Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Busting a blood vessel, courtesy of the NHS

Looking back on it, the panic should have set in when I first saw Sassy Nurse holding a stephoscope. Obviously, I've been working with this woman for six months, and know deep down that she's a nurse. And I'm actually quite fond of Sassy Nurse. But somehow, through all this time, I've never actually seen her with any medical equipment or perform any sort of medical procedure. So when I suggested a game of Doctors and Nurses, in the form of her taking my blood pressure, I was looking for the kind of harmless fun that I like to fill my day with.

However, her face dropped somewhere between the cuff and the stephoscope. "That's really high", she said, barely supressing the note of panic in her voice. Apparently 175/120 isn't just high blood pressure, it's begin to panic, alarm-bell-ringing, ready-the-stroke kit sort of a number.

So she tested it again. After setting my heart racing, and convincing me that I can almost feel the blood vessels in my head straining, she fixed the cuff over my arm again. As she pumped, the velcro began to fall apart.

"What are you doing?", asked Senior Nurse. "I'm testing his blood pressure, it's really hi-GH!" Her voice trailed off. My blood pressure, as if it was possible this time, was even higher.

So Senior Nurse took over. And in a few moments she determined that my blood pressure is 120/90, which is perfectly normal. At that moment, the pressure behind my ears bagan to fall away.

So either Sassy Nurse can't take blood pressure, the cuff was faulty, or having her in the vicinity simply ups my pressure. My money's on three.

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