My Superheroic Alter Ego: Blood Pressure Elevation Girl

Faster than a racing heartbeat! More powerful than a punctured jugular! Able to generate her own anxiety at the flash of a single white lab coat...

It's the world's most boring party trick!...

It's an exciting new pharma giveaway!...

No! It's Blood Pressure Elevation Girl! Feel the rush!!

Yup, that's me. 

Aside from the time they couldn't get my blood pressure at all and I had to convince them I wasn't the walking dead...

My one big superpower has been going to the doctor's office and instantly shooting my otherwise-regulated blood pressure skyward to levels so unrealistic, that medical staff are ready to shield themselves in protective gear less I explode in a shower of coffee, bodily fluids and Cheez-Its.

Like most superpowers, this talent is both unwanted and mysterious.

I mean, it's not like I'm afraid of needles, blood, or have an irrational fear of $10 co-pays.

I'm not germophobic or unnaturally averse to the latest paper dressing gown fashions.

Yet the moment I get into the doctor's office, I can feel the anxiety creeping onto me like a radioactive spider. 

Breathing exercises don't work because then I start getting neurotic about that. 

"Am I breathing less than I normally do? Am I getting too much oxygen? Is it possible to get too much oxygen? Ack!.. Will the oxygen make the blood pressure rise from all the extra oxygen molecules, like one of those Three Musketeers Bars that float around the office on the commercials?!"

Reading the magazines doesn't take my mind off things, because someone helpfully stocked my entire doctor's office with health and medical magazines. Articles like "You Can Prevent Death Before 50" and "Your Colon and You" are not so much mentally transporting. 

I respect their efforts. But I just don't want to read about the place I already don't want to sitting in. I don't want to be learning about new diseases at this moment; the time for intellectual curiosity is not Now.

I want a nice boring Highlights for Children magazine with all the hidden items already circled. Or a supermarket rag covered in reality TV stars I've never heard of.

And then I get called in, and the medical assistant wants to take my blood pressure. I inform her in advance it's going to be higher than normal, because I don't want her to feel sad and disappointed. I figure it's good to set expectations. And as it's happening, I'm still there trying to will the number down, like I can control the blood pressure cuff with my mind.

Which, of course I can't, because telekinesis is not my superpower.

So she goes out of the room telling me my blood pressure is "a bazillion over many," and then has me wait seven years for the doctor, who will come in to take my blood pressure again, because they are Optimists.

But me, I am an over-achiever. So I will sit there and try to over-achieve on getting my blood pressure down. I will picture beautiful tranquil islands, and try to distract myself by counting all the letters on the posters taped to the walls. 

I can tell you how many babies are on the vaccination poster. (Nine. Four facing forward, five posed sideways.)

I will examine my nicely-printed chart of perfectly normal blood pressures from home over the last three months, and develop my defense case for the doc. 

"See, I can prove I'm not compulsive hypertension liar." And I will examine my own personal blood pressure cuff, to make sure the batteries are still good. If I am waiting there seven years, I can do this a good many times.

Clearly, I am a sick woman, but not in the area they think.

So today, I went to the doctor's for this very thing. Expecting this very same scenario. And the doctor said: "120 over 77. Perfect!"

I had her repeat it. And I am now befuddled. My superpower is gone? Am I like Hiro when he lost his time travel capabilities?

Will I wake up the next time, with the ability to... oh... write equally well with both hands? ("I am... Ambidextra!")

Will I suddenly be able to accurately estimate how many jellybeans in a jar? ("You may call me... The Quantifier.")

Or maybe I'll finally be able to wrap Christmas presents so they don't look like a five-year-old thumbless child did it. ("I am... the GiftMaster!")

Now I think about it, I hope it's that last one. Christmas is coming. And anyway, I won't need the superpower of self-elevated blood pressure.

I'll just go to the mall on Black Friday.

So tell me: what's your superpower?


Anonymous said...

Good for you Jenn ! Congratulations ! Too bad the holidays are near.

My Dad too says the exact same thing. He measures his pressure at home and he's happy with the reading.
But at the doctor's office it's always over the levels.

He once tried to argue with the doctor that his instruments were faulty.

"Umm...hmm...", said the doc like he hears the same line every day.

We told Dad he was being crazy - his for home use digital readout pump vs the tried and ... err ... true ?

Unknown said...

Jaffer- Has he ever taken his blood pressure monitor with him to the doctor's office? That was how my doctor ended up believing me that it was nerves.

ReformingGeek said...

Lab coat syndrome. I'm glad you're cured.

I could use the some of the gift-wrapping superpower. It seems that most of the gifts I wrap come in crooked boxes.

Unknown said...

Reforming Geek- Well, I don't trust that it will last, but it was a nice moment. :)

Darn those crooked boxes! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh ! (slap on forehead) - I'll tell me that and give you credit.

Firas MR said...

I like your writing style :-) ... too funny!

In medical jargon, this phenomenon is called "White Coat Hypertension".

It actually reminded me of a hilarious article I read a long time ago in a med student magazine: White Goat Hypertension

As you can imagine, it can get disorientating even for the doctor! This is one of the reasons why doctors will record BP measurements on several occasions and then find an average. Also when drug trials of anti-hypertensive medications are conducted, an elaborate scheme is adhered to in order to standardize BP measurement.

Anonymous said...

Be careful with that super power. My mom had the same problem and did "take at home method" for awhile. Which gave her some good results at the doctor office only to finally end up on high blood pressure pills in the end. But she has a history of high blood pressure in the family.
I think I got use to the doctor since I spent so much time there. I was usually happy to go and get the antibiotics I needed for my million and one ear infections. So I have been lucky so far and my blood pressure has always been good.

Unknown said...

Jaffer- Always glad to help. :)

Firas- I BET it's disorienting for the doctor-- especially with all those goats herding through the office. :) Thanks for stopping by, and for the actual-and-for-true medical student input.

Linda Medrano said...

I wish I didn't know exactly what you are talking about. I always have a spike in BP when I go to the doctor. And if it's not my regular doctor, it's even worse. I love my regular doctor on a personal level, it's just that I hate all doctors on a higher level. Who are these nasty people in white coats who poke and prod where no man has gone before! And don't even get me started on dentists!

Unknown said...

Anonymous- Oh, I'm already on medication that does the regulating. It apparently just doesn't work when I get into the high-stress doctor's office.

Linda-"It's just that I hate all doctor's on a higher level." Okay, that totally made me laugh.