This post is going to take a while – you might need to come back with a cuppa and half hour to spare, don’t say I didn’t warn you 😉
When I saw Professor Newton back in June she requested a 24 hour heart and blood pressure test as I have chronically low BP and weird trippy skippy heartbeats. It won’t show anything and to be honest I have no idea why I’m going along with it but it’s nice that, after 20 years of no-one giving a crap about my health, at least someone thinks my symptoms are worth investigation. I’ve waited nearly 3 months but Tuesday was D-Day and thankfully I didn’t have to travel 90 miles back to Newcastle as the Prof had arranged for me to have the tests done locally, yayy!
So, Tuesday morning I took my little dog out at 8.30am despite the fact my hip and SI pain had kept me awake half the night (dog walker still on holiday and I’m sooooo ready for her break to be o-v-e-r!).
Came home and ordered a new thumb brace off Amazon – for some reason all my joints are really playing me up atm which is a post for another day. I could get a free one on the NHS if I want to wait 2 months but funnily enough, I don’t.
Went into town early as I needed to drop Bertie off with the folks (far too hot a day to leave a dog in the car while I have the monitoring equipment fitted). My opening line when I get to my parents house is always “everything alright?” to which the answer is usually “ticketyboo”. Not today. Today the answer was “nooooo!”
My Dad has a hernia and apparently he’d tried to get something out of a high kitchen cupboard ready to prepare dinner, had aggravated it and was in agony. So my Mum had climbed onto a small step to do it instead, had fallen off, and was also in agony. I was stunned. As if having half a lung and heart failure wasn’t bad enough, she also has severe osteoporosis and has already smashed her wrist to smithereens in a fall before. I tried not to shout “what the bloody hell were you thinking?!” but my face must have spoke volumes. So I got the food out of the cupboard for them, made sure Mum hadn’t done any serious damage and dosed her up on painkillers before taking my Dad up to the health centre which is what we’d been told to do if his pain got worse. We were asked to come back later that afternoon for an appt with the Duty Doctor.
I drop Dad off at home and go back up to the hospital to have my monitoring equipment fitted. I was already knackered and it wasn’t even lunchtime.
The nurse who looked after me was as frazzled as it’s possible for a human to be. She had no idea I was supposed to be having my BP monitored as well as my heart rate, so had to go and locate the right equipment and download the necessary software. In the meantime a Consultant had put his head round the door asking if she’d go and take some blood for his patient. As my appt was now going to take considerably longer than anticipated she asked me if it was OK for her to do that first. Obviously I said “yes” – what else was I going to say? During the next 30 minutes we were interrupted a further 8 times with people sticking their heads round the door, the nurse running around like a demented chicken and me sat there with my boobs on display. She couldn’t concentrate on a thing to be fair and spent the entire time red faced and apologetic.
Eventually, monitoring equipment in place, she did a test blood pressure measurement which came out at 100/54. “Gosh, that’s excellent!” she exclaimed. I just looked at her dumfounded. A normal BP is 120/80. If my BP had been 140/106 would she have thought that was excellent too? Of course not. But no-cares about low blood pressure, even though it causes all sorts of disabling symptoms.
Back to my parents’ house where I wolfed my lunch down like I’d never seen food before in my life. Going 5½ hours without eating isn’t my forte.
90 minutes later I was back up at the health centre with my Dad. I always go in with him to see the Doctor, because my Dad’s deaf, can’t follow what’s being said, and plays the Big Man whose pain “is just a bit of a niggle”. So I have to go along to explain that my Dad never admits to being in pain and “a little niggle” is his way of saying he’s in agony and can’t actually stand up straight. The Doctor was from the Caribbean and even I struggled to understand him, so we spent the whole appt with my Dad looking at me with raised eyebrows and me repeating everything the Doctor said in a very loud Cumbrian accent. My Dad’s now been placed on both codeine and the waiting list for Surgery. In the meantime he can barely hobble and is struggling to look after himself, my Mum and my 100 year old Nan – and I’m struggling to look after all 3 of them, plus myself and the dog.
Back to the folks’ I go again to drop Dad off and collect Bertie, who had to be walked on the way home (to be fair I could have taken him on my scooter, but I want the equipment to monitor me when I’m active but exhausted and feeling rubbish as well as stationary). Driving with the BP cuff going off every 20 mins was challenging. You’re supposed to relax your arm and if you don’t the cuff just keeps blowing up until it gets a decent reading – after the 4th attempt your arm gets really quite sore, so in the end I had to steer with my left arm and just rest my right arm on my lap which got tricky when I had to turn corners 😉 .
Finally made it home at 5pm and collapsed into bed, only to have to get up again an hour later to make dinner, which I’d been told in no uncertain terms by the Nurse was not to involve the microwave. Of course I promptly forgot that little nugget and nuked a cup of warm milk, then freaked out in case I became radioactive or something 😉 .
I snatched the odd ten minutes of sleep during the night. I’m a useless sleeper at the best of times, and there’s no way I was going to snore my way through my arm being squeezed in a noisy vice every hour on the hour.
I could see my BP reading on the monitor and at 11pm, when I was lying down watching TV, it read 88/38 which is stupidly low. Thankfully I had several skippy heartbeat sessions throughout the day which I hope to goodness show up on the readings.
Back up to the hospital on Wednesday to have the equipment removed. Thank God, because the itching was driving me insane. I tend to forget I have Dermographism and that anything which presses on my skin causes hives, so I ended up with white itchy welts around the top of my arm where the BP cuff had been and a painfully itchy imprint off the sticky heart pads.
The nurse wasn’t able to give me any of the heart results but she could tell me my BP had averaged 111/54 during the 24 hours, which is about what I expected. My systolic (the first reading) is considered within acceptable limits, but my diastolic (the second reading) is always way low – not that anybody cares. If the diastolic pressure isn’t important I’m clueless as to why they measure it! So now it’s just a waiting game for the results to get to the Prof at Newcastle and for her to contact me.