Are You Alive?

The doctor quickly felt my forehead, and re-read the blood pressure results … 91/54. “Are you alive?” She looked at me with grave concern.

This happened actually while on a visit to the doctor with my aunt. I have had to take her to weekly follow-up visits with her regular physician. It’s quite an ordeal, as my aunt can barely walk, yet we have to navigate six steps to get her out of her building and into a wheelchair. Once in the chair, then we take her to a car, then transfer her into it, then go to the doctor’s office on the other side of her complex.

Yesterday, the doctor wanted to know my aunt’s blood pressure. As the tech was preparing to wrap the blood pressure cuff around my aunt’s arm, my aunt reacted with alarm, “what’s that???” I reassured her that it’s nothing new, nothing strange, and wouldn’t hurt. My aunt was still dubious. (Damn Alzheimer’s… my aunt forgot what is done to measure blood pressure.)

So I stuck out my arm and asked the tech to take my blood pressure, so I could show my aunt that it doesn’t hurt. The tech complied, and the result showed on the screen of the blood pressure device just as the doctor walked into the room. I explained what I had done. The doctor glanced at the results, and then asked, “are you alive?”

For men of my height, age, and size, such a blood pressure reading is considered to be borderline “low.” I do not quite know why my BP is so low, but it’s better that way than being high, which requires medical attention, medication, and can lead to a variety of other problems.

I guess having a low BP enables me to remain calm when others get upset and angry. It takes quite a bit to get me upset. I have been angry, but when I am upset, I do not yell, scream, or throw temper tantrums. I write. I write and write and write. I direct my anger to its source. That seems to keep me calm. I do not know why.

Nonetheless, the doctor advised me to see my regular physician as a follow-up. I may — or may not — as my last full physical was just a couple months ago and I’m okay, including my BP. My doc knows that I have borderline low BP and hasn’t asked me to change anything, but to keep an eye on potential symptoms. I only have one of those symptoms, which I won’t mention, but is manageable.

Anyway, I got a big laugh when the doctor asked me about how I was feeling, and if I were alive, as an outcome of reading my blood pressure. Yeah, I affirm, I’m fine. Calm, cool, collected….

Life is short: what’s your B.P.?