May 07, 2008

Feeling the Pressure

Over the years, I've come to accept--though not necessarily embrace--the fact I can be a little high strung in certain situations. I can be a tad stressed. I find it hard to relax. I can be tense.

Now, such "certain situations" can vary, but typically they revolve around unfamiliar social interactions, or substantial deviances from what I would consider "a daily norm." In other words, mix things up a little bit, and I can become high strung.

Take yesterday, for example.

I'm currently being considered for a writing position at a certain large, famous institution renowned in the field of medicine. This particular institution takes its health and background checks very seriously when it comes to potential new hires. So it was I found myself yesterday trying to navigate the asphalt labyrinth of downtown Rochester, rubbing shoulders with countless, unknown people, in a quest to make an appointment to pee in a cup.

I've lived in Rochester now for close to a decade, so I'm fairly familiar with the downtown district. However, I usually explore downtown on my terms, on my schedule. Yesterday, however, I was frantically trying to locate a very specific place, on someone else's schedule, amidst a sea of people, both employees and patients.

So it was, when I finally arrived at the predetermined location for my health background check, I was, to put it mildly, a bit frazzled. I was out of my usual element, and thus just a tad stressed.

I was, to put it simply, not prepared to have my blood pressure taken right away, which was the very first thing that confronted me. It was your standard-issue blood pressure machine, but from my perspective it may as well have been a medieval rack or iron maiden. I looked at that thing and just knew no positive reading would be forthcoming. Nevertheless, I sat down, put my arm through the loop, and pressed the "Start" button.

Just for the sake of background information here: an ideal blood pressure reading is 120/80. If you can hit that, you're golden. I can actually hit that number, usually after meditating in a Buddhist monastary for a couple of weeks. Seriously though, if I can have about 10 minutes of relaxed breathing, I can come close to the mark.

As it was, in my most stressed out state, out of my element as I was, my initial blood pressure reading came out as 174/101. Not to put too fine a point on this, but a reading like that would usually indicate an impending coronary within the next 60 seconds. I tried steady, relaxed breathing for a few seconds, and pressed the "Start" button again. And again. Each time, the reading came down slightly, but it was still ridiculously high.

I finally wrote down my blood pressure and pulse and gave it to the nurse, explaining that I needed a few minutes to relax if I was going to give a more accurate reading. She looked at the reading number I wrote down, and she seemed to be looking at me as if expecting me to clutch my arm and collapse in convulsions.

After about 10 minutes in a waiting room, where I answered questions and concentrated on thoughts of puppies and kittens while breathing deep and steady, the nurse again took my blood pressure, which had dropped to 140/78; still a bit on the high end, but at least not immediately life-threatening.

And the moral of this story is: don't sneak up on me. OK?

Posted by Ryan at May 7, 2008 05:56 AM | TrackBack

Alot of people have that problem when they go to the doctor, don't stress about it, they understand that, and 140/78 is perfect for a guy your size, age, and physical condition especially after all the running around.
Mine runs 90/70 when I'm relaxed, and they want to start iv's on me, lol, but when I'm running in all stressed, it's 110/78, so they are happy.
And good luck with the job thing dude, hoping it's lots and lots of money!

Posted by: Donna at May 7, 2008 11:34 AM

Thanks, Donna. I'm pretty sure I'm close to locking the job in for good. And, yes, it does mean lots and lots of money.

Posted by: Ryan at May 7, 2008 11:59 AM
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