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The Blood Pressure Machine and I

So I’ve been at war with blood pressure machines for some time. I’d say maybe six or seven years. I can’t remember when everything started. And how exactly. Before it started, I had always had a good blood pressure. Slightly low, just the way medical professionals like it. Maybe 110 or 100 over 70 or 75.

Then something happened. Just when they were getting ready to put the blood pressure cuff around my arm, I got all worked-up. The first time it was maybe 128 over 80. And the next time it was higher. And then even higher. Every time I came to see a doctor, I was more worked-up than the last time. On a few occasions I wanted to leave the doctor’s office to avoid feeling tortured. 150/90 became my standard blood pressure.  My doctors shook their heads. I tried to explain what was happening. Like they didn’t notice I was bouncing off the walls and I simply couldn’t shut up.

So that’s how it went until I got pregnant. Blood pressure then got a different meaning. Attached to pre-eclampsia. The practice where my doctor worked had a strange policy: you see a different doctor every time so you get to know all of their twenty doctors or so. I tried to fight them and insist they schedule my appointments always with my doctor, but that turned out to be too complicated. I refused to have to anticipate meeting all these different doctors and explain my problem to each one of them. I switched to a different practice.

I loved my new doctor. I explained to him that my problem was really anxiety and not hypertension, and he accepted that explanation calmly. At some point, he asked me to get a blood pressure machine and take my blood pressure at home. I did. In the second trimester, according to my electronic machine,  my blood pressure was 95 over 60 or something like that. In the office it continued to be 150 or 160 over 90 or 95. When I entered the third trimester, I bought another blood machine, now a manual one, just to make sure my blood pressure was indeed OK. My doctor told me he didn’t expect any problems, but that I should expect that once I went to the hospital to give birth, the resident doctors and nurses would be a little uptight when they saw my chart.

When my husband and I got to the hospital, the first nurse that pulled my chart asked me if I suffered from chronic hypertension. I said, No, but I definitely suffered  from white-coat hypertension. They hooked me up to a blood pressure machine. My blood pressure didn’t look good, the standard 150 over 90. Within fifteen minutes it went down to normal. Nobody mentioned my blood pressure after that. Andrei was born twenty-four hours later.

A few days ago, I read this article: Pre-eclampsia predicted using test during pregnancy. I was happy to see that now there seems to be a test that could predict which women will develop pre-eclampsia. (And lunatics like me can be left alone to enjoy their pregnancy.)

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