  You are a 68 year-old diabetic with left arm pain, so you have heart disease, until proven otherwise."

I gave the good doctor a wry grin.  "I see," I said. "Fair enough."

So, that same day at noontime, the local clinic where Dr. Alan Rosen, my primary care doctor works, called and told me to come in by 2:00 PM.  Dr. Rosen had a resting EKG done in the office, which he said showed no change from my last one of two years ago, then scheduled me for a "stress echo" test at Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth.

Hence, last week I ran on the hospital's treadmill until my heart rate had doubled, then flopped onto my side to be scanned.  (Have to admit, lying on my side having my chest stroked by a buxom nurse was not all bad.  And when I made a remark to that effect, she said, "Yes, I tell my husband that I spend every workday in bed with strange men."  I loved her style!)

The results of the test came recently by mail, following their reading at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH's premier cardiac hospital.  Contrary to some reports, I do have a heart, and thankfully, it shows no signs of coronary artery disease.  The arm pain is still unexplained, but neither has it returned.

Maybe it just didn't like my singing.

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