How to get rid of high blood-pressure instantly…no really

I come from a family of doctors. Both my parents are docs. My mother’s father was a doc. And I’ve had plenty of contact with docs, both through my family’s circle of friends and also coworkers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where I worked for 2 years.

So, what has all this exposure to medical practitioners taught me? Well, aside from the ability to impress people with terms like “apoptosis”, “osteosarcoma”, and the horribly mangled and cacophonous “statistically significantly” (which appears in countless medical journals), my run-ins with docs have taught me that they make mistakes.

Before continuing, I’d like to talk about a facet of journalistic style that continues to irk me. You’ll notice I placed the commas outside of the quotation marks in the previous paragraph. The gods of AP style would cast me down into the NY Post circle of hell for this. Yes true, the commas are supposed to be inside the quote marks. This never made sense to me. The quotations represent items in a series, and the commas are used to denote breaks between each item. But having the commas inside the quote marks suggests that the comma is part of the item itself, not a marker dividing it from other items in the series. I can only assume that some ill-conceived and entirely arbitrary consideration of aesthetics led to this complete disregard for logical soundness.

But I digress. Back to error-prone doctors.

So, I went for a general physical last week, and my blood pressure was higher than normal. I usually hover somewhere around 110/75, and I expected improvement, since I had just run a half-marathon and had been training intensively for the past four months. But no, I got an ominous 144/86. (Am I totally psychotic for seeing “144” and momentarily diverting my thoughts from high-blood pressure to perfect squares…gross!)

The doctor was concerned and asked me to come in for a follow-up appointment. Which I did this morning.

This time, it was a nurse taking the reading. 145/85. Same bad news, but no mathematical comfort…unless you take some time — as I have just done — to notice that 145/85 reduces to 29/17, and how often do you see the prime numbers 17 and 29 in the most reduced form of a fraction.

I was thinking: Shit, lo-salt diet.

But then the doc came in (one different from the one I saw a week ago). She noticed that I was sitting on the examination table with my legs dangling. She then had the nurse come back in and retake my blood pressure while sitting down with my feet planted firmly on the floor and my arm relaxed on the soft cushioning of the table.

I kid you not: the result was 107/75.

Hello Halal!! We don’t have to part ways after all.

Now, I was only slightly taken aback by the nurse not knowing the proper way to take blood pressure readings. But I was a bit shocked that the doc I saw last week didn’t think of this. I wouldn’t have thought of it myself; but then again, I have not a nursing degree and certainly not an MD.

I know that managed care has led to doctors spending less time with patients, but you can still be quick and efficient without being negligent and ill-informed.

True, doctors are people too, and people make mistakes. But “people” don’t get a day’s worth of someone else’s salary to walk into a room for a few minutes and say either “You’re fine” or “You’re fucked…you’d better come see me in a week.”


2 comments so far

  1. Noah on

    My blood pressure was recently taken. I scored a bacon/90. Is that bad? Should I keep my feet on the floor when eating bacon?

  2. Olya (your MDACC co-worker from loooooooooong ago) on

    Hey Rich, its great to know you are still alive and running marathons and blogging around! 🙂 arent you glad NOT to be part of that docs’ field?!

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