Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Health by Numbers - Part 2

Part 1 - Part 3

So where was I?

Oh, that’s right…waiting in the doctor’s office, a chi chi paper gown wrapped tightly around my waist, sitting on a cold vinyl exam table. 

Last time , I filled you in on my initial visit to the doc to discuss my pesky cough and acid reflux.  I was prescribed with an antibiotic, just in case I had bronchitis, and some pills to reduce the amount of acid in my stomach.

I was also instructed to sing the theme from “Annie” every night at bedtime, which I found silly, since I already sang the theme from “Fiddler.”

Anyway, all that seemed to be working; the burning was fading and actually non–existent on some occasions.

In days gone by that would have been the end of it, but I had made this appointment for my once every two decade physical so I thought I’d better keep it.  I’m not altogether irresponsible, you know….

So there I sat…waiting…and waiting.

Finally, the nurse who had initially handed me the elegant paper gown, which she said also made for a lovely tablecloth, breezes back in and takes my blood pressure…which I thought was rude since I wasn’t done using it.


But here’s the deal…I have this thing called “White Coat Syndrome”. A lot of people do.  What that means is, when I’m at home, my normal blood pressure is absolutely fine…around 125/65.  But put me on that table in that silly paper dress, and it shoots up to about 165/90.

I find this amusing because the look on the nurse’s face as she’s pumping up that little cuff  is suddenly one of concern and confusion…especially when the top of the little glass tube pops off and the mercury starts rolling around the room.

In the past this wasn’t a problem, and a second reading usually drops a good 40 points or so, but now I’m well over 50 years old and a BP that high means I should probably finish up that magazine I picked up in the waiting room before I leave.

Bottom line on this part of the story is, they made such a fuss over it and by the time the doc took it again, just before I was leaving, after the numerous indignities of the preceding exam, it was still up there.

So the doc recommended I pick up a home BP monitor and check myself out several times during the next few days….just to be safe.

So I did, and sure enough, there I was right back in the normal zone, time after time.

Weird, huh?

The best part was I could now take my BP during all kinds of activities just to see what kind of effect they had on me.  Interestingly, I found watching the new Oprah show had a very profound effect on me…but I’m not saying in what way.

I also found that my BP went way down while I was writing these blogs, which probably means I’m not getting enough blood to my brain…which explains quite a lot.

So that was issue one, which pretty much turned out to be a non-issue.

I’ll back track a little now and introduce my doc into the story.  As I said, last time, he’s very young (his mom usually drives him to work…that is, if he finishes all his oatmeal, and if not, he rides his bike), which I think is a good thing, since I probably won’t have to worry about him retiring on me for some time.

Between the doc and nurse, they marched me through the paces of a normal physical—at least I think it’s normal since, like I said, it’s been a while. If not…I should probably call the police.

They poked and prodded here and there; looked in my ears, nose and throat with scopes and lights; stuck electrodes on my chest to give me an ekg and had me blowing into some kind of a plastic tube, over and over, in what I don’t think was even a real test. I think it was really one of those Candid Camera, You Tube things, designed to make me look ridiculous.

One thing I missed was the part of the exam where he takes the little rubber hammer and whacks my knee to test my reflexes.

What...I’m over 55…I don’t need reflexes anymore?

Maybe he'd heard how high I jumped when I first sat down on the cold vinyl table in my little paper dress.

Yeah…I’m sure that was it.

Finally, we discussed the results of my blood test, which I had submitted to a week or so before at the lab.  The good news there was that my blood was indeed red, and not green like some kind of Vulcan, which I had concerns about, due to my increasingly changing eyebrows.

In addition to good color, everything else was within normal ranges, except for that big bugaboo…cholesterol. 

He said it was a bit on the high side, where it should be low and a bit on the low side, where it should be high. I think the overall number was something like 8 gazillion.

I said, “Well that’s good, since having too much is always better than not having enough….right?”

To which, he replied, in deadpan fashion, “No…not really.”

Then a shiny red fire engine raced down the street, blasting it's siren, which distracted my young doc, who ran to the window shouting “Nang Nang!”

When he returned, he proffered that since the numbers were all so high, it was possible I might have eaten something the night before the test that might have skewed the results.

I couldn’t think of anything…unless you count that 40 pound block of Vermont Christmas Cheddar that I ate over the weekend.

We decided that I’d redo the test so they could double check the numbers. I also think it had something to do with verifying and submitting the data to the Guinness World Records people.

Finally, I bade adieu to my future table cloth, dressed and was almost out the door, when he asked me how the cough and chest burning was doing.

I said, except for some occasional “mild” irritation when I first start out walking, it seemed to be getting better.

Then the lights started blinking and the bells and whistles began sounding, as I had apparently said the secret word.

Apparently, equating chest pain, of any kind or intensity, and exercise, in a doctor’s office, elicits a certain mandatory response.

What was I thinking?

Well, I guess I was thinking, I can’t wait to get out the door.

So the doc says, “You know, I’m 99% certain (there’s that 1% again…can’t be too careful) there’s nothing wrong with your heart, but since the cholesterol and BP numbers were so high, maybe we should do a stress test”.

This, at best, immediately conjures up images in my mind of hamsters running in a cage, and at worst, 100 year old men running on a treadmill until they drop.

Neither of which I was thrilled to envison myslef.

So you can imagine my response….

“Okay…whatever you think….”

What can I say…I’m just a bad boy, rebel.

And that’s where we’ll pick up again next time, because just writing this is stressful.

I better take my blood pressure….

I think there’s a couple of pounds of cheese left, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Retort to the Retort -

“Is there anybody alive out there…”