Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's A Pressing Issue!



Going to the doctors has never been one of my favorite things to do in life. In fact, let me say honestly that I put it at the top of my dislike list. I am beginning to dread it.

First, one has the typical list of must do quickie tests for the patient. Weight, height, review current list of medications and then comes what I am writing this post about…the dreaded blood pressure cuff.

For me this is about as pleasant as putting one's hand in a burning flame. Yes, it is that painful for me.  I have a lot of ra in both my elbows and between the darned cuff puffing itself up around my painful joints, to the nurse who smiles as I grimace in pain…well…no wonder I often have high blood pressure.  I mean, let's think about this. Typically one is suppose to be in a relaxed state, legs uncrossed (did you know that crossing your legs during this test can raise your blood pressure reading?),  and seated quietly while the test is administered.  OK, I can do all that.

But as the nurse begins that whooshing sound, the beads of instant sweat begin to form on my brow.  My upper teeth grab onto the only thing available to ward off a scream, my lower lip.  I bite hard. The nurse smiles as she aimlessly talks about the weather, current events around town, or anything to fill these fearful moments. Can I scream now? I am seeing these little dots floating out there in space. I wish I could pass out because then this intense pain would stop. But oh NO! They have to keep that cuff tight as a vice until they get the reading. The beads of sweat are now rolling down my brow.

I did try and find an alternate solution to this problem.  You know my motto by now..the KISS principle. The only other solution might be to take my blood pressure on my ankle. They do this for woman who have had mastectomies. Well, that might be an amiable solution except my ankles also have profuse swelling and a lot of pain.


And oh, did I mention? They always and I mean ALWAYS have to redo it because the first time my blood pressure reads high. Duh!

Maybe the next time I go in I will request for them to put it around my neck. Whoosh…a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush! No pain in my joints as I will blissfully pass out.  Hopefully, since I will be in a peaceful slumber, I will no longer have a high blood pressure reading.

16 comments:

Brigid said...

I thought I was the only one that dreaded the blood pressure cuff! Ironically I'm off to get mine taken. Atleast I can think of you and your silly humor!

Cathy said...

When I was flaring I always hated having my blood drawn. I have great veins so there has NEVER been a problem getting my blood, however, I always hated when they asked me to make a fist. Duh? I can't bend my fingers. Even now when I am feeling pretty good, my fingers won't bend into a complete fist. :(

Joan said...

I am beginning to dislike the doctor's office more and more. I would still go to the doctor every week if I never had to go to the dentist again. Hate the dentist!

Deb aka murphthesurf said...

Brigid...Hope the last image will bring a moment of pain free bliss for you at the doctors. Laughter really is my best pain relief and hope it helps you too.

Cathy...I have nice big veins also but they do have this big oblong thing that is round that they can give you to squeeze. It won't stress your fingers as much. Just tell them you can't make a fist. I no longer blindly follow anything anymore when requested. I stick up for my body, even with all its lumps and bumps :-)

Joan...You sound just like me. Really! I use to hate dentists so much that by the time I had to go I had an abscessed tooth that required antibiotics then a root canal and then capping. Wound up having two of those done and a wisdom tooth that was a mess and couldn't be saved pulled. Here is my advice. Look for a dentists that advertises for patients like you. Ones that are afraid of the dentists and know how to handle that. My dentist is fantastic. I was really nervous the first time but after he gained my trust things have gone wonderful. He does pretreat with meds but for me the meds did just the opposite...gave me energy instead of relaxing me.

tharr said...

Ok, going to the doctor is not my favorite, but I would have to rank jury duty and the dentist ahead of doctor appointments on my dislike list. I have to admit that when my GP nurse takes my BP, I swear the thing is going to explode it gets so tight.
I love the humor. I will leave you with a list my wife (RN who works in OR) gave me just before I had surgery 2 months ago.

Things You Don't Want to Hear During Surgery:
Oops! 

Has anyone seen my watch? 

That was some party last night. I can't remember when I've been that drunk.

Better save that. We might need it for the autopsy.

Wait a minute, if this is his spleen, then what's that?

Hand me that...uh...that uh.....thingie

Has anyone ever survived 500ml of this stuff before?

Ya know, there's big money in kidneys. Hell, the guy's got two of 'em anyway.

Oh yeah, she was quite a comfort before surgery! lol

Deb aka murphthesurf said...

Tharr...you MADE my morning RLOL! I just know that your wife and i would get along great :-) And now you got me going...

Bo! Bo! Come back with that you bad dog!
Dang! There go the lights again.
Could you stop that thing from beating, it is throwing off my concentration!
That's cool! Now can you make his leg twitch?

I bet your wife believes like I do that humor is the best medicine :-) and she was spooning it out in large quantities before your surgery.

And dentists where at the top of my avoid list also until I found my current one here where I live. He is GREAT! But I sought him out carefully.

tharr said...

Yeah, you two would probably have a good time together. She forwarded me that email right before I had my surgery ... good timing on whoever sent it to her. I'm glad she works in the operating room, because trust me ... you would NOT want some of the doctors doing your surgery! Good inside info.

Sunshine said...

Deb,
Gee, I'll be thinking of your neck the next time I have my blood pressure checked. : ) Thanks for the laugh!

Deb aka murphthesurf said...

Sunshine...I'd offer it up if they could actually get a reading :-)

Tharr...I really do believe you on that one. I spent alot of time tracking down my thyroid surgeon before offering up my neck to any knife. But of course you telling me that just reinforces my constant quest to track down the best doctors for my family. Wish you guys lived near me, I would be requesting insider information for sure :-)

stillslife said...

Deb, I am going to be thinking of this post every time I have my blood pressure checked from now on! Does suppressing a giggle have any effect on the result do you think?

I have swollen elbows/shoulders too so can empathise - I have skinny little arms though and they ALWAYS try the kiddie cuff first, and then when it threatens to pop off grip on to it like anything and boy, does that thing get tight. The adult cuff isn't too bad for me thankfully, they ususally use that next, after my BP shows low, thinking maybe the kiddie cuff didn't work after all...

Take care,
Laura x

Deb aka murphthesurf said...

Laura aka Stillslife...I wish a giggle would have an effect because if laughing my head off would take away the pain in my elbow during this process, I would be on the floor rolling :-) Wow...to be so lucky to have such petite arms. Mine seem more and more like gorilla arms but I am proud of them :-)

Thrive With RA said...

Hi Deb,

You are the patient advocate everyone should have in their corner! Are you available in a hologram? We could take you with us to our next appointment and you could "have at 'em" on our behalf! :) Your words here, in comments on your own site, as well as where I find your encouragement elsewhere in the online RA community, confirm that you deserve the "Ms. Congeniality Award" from your fellow RA-ers! Hugs to you!

Jenny Woolf said...

Cant believe they haven't found a way to do this painlessly for you. Your neck suggestion made me laugh!

Deb aka murphthesurf said...

Thrive With Ra....you are just so kind to say this! You have touched my soul and I wish I could be there for every single soul going though this ra journey. I know this isn't possible but if I can help even just one person to avoid my mistakes and shorten their learning curve of help them to become an empowered patient, then I have done my job. And your blog is such a wonderful blog! You have a way with words that comforts me like a wonderful cup of my favorite tea. I feel like I am sitting across from you sharing our journies when I read your blog. Thank you for blogging.

Jenny...none that I have found yet. But I will keep looking for an alternate way to do blood pressure. Mmmmm...maybe another invention of mine for the thinking :-) And I am so glad you get my humor :-)

wovensongs said...

Since my RA dx a little over a year ago, I have learned to question everything the docs want to do. This includes the dreaded blood pressure cuff.

I have edema throughout my body, especially in arms & legs, and learned that besides being uncomfortable, the blood pressure cuff can actually damage the lymph nodes.

So here's my coping mechanism.

First, I refuse to have my blood pressure taken, carefully explaining why. The nurse always backs down. They don't want to be responsible for damaging my lymph nodes.

Then, if the doctor insists they need a reading, (and even my PCP is usually happy with one or two a year) Then I insist they do it with the manual old fashioned cuff, the one they pump up by hand. This is much gentler, they don't have to pump it as high, or leave it on as long.

Here's some info from a internet search:
"Don't permit blood pressure testing on your at-risk arm...ask that your blood pressure be tested on your thigh. If this is not possible, ask that the person measuring your blood pressure inflate the cuff only slightly above your normal systolic pressure (the first, higher number of your blood pressure)."

and another:

"Have blood pressures taken in the unaffected extremity.
The inflated blood pressure cuff further limits lymphatic circulation and can collapse lymphatic vessels, permanently damaging the affected limb. If both limbs are affected, blood pressure can be taken from the leg."

Good luck. Let me know if this ploy works for you!

Deb aka murphthesurf said...

Wow! Great suggestions. I will be giving them all a try. I am just so amazed how ra docs offices just don't get it, don't adapt like we have to and basically nothing in the ra docs office protocol has changed in my 13 years of experience with them. Thank you for the wonderful feedback!