Today I finally went to see a cardiologist. I’m supposed to go every year but haven’t been lately. He’s one of the doctors in the group that takes care of Danny. Seems like all of our doctors see all of us at one time or another. So I’m sitting on the table when the nurse takes my blood pressure. Mine is usually pretty low (90 / 60) so when she tells me it’ 148/75 I almost fell off the table. “Oh, hell no” – actual quote from my lips. So, she takes it again in the same arm and of course it comes out even higher. Great way to start off a doctor visit. 10 days ago at my family doctor’s office it was 115 / 70. When the doctor came in I asked that he take it again. He used the old fashion “pump and listen” process and of course it was less – but still higher than normal. Visiting doctors offices can be stressful and that can cause your BP to go up. Yes, it can.
I’ve been seeing a lot of doctors lately. I think my body is catching up to my age. Mary had been getting on to me earlier this year for not keeping up my checkups. My pacemaker only has 2 more years left and it was just changed 3 years ago. Now I do check it every 3 months over the phone. I used to get on to her to eat more ice cream to gain more weight. She was doing real good with the big banana milk shakes every night. So we used to be each other’s watch dog when it came to our health.
When Mary was 11 months old she got an intestinal virus and couldn’t stop throwing up. All the way home from Kerry’s parents house we drove with the windows down in 40 degree weather to keep the odor from making the rest of us sick. This was before seat belt and child restrain laws so she sat in my lap in the front seat cuddled to my chest with a look of “oh my god what is happening to my tummy?” look on her face. And I couldn’t do a single thing to help her. (Sound familiar?) I was in tears all the way home as she gagged and had dry heaves every 15 minutes. This continued through out the night no matter what we tried to let her sip on. She ended up in Scottish Rite children’s hospital with IV’s in her tiny little arm. She lost almost a quarter of her weight. And so started the annual visit to Scottish Rite in December. From then on she was the “tiny little person” in our family. Around every Christmas for 5 years and twice one year she would get sick. Then there came a vaccine that wasn’t covered by insurance but would probably help her. But it cost (are you ready) a whopping $25 (in 1986). She never returned to Scottish Rite after that. I gave Mary the Christmas stocking she got when she was there one year. It still has the note in it from the person who made it. Even some of the Georgia Bull Dogs came to visit the kids.
Kerry and I would walk up and down the hospital halls with Mary and look at the other parents with their kids so much sicker than Mary and wonder how they made it through each day, so amazed at their strength. We were so lucky to have healthy kids.
I don’t know if you’re born with “strength” or you gradually acquire it over time. Is it like crocheting in that with each stitch the yarn gets stronger only because it’s part of a vast group of stitches that are held together by each other? Or more like a Chinese finger puzzle – the more you pull it apart the tighter and stronger it gets? Then there’s the example of the banana and the steel rod. One is soft and one is strong. But get both as close to absolute zero as possible and the banana is strong as steel and the steel crumbles like cookies. There’s the willow and the oak tree. One is small and flexible and one is big strong, until something heavy breaks the oak limb and only makes the willow branch sway in the wind.
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Hummmm, who wrote that?