Recommended wine for today’s entry: Some friends and I had Bodega Norton Chardonnay 2008, from Argentina, last weekend. A description from winethieves.com: It’s “100% stainless steel fermented, this bright, fresh style of chardonnay boasts tangy pineapple and citrus flavors, with enough creaminess on the palate to round out the crisp finish.” Inexpensive, too.
My husband and I are making some changes to our life insurance policies. As you may know, doing so requires an updated physical – before they’re willing to take you on, the insurance companies want to know exactly how tenuous your hold on life is…
This makes complete sense. And today was uneventful. Well, uneventful except for having to carry my urine specimen through the lobby, past the six elevators and the four people in the waiting room.
At first, I felt like holding the vial up in a mock toast, giving the dapper gentleman in the lobby a sharp nod of the head and offering a “Mornin’, sir.” Then I’d peek around the corner to see the moment when he realized that I was carting a carafe of pee.
But I didn’t do that. Now that I’m old, I carry my urine through public places with a certain air of decorum.
The first time I had one of these health assessments for life insurance purposes, I didn’t know what to expect. I was 35, had two children, was a normal weight and the only medication I ever took was Sudafed. Golden, right? Yeah – not so much.
One evening, the insurance company sent a very nice nurse to our house.
Now I might point out that I was already a LITTLE perturbed from the get-go, because (and I had no grounds for a defense), we had jointly determined that my husband’s life had five times the value of my lowly existence. That’s a reality that can be tough to swallow.
While the nurse ran through my husband’s tests, I corralled the 5-year-old who was decked out in her “Doctor Fixer” medical garb and was insistent on helping and I TRIED to corral the 3-year-old who was prone to screaming tantrums. Tantrums that were often committed naked.
Oh, and I was trying to shut up the one dog who barked a steady stream whenever anyone was in the house and keep control of another dog who had a little issue with biting and had been quarantined twice already. Little Beanie wanted a large chunk of nice nurse’s leg.
So by the time it was my turn, I was babbling like a lunatic.
First question from the lady: “So, how are you today?”
Me: “Ohmygosh, I’m about to pull all the appendages off both my kids. And the two dogs.” I hesitated, calming myself. A child screamed and the dog recommenced to barking. “I’m think I’m gonna pull the tails off the dogs too,” I added, looking around for a paper bag to breathe into.
I can’t imagine that this led to the next question.
Nurse: “Are you under the care of any doctors?” (She had undoubtedly flipped to the Mental Health checklist.)
Me: “No, just my OB/GYN.”
Nurse: “About when was the last time you had an annual checkup there?”
Me: “I can tell you EXACTLY when it was because I HATE going to the OB/GYN so it sticks in my head. I’m so relieved when I get out of there that I bolt out of there and drive like 100 miles an hour home.”
Nurse: (Now flipping to the Dangerous Practices page) – “Do you routinely drive like that? You aren’t involved in stock car racing, motocross…”
Me: “NO. I don’t REALLY drive 100 miles an hour. It was just a saying.”
Nurse: “OK. I’m just going to take your blood pressure.” (Concerned look) Do you usually have high blood pressure?”
Me: “No. You probably did it wrong.” (It is always good to insult the person doing the evaluation, I’ve found.)
So she did it again. Then she asked me a bunch more questions, including a very valid query about my stress level.
No stress, I told her. No more than USUAL, anyway. (Another good answer.) She then pulled a Nancy Drew move and glanced into the dining room, where the table was completely covered with papers, boxes and note cards. She raised an eyebrow.
“OK,” I told her, “I’m responsible for coordinating 1,000 volunteers for a fundraising event next weekend and a group of 110 of my Saturday volunteers just canceled on me. But I’m not stressed. I can handle it.”
Now my older daughter had escaped from my husband and was eating an apple and “doctoring” the meanest dog ever born. And yes, the dog was baring its teeth.
From the hall, I could hear my husband trying to calm the 3-year-old, who was starting the high-pitched sound that indicated an imminent fit. I could picture her stripping down to her Pull Up in preparation for her entrance.
The nice nurse suggested that I lie down on my side, which might help keep the blood pressure down while she took it. So I reclined on the sofa, took deep breaths and, when calm, gave her the go ahead. She started to inflate the cuff and I closed my eyes, picturing a beach, a trick that I’m sure I was the first to conceive.
Palm trees swayed, the sound of the surf, good, the cuff started to deflate and AAAUUUGGGHH … something wet, cold and gooey slithered down the front of my shirt.
My 5-year-old had disposed of her apple core right inside my shirt.
And that is the story of how I found out that I had high blood pressure. And a chaotic, stressful life that was worth 1/5 as much as my spouse’s.
Unfortunately, only one can be treated with medication…