July 21, 2024
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July 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I bet you’re anxious to learn the results of my blood-pressure test.

Calm down.

In last week’s article, I talked about my high blood pressure, and how, for the sake of a more accurate reading and because I kept claiming that my blood pressure was only high when I was awake, the doctor recommended that I wear a 24-hour blood pressure cuff, which is a cuff that goes off at random times—usually the worst times possible, like a photographer at a simcha—so the doctor could determine whether he should prescribe more pills.

I actually asked the technician, when he was putting on the cuff, if I should specifically relax to make the numbers low, or if I should specifically be active, or what.

He told me that I should just go about my regular routine. But I don’t know if that was actually what I was supposed to do, or if he specifically wanted me to think I didn’t have to relax so my numbers would skew high. He did tell me that it didn’t matter, because this wasn’t actually a stress test. A stress test, he said, is when they make you run on a treadmill, and if you can’t run, they shock you. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t get stressed by that. So clearly they’re skewing the tests high. They just want to sell everyone pills. That’s where the money is.

He did say that when the machine starts inflating, though, I should make sure to sit still and relax my arm.

But it goes off randomly. That’s the whole point.

So I said, “You clearly don’t want me to do anything today. You want me to take it easy.”

And he said, “No, go about your day.”

I said, “I can’t sit down in the middle of the supermarket and take it easy.”

The cuff is attached to a tube, which goes around, behind your neck, to a huge monitor on your belt. Well, on my belt. I actually got a choice. He said, “You could wear it around your neck, or you could wear it on your belt. I suggest your neck.”

So I said, “I’m not going to wear it around my neck.” I have no desire to announce to the world that I’m doing this.

“I saw Mordechai Schmutter in the store today. He had the weirdest pedometer.”

So I said, “I have to go to the store.”

So he said, “Then wear it under your shirt.”

And I said, “That’s ridiculous. It’s two inches thick. They’re going to think I’m shoplifting Band-Aids.”

Then he said, “Under no circumstances should you push these three buttons that are jutting out in the front of the monitor.”

While I’m going about my day. Normally.

And as soon as I got into the car and put on my seatbelt, I heard a button get pushed. This is what happens when you wear it on your belt.

I actually asked him on the spot: “If I accidentally push a button, does it change the settings? How do I undo it?”

And he said, “Don’t push it. Resist the urge.”

And I said, “It’s not about the urge. I’m asking, ‘What if I push it by accident?’”

So he said, “Why do you want to push these buttons so badly?”

I don’t. But things happen. Buttons get pressed. I know this, because I carry a voice recorder, and sometimes, my pocket will suddenly start talking, and the person near me will go, “What is that?” and I’ll say, “I don’t know,” and I’ll stop and wonder why it sounds like me.

So I went about my day, with the cuff randomly going off, and there’s definitely a certain amount of stress in knowing that this cuff can go off at any minute. And I don’t want to be doing anything stressful when it happens, so I’m trying to get that stuff done in between, and then suddenly it goes off. It’s kind of like playing “Red Light Green Light” randomly, over the course of the day, where whenever it goes off, I have to stop and find somewhere to sit down. And I couldn’t always do that. For example, it went off when I was carrying sodas into the house.

And yes, the monitor does give a little warning beep before it starts inflating, but that isn’t enough time. It’s basically enough time to go, “What was that?” And then it starts inflating. I’m the same guy who goes, “What was that?” to my voice recorder, and I’ve had that for years.

So basically, every time it went off, I was seized by some kind of panic. But I figured that at least I would have all that sleeping time later, which was the point of this test in the first place. But then, when I woke up the next morning, my first thought was, “I don’t think it went off at all last night.”

Anyway, the doctor called me the next day and said, “OK, so I looked at your results, and it’s a little high.”

And I said, “Before you go on, are you aware that it didn’t go off a single time after midnight?”

And he said, “How do you know?” Like I wasn’t there.

So I said, “Well, I went to bed at 2.”

So he looked and said, “Hey, you’re right! But your average is still high, so we’re giving you pills.”

So I said, “Eight hours of sleep would’ve given me a better average.”

He’s like, “I think no matter what happened, you were going to refuse to take another pill.”

I said, “I think no matter what happened, you were going to assign me another pill.”

But he didn’t like how worked up I was getting. So he said, “What would happen if you took your blood pressure right now?”

And that’s how I ended up on another pill.

So basically, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no good time to measure blood pressure, and that’s why so many people (46% of adults) come out high. If not for blood pressure tests, it would be way fewer people. Just people who have to deal with doctors.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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