I have a friend who is very health-conscious. She runs almost daily and lifts a few times a week. Her usual meals are steel-cut oats for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and either fish or chicken with veggies for dinner. She doesn’t eat dessert. Not even on her birthday. Ever.
(I know you’re thinking. How can she be FRIENDS with a woman like that? It does sound suspect. It took awhile before I could trust her since I’m a woman who thinks dessert should come at the beginning of a meal when you have room for it. I’ve yet to meet the dessert that didn’t call my name. Loudly. But suffice it to say that we are friends of many years now. Other than being dessert-less, she is a lovely lady with a wicked sense of humor. Humor gets me every time. I promise. Just asked my husband why I married him. Yes, he’s nice-looking and has a great smile, he’s super-smart, AND he carries the additional feature of always remembering where we parked the car. That in itself is worth its weight in gold. But #1 on my list was his sense of humor.)
But back to my ridiculously fit friend. She takes all kinds of vitamins. She uses a Neti pot. She tracks her blood pressure with a cuff she bought so she can see what it is (and her pulse rate) before and after her workouts. She’s in great shape and will probably live to be 110. Easily.
That’s why I’ve always found it pretty funny that her BP skyrockets when she goes to the doctor. She didn’t even know what it was called till I diagnosed her with White Coat Syndrome (although the clinical name for it is “white coat hypertension”). White Coat Syndrome is when a person exhibits elevated blood pressure when in a clinical setting, probably due to anxiety.
I guess my friend gets panicked when going to the doctor since she only seems to go once a year for her annual check-up. Really, she is insanely healthy. Doesn’t get the flu or sinus infections. Never broke a bone or had a baby. She just freaks out when she gets in a medical setting and sees the white coat / scrubs / whatever. She’s even shot video of herself 30 minutes before her appointment, taking her BP at home, just so she can prove to the doctor she doesn’t have high blood pressure.
I, on the other hand, am this side of dead. I usually clock in at 90/60. Sometimes 95/60. I laugh at the thought of freaking out and having my BP jump to triple digits.
For some reason, I started thinking about my friend and how she twitches and become terrorized the minute the BP cuff is locked around her. I was in the waiting room when these thoughts occurred. Suddenly the door opens, and my name was called. I swallowed hard. Hmm…wonder what’s going on.
I dumped my 2-ton purse, slipped off my sandals, and climbed on the scale. Normal. Yea – the vacation weight was gone. Did a victory dance in my head. Temperature taken. Below normal at 97.7, which is normal for me. If I’m at 98.6, I know I have a fever.
Got escorted into an examination room. And I couldn’t stop thinking about my friend and her rising BP at her well-woman exam each year. Then the cuff was attached to my arm. Guess what?
115/60. 115??????115?????? Really??????
I’ve never been that high in my life. The nurse acted like that was fine. She left. I sat there in the skimpy gown that’s open in the front with the little paper drape sitting on my lap. Worrying. For a good 15 minutes. I kept wanting to climb down off the table and either get a magazine to read or my phone to scroll through emails, but I knew the minute I did, the doctor would show up. So those 15 minutes (could’ve been 20 – I’m not great at measuring time in my head) weighed heavily on me.
Finally, Dr. W came in. We chatted a bit. Lamented about the new patient warehouse system and how un-user friendly it is. Then I couldn’t stand it anymore and asked about my “high” blood pressure.
And she laughed. Said I was well within the normal range – even if it was higher than normal. Everything else checked out, so I was dismissed.
I left after my exam and the draw for blood, finding the closet Sonic to quiet my grumbling, unfed stomach. Nothing like a little grease and Sonic ice after the weigh-in!
And yes, after that stop I hit Target and a furniture store and then came home to do all the things that needed doing.
Even though I was dying to drive to my friend’s house. Just to see if I could take my BP there. And see what it really was. After White Coat Syndrome occurred.