Friday, 22 November 2019

On hypertension and strokes

Looking through my window I see over next door's garden their washing line again hanging with sheets and underwear, and I know without seeing him our neighbour has returned home. He was admitted to hospital in a dramatic ambulance call following a second stroke. Happily, it was not a full stroke, but some form of secondary seizure, from which he has recovered, but it must be a warning that he remains at risk of further damage. His wife had just bought a specially adapted car, with the front passenger seat removed and a rear ramp up which she can push the wheelchair, so he can sit in state beside her.

Ann is planning a wine and cheese evening, and we are discussing whom to invite. Some years ago, our parties were lively affairs, for we were younger with more energy, there would always be children, and we could fill the house with relatives and friends, often in fancy dress. Now no children come, and we are all old and sober. More distant relatives don't travel far, or are no longer on speaking terms. Many neighbours have moved or died and we are debating about inviting new ones whom we don't know, or our immediate neighbour who may not be able to come in his wheelchair. The music now is Alexa, commanded to play 60's music, but nobody dances. However, our friends are good friends, and these get-togethers are a great chance to meet, for there are few casual or chance meetings, and we always have plenty to chat about.

My blood pressure has been consistently alarming recently. We only have four houses on our road, in three of which the man has suffered a stroke. I do not want to be the fourth, so yesterday, I saw Dr Bone who reminded me of my own abrupt manner as a young GP. Asking what he could do for me, I said "I've got blood pressure". "Yes," he said, "everyone has." He then looked at my charts over the past few weeks. "It's going up and down more often than a newly-wed's nightie," he concluded, but this is modern PC; we used to say, "Like a prostitute's panties." Like all doctors these days, there was no examination. They seem to rely completely on the hospital reports. We had only the skills we were taught; but no one seems to listen to the heart anymore, or check the ankles for oedema, or the pulse for character. Even the respiratory consultant didn't listen to my chest. Dr Bone did however review my prescription, and suggested some increases to the doses, so hopefully we can hold sudden death at bay for a little while longer.

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