181 over 102

AJ Wood
5 min readNov 28, 2021

I think they call that high blood pressure

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Yes, 181/102 was yesterday’s blood pressure reading. Actually, it was down a bit from last week when the top number was 200-something. And how did I find out I was on the verge of dropping dead at any minute?

Last week (Tuesday was it?) I got a fever. And it captured my full attention. See, I don’t get fevers. This one was maybe the fifth I’ve had in my entire life. I remember my kids coming home from school with the virus du jour, and their illness was usually accompanied by a high fever. They’d fuss and fret in front of the TV for a couple days, then they were back outside playing as if nothing had happened. Me? I got the same bug and dragged around for a month with all the other symptoms, but I never got a fever. That’s when I learned that fevers are actually good things. They cook the viruses right out of you.

But while Tuesday’s fever piqued my curiosity, the pelvic pain really worried me, and that dizzy feeling that triggered memories of the year from hell. Yes, I got a UTI on top of everything else that year (which, because of the neglect, progressed to a kidney infection). I figured a fever required medical attention, so I caught an Uber to Instacare. Or is that the Walk-In Clinic? Or Same Day? Or Urgent Care? Every health care organization has a different name for those clinics, and I can never keep track of what to call them. You know, that doctor’s office that’s somewhere between your family doc’s “we can squeeze you in next month” and the ER.

Yes, I did have a UTI. I just finished with the antibiotic but I don’t think the infection is gone yet. We shall see. But what was really concerning was my blood pressure reading. That’s sterile professional speak for: The doctor dropped everything and bolted into my exam room in a carefully controlled panic. “Are you taking anything for this?” she asked. No I wasn’t. And I told her the lisinopril story.

About five years ago I had one of those klutzy moments and broke my arm. I went to a physical therapist for a while to get my full range of motion back, and he routinely checked my blood pressure. One day he got about the same reading as the one in the title of this piece. “Could this be right?” Panic in his voice. He checked it three or four times, with at least two different cuffs. And he sent me straight…

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AJ Wood

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