Dear Health Professional,
I came to see you yesterday to check up on my blood pressure which has been up and down for a while. You checked it and said that today it was low and was I taking any pain killers? I answered yes, I take an evening dose of codeine for my joints (and occasionally diazepam when I can’t sleep though it). You asked if I was in pain now and I made the usual joke about it being a standard thing to be in pain. My joints ha ha …. What I meant was, today I’m using my iPad to mark work online because holding a pen for more than ten minutes makes me want to cry. I tried getting those words out, but you were busy busy taking my blood pressure on both arms because one was low.
You asked me why I was worried about my blood pressure because it was fine and it was probably white coat syndrome. I felt like I was wasting your time. (Actually, it had been the nurse’s idea for me to see you as she was worried about continued high readings). You pointed out that hypermobility comes with high and low blood pressures. I know that.
I started to explain that I wondered if the blood pressure was anything to do with stress… I tried to use the correct terminology to emphasise my point “my anxiety levels are off the scale”. You asked me (in the loudest of voices) why I would be stressed. I’d been practicing this, but what blurted out was well, I’m a teacher. It’s exam time. My class sizes are getting bigger and…. You stopped me, informed me that all service industries were like that and I had to either find a way of coping or find a new job & joked that you go home and drink wine. Then you turned to my medical records and asked me if I needed more painkillers. I declined as I ration myself, then you bustled me out of the door.
It took me weeks to decide to ask for some help. What I wanted to say was that some days (most days) I feel so terrified that I’m going to drop one of the hundreds of plates that I keep spinning that it feels physically hard to breathe. I wanted to say that I’m terrified of admitting my stress levels because it may affect my job prospects. I wanted to say that living with some kind of pain every day is trashing me mentally and whilst I cope on a professional level, as a human (and wife and mother) I’m pretty shit and without big painkillers I cease to be functional.
You made it clear that you didn’t wish to hear any of these things, and I’m back to a mixture of painkillers and anonymous blogging. Best put on a brave face an get on with it then.