Under Pressure

I am so stressed out right now, I’m finding it stressful thinking about writing about how stressed I am.

The last time I felt this overwhelmed my mum was undergoing cancer treatments, I was struggling through a difficult master’s program, and Doug had taken me on what was supposed to be a 14km hike and I was standing at Despair Pass at the 20km-mark (and was way past despair).

This time around, it mostly centers on the book that’s going to the printers in less than a month (with a gagillion things left to do for it). And the fact that Doug has returned from Scotland. And we just bought a car (a used Honda Element). And maybe even because the media keeps telling us that the economy has tanked and everyone seems so anxious it’s wigging me out.

All I know is, adding a trip to a new doctor’s office and trying to figure out private health insurance wasn’t bound to help my stress levels. And boy did it show on my blood pressure check. I didn’t get the exact number, but the nurse gave me a very concerned look and said it was much too high for someone of my age and apparent health. Did I eat a lot of salt? No. Was I on any other medications? No. Did I smoke? Heck, no.

So I told her that my first book is due out soon, my husband just re-invaded my space, and the thought of all the out-of-network charges for a doctor’s visit had me worried (the initial tests the doctor had ordered would have cost around $500). I also mentioned that I do yoga twice a week, have started training again to run a 5km, and walk my dog for about an hour every day. I told her the only pills I take are multi-vitamins and that I’m all about the whole grains, veggies, fruits, and don’t eat much red meat. She agreed I wasn’t a good candidate for hyper-tension.

So she said she’d give me a second to calm down. Sitting there in the exam room with my eyes closed trying to do my best yogic breathing and relaxation, I was sure I was getting somewhere. On went the arm strap again. Result: blood pressure even higher.

Next she got me to lie down and turned off the lights. After about two minutes of trying desperately to relax, my mind started to think of all the things I needed to be doing for the book. I swear I almost stroked out on the table while she was gone. Result: blood pressure even higher.

Then she suggested I do some errands and come back in a few hours, but the clock was ticking and I had no errands to run that day except the stupid doctor’s appointment and subsequent visit to the pharmacy. So I elected to take the dog for a brisk walk at one of my favourite places. 45 mintues later I went back and on went the strap. Result: a smidgeon lower. But not low enough for them to be satisfied.

Now I have to go back in a week to be re-tested. There was talk of hypertension medicine but I’m not so sure. Aside from being a fan of the holistic approach, I have all the symptoms of burnout and stress (ask Doug about the exorcist moments when he doesn’t put his dishes away) and none of the indicators for hypertension. Give me a therapist, give me a massage, give me an assistant that knows how to write captions for photos! But don’t give me drugs (or expensive off-network doctor’s visits)…

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