I wore the heart monitor for ten long days, just like I was instructed. I slept with it. I ate with it. I watched an excessive amount of TV with it. It's basically the longest and most healthy relationship I've ever had. If it could have provided Bob and Cathie grandchildren there would have been pretty much nothing left to look for in a lifelong companion.

But like all relationships I've ever known, the time came for me to take it back to the doctor last Thursday.

I turned it in. Then, like I was a rat in a lab, they hooked me up to 1,000 other pieces of equipment and had me lay down on table so they could do another what the kids are calling "EKG" which has still not really been explained to me using words I've learned.

Then, still hooked up to eleventy million things, they had me get on a treadmill half naked and run while a monitor showed what was happening with my heart. This was miserable, but also sort of interesting because I felt like I was on an episode of House.

We finished the treadmill tests and I, dripping with sweat, was told to wait. On the way out of the room I heard one nurse say to another nurse, "his EKG is really abnormal--I'll be curious to hear what the doctor thinks after this."

It was the last thing I wanted to hear. I still have no idea what an EKG is supposed to look like or why mine is abnormal, but they keep telling me about it in the same voice Bob and Cathie used to tell me that my baby blanket, which I had named "Gigi," ran away to play with other children who needed it more. AND I WAS NINE.

I sat in the room, alone, battling competing concerns between anxiety over finding out that I was too unhealthy to finally compete in this Ironman race that I have now been training for for basically four years and the general concern that something might be seriously wrong with me, notwithstanding the Ironman. All during this, I scrolled through my phone to answer some work emails that came through during the treadmill test, feeling the never-ending work related anxiety that ended up eating much of my coming weekend.

Then the doctor showed up.

Doctor: Eli, I think you have a very strong heart.

Eli: Oh no you don't. What about all of this EKG talk? I have basically been told that if my EKG becomes any more abnormal they'll have to switch the letters around to describe mine.

Doctor: First of all, that doesn't make any sense--

Eli: I'm nervous! My game is off right now, ok?!

Doctor: Second, your EKG is abnormal, but not in a way that concerns me.

Eli: How is abnormal not concerning? Is this one of those "you're not limited, you're special" things?

Doctor: No. Your heart marches to the beat of a slightly different drum. But that's ok. This is one of those things.

Eli: Gotcha. Like how it's ok when I dance on crowded elevators.

Doctor: No.

Eli: Ok, Mister Doctor. Or do I call you Doctor Mister? Which one is supposed to come first? Or are you one of those cool doctors who's all like, "just call me 'Ralph'?"

Doctor: You can call me Doctor.

Eli: On the phone?!

Doctor: Huh?

Eli: I can call you on the phone?!

Doctor: Definitely not.

Eli: Fine. Ok, Doctor. If my heart is "the most amazing thing" you've ever seen and "is as incredible" as my hair, then why am I having all of these heart racing and fainting problems?

Doctor: The finger quotes were inappropriate because I didn't say those things--


Doctor: but I'll answer the question anyway. I think two things are happening. I think you have probably had some electrolyte problems after long workouts and this has not helped your fainting and lightheaded problem.

Eli: So I should eat a lot more Ben & Jerry's strawberry cheesecake ice cream with extra whipped cream?

Doctor: For the last time, no. That is not my recommendation.

Eli: You are the worst doctor ever.

Doctor: But, Eli, I think your bigger problem is stress. I think you are still having panic attacks. And based on the fact that you are currently responding to an email as I say this, it seems to me that you still haven't figured out a way to relax and calm yourself down.

Eli: Sorry? Did you say something?

Doctor: My recommendation to you is to pay attention to your electrolytes AND CALM DOWN.

Eli: Fine. But I have one more question.

Doctor: I know I don't want to hear it, but go ahead.

Eli: How many doctors does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Doctor: Several. If it has health insurance.

Eli: Oh. So you've heard this one.

~It Just Gets Stranger