When last we saw the our intrepid hero he was walking into walls and enduring agonizing muscle cramps and discounting it as heat or overwork. How's that for intrepidity? Did I misspell that? Should it be idiocy. At any rate, this was 15 years ago and at that time I was gainfully employed full time and then some for a bank, although we couldn't call it a bank; we had to call it The Company, but I digress.
Periodically, The Company being always considerate, concerned and solicitous of its employees well-being, as we know all corporations are, would provide various health screenings. Usually these were conducted by the Visiting Nurses Association or the red Cross. Since it was part of my job to promote within the support of the place that supported agencies such as these, I was certainly expected to lead in using what was provided. Thus one day, between wall-bumping and muscle cramping, I sat down in a chair next to a nice young, and I have to admit, pretty nurse in her crisp white uniform to have my blood pressure checked.
She smiled as she strapped the sphygmomanometer about my arm. She smiled as she squeezed a tube and the cuff tightened like a hungry snake about my biceps. She smiled as she took hold of my wrist to clock my pulse and then all the smiles and color drained from her face. She looked on the verge of collapse. I felt perhaps I should offer her my chair.
"I want you to see a doctor immediately, " she said.
"Your blood pressure is...," and she announced some stratospheric number I no longer remember "...and your heart rate is only 20 and your skin is clammy and I think you passed death's door perhaps twenty minutes ago."
Oh, is that bad?
Apparently it was for she obviously expected me to keel over dead at any second right there in the grasp of her sphygmomanometer. (The sphygmomanometer was named for Socitomesis Sphygmomam, the famous seventh century Greek physician who was the first doctor to give his patients a reassuring squeeze on the upper arm when delivering bad news. You know I must know of what I speak because I once worked in a hospital.)
So I went to my doctor.
My doctor sent me for blood work.
About a week later I received a hyperventilating call from my doctor telling me to come see him immediately.
As you can see the immediately of the nurse and the immediately of the doctor did not happen with great immediacy. If my demise had been of real imminence you wouldn't have me here now to share this modern marvel of medicine with you.
The problem? My blood test results had come back and they made no sense to the doctor.
I sat in his office looking at a bunch of numbers that meant little to me. (I had a male doctor in those days, but he eventually packed up in the middle of the night and left his patients in the lurch one day, which has nothing at all to do with my tale other than in my last post I referred to my doctor as "she" and needed to explain the gender switch. No one went to Sweden for a quick nip and tuck.) The doctor was saying, "In this test your number is below the lower range, as it is in this test here. But that is impossible because if this number is low, then that number should be high. While, over here in this test your number is dancing like an organ grinder's monkey when it should be twirling like a Russian gypsy's dancing bear. I can't understand what's going on here."
Yeah, that's what I want to hear from my primary physician, that gives me confidence of a cure.
Naturally the result of these tests were more tests performed by varied test specialists. Its always more tests and more specialists. Primary Physicians graduate medical school knowing two main phrases: "I'm writing you a prescription for..." and "I'm sending you to a specialist in..."
Tests in hospitals and tests in clinics and tests in private offices with a lot of prodding and poking and greasing up body parts to run cold wands over. At the end of a long line of assessments, evaluations and sometimes embarrassing evasions I was called back to the primary for the results.
"I haven't a clue."
Well, he didn't exactly say that. He rambled on a bit, throwing hard-to-pronounce words in the air about this or that to prove he had read the reports, but the gist was, "I haven't a clue."
So he sent me to an nephrologist.
I did not want to hear anything beginning nephro. Nephro has to do with the kidneys and malfunctioning of same. You don't want lazy kidneys, you don't want misfiring kidneys and you sure don't want renal failure.
The nephrologist ran his own gauntlet of tests. One day I came to his office and he greeted me with a smile and said, "You have hypothyroidism."
This meant my thyroid was asleep on the job. All I needed was to take a little pill every day that would work while the thyroid napped and I'd be find and dandy. Wasn't I just a lucky guy?
But Miss Luck is a fickle lady.