It's been happening a lot lately.
I go in to donate blood, they take my blood pressure, whistle, and either thereupon wink, take my b/p manually ten minutes later and take my blood, or they take my b/p again ten minutes later as a courtesy and immediately usher me out the door. Depends on which Nurse Ratched is running the donation center that day.
Today the machine read 182/106. I knew that wasn't going to fly. The head nurse was perplexed though. She said, "I don't think the machine is reading right. It has your pulse too low. I don't think it got your pulse."
She said she'd take my b/p "manually" in ten minutes and I thought I was going to get a pass and be able to donate. You know, maybe a b/p of 160/99. The lower number cutoff, I have learned, is 100. So the second time, manually, it often comes in at 99. Amazing.
But this Nurse Ratched lied. She sent another nurse over in ten minutes to hook me up to the machine again.
I asked her if she had had a nice New Year's. "No," she said. I guess I looked crestfallen because then she offered that her favorite Uncle had died that day, of a massive heart attack. At age 37. Oh.
I don't think my numbers changed. This nurse was also curious about my anomalous pulse reading. She asked if I "bothered" to exercise.
"Sure," I said, miffed that I don't look buff. "I run 30 miles a week."
"Oh, I see. That explains your very low pulse. What's going on in the rest of your life?" She meant my sky-high b/p.
"You get divorced and see what happens to you," I said a little defensively. That's the two-second version of a four-hour epic.
"Haven't been there but I hear ya," she said as she showed me the door. I assured her on my way out that her chances of "being there" were one in two.
I think my silly, compulsive goal of donating blood 100 times is about over, stalled at 77. This is about the twelfth consecutive time that I have had a troublesome reading, and I've actually been declined about three of the last five times. It's not worth the gas to go to the blood center every eight weeks anymore. Looking around the center, you'd think they need the business though. All I saw in there this morning donating were a few old men. Nobody else is eligible, I guess. The list of exclusions is vast and daunting. And if they come up with anything that you have, they report you to the health department. Good luck getting health insurance ever again in our wonderful society then, Mr. or Ms. Good Samaritan.
Oh yeah, I'm on medication for it. Been on different meds for it for a few years now. But you know, every mediation has a side effect. That's a whole 'nother story. The current witches' brew gives me a dry rasping cough that bedevils me in racing. You can hear me a long way off in races. It really bothers me. The last mixture had a completely different, but worse, side effect.
I left the blood center feeling furtive, like I'd done something wrong. So it goes.