Friday, June 17, 2011

Beep Beep...Buzz Buzz

This blog will be posted some time after it was written due to an outside directive to not talk about my living donor experience until after I have donated.  If you are reading this, it is because I have completed the donation process.

Today I am on the second of my 24 hour tests: 24-hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor (ABPM).

I had to show up at the clinic (at the site of the old children's hospital) at 8AM.  After filling out a few forms promising to return the machine (and not having to show my health card...I like how there is no rhyme or reason to when I have to do that), they sat me in a cubicle to watch a video. The one I've posted below is similar but not exactly the same as what I saw. It basically showed a man going through his day wearing the monitor and talked about the do's and don't of the process.

I was then brought into a room with a nurse who went over some of the key do's and don't as well as outlining which do's and don't in the video are "wrong". For example, the video mentioned to take it off for showering but she told me not to shower (and therefore don't take it off). She measured my arm to determine the cuff size I would need. They use the arm that is opposite to your writing had so in my case, the cuff is on my left arm.  The quickly determined where the pulse is most felt in the crook of my elbow and drew a black X in marker there.  There are markings on the cuff that are to line up with that X in order to get an accurate reading. To finish everything off, she took my BP at the same time as the machine to determine that the machine was functional.  I glanced at the number she wrote down-it was on the high side.  That seems to have been the case the last few times its been taken. Although I've never had what they call "white coat syndrome", I think I'm starting to develop it because of how drawn out and stressed/impatient I'm getting over this testing process, especially since everything went a bit sideways mid January with the blog etc. I think the fear of medically failing along with a lot of drama at work (unrelated to this) has me in an anxious state much of the time. Every time it beeps I know I can feel myself tense up a bit (which its going to do any minute now).

When it goes of, the machine at my hip emits two medium volume/length beep. Within a few seconds the cuff on my left arm starts to inflate and tighten on my arm, just like when they take your BP at the doctor's office.  It does seem to go a little tighter but its not overly uncomfortable. In my case the device does its routine every 30 minutes at 15 minutes before and after the hour. The beeps are not supposed to happen between 10PM and 6AM as it assumes I am asleep.  I'm pretty sure the arm squeezing with wake me up (I am a very light sleeper and this would wake anyone up).

I've made it through most of the day with only one messed up reading. It happened at lunch (which I rarely take but I had an offer of a free lunch from the boss and I had left mine in the car anyway at -25 degrees).  We were walking briskly to this little Chinese place on the edge of downtown.  I was hoping we'd get there in time for me to be sitting before the machine went off but the lights didn't work in our favour and then there was a helicopter circling overhead that we both seemed to get bedazzled by.  Just as we were walking, looking up, bumping into each other and slipping through the snow trying to figure out where the chopper came from, the machine started to squeeze. And squeeze.  And squeeze.  The nurse wasn't kidding when she said it can get a bit painful if it cant complete a reading.  Thankfully it managed to compete it a few minutes later inside the restaurant.  Although for the rest of the day it seems to have bumped the reading times by about 5-7 minutes.

It was a little awkward wearing it to work.  One meeting it actually did its think three times.  I think that was a sign the meeting was too long and I may have even said that (ha).  In reality though had I not already told several coworkers about the kidney journey, this would have been far more awkward to explain.  I'm not into lying and I don't want people thinking I'm in poor health so in a few cases today I did have to explain why I was wearing it in very brief terms as to not have my kidney thing take over the room in terms of conversation.
Although its comfortable to wear, its a bit complicated when you use the washroom.  When your pants descend, the tubing gets very short and its a more than a bit clunky trying to keep things from pulling etc.  I don't know what the solution is but it seemed to add stress to a normally not stressful activity.

I kind of wonder if this really does get rid of white coat syndrome as each time it goes off I have caught myself holding my breath and sitting in an odd position.  Even at night its going to make me "focus" on it.  I can only imagine too what some of my meetings did to the ratings this afternoon.  Probably bad timing to do this 12 days before we launch a brand new corporate website and a handful of new products. At this point while I still absolutely want to donate, these seemingly endless tests along with the vibe from the last doctor's appointment have really taken the wind out of my sails.  But this is it, this should be the last test and whatever will be will be.


  1. By the way what was the outcome? Do you have "white coat" syndrome?

  2. Not unless I am seeing that one particular nephrologist!

    My at work BP was high but when I wasnt there I was totally normal.