Monday, June 30, 2014

too much pressure

I took a day off from work for a dentist appointment. I was scheduled for Phase 2, Part 1 of a multi-part reconstruction of the inner workings of my mouth. After receiving a top partial bridge, I would now begin the procedure for being fitted for a matching bottom partial — all because I ate several thousand Snickers Bars between 1966 and.... last week.

So, my day off was all planned. Get to the dentist nice and early. Out by 10 AM and home to the TV for a full day of Love Boat, Green Acres, The Patty Duke Show and Dennis the Menace. I was seated in the dentist chair and a technician began wrapping a Velcro cuff around my arm to take my blood pressure. After the cuff tighened and released the pumped air, he asked, "Are you nervous?"

"No.," I replied. I wasn't. A dentist visit doesn't really bother me.

He pressed on. "Did you drink any coffee this morning?"

"Yes.," I answered.

"Are you on high blood pressure medication?," he continued, as though he was reading a checklist.

"No, I'm not."

"Well, relax," he said, "and I'll be back in  a few minutes. Maybe it'll go down."

My dentist, Tandläkare, entered the room perusing the results of the sphygmomanometer. and shaking her head. She, too, told me to relax. A few minutes later, the technician returned to cuff-and-pump me once again. The reading was the same — 190 over 119. You read that correctly. 

Tandläkare was not comfortable extracting teeth with the possibility of the incisions spouting blood like the Trevi Fountain. We settled on an overdue cleaning instead. As she scraped and scaled what few teeth I have left, she instructed me to contact a doctor and "have this taken care of" before any further dental work could take place. I promised I would.

With my plans for an afternoon of black & white, poorly-written comedy temporarily shelved, I got home and called a number in our household phone book who I believed was our family doctor. It turns out I had not visited his office since 2008. I asked for and was able to secure an appointment for later in the day. Well, there goes my day off of classic television. I dozed off during McHale's Navy but woke up in time to head out for my appointment.

"Forever and ever
and ever."
The doctor asked my reason for the visit and I explained the series of events and my dentist's concern for my blood pressure. He asked me a bunch of general medical history question, as it had been so long since my last visit that my records had been moved to an offsite archive. He busily typed into a laptop as he asked about my diet, my physical condition, my parents and their health. He looked in my ears, tapped on my chest and pressed on my abdomen. Then he wrapped his own Velcro cuff around my arm and, as we discussed the sorry state of the 2014 Phillies, he pumped the little rubber bulb. Discussing the Phils was probably a bad idea, because the needle registered a whopping 210 over 121. The doctor scratched his head — wondering, I suppose, how I was still able to walk upright. A technician ran a EKG and another drew a vial of blood from my right arm. (Let me tell you, none of this remotely figured into my day-off plans.) A prescription was called to my local pharmacy for something called amlodipine besylate. I was instructed to take one pill as soon as I got home, one tomorrow morning, and one every morning until he says stop. I was told side effects could be swelling of the legs and possible erratic behavior (but, with me, that will be difficult to determine). I was given diet guidelines and told to watch my sodium intake. How much salt could there possibly be in a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby?

All I wanted was to watch a couple of fucking sitcoms on a day off from work. Instead, I end up facing the realities of growing old.

And so it begins...

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