Last week I had my annual let’s-see-how-bad-the-carotid-blockage-is-now test at the Health Plex on Tecumseh Road.
This year, my cardiologist opted for a CT scan with contrast.
The results must have been exciting because the very next day, the doctor himself called me to discuss them.
I’ve been getting these regular checkups for at least 12 years or longer. And each test only served to confirm both the original diagnosis and that there’d been no change.
Some years the test consisted of an ultrasound. Other years, we skipped that and went right to an MRA or CT.
And the results were always pretty much the same. An area of stenosis with blockage holding at 60 to 70 percent.
Initially, this alarmed me. But I was assured there’s more than one arterial route to get blood to the brain.
Well, this time the report came back at 80 percent blockage.
Hence the personal call from the doctor.
Eighty percent, it seems, is the tipping point at which we go from see-you-next-year to let’s-take-a-closer-look-from- the-inside-this-time.
I’m waiting on a call from his office to schedule an angiogram. This, the doctor tells me, is the “gold standard” of diagnostic tools to determine exactly how badly that blood flow to the brain is compromised.
And to assess stroke risk.
It could be I will need a stent to open up that bothersome carotid artery.
Or the angiogram could definitively disprove the CT scan results.
After explaining all this, the doctor asked if I had any questions.
Just one, I said. How much smarter did he think I would be with all that extra blood flow reaching my brain?
My sense of humor is kind of wonky sometimes. It took a few shocked seconds before he realized that wasn’t a serious question and then he laughed.
After all, you know what they say about laughter being the best medicine.