Okay, so I admittedly have a deep-seated prejudice against doctors. So it's unlikely that I would come away from any doctor's office with rave reviews.
This is my PCP. I've never met him before, as we changed family doctors after our previous one missed Michael's cancer (that's right!), or rather, failed to refer him to a specialisit until SEVEN MONTHS after he first brought alarming symptoms to her attention. Yeah. So after that we kind of decided maybe she wasn't the doctor we wanted to entrust our care to. So this is a doctor new to us. Highly recommended, actually, by Michael's oncologist - who is actually a doctor I very much like. Anyhow, this new doctor, however, happens to be out of town currently, so I saw some
On the plus side, when I arrived, the waiting room was pretty crowded, but they were moving patients right along and I didn't have to wait long at all. I filled out the requisite paperwork and then was called back.
(Kind of a funny aside: on the wall was hung a sign that said "A FEE OF $25 IS CHARGED FOR FILLING OUT FORMS." I shit you not. I almost laughed out loud at this. Seriously? They're going to charge me to fill out forms pertaining to me? I mean, isn't clerical stuff part of the office staff's job? I love when they ask you for your insurance card so they can make a photocopy of it, then give you a form to fill out that asks you for your detailed insurance information. Dude, you have my freaking insurance information! And don't bother asking me for my driver's license number or social security number, because the only reason for you to have that information is for collection purposes, but I have insurance so you don't need to worry your pretty little heads about collecting anything from me!)
Anyway, so I go back and the nurse weighs me and measures my height (apparently I've shrunk an inch over the last few years) and takes my blood pressure. It was high. 162/96. A few minutes later the stand-in doctor comes in. I explained to him about the stress and anxiety I've been under with my husband's health, and also that my bp always tends to be noticeably lower (though still on the high side) at home than in the doctor's office. In a nutshell, here's what he told me:
- Stress does not cause high blood pressure (this after admitting that there is such a thing as "white coat syndrome" - a particular stress having to do with being in a doctor's office that causes some people's bp to elevate);
- Caffeine plays very little in the role of blood pressure
- My alcohol intake is most likely the biggest culprit and I need to seriously cut back.
He said that he could give me a prescription for a bp med today, but when I told him that I'm still breastfeeding he informed me that he's not sure if any bp med is safe while breastfeeding. "Probably," he said. But, he said, it would probably be better if I just stopped breastfeeding. And that got under my skin too. As if it's that simple, that cut and dried. I have a toddler with Down syndrome who does not drink out of a cup yet. Yes, I need to work on that, but I guess what bugs me is just the black and white perception.
What we finally decided is that I will work at making certain lifestyle changes - eat better (less salt - I do love my salt!), try to get more exercise (though, seriously, with all the running around I do, I hardly live a sendentary life, and at 5'4" and 128 pounds, I am not overweight), I don't know about the alcohol . . . whatever . . . and monitor my bp at home for the next few weeks and see. And then go back and see my new real doctor for a follow-up.
So basically I feel like I am left standing here, still at square one. I don't know if I actually have chronic high blood pressure, or if it's situational, or even if it's hereditary. My dad had high blood pressure, but he also had a terrible lifestyle - he was grossly overweight, he was a heavy smoker, a severe alcoholic - so his hypertension could very well have been totally lifestyle induced and not genetic.