A Heartbeat Away from a Hot Dog | Sojourners

A Heartbeat Away from a Hot Dog

Funny business by Ed Spivey Jr.
Illustration by Ken Davis

WHAT BETTER MOMENT to have a medical stress test than during this most stressful of times. Yes, there have been other stressful periods in our nation’s history. For our “greatest generation,” it was Pearl Harbor. For their children, it was the last episode of Seinfeld. (Yes, we’re shallow, but it’s not our fault. We baby boomers were over-loved by the greatest generation. So shame on them!)

But nothing compares to living on the brink of war, with a planet on fire, and no confidence in our leadership (especially after my sweet dream about President Martin Sheen). These days, one wonders why stress tests are given in a medical office when mine could just be in the kitchen, where physicians could simply monitor me as I read the morning newspaper. An EKG tracking my rage sweats before I get to the sports page could be useful in determining a treatment plan, which should include at least switching to a monthly newspaper subscription, if there is such a thing.

But when, in the course of human events, you get chest pains, you do what the doctor tells you. Which is get on a treadmill. It seems odd that, in this age of technological innovation, such a crude and simple contraption still provides the best window into one’s cardiological health. And the doctor’s procedures are similarly tedious and unchanged. I start walking at a comfortable pace, then the doctor increases the speed, then a little more, and a little more. Then the angle is increased, then a little more, until I’m gasping for breath and convinced of one thing: This doctor is trying to kill me.

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