It’s August 25th. 14 days in a hospital. Linda checks my blood pressure and it reads 130-something over 85.
“That’s great,” I boast. “I’m better.”
No, the machine was still thinking: 165 over 106. “Fuck.” My blood pressure is high which makes me anxious which probably makes it higher.
Dr. Lukenaar came in five minutes later. They’d up my dose of medicine (labetalol and methadope which is probably the worst sounding prescription drug on the market), to three times a day.
“I’ve just been sitting around I don’t get it.”
Linda the blonde RN with the high-pitched, condescending voice you usually reserve for misbehaving kindergarteners, told me I should “take it easy” and “not go anywhere”. Good thing I’d snuck an Uber to Goodwill yesterday.
At around noon I return from the ultrasound and my parents are waiting there. They drove five hours from Jackson to spend a couple of hours staring at me in the hospital and then drive back. I take my dad on a short walk to the flowers and fountains and he old black and white photos of St. Marks in the hall connected to the ER (the hospital has been around since 1872). We talk about Charley and the dogs, the wildfires in Yellowstone and jazz and high blood pressure. They get lunch and bring back my favorite food: Ethiopian. Then they leave.
My blood pressure medicine may have gone up but so did my blood pressure. At 3pm my blood pressure is 194 over 105. If you don’t know anything about blood pressure this is dangerously high. I keep thinking about how I was going to drive the Uhaul and pack the old apartment up myself. I probably would have had a stroke. When I get out I should send a thank you card to Dr. Roberts for getting me here in the first place.
And then my parents leave and I sit with the giant pink teddy bear and feel angry.
I’m angry because fifty years ago I could have died. I’m angry because if nobody had noticed my blood pressure and I’d moved to New Mexico myself I could have died. I’m angry because I was an athlete in high school and I was a runner and yogi and I’d been to two meditation retreats and things like this aren’t supposed to happen to people like that. I’m angry because I’m in hospital and my eyes are red and I’m trying to catch my breath when I should be out looking at strollers and car seats.
But then Linda, (who had a child with Down syndrome who had been in the NIKU, who I had judged by her voice but who seemed to care immensely about my wellbeing and made me feel like a jerk for being so judgmental), gives me more blood pressure medicine and my blood pressure is down to 156 over 94 and I feel relief, almost happiness. I go out and smell the flowers and stick my feet in the hospital fountain. Dr. Lukenaar knows what she’s doing. Maybe baby can cook a little longer.