Last week, I told you about how I had to visit the cardiologist’s office and they recommended that I get a heart rate monitor. I had to move the 48 hour window for its placement to a weekend, because I would not be able to bathe while wearing it. Considering that it’s July and I have to go to work, the weekend would be more optimal.

I managed to arrive on time to my appointment, only to find the lobby’s big screen television tuned into Dr. Phil. I’m not a fan, and today’s episode was a classic reason as to why. It was a bizarre confrontation about child abusers, his guests were people who were close to the abusers, not the abusers themselves, since those folks were (thankfully) in jail. For me, it was tremendously uncomfortable to watch, especially the second segment where a mother forced her young son to kill his pet gerbil in a very violent manner.

What was worse was that a young father and his son were in the waiting room. The child couldn’t have been more than eight, and the volume of the television was so loud that it would have been impossible for him not to hear what they were discussing. It was clearly not appropriate for him.

When Dr. Phil was describing how the gerbil was killed, the child’s eyes met mine and widened. It was obvious that he was aware of what was being discussed, and now very uncomfortable with it. I gave him a sympathetic smile, then shook my head, as if to condemn the bad behavior. What else could I do? I felt like I was trapped in a bad social experiment.

Before I could say anything, or be more grossed out by the husband on the television now defending his wife’s abusive choices for their child, I was called back for my appointment. The woman who was placing my heart monitor was not the same frantic woman as before, but was a strange person in her own right. I noticed right away that she wouldn’t look me in the eye. She asked how I was doing, and when I said, “Just fine, thanks,” she absentmindedly said “You’re welcome.”

I guess if  had to put monitors on people all day, I’d have to have a certain level of detachment. It wouldn’t be an ideal work situation for me, as I have an aversion to touching people, and perhaps this was how she coped. She wiped the areas for the leads with a harsh alcohol pad, and it actually burned my skin a bit. She placed the leads without ceremony, five in total, and they were quite obvious after I put my shirt back on. Thankfully, I wouldn’t have to wear them to work, although we did plan on going out to dinner this weekend. Wardrobe choices would have to be smarter than usual to cover it up.

The first thing I noticed was that the leads had tremendously long cords attached to each. They weren’t easy to roll up and store, so eventually I ended up tucking them into my pants to keep them from catching on things. At home, the cats took their usual spots fighting for my lap. Each of them attempted to chew the cords as soon as they figured out they were there. This was going to be complicated.

The first night’s sleep was difficult. I normally sleep on my stomach, which was now forbidden. I kept getting up in the night to go to the bathroom, only to have to disentangle myself from the super long cords. Tucking them into my pajamas was uncomfortable and the pads where the leads were affixed began to itch terribly. Needless to say, I didn’t get much rest.

The weekend was much ado about nothing. I spent most of it chilling around the house. The second night’s sleep, followed by a very stupid decision to watch a horror movie before bed, was much more uncomfortable than the first night’s, and I awoke in a very foul mood the final day. My skin itched terribly under the monitor, and I often thought about just taking the damn thing off, readings be damned.

I counted down the hours until I could remove it. Finally, at 4:30 on Sunday, I was free. Ripping off the sticky pads was like removing a thousand band aids. I tried to do them quickly, but it was still very painful. The places where they had been were huge red squares coated in a weird sticky, slimy coating. I hadn’t realized the leads had some kind of gel on them, which left a gross residue on my skin.

There’s only been two other times in my life I have been this grateful for a shower. The other times being following camping/overnight outdoor activities where facilities were not available. The cruelest part of this ordeal was that the shower was there the whole time, and could not be had. As I toweled off, I felt human again, albeit one who had huge red squares on her torso. Still, I was free and have sworn I will never agree to another device such as this because it is such a giant pain in the ass.