I had a call from the surgery this morning. They hadn’t made an appointment, and it came as a call marked “Unknown Caller” while I was on the shop phone answering a customer query. I know from experience that these are often calls from the doctor so I juggled phones and arranged for them to all back after I had finished with the customer.
It was the practice pharmacist ringing for a medication review. This was a surprise as I didn’t know they had a pharmacist and medication review s in the past have been sketchy. This would be no different, as she had obviously rung with a list of things to discuss, including blood pressure. As I may have said before, blood pressure is the new subject they all want to talk about. My blood pressure is much the same as it has been for years (as in “too high”) but they are now staring to worry. They aren’t actually doing anything useful, just muttering about it and demanding that I monitor it at home.
One way of getting my blood pressure down would be to stop ringing me when I am at work. Another would be to stop asking me to monitor it at home in the mornings. I’m in a rush in the morning, so it’s u8nlikely to give a good reading.
At one point, as we discussed it, she actually asked “Do you eat breakfast?” You would have thought that a quick look at my records would have revealed the answer. I clearly don’t miss many meals. If I was prone to missing meals I would be thinner, my blood pressure would be lower and they wouldn’t be ringing me up.
It’s the 21st April already and I have a deadline on 25th, followed by another on the 30th. I am going to have to get a move on. When there are only two deadlines in a month (having already taken the decision to skip the one requiring a war/global warming theme) I have to make sure I keep my work rate up. One is for an editor who has never accepted anything from me and another is for an American magazine. I don’t do well in American magazines. It looks like this month will be the one that redresses the balance of last month’s success.
I wrote that last night, as it was on my mind as i thought of what to write. Today things moved on, and I wrote an entire haibun in my head on the way home.
I have now booked my second Covid booster vaccination, having had a text to tell me to do so. However, the government site seems sceptical and wants me to take proof of my compromised immune system. Left hand and right hand seem to be acting in a slightly disconnected way. I’m having this booster because my rheumatology specialist booked me in for it six months ago because of the drugs they are giving me. I would have thought that was all the proof they needed.
In a similarly disconnected way two practice nurses and the pharmacy are trying to get blood pressure readings off me, in three different ways. One nurse wants me to take my own readings in a morning. No chance – I have enough to do. One wants to take them when I have blood tests – which is why I am thinking of going back to the hospital – they just do blood tests and don’t poke about with anything else. The pharmacy is now telling me I can get a free blood pressure test if I make an appointment. I take it from all of this that, having not bothered about it for years, they are now being told, and possibly being paid, to hassle me about blood pressure. The self-fulfilling result of all this is that my blood pressure goes up every time I think about it.
This morning I went to have my blood extracted, not all of it, but a substantial amount. I went for two tests, but it’s just occurred to me that they took three tubes of blood. No doubt it will all become clear in a few weeks when I get another helping of unwanted medical advice.
They did my blood pressure too. It’s high. They know it’s always high when they take it in the surgery – it’s known a the “white coat effect”. It’s also a result of being messed about by the NHS with more inaccurate record keeping and unwanted tests and attempts to make more appointments I don’t want. To be fair, it’s more complicated than that and just as deadly as ordinary blood pressure, which is, as we all know, more dangerous than a charging rhino. Or so my doctor would have me believe. On the other hand they also told me that losing weight would lower my blood pressure, which turns out to be inaccurate. I’m beginning to think that the medical profession may not have all the answers.
To add to my annoyance my weight has crept up. It’s not a disaster but it’s disappointing. It has become more difficult to cut back after my appetite returned, and I’m still eating less than I used to, so I thought I should at least be steady, rather than putting weight on. It’s a puzzle, but one that is easily solved by use of the ELF method – Eat Less, Fatso.
Not sure what to do for the rest of the day. I was planning on going out with Julia but as she is now booked in for flu vaccination at 2pm (after having been involuntarily rescheduled twice – ran out of vaccine the first time and and staff illness the second) the day is less convenient than it was. She won’t be able to settle if we go out before the appointment and it will be dark not long after the appointment, so it’s not really practical. That was one of the reasons my blood pressure was up this morning.
The header picture is a reminder of what we did in November 2019. And a reminder that I am hungry.
And here, as promised in the last post, is the less happy post.
I had a telephone conversation with a rheumatology consultant this morning, as they don’t want people going to hospital. I’m happy with that as I didn’t want to go either, even before the rise of Covid 19.
The outcome was that as I now have three more fingers swelling up I qualify for treatment. If I had only two affected joints, despite the difficulty and pain, I would not qualify for more than a quick-fix injection. I now have to wait for a nurse to ring me and arrange the prescription.
The fingers are now going down again, so with any luck I will get the prescription before another flare up.
After a week or more of conflicting government advice about risk and isolation the consultant said I am considered medium risk and should go out for exercise but avoid going into shops. That should be interesting when we return to work…
Then Julia got as telephone call from the doctor. Her blood test appointment was cancelled again. Then, when she objected, the doctor read her notes and reinstated it. I suspect they were just trying to cancel as much as possible.
The new arrangement is that we have to go down to the surgery at 1.45 pm, where they will take blood. This has to be done before 2.00pm to get it to the lab.
Woman on a Mission
They will not be taking her blood pressure – she has been told to go and buy her own machine and telephone the surgery with the results.
No, I’m not making it up.
Her risk category is high, but she is, according to the doctor, still allowed to go shopping. This is handy, as we need to buy a blood pressure machine. We tried online but there was a virtual queue at Boots of over 20,000 just to get online. There was no queue at Amazon but they wanted £4.49 for postage and packing and another £4.49 for express delivery which was 3 days. Three days is not “express”, and £8.98 is taking the mickey.
So there we are – a week into lockdown and Julia is high risk. However, unlike medium-risk me, she is allowed to go into shops, and most likely, to go back to work next week.
Again, I am not making this up.
Here are some pictures from our trip out for medical advice and a blood pressure machine.
Most of the people queuing outside the surgery were waiting for the pharmacy to open, as it has restricted hours. The pharmacy we went to in Sherwood was only letting in two customers at a time. Julia managed to get both the blood pressure machine and a packet of paracetamol. This is ironic. The pain-killing gel has not been working on my fingers and I’ve been leaving out last packet of paracetamol in case we become ill. Now that my fingers are no longer painful we have managed to get more pills.
Pharmacy Queue – with hindsight we should have joined this one
All the shops seem to have queuing systems now. We are going out to join one shortly, because, when we got home, we found that the blood pressure machine only has two batteries packed with it and needs four. They are AAA. If they were AA we would have plenty because I use them in my camera.
No wonder Julia’s blood pressure is high.
Don’t believe the packet – batteries were definitely not included!
Sorry, I know everyone has problems, and some of them are worse than mine, but how’s this for a week?
Last Tuesday I had a phone call as I was packing parcels in the shop. Julia had collapsed at work and they had called an ambulance. They were using words like “fit” and “seizure”, which didn’t seem hopeful. (Despite this, you do not need to worry – she is fine).
Eventually the ambulance arrived, checked her out and took her off to Queen’s Medical Centre. Having established where she was going, I took a taxi to the hospital. Parking provision is poor at the hospital and, if anything, has become worse over the last few years. It is quicker to take a taxi than find parking. Of course, that would be the morning when they had an idiot on the switchboard and a glitch with the system.
It took twenty minutes for the taxi to arrive, but seemed longer.
At A&E I queued to find out where she was.
As I did so, I heard her say, “Hello.”
Looking round, I saw Julia standing next to me as if it was completely normal to take an ambulance to hospital and scare me to death.
“You’re supposed to be ill,” I said. “I thought you’d be lying on a trolley looking poorly.”
“They needed the trolley for somebody else.”
Forsythia and Photinia “Red Robin” – can’t remember the exact names
I took this to be a good sign. I was to be the only good thing to happen in the next four hours. They took her blood pressure, which was high. I am not surprised, mine was probably high too. Hospitals, worries and the cost of taxis will do that.
Then they took a blood sample.
In front of us a man moaned in pain as he sat in a wheelchair. Behind us a woman moaned about her Sky TV contract. Her son-in-law tried to explain it to her and her daughter added a few random complaints of her own.
The TV on the wall droned on about corona virus, the information screen kept increasing the waiting time estimate and the Sky TV contract continued causing concern.
Eventually she saw a doctor. While I sat and waited I tried to read, but the complaints about Sky TV cut my concentration to ribbons. The man in the wheelchair got up and went to the toilet. At that time, of course, he was called through to see a doctor. It never fails.
There were two manacled criminals in the waiting area. They both had two police officers with them. I checked with one of our customers when I saw him later in the week – they have to have two police with them for health and safety reasons in case friends of the prisoner launch a rescue attempt. No wonder we’re short of police on the street.
The doctor told Julia she would have to consult with the rest of her team as she couldn’t find anything wrong. So we waited and the man with the mother-in-law was called through. I’d assumed they had come with the older lady, but no, the womenfolk were simply treating it as an outing.
He was soon out, having been told that his chest pain was probably due to a bout of coughing he’d had in the morning. At the word “cough” we all moved away from him.
He said the doctor had advised him not to lift anything heavy, so he was clearly going to be OK if he had to carry his IQ.
Daffodils at Mencap garden
Shortly after that Julia was called through to the doctor again and told they definitely couldn’t find anything wrong apart from dehydration (because she doesn’t look after herself). We went for a coffee and had a lemon tart whilst the hospital pharmacy sorted out some aspirin before taking a taxi home.
All in all it was a worrying day and one I wouldn’t want to repeat. It was, though, just the beginning…
The photos are random yellow flowers from the last week. I haven’t taken many photos.
Disclaimer – no wives were hurt in the writing of this blog.
I’m generally at peace in three places. One of these is when I’m out in nature (though a cold day at a gravel pit doesn’t work the magic as much as a spring day in the woods. Another is in church. The third one is among antiques.
We seem to be wired to respond to nature, and I suspect church builders knew more about promoting tranquility a thousand years ago than we do now. As to the third, I’m not sure why it happens, but it does. It might just be that I’m strange.
One place I find it hard to be relaxed is in hospital. That probably starts in the Workhouse. They weren’t meant to promote relaxation, which is fine when you are building to scare the poverty-stricken and the elderly. When they were turned into hospitals, as many of them were, a change of emphasis might not have been possible. I’m not saying this is the reason, but it might be.
There is also the well known “white coat effect”. I used to be able to control this by imagining sunlight streaming into a wooded clearing. These days, I can’t hold the picture in my mind and I frequently find myself having discussions with doctors about my blood pressure.
I don’t know why it should be so. I’m overweight, so as far as I’m concerned that gives the blood more room to spread out. I should have low blood pressure, not high. Unfortunately this, according to my doctor, is not how it works.
Plan B then, should surely to go back a few hundred years and do a bit of cupping and bleeding. Looking at it logically this will reduce the pressure, just like letting air out of a tyre. Simple.
I shall have a word with my doctor when I see them on Thursday.