I haven't been feeling too shit-hot recently. Before Christmas my routine blood pressure check indicated that it was quite high again. Dr Lisa was concerned. And so was I. Not enough to ditch the Coke bottles, but hey... every little bit counts. I'll give up something else. Broccoli?
So when I found myself back in her office Monday armed with 6 weeks of self-administered blood pressure readings, and a nearly-constant headache, Dr Lisa wasn't happy. "That doesn't make me happy" she said. Told ya!
This was serious shit. She reached for The Book with both hands and dropped it onto the counter with a solid thud. I don't know the real name of The Book, but it's huge. To me it looks like the entire internet included in a single printed volume - minus the cat gifs and Trump memes.
There was silence while she opened The Book, and then... "We still have some wiggle room with the meds that you're on, but I think it might be time to send you back to see the specialist. First though, let's try a new prescription for this. Oh... and how many sick days are you allowed at work?"
Uh oh. I knew where this was going. Many years ago she had put me off work for a week after a blood vessel burst in my eye. It was one of the most boring weeks of my life. I felt fine, but I was under strict orders to take it easy. This sounded like it was going in the same direction.
"I want you to take the week off, get these tests done at the hospital, get your new meds, and come back and see me on Friday. This Friday." That's unheard of. Two appointments in the same week??
"Oh, have there been any changes in your consumption of caffeine? Alcohol? As I sit here and look at your socks, I have to ask... are those weed socks?"
Haha.. those damn ROOTS socks that I had bought years ago without realizing that the pattern apparently strongly resembled a certain marijuana plant. I didn't know! I've never seen a marijuana plant! I've never even tried the stuff. (Sure, Stephen... ) But it's true!
I took my new prescription to the pharmacy and told the nice lady that I would come back later if they were too busy to fill it. I normally just drop my prescriptions off and pick them up later, unless it's an antibiotic and my strep throat or prostate is acting up again. Then it's me sitting in the chair staring at the employees until someone takes pity on me and fills the bottle with miracle candy.
But not this time. This time she said that it would only take a few mins, so I could wait for them if I wanted. Damn straight! Sure enough, she called over to be in no time at all.
It's standard for a pharmacist to go over any new prescription. Take it with food. Take it on an empty stomach. Take it with hard liquor. Stay out of direct sunlight. All the important things that you could just read in the pamphlet they give you... but you know damn well ain't nobody got time fer that!
"I'm not sure if your doctor told you this or not, but you should take this at night before going to bed. Studies have shown that the majority of heart attacks occur between 3am-6am, so if you take this just before you go to bed, it should be timed for maximum effectiveness at that critical period when most heart attacks happen"
Excuse me? Who said anything about a heart attack? I'm not planning on having a heart attack... besides, I'm usually asleep between 3am-6am, so I'll probably just sleep right through it!
With logic like that, is it any wonder that I've gotten myself into this mess to begin with? But honestly, Dr Lisa didn't use the H word... I thought this new medication was for blood pressure, not to ward off heart attacks! Ugh...
Our universal health care system gets a bad rap sometimes, and it's true... it's far from perfect, but I'm telling you... the vast majority of people who work in that system are top-notch professionals, and I'm very thankful for what we have.
Before I walked into that hospital yesterday, I put 3 hours of time in the parking meter. I had no idea how long it was going to take, but I was prepared for at least 3 hours. And my initial gut feeling seemed pretty accurate... the lady at Reception told me despite what I was sure Dr Lisa had said, I did need an appointment for the blood work, but that I could go down and talk to them and see how busy they were. Great. On the plus side, the ECG (or EKG.. both seem to be valid when I looked it up) did not require an appointment, so I could still get that done. Score!
I went for blood work first and explained to them that I didn't have an appointment, but I was willing to wait. After all... I had put 3 hours on the parking meter. The receptionist explained that I was welcome to wait, but anyone with an appointment would take priority over me. Sounds reasonable. And because I was also there for an ECG / EKG I should go see about that and then come back.
So off I went in search of the ECG / EKG room. When I found it, I noticed that the waiting room was full of much older people (never a good sign) and I didn't see any staff members. I suddenly felt like 3 hours wasn't going to be enough time on that meter.
"Are you here for me?" I turned around and realized that there was a second room off the waiting room, and a technician was talking to me. "Umm... I'm not sure.."
"Are you here for an E-mumble-G?" (Apparently she doesn't know if it's a C or a K either!)
"Yes... but I wasn't sure if those people are ahead of me or not..." Apparently it was a shared waiting room, and only a young whipper snapper like myself got to go right in.
"Just relax, get up on the bed, and lift your shirt up to your chin." I followed her instructions to the letter, not realizing that I was supposed to lay on the bed. I'm sure I looked like quite the idiot when she turned around to start hooking me up to the machine, and I was sitting there with my shirt pulled up to my chin. "I need you to lay down." Oh.
Considering the whole "shirt" fiasco, I was surprised when the first thing she did was pull my pant leg up and stick a sensor there. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure my heart is in my chest. Somewhere. Definitely not my left leg. I decided to keep my witty comment to myself though.
A few more sticky things on my chest, a minute or two of me staring at the ceiling waiting for it to start, and then... "OK, you're done!" Huh? I didn't know what to expect from an ECG / EKG... but I was expecting more than that! She ripped the stickies off. Ouch! I thanked her and headed back to the blood testing area, expecting to sit there for a very long time.
"Number 80. You're next. Have a seat over there and the nurse will be right with you." Wow... these people are on the ball. So much for having to wait until everyone else with appointments were taken first. Or maybe the remaining people sitting there were all walk-ins like me?
10 mins later, I was walking out of the hospital. The entire process probably took no more than 30 mins. I'm not sure that I could have made it go any quicker even if I had had an appointment! Truly impressed!
Now time to sit back, relax and go see Dr Lisa for the results on Friday.