Healthy Blood Pressure Levels
In the fall of 2006, the right side of my mouth started hurting.
The pain was originating from a cracked tooth. Unfortunately, this was during the short time of my life when I couldn’t get health insurance because I was so overweight. After several days of excruciating pain, sleepless nights, and a nagging wife it was time to take my tooth and checkbook to the dentist.
This was going to hurt in more ways than one.
After waiting for a couple of hours to see a dentist, he didn’t take long to dispense a diagnosis — the tooth needed to be pulled. He didn’t seem too concerned about the tooth, however, and quickly shifted the conversation to my apparently unhealthy blood pressure levels.
145 over 120, he said grimly.
I had ignored that number all my entire life. I knew I was unhealthy, but I didn’t want to know the actual numbers that would prove it. I was told 145/120 was hypertension and I was at risk for a myriad of health problems, especially since the number was so high at such a young age.
If that wasn’t bad news enough, he also told me that he was hesitant about performing the operation. He was afraid with my hypertension that there might be “complications” with the anesthesia. He told me to check with my family doctor (assumed I had one) to get permission first.
Leaving the dentist office that day with a price tag ($675), a date (2 weeks from the day), and a task, I went along with my life for another two weeks in pain until we reached the big day.
The day came and much to surprise, the dentist remembered about my high blood pressure. I was hoping he would’ve forgotten or the conversation before with him was simply “small talk,” (naive?) but no, he was sincerely concerned about performing the procedure with my high blood pressure. The dentist asked me, “What did your doctor do for your high blood pressure?”
I mumbled something out along the lines of, “Oh, he said we were going to monitor it for the time being and he gave me the go ahead for today.” I hated lying, but I didn’t have a doctor nor could I afford one. I couldn’t afford his $675, let alone another doctor’s visit and medication. The lie worked, and, two hours later, I walked out the dentist with one less tooth and $675 in the hole.
That lie solved a lot of problems that day, except for the biggest.
It’s been three years and a hundred plus pounds since I last saw readings of my blood pressure levels. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago at the doctor’s office as I was getting all my vitals taken and the nurse nonchalantly commented:
Reeling from swine flu, I lifted my head up and asked, “what does?”
110 over 92.