Wednesday, March 23, 2011


CPET or Cardiopulmonary exercise testing is not that exciting. The idea is that a patient gets on a bike and pedals as hard as they can (or at a set level with increasing tension) until they cannot pedal any longer. At this point there are some figures worked out (RQ and anaerobic threshold to name a few) and the Dr has an enlightening moment about the cardiovascular status of the patient. This is the theory.

In reality this is what happens:

  • At 2:30 we start setting up the room. This involves switching gas cannisters and doing calibrations and generally setting up the equipment required.
  • At 3ish the patient shows up.
  • They get all wired up for sound, including sandpapering their skin and attaching ECG leads.
  • Preliminary flow volume loop and manual blood pressure is performed.
  • Patient sits on bike for 30ish minutes.
  • At 3:45 the Dr shows up. 
  • The patient pedals for approximately 4.32 minutes. Patient is exhausted from pedaling. It doesn't matter if the patient is 17, 40 or 80. They only ever last 4.32 minutes. Dr is always disappointed. 
  • We clean up the whole room and leave at 4:15. 
  • With the exception of one test last week where something exciting happened, and the Dr loved the test, and then decided the patient should go for an angiocath. Please note - nothing exciting actually happened during the exercise test. I think he pedaled for 5 or 6 minutes though.
I am honestly trying to not be negative about this all. But I can't. I don't like it. I find it all so rote. The same thing happens every day. Well there is a little variation. Today, for example, we had a lady forget her teeth in the plethysmography booth and then the next lady was a puker. A lot of people smell bad. Oh and the DLCO gas wouldn't work in one room so there was a lot of going back and forth between rooms. That's where the excitement ends.

Except for in my personal life, where the excitement keeps on going into the evening. I got home... and did laundry! After that I took a laptop to my grandparents and tried to teach them to use it. Futile! I don't know whose idea it was to give my grandpa a laptop (it wasn't from me, I was just delivering it) but imagine someone who has never turned on a computer in their life and also doesn't know what a mouse is and how it works. And then double it, because grandma needed in on the action too. 

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