Monthly Archives: October 2022

The high blood pressure blues

Photo by Stephen Meara-Blount on

As I write this, I’m sure my blood pressure would measure a little high, whatever “high” is, because my blood pressure seems to have a mind of its own and it delights in all the attention it gets at the doctor’s office. I have said so many times, that I could walk in the door of a doctor’s office with a spear sticking out of my eye and the first thing they would do is strap on that blood pressure cuff and then remark, “Wow, your blood pressure is really high.”

For those of you who think this is an exaggeration, I can offer proof. Three years ago, I was walking bare-footed through the carpet in my living room when an errant toothpick rose up and drove itself under the nail of my big toe. I’ve heard that they do this deliberately when torturing spies and I can tell you from first hand experience that if someone had done this to me and they wanted the nuclear launch codes, I would have made something up if I didn’t know the answer, just to stop the pain!

Of course, when I limped into the clinic an hour later after getting profane with the receptionist to convince her that it was indeed an emergency, what was the first thing they did? They slapped on the blood pressure machine and then remarked, “Wow, I don’t like the looks of that blood pressure.” Personally, I didn’t like the looks of the piece of wood sticking out from underneath my toenail, but, to each his own.

On another occasion, I was having back and neck spasms every time I moved. They had me get on to a table for a female exam (don’t ask), requiring three people to get me there and by the time they were done, I had little pain sparks dancing across my eyeballs and my legs were not too steady. So, of course, the next step was to take my blood pressure. “Well, we have a problem here; that blood pressure is really out of whack.” What I felt was out of whack was the fact that nobody seemed to feel that intensive and horrific pain in the back might just increase the blood pressure and a good way to bring the blood pressure down might be to treat the source of the pain. Of course, I’m not a medical person, so what do I know?

At one point in time, they sent me home with my own blood pressure machine so that I could daily monitor my blood pressure. I am not sure who thought this was a good idea, but I assure you, it was not. I made the error of asking, “Well, what would be considered a dangerous reading?” The nurse laughed and said, “Oh, don’t worry too much about it. Now, if it got to, say, 200 over 100, then we might want to worry.” You know that whole mind over matter thing? I’m here to tell you it works both ways. It took me exactly 48 hours to record 200 over 100 on my little blood pressure machine. For those who think I did it wrong, when I staggered into the clinic, it was still at 190 over 99. I made up my mind then and there that the first person who made the Captain Obvious observation that my blood pressure was out of whack, was going to get a whack from me.

This week, I decided that there is no way to win the blood pressure game. The first thing they did at my yearly appointment was take my blood pressure. Now, I had gone through the blood-taking they do and semi-conquered my problem with needles. I was waiting to hear what the doctor had to say about my numbers and I had spent the last week worrying about what my blood pressure would be. It didn’t disappoint. First reading was 167 over 80. The attendant remarked, “Well, the bottom number’s not too bad, but the top one’s pretty high.”

When the doctor came in, before he could comment, I burst out, “I know, I know, the blood pressure is high, but in my defense, when they took it at my thyroid checkup, it was only 145 over 69. I think you guys might be stressing me out.” (I’ve heard over the years that if you want to win the argument, always come out on the attack.)

The doctor said nothing and began going through my health check and everything came out normally. And just as I was relaxed, ready to leave, he slapped on the blood pressure cup again. To my astonishment, the numbers had drastically dropped to 136 over 80. “Well, that’s pretty good, isn’t it?” I said, looking for affirmation.

“Well, the top one’s not bad, but that bottom one’s a little high,” was his reply. That’s it, I’m divorcing my blood pressure. I’m tired of it grabbing all the attention!

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