Thursday, August 03, 2006


Another bad day. After climbing two flights of stairs, I was covered in a cold sweat, hands shaking, heart pounding, convinced that this was it, I was having a stroke or a heart attack or something. I called my doctor and made an emergency appointment, and called my boss and said I was coming back to the office, I'd have to take the rest of the day off. She sounded a little skeptical on the phone, but when I got back to the office and she saw me, she remarked that I looked awful. Great.

"Blood pressure's a little high, temp is normal," the nurse remarked blandly as she checked my vitals. There was no alarm or concern evident as I described my what happened, and I didn't know whether that should make me feel better or worse.

It was much the same from the doctor himself: "From what you're saying and what I'm seeing, there's no reason to think you're having a stroke. The symptoms you're describing suggest a possible thyroid condition, possibly diabetes, but we just ran blood work for those six months ago. Certainly we'll go ahead and test you again, but the fact is, your blood pressure's elevated from what it was a week ago, and we doubled your meds then. The extra dosage should be working by now, so we'll have to make a change there. Until we get the blood pressure under control, you'll probably still have these symptoms. And remember, too, one of the things that leads to elevated number is anxiety, so when this happens, and you start to worry about it, your numbers shoot up even more, which may be what's causing the trembling you describe. You might also want to try to work to manage your stress levels..."

Yikes! To live in this world is to suffer from anxiety. From what he said, I was briefly terrified the doctor was going to suggest some kind of mood elevating meds, and I've been down that road enough times to know I don't want to go back. Instead, he put me on diueretics, took some blood and told me to come back in a week.

In a way, I wanted something dramatically wrong with me, something life-threatening but reasurringly concrete, in which the course of action would be obvious. Instead, I got a grim reminder that the human body is a wobbling, backfiring machine that barely even works sometimes. But it can be amazingly resilient, too, and when it does work, it's a marvel.