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2003:  OK--It's Bad, but I Did It
2004:  The Article



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8 January 2005

I didn't realize it was going to turn into such a big deal.  I had an appointment to have a re-check on my blood pressure to see how the new medicine is working at bringing the rate down.

When I saw my doctor a few weeks back, he had ordered lab tests, which I truly intended to get the next day, but had been putting off.  As long as I was going to be at Kaiser today anyway,  I decided that I'd finally get the lab tests done.  And then, since I was overdue, I would also make an appointment for a mammogram.

The blood tests were to be done fasting, so I hadn't had anything to eat.  My original plan had been to go to the lab at 8 a.m., get the tests done, stop off at some nearby food joint for breakfast, and then return for the blood pressure test. 

However, I didn't get out of the house when I expected to and didn't get to Kaiser until half an hour before my scheduled appointment.  Fortunately there weren't too many people in the lab and I was able to get my blood drawn 10 minutes before the appointment time, so it was perfect.

I asked if I could make an appointment for a mammogram and they told me they could do the mammogram today, so we arranged for me to come back after I had seen the nurse.

Next I went to see the nurse for the blood pressure check.  When I saw the doctor last month, I was shocked to discover that the pressure was 187/110.  It's never been so high (two days later, when giving blood at the blood bank it was only 137/88).

I've now been religiously taking my Cozaar and the initial pressure was down to 156/98, but the nurse still didn't like that, so she had me sit and wait for 5 minutes and then took it again, when it was 137/96.  Not sure why that was.  I'm not one who suffers from "white coat hypertension," but maybe the "exercise" of walking to the exam room and getting up on the table raised the pressure?  Who knows. 

Anyway, the doctor says that it's "better" but he decided to up my medication dosage, have more blood work drawn in a week, and have me come back in a month for another blood pressure check.

(Has it come to this?  Is this what we spend our golden years doing?  Going to doctors' appointments, lab tests, and getting prescriptions filled?)

I dropped my prescription off at the pharmacy and presented myself for my mammogram.

mammo.jpg (47677 bytes)For those mammary-impaired "tripods" (as Marn used to call them), this is the machine that they use for a mammogram.  If you could see it from the side, it would look like a gigantic c-clamp.  Appropriately.

A very nice woman asks you to disrobe and then she takes hold of your breast like it were a hunk of bread dough and slaps it down on the ice cold plate (see the red/white arrow).  I happened to mention that at the place where I had my last mammogram (which Dr. G called "the Cadillac of mammograms" -- and priced accordingly), they had a little heating pad on the plate so that it wasn't so cold.

"We don't have that here," she said, unnecessarily.

Anyway, once your breast is on this plate, there is a lot of pushing and pulling and kneading to get it into the right place, then they lower the upper plate (black arrow) down to your breast and just when it starts to feel very uncomfortable, she says "Now this is going to hurt a bit..." and clamps it even tighter.  Then she walks away leaving you literally hanging there in intense pain while she snaps the picture.

Thanks goodness they have a clamp release device over by the camera so you don't have to stay there a second longer than necessary.

Anyway, then they take another position of the first breast, then repeat it for the second breast and just when you think you can't take any more, they do the side version (which is the position the machine is set for here).  You hang onto a handle, with the machine cutting into your armpit, the pain is more intense on already now-sensitive tissue, and they take two more shots.

I have had times when the films weren't quite right and they had to do them over, but fortunately, this time they seemed to be OK, so I was released--literally and figuratively.

I still say that if there were a test for penile cancer that involved compression of the penis, man would have invented a MUCH less painful machine!

But it's done, thank goodness.  And I was out of there just in time to pick up my prescription at the pharmacy. 

My "brief" trip to Kaiser had taken the entire morning and by the time I got home, it was time for lunch, not breakfast.

It feels kind of like voting.  I didn't get the results of anything, so now I just sit back and wait to hear what the results are.  I hope they are more encouraging than the last election was.

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I've used this photo before, but somehow,
it just seems appropriate today!


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