Well, now I'm worried!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I can't remember if I mentioned it or not but my place of employment had a draw for free fitness assessments and I was one of the "lucky" winners. The fitness centre at one of the local colleges offers something called a Polar BodyAge Fitness Assessment. My prize includes an initial assessment, a program designed by one of their Health and Wellness experts and a 6 month follow up assessment to see how I've improved and if I've managed to lower the age of my body (yeah I know...I don't really get it either). Overall it sounds like just what I need! Woo Hoo for me, I'm a winner - finally.

So, the lovely (and uber-fit) "A" measured all my bits and bobs, weight, height, blood pressure, flexibility (ha!) etc. All went relatively well (despite the fact that we both could tell by looking at me I was out of shape and carry extra weight in the worst places) until we took my blood pressure. Now, my BP has always been high - I think relatively normal for me. My mother also has high BP and is medicated for it so I've got genetics working against me. Plus I've got PCOS which I had written about in a previous blog but which I won't get into here, at least right now, so that causes my BP to be up as well. My doc, and previous docs too, have all said that it was borderline but they were not keen to medicate me for it. That's awesome news to me because I hate taking pills of ANY kind.

So she attaches the cuff and starts pumping. I hate this. It feels as though my fingers are going to explode. "Hmmm" she says under her breath. 138/102. Not good. Mind you, I had just walked through a gym packed with tight, hard slender bodies with perfect boobs, perfect asses, perfect hair, covered in their perfect workout clothes. Plus I was getting all these tests done by a woman who, if I was gay, I would likely have made a pass at. She took it again right away (I don't think this is usually recommended). 138/100. Ooooh progress, it went down. She decided to wait a few minutes and try again. We chatted, discussed some of the tests, did some more measurements, and tried again. Uh oh, it went up. She decided to get male "A" to try as my BP was so faint she had trouble hearing it. What? Am I dying? What's going on? That did nothing positive for my blood pressure.

While waiting a few minutes for male A to come into the office, she decided to test my heart rate. Left wrist. No pulse. Excuse me? She tries again. "Hmmmmmmm" she whispers again. Dear god, I'm dying is all that's running through my head at this moment. I put on a brave smile and crack a joke. Not able to get a pulse at all on the left wrist, she moves to the right. Nope. She tries again. OH! She found one but it's barely there. She presses harder and eventually takes the reading. 76. Normal she says. Thank god something about me is normal. Male A still hasn't arrived so we decide to use the bp machine. Really high still (surprise...I just thought I was dying) but the heart rate is the same as when she took it. OOoooh lucky me.

Male A arrives and we take my BP YET AGAIN! I wouldn't recommend this and I don't think a doctor would as well. It's only been about 5 minutes, maybe 10 and so far I've had it taken 4 times. On the same arm. Ow. He puts the cuff on and it's so loose I think it's going to fall off. He tightens it a bit more and it still feels way too loose but he continues. However, his approach is different. He pumps up the cuff and then leaves it like that while he tries to hear blood rushing through my ever narrowing veins. My hand feels as though it's about to explode when suddenly he starts to let the air out. Relief I think. Thank god. Oh no, it was not meant to be. He begins pumping again immediately - are you crazy????? Needless to say I don't think he knows what he's doing. The result of him taking my BP? 150/110 Well no fuckin' kidding. What did you expect buddy?

After all that, their computer system is telling them that they cannot do the cardio or the strength portions of the testing because it would be unsafe. They are unsure how high my blood pressure will go once they start the cardio stuff and it could kill me. Ok, so they didn't phrase it that way but you know that's what they're thinking. The result of all this is that I now have to go to visit my doctor, get him to test me, and fill out yet another form to with his recommendations. If he says it's ok, I can retest with the cardio portion and A can then create a plan for me. If he says no, I guess I'll have to give up my spot to another person at work. Needless to say my BP went up at the thought of having to discuss the whole issue all over again with my doc (whom I have a wee crush on...).

I was fine during the tests and made it most of the way home before getting upset. I almost began crying on the bus and as I sit here writing this I can feel my eyes start to water (forgive me if there are typos, it's hard to see the screen - yep, always a jokester, me). My father's family has a history of heart disease and there's the BP issue from my mom's side - I'm very scared that I'm in a lot of trouble here. I'm 34 for pete's sake. I'm not supposed to be "sick" or have these kinds of health issues. And now I'll have to wait probably 2 or 3 weeks before getting into see my cute doc to try and sort this out.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh dear, that must have been a horrible experience for you and then to be left with these worries on top of it.
One positive that comes from this is that if you are indeed having some issues, they are now being identified. There have been tremendous gains made recently in the treatment of hypertension, through the really successful use of Plavix and other regulators. This can end up being a good thing for you to have identified, believe it or not.
All best and try not to worry. You are in good hands, by the sounds of it.

Anonymous said...

i see one problemwith you going in to see your "cute" doc......what do you think is going to happen to your bp when he puts his cuff on your arm?...ha ha

just to help put your mind at ease...why don't you pop in your local pharmacy whenever you can until you see your doc, they all have those free bp machines. keep track of them ( all of them not just good ones) and take that in to him. It'll give you a good idea of your trends. I do know that you should wait at least 5 minutes, maybe even 10 between readings.

If your bp is truely high and doc wants to put you on meds, the first choice is often a simple diuretc, but it depends on what the bp is. Often with exercise and diet changes it can be lowered.

Now, on "hating" taking pills of any kind......my friend's daughter put it very eloquntly when he wasn't taking his medication for high bp. She said "do you like eating pudding dad?"....he said huh?....she said...."cause thats what you'll be eating after you have a stroke and are living in a nursing home...now take your damn pills so your grnadkids can play with you"

Your bp doesn't appear to be extremely high and it does vary throughout the day, butget it checked you may be fine.and if it is high and need treatment, better to find out from your cute doc

The fitness centre did a lousy job of assessing you and they upset you, understandably so, they should re-train on the equipment they use. However, they do have to look after their ass, liability etc etc

Red said...

What a bloody saga, no wonder you feel upset by the whole sorry episode.

I know very little about high BP, having had low BP all my life. In Italy they would put me on meds or recommend I eat horse meat (which I could never do, irrespective of the good it would do me) because it's full of iron. In England (and bear in mind that I went to see a doctor because I was so weak I was close to fainting) I was told "I should count myself lucky because everybody here has high BP". Luck-ier, maybe, but I still feel rotten, so can't you help? No, they couldn't.

Get your own cute doctor to take a decent reading of your BP, and then discuss your options with him. There might be other ways to lower it than taking meds: avoiding salt, for example, or introducing certain foods to your diet. But don't worry yourself too much over it, or that BP will rise again!

Wandering Coyote said...

What an ordeal. I had similar issues when I was in hospital in Victoria. My dad has high BP and is on pills and since my readings were high upon admission (when I was stressed out) I had to have my BV monitored twice a day for the first week in hospital, because the house doc was worried I was "going the way of my father." As if I didn't have enough to be worried about.

Those BP cuffs can be nasty. I've had welts from them a few times.

I hope you're feeling better about things now. It was great for you to go to the testing to begin with; it takes courage.

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