Checked up

The list of things I’d need for an unplanned overnight hospital stay wasn’t as long as you might think.

As I was packing my bag I got it down to:

  • Laptop
  • iPad (though this is a luxury that could be skipped)
  • Kindle
  • Phone
  • Chargers for all of the above
  • Long cables for all of the above

And that’s it! I figured the hospital would have my medication so I wouldn’t need to bring mine, and I’d be wearing a gown so no need for a change of clothes! Toiletries are also provided, so I could travel very light!

Why would I even thinking about this as I packed my bag for work last Friday? Earlier in the week I realized I wanted to try to get “VIP” status in the Wellness program the University I work for runs and which I participate in. Some folks I work with think this is just a way for the University to gain access to more information about their employees so they can… do something nefarious. I think it is just a cheap way for them to project the idea that they might care about the staff a bit. Either way, if you get enough points you can trade them in for Amazon gift cards, which means I can fund book purchases. Therefore, I participate (plus all of my doctors work for the University associated health system, so I don’t think I’m telling anyone anything they don’t already know!).

Anyway, one of the things you have to do in order to get VIP status – a status which, I should mention, I know not what it imparts but which I want more than anything in the world – is a biometric screening.

The University used to hold these screenings every year. You’d go into a room that usually held sullen studying students and walk to various tables where people in white coats would take your blood pressure, check your blood sugar, and your cholesterol. They’d write all those numbers down for you and then explain what they meant. Sometimes there’d be a little delicious treat as well.

Thanks to the pandemic the University hasn’t had one for a couple of years, but you can either go to a clinic and have it done OR do it at home. What a world!

I started the process of ordering an at home kit. At the very beginning of the process you’re asked a couple of things: weight, height, that sort of thing. They also ask you for your blood pressure.

We have a blood pressure machine, so I looked for it (Marisa found it, in the place she told me to look but where I was unable to find it. She double-checked the same place, and lo, there it was) and slapped it on my arm.

After displaying several increasingly frustrating error codes it finally gave me a blood pressure reading. I would soon be on my way to being a wellness VIP!

According to the machine my blood pressure was so high that I shouldn’t be able to see and I should take off the cuff and go directly to the emergency room.

This was mildly concerning considering my family history is full of obituaries that include the phrase “massive heart attack.”

I felt fine. Clear vision, no pounding headaches, nothing.

I took a moment and calmed myself. Then I took another reading.

It was high but not super double dangerously high. I decided that I probably didn’t need to go to the emergency room, but that I could consult with Dr. Google.

That wasn’t a great idea, to be honest. I spent another couple of days being frustrated with my blood pressure cuff’s ability to take my blood pressure at all after those two readings. It would just display a wide variety of error messages.

And at this point I was now afraid that I didn’t think I was experiencing any symptoms because I had been experiencing them for so long that I no longer knew they were symptoms.

The only way to clear this up was to schedule a checkup (which I was overdue for anyway) and see what they said. I figured I’d have to wait a while but when I opened the online scheduling options I found an appointment for the next day at 7am.

7am is very early for almost anything, but I do love getting the first appointment of the day. That way I know I can avoid most delays and get in and out quickly.

I snapped up the appointment. I also assumed that I would go to the appointment and be told that I had to head to the emergency room (I’m an optimist!). Given that thinking, I did the only reasonable thing and packed a bag for an extended hospital stay (the contents of which you already know).

I went to sleep ready to wake up, shower, and be in the waiting room of the doctors’ office before anyone else in the house was awake.

And that’s what I did! In fact, I was there at 6:45am, 10 minutes before ANYONE else showed up to the office. This includes the front desk person… so I was sitting in a dark waiting room. Which, of course, lead me to think I had the date and time wrong so I checked about 14 times before the front desk person arrived, settled in, and checked me in.

I didn’t end up in the emergency room. Turns out my blood pressure is fine. I do have high cholesterol, though, so I’m eating egg whites for breakfast now which is… exciting.

And the great thing about my hospital bag? It also makes for a good “go to work” bag. That’s where I headed after my appointment which is slightly preferable to the emergency room.


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