Friday, November 14, 2008

The Monitor

My blood pressure has gone up.

I have had hypertension since senior year in college. It has been under control for years but bumped up on my last visit to the doctor. He decided that I should wear a monitor that would track my blood pressure for 24 hours before deciding if a change in medication was called for.

Nurse Phyllis fitted me out. Here’s the deal: a standard blood pressure cuff is installed on my arm and is attached by hose to a controller that hangs from my belt. As soon as she fired the thing up and it inflated, gripping my arm like a boa constrictor on steroids, I started to whimper and cry. She responded: “You have such big arms that we have to use our biggest cuff and it is still a bit too tight.” I quieted down immediately. Nurse Phyllis, a trained professional, knows that stroking a man’s ego is the best way to stop his whimpering.

She explained that the controller would beep several times before the cuff inflated. This would give me time to get my arm in position to get the best reading. It would take a reading every hour. I was to record in a preprinted log what I was doing at the time. The log had three columns labeled time, activity, and position. The position column offered only three options: standing, sitting, and lying. I suppose this would discourage people who were inclined to engage in sex while wearing this contraption from putting down things like “missionary” and “flying monkey”

As I leave, I take stock of my situation. The controller is not exactly an Ipod. It weighs at least 2 pounds and immediately starts pulling my pants south. There has to be at least six feet of hose from the controller to the cuff. Unfortunately, since the distance from the controller to the cuff on my arm is a foot or two at the most, this leaves four feet of hose hanging outside my pants.

Also to the casual observer, it looks like the hose is going down my pants and not up my shirt. I decide to forgo the trip to Shop Rite and Wal-Mart I originally planned. I really wanted to avoid hearing the following conversation on the check-out line:
First woman: “Why does that old man have a hose going into his pants?”
Second woman: “Maybe he's getting his cellar pumped."
Also, beep is an understatement. This thing sounds like a UPS truck backing up and will terrify small children and the elderly when it goes off in public.

This of course, is followed by the sight of my arm blowing up like Bruce Banner’s as he morphs into the Hulk.

I decide that the day, a rainy one anyway, is best spent on quiet activities at home.

As the hours go by I dutifully record my activities. As I read them, I begin to feel self-conscious:
1:00 PM watching TV
2:00 PM watching TV
3:00 PM watching TV
4:00 PM watching TV
Etc., etc.

When the doctor sees this he is going to think I don’t have a life. So I start zipping things up with activities like: “inventing”, “hypothesizing”, “parsing”,"dissecting" and (my favorite) “cogitating.”

Soon it is time for bed. Nurse Phyllis told me that the beeping stops automatically after 11:00, so I don’t have to worry about that. The main problems are that it is going to wake me up as it cuts off circulation to my arm, and where to park the controller and 6 feet of hose. I decide to put the controller under my pillow. I wake up during the night, but I am able to get back to sleep.

When I wake up at 7:00 AM the hose is wrapped around my neck. Kathie, all too familiar with my nightly contortions, says she is surprised I didn’t manage to get the cuff wound around my neck.

I am done. I find the off switch and shut the thing down.

As I am packing things up, I see a list of do’s and don’ts on the back of the log. It is my modus operandi to always read the directions after things have gone haywire. Sure enough, Don’t Numero Uno is “NEVER TURN THE CONTROLLER OFF UNLESS THERE IS AN EXTREME EMERGENCY.”

Oh well, I hope it is idiot proof. I have been hoping that a lot lately. I don't think I will tell Fearsome Phyllis.

1 comment:

Jerry Andersen said...

Follow-up: I got a note from my doctor indicating that all of my readings were normal, thus a won't be adding another medication to my growing "life list." He said that my bp goes up in the office because I guess I am ascared of doctors.He says I should cut back on the cogitating because I get over stimulated.