"Hmm. Your blood pressure is high. Do you get white coat syndrome?"
The air hisses out of the cuff.
"Ah, I don't know. Probably. You know what, I rushed around this morning to get here, so I am not really surprised."
He listens as I explain, still holding my arm. He reinflates the cuff.
"Hmm. Well, still high. My concern is really how high the diastolic is, you see, cause if it's always elevated then there's a chance that your left ventrical could hypertrophy. It's just something we need to watch for."
"Have you ever had an EKG?"
"I think it would be good to do one, just to get a baseline. Normally I would send you downstairs and get a nurse to do it, but since you're already undressed I'm just gonna run one right here."
He pulls aside my paper gown. I am completely naked. I stare at the ceiling as he sticks leads on my arms, my chest. I am starting to get cold.
"Ok, here goes. Just don't talk or move around until I let you know it's finished - I only hope we don't run out of paper."
Moments later I hear him tear off the strip.
"Ok, got it. Just give me a minute or two to look this over."
He sits at his desk, his back facing me. I sit up, tucking the gown around my thighs. I strain to see over his shoulder, but he's too far away. I give up and look around the room. After a couple of minutes pass in silence he swivels around in his chair.
"I need to send you for an echo."
"That doesn't sound good." I try to sound calm, "What is it?"
"Well, your EKG is abnormal."
Things started to get blurry at this point. I know he told me the strip indicates that I might have had some kind of cardiac event. He said that if I was an overweight older man, he would say I had had a heart attack or an ischemic event in my past, but that since,
"you are 31, fit, and thin, it's probably nothing."
"Am I going to drop dead?"
"No, no, I just want to play it safe. That's why I am sending you for the echo. Look, I like to be very thorough. I just think it's best to start with a clean slate, you know?"
It felt like one of those moments. The one you always look back on because it was 'the turning point'. The moment where everything changes. I have never been so aware of my heart. It feels broken. I am scared. I am afraid to go for a run, afraid to go to sleep.