Blood Pressure, My Doctors, and Me

Blood Pressure, My Doctors, and Me

I have a weird relationship with my doctors – they try to keep me alive, and I lie to them every six months, so they’d refill my prescriptions.  Avoid going to the doctor’s office is my mantra.  The reason?  I have been diagnosed with ‘White Coat Syndrome’, or better defined by my friend Sparkle as “you’re a pussy”. 

Who knew she had a degree in medicine. 

The last round of Syndrome happened because they screwed up my blood work and had to go back and give another sample.  Thought I was good, the week before gave blood and my pressure was a respectable one-forty over eighty.  I was good to go for the next six months (at least, I thought so).

The morning of my return, my pressure was even better, so walked in the office with all the confidence in the world.

Never leave me alone in a waiting room too long with my thoughts (and some very old copies of ‘Entertainment Weekly’).  Once in the examination room, my pressure skyrocketed.  On a second take, even higher; third time talk of going to the emergency room was bantered about (what do you expect, I have a Syndrome).

The emergency room was out of the questions, since my recent four-day vacation in the hospital was still very fresh in my mind (and wallet).

As I paced the small room, the doctor suggested I see a cardiologist, and back out to the waiting room I went.  After ten minutes of watching The Property Brothers on The Home and Garden Network (do doctors get a discount on this channel?  The same show was on every time I went to my eye doctor last year) I was about to leave when the nurse handed me a sheet of paper.  If I hurried, I had a two o’clock appointment.

After rushing to the given address, found myself in another waiting room; I could feel the blood pumping in my skull.  Two more pressure readings, two more record setting numbers.  They ushered me to another room and told me the doctor would be in soon.

After a time, a small man came in, wearing a suit vest but no jacket.  He came over, patted me on the shoulder, and asked me, in a very soothing voice, what was wrong.  As we spoke, he’d nod his head, and repeat, ‘you’ll be fine’. 

“Let’s sit over here,” he guided me to a small desk and chair, his hand on my elbow.  “No, no,” we changed direction and glided across the room to another chair.  “This is better,” he said as he put the dreaded cuff around my arm. 

“You’ll be fine,” as the numbers cleared the two-hundred mark; a personal best.

Then, with the cuff inflated, he pushed hard at the bend of my elbow, his finger poking as he looked for something.  Then, he said, “one-forty-over-eighty, you’ll be fine”.

I don’t know if it was true, or he said it to reduce my anxiety, but it worked, I felt better.  Mr. Miyagi with a medical degree.

But we were far from done.

I was told to come back on Thursday for an Ultra Sound of my heart.

“Oh,” I said, “so we’ll finally find out if my heart is a boy or a girl.” 

I’m sure health care professionals enjoy a good sense of humor while trying to save a person’s life.

I was told I’d have to wear a blood pressure monitor for the next twenty-four hours.  What form of hell was this?  The one thing I hated most about going to the doctor will now be affixed to my arm and come to life every fifteen minutes for the next twenty-four hours.  The nurse put the cuff on my left arm, draped the hose around the back of my neck, and I clipped the monitor to my belt.

Anyone who has ever had their blood pressure taken, the longer the cuff inflates, the higher the number, and the tighter the grip on your arm.  For the first few hours, every time the monitor went off, my left arm turned purple as the cuff cut off circulation.  Eventually, I calmed down enough so the monitor, hopefully, took a decent reading.  I even started to ignore the periodic handshake to my bicep.

The cuff and monitor were covered by my shirt; no one would know I wore it unless I told them.  Later that afternoon, when I stepped into the men’s room, I was glad the room was empty since the cuff decided at that moment to come alive, and I didn’t have to explain the low-level hum that was emanating from my pants.

Did Not Plan Ahead

Went home that night, took off shirt, couldn’t remove undershirt without disconnecting monitor; that’s fine.  Unhooked device from my belt, then realized ‘where the hell am I going to put it?’  I had a running belt waist pack from my days as a marathoner (kidding, I wouldn’t need this if I ran marathons).  Short of duct taping this thing to my stomach, I had no other choice.  Removed my belt from my pants, fastened it around my waist, and clipped the device back into place.

Quite the fashion statement: boxer-briefs, t-shirt, white socks, blood pressure monitor, and black dress belt around my waist.  If I died that night in my sleep, the talk of the funeral would most likely be ‘How did he take his pants off without removing his belt?’

An awkward night’s sleep, as I tried not to rollover on the monitor, or jump each time the cuff took a deep breath in the middle of the night.

Twenty-four hours, to the minute, I was back in the doctor’s office, disconnected the monitor and handed it over to the receptionist.

That was four days ago, and I have not heard back from the cardiologist about the results.  That leads me to make two conclusions:

The results are good, no further concerns.

They think I died.

Either way, no news is good news, right?



Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash


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