• Mike Savage

BP: 172/110 A Personal Best!

“Your blood pressure is 172/110.” The chiropractor looked at me with concern. In my opinion, chiropractors should not take blood pressure readings. I just wanted my back cracked.

Cynthia had insisted I go because I had been walking around the house looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame for a few weeks.

“A personal best!” I said, a bit too enthusiastically.

“You should see your personal physician,” he replied solemnly.

“Okay,” I said, having no intention of doing any such thing. I knew if I did, she would make me have blood work and God only knew what else. It would be placed on my list of things to do, at the very bottom. I already knew that I had high blood pressure. I didn’t need anyone to remind me.

The chiropractor took x-rays and set me on a regimen to see him regularly. I was determined not to go back since going there must have raised my blood pressure.

Later that day Cynthia texted me and asked me how the visit went.

“Fine,” I texted back.

“What was your BP?” she asked.

I texted her the results.

“Better get an appointment with Velma,” she replied.

There it was, the harbinger of death. I would have to go to the doctor’s office. I would get bad news if I went there. I was sure of it. I made a personal note to make a will.

“Okay,” I texted back. I would do it, but I was pretty sure I would have a massive stroke on the way.

Velma is a nurse practitioner, not a REAL doctor. In the four years we have lived here I have never seen or met the REAL doctor. I have my suspicions that he does not exist. Once a year I go to the doctor’s office and see Velma. She makes me have blood work, (about a pint is drawn each time), and then she listens to my heart, pokes and prods me, threatens me with a colonoscopy, and takes my blood pressure a few times. She then renews my prescriptions and I go home relieved I won’t see her for a year. It’s a tradition. Only this time it would be different. I could only imagine what new tortures I would be subjected to this time.

Cynthia made me promise to call that day and make an appointment for as soon as possible. I figured it would take a week or so. Turned out there was an appointment available the next morning. I asked God why He was mad at me. He did not reply.

At the appointment Velma shook her head when she took my blood pressure. She asked me how I was feeling. I told her fine. It was the truth. Other than being mad at the informant chiropractor, I had no symptoms. I was my usual cheerful self.

“Silent killer,” she intoned.

I had first heard that phrase at the prison in Lompoc. It had nothing to do with blood pressure; it was a guy living three cells down. I knew what she meant though. High blood is often called “the silent killer” because it often has no obvious symptoms. In some people it does but not in me. I’d heard the phrase a lot. Thankfully, I had become immune to it and just nodded my head at her thoughtfully.

Velma ordered blood work, adjusted my medication and set an appointment for a week later. She was breaking our tradition.

The blood work place was across the hall. They poked me with a needle took out what I thought was two pints of blood and sent me on my way.

When I returned a week later, Velma told me my blood work was normal, nothing there. She said my blood pressure was better but still high.

“I think it’s stress,” she said looking into my eyes. “Are you stressed?’ she asked.

“Maybe,” I replied, rolling my eyes around trying to look like I was searching for a possible sign of stress in my life. Inwardly, I immediately knew what was going on.

She gave me more medicine and sent me on my way with instructions to check my blood pressure at home every day for a week and then let her know. I solemnly promised I would and left. No threats of a colonoscopy this time. That would have pushed me over the edge.

On the way home, I went to the beach. It was pretty much deserted. A few fishermen down the way but I was essentially alone. Staring at the waves I knew I was stressed over the book. I wasn’t worried about sales or becoming popular on Amazon. I was stressed about people learning about my life, what I had done, and how I felt during the time. I was embarrassed and ashamed.

It is hard to explain what it’s like to put your life on display for others to read about. For me, the confession of fear and worry, the demonstration of moral weakness and failure, the fact that my children, grand-children, and who knew else, would read it and know who I once was, caused me to want to stop publication of the book. That was what was stressing me, shame and embarrassment.

It is probably at this point I should probably write that shame and embarrassment are of the devil and that I should not succumb to him. The problem was not the devil. He gets too much credit anyway for things he probably has nothing to do with. Instead, it was personal. I need to separate me from the book and realize that it’s really a book about what God has done and continues to do in my life. It is about His work, not my failures in life. I know that. I need to practice that.

My blood pressure is pretty much back to normal. The stress is not gone but the majority of its effect on me is. I no longer want to stop the publication of the book. Maybe the new meds are working, or maybe God has finally gotten through my thick skull that life is about Him.

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