Echo, no bunnymen

  I was up at 6am today, there were no bunnymen. There were no rabbits of any kind or if there were I couldn’t see them because it was too foggy.

I did have an echo though.

I’ve never had one of these before but predictably it involves more adventures in the stripping one’s clothes off for complete strangers category.  I’m sure there’s a name for this kind of thing and it’s possibly deemed deviant behaviour when money changes hands. Fortunately my state of undress was purely for medical purposes however it dawned on me today that my bare carcass has been viewed by more strangers in the last 6 months than people who are supposed/allowed to see it in my entire lifetime.  There’s probably a name for that too.

So the echo. It was nothing like yodeling in the Swiss Alps but it was extremely fascinating.  With a small ultrasound wand it’s possible to look inside the heart. The ventricles and valves are all clearly visible and I found the level of detail quite astonishing.  Even more amazing is the way the sonographer can use different imaging and measurement techniques to assess the blood flow and check the ejection fraction all in a painless and non-invasive manner. (Anything that doesn’t involve the use of needles is a good thing in my book).

Echocardiogram images – clever stuff.

Ejection fraction is the volume of blood pumped by the heart and today they were checking my left ejection fraction to ensure it’s sufficient to start herceptin in a few weeks.  I now have a dedicated sonographer who will check up on me every 12 weeks. It’s good to know that in spite of NHS funding issues, critical care such as cardiac monitoring is still being given the focus it deserves – for my sake and everyone elses.  My local NHS Trust needs a £9m loan this year and the powers that be are dragging their heals over it.  The Trust has to save £50m by 2015 and blames this issue on the rising cost of drugs and people living longer… perhaps we should reintroduce workhouses in an attempt to stop this awful scourge of people living longer??   Forgive me if I am confused but I thought the whole point of better medicine was to enable more of us to live longer, healthier lives.

I won’t know the results of the echocardiogram until I meet the oncologist again next week. I was pleased to see a fairly regular looking heart on-screen, the valves are where they should be and seemed to open and close properly. From my novice point of view everything looked as it ought to and a reasonable amount of blood seemed to be flowing in and out. Except when the sonographer told me to breathe out and hold for what seemed like an age….  blue is not a good look for me 😉


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