Sunday, June 14, 2015
We had a health fair at work on Thursday. It was, to say the least, enlightening.
* * *
The cuff squeezes my bicep, compresses like a vice. As the blood pressure monitor whirs, Cheryl—one of the nurses on the Health Fair Team—notes the results of my glucose and cholesterol tests.
As she writes, and the machine chugs along, I stare out the thirty-eighth-floor window of my office tower and recall that about two years ago, my doctor insisted I go on stress leave. Back then, my blood pressure was one-sixty over ninety; considerably lower than when I went to the hospital just a few months prior to that with chest pain. After some serious discussion, we agreed to try rest and meditation, rather than medication. And I managed to bring my blood pressure down to one-fifty over ninety.
Although most of my stresses remain looped around my throat like a noose, I have managed to reduce a couple of them. I feel pretty good—I don’t feel any different than I did when I was hooked up to wires and a heart monitor while I jogged on a treadmill and took the stress test. So I’m pretty confident that my results will be reasonable, if not good.
When the machine beeps, Cheryl glances at the numbers then looks at me.
“Do you want me to call nine-one-one?”
“What? No! Why?!”
“I’m giving you the choice to let me call.” She points at the machine. “Your numbers are high. Your systolic is one-seventy-seven. If it was one-eighty, I wouldn’t give you the choice. I would just call.”
“You should make an appointment to see your doctor. Get some meds to get it under control.”
I nod. Yes. I should. But I don’t have time. And isn’t that the problem…that there’s never any time? Time to finish my work at the office, though I average a ten-hour day. Time to look after my in-laws who have dementia and Alzheimer’s and won’t be with us much longer. Time to visit my family who live a five-hour-drive away. Time to finish the novel I desperately want to write. Time to dedicate to my small business that I have neglected.
Time to take care of myself.
“I’ll make an appointment,” I promise her.
And I do. My appointment is next Friday. In the meantime, I have taken my blood pressure twice since seeing Cheryl. The readings continue to be high. One-seventy-four over one-fifteen. One-seventy-five over one-seventeen.
I have done some research and these numbers are not good. In fact, they’re pretty bad. And now I’m afraid to see my doctor.
I’m afraid that he’ll put me on mandatory stress leave, and I’m not prepared to leave my desk for more than the vacation that I have planned for next week. I’m afraid to let down my boss and my co-workers, leave them short-staffed when our office has just announced a new protocol for no coverage while staff is away.
But, mostly, I’m afraid that everything I have read is true, and I won’t even get to see my doctor.