Appointments, & Moms, & Hypertension, oh my!

“A newspaper is a circulating library with high blood pressure.”

— Arthur Baer quotes

I went in to see the rheumatologist yesterday and two things were different.

One, my mom came with me.  She doesn’t normally.  While she has a house in my town (around the corner from mine), she technically lives in another town, so she’s never been to the rheumatologist with me (and also I’m 34, so I really think I ought to be able to go to the doctor on my own, yes?).  Lately, though, she’s been wondering about this RA thing I talk about.  When I was first diagnosed with RA, I found it  was a bit of a relief, after years of random symptoms that no one knew what to do with.  I got all my paperwork, did lots of research on the subject, shared brochures with my parents, etc.  But apparently they either a) didn’t read any of those or b) had forgotten it entirely — I’m going with “a” since my parents forget nothing. Anyway, they’ve been in my town a lot this semester – my dad’s on sabbatical – and have been able to see a day-to-day version of their daughter that they didn’t expect to see.  They got to see first hand how the disease is treating me and it was scaring them.  So, despite my saying she didn’t need to come, she came with me to my appointment.  She was surprising quiet during the time the doctor was in the room and looked through all the papers I brought with me for the doctor.

Two: my big surprise of the morning turned out to come from the nurse.  She took my blood pressure not once, but twice, each time getting an abnormally high reading from me.  After the doctor and I talked about the next drug I’m going to try (Enbrel again, this time with mtx, as I am continuing my quest to try things untried before going for the IV medication), he mentioned that my blood pressure had been steadily rising appointment to appointment over the last several months.  He suggested that I go see my PCP for an evaluation of my hypertension.  Now I’ve seen the word hypertension before, knew it had something to do with the heart, but I’ve never really read those heart-related articles before (they don’t relate to me, right?).  So I asked what this all meant, he explained, and I was horrified. I had a few extra little blood tests run on top of my normal ones

After the appointment, I called my PCP’s office and made an appointment for Thursday afternoon, their only available for the rest of the week (they are having a rough time over there since one of their doctors left to do Doctors Without Borders).  My parents loaned me their spare blood pressure machine, as they haven’t been checking their blood pressure regularly since they started taking medicine for it (although they say that their blood pressure is way worse than mine even on a good day – but they don’t eat right or exercise either – also, I’m adopted, so their blood pressure woes are not related to mine).  Anyway, I looked up hypertension and the DASH diet, which we actually surprisingly already follow, and am now prepared for my next appointment with the PCP.

I talked to my mom about my appointment, which she agreed went well and seemed as though I was doing all the right things for my health – she was apparently concerned that I wasn’t trying hard enough to be well, which of course left me boggling.  I explained to her my system of medication, my daily physical therapy that I do at home, and all the helpful accoutrements of a living-with-RA lifestyle (oxo brand kitchen gadgets, the tricky laundry dance Nick does with turning big bottles of detergent into little ones for me, etc).  She was a little dazed by all of this.  I guess I make living with RA look easy from the outside.  Go me!

(ok, so the quote doesn’t exactly go, but I’ve had that one in my stack of favorites for a long time and nowhere to use it.)

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