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Are You OK?

A while back, I came across a blog entry via Twitter that brought attention to an Australian social campaign called R U OK? It promotes starting conversations to let people know that they are cared about and to help them voice things that are not OK in their lives so that help can be provided before a situation becomes a crisis. It’s a beautifully simple concept really, and one that could realistically save a life.

This morning, I was reminded of this campaign as I was sitting on my front step waking up with a cup of coffee. This is a small community so most people know each other. When a car drove up slowly into my neighbor’s driveway, I noticed it of course but did not think much of it until the door opened and no one got out. The elderly man in the driver’s seat sat there for a few minutes and then put his head down, chin-to-chest, occasionally looking around then putting his head back down for a couple minutes. From this angle, he was acting as I’ve seen people with dementia act when they are confused, not knowing quite where they are or why.

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Alarmed, I got up but he picked his head back up and reached for something in his car. He seemed OK for the moment but I kept watching. After a few minutes of him just sitting there, his head began to sink again, so I went inside to get my phone in case I needed to call anyone. I headed over to his car and quietly asked him, “Are you OK?”

Startled, he jumped and stared at me for a moment before angrily telling me, “I’m napping!” The tone of voice made me take a step back and apologize, telling him I didn’t know if he needed help and I was just checking on him. He nodded then, and turned to put his head back down.

Since this was not anyone who lived there or anyone I had ever seen, I kept watch from my front step for about 10 minutes longer. Finally, he got out of the car and slowly made it to the front door where my neighbors apparently knew him and they helped him in. I apologized for startling him and was thanked with a smile and a wave that communicated to me, “It’s OK.”

Even though everything was OK this time, there may be a time that someone does really need help. The responsibility falls on all of us to be aware of the situations around us and to be proactive, asking even a total stranger… “Are you OK?”

PerBlog April 10, 2013

Trying to come up with some radical new idea (ok, maybe “radical” in this day and age was a bad term) – a BIG new idea for research for my next FME article.  With everything happening in the news, I should not be at a loss for a topic, however my fear is that I will just come across as repeating the same news we’ve been hearing every day.  What would YOU like to read about, or hear a fresh view on?  Tell me in the comments!

Just to drop an update on myself, ever since my boss passed away on December 28th and the company subsequently closed on January 2, I have been seeking work.  For 3 1/2 months, I have been living on my tax return and the grace of friends and charity however that is all running out quickly.  If I don’t find viable work *this month* I will be facing very dire circumstances.  

The stress of this has caused my blood pressure to shoot up as the worry is constantly there, 24/7, and I have rarely been able to sleep at night for the past couple months.  A week and a half ago, I ended up having to break down and go to the doctor with the joints in my right wrist severely inflamed – I was unable to move my wrist, hand or fingers at all.  The wrist was treated and cleared up in a matter of days with a brace and a prescription anti-inflammatory but we still don’t know the cause of it.  X-rays showed no fracture, blood tests showed no elevated uric acid and therefore no possibility of gout, and the doctor also ruled out arthritis.  It remains an excruciating mystery but at least I have leftover meds to treat it should it recur. 

While at that doctor visit, whereas the wrist was treated quickly enough, the focus of the visit quickly turned to my blood pressure when my vitals were taken.  Back to that – my BP was 210/140.  YIKES!  The doc immediately gave me a Clonidine and told me to go to the emergency room however if you’ve ever read my previous post about Lawnwood Regional, you’ll understand why I was loathe to even consider stopping in there.  In the end, I did not go to the ER, taking the prescription for Clonidine and hoping that would start to lower my numbers.

Like an idiot, I started right in on the full prescribed dose.  Had I remembered the problems I had when starting on another BP med several years ago (heart rate below 60, fainting, inability to walk more than a few feet without severe difficulty in breathing), I would have started small and worked my way up to the full dose.  The first 3 days of full-dosing this time, same thing.  I was fainting, could barely breathe due to very slow heart rate, and (thankfully this was over the weekend) was barely able to stay awake for more than a couple hours at a time.  My thinking and reaction times were very slow so driving anywhere was NOT an option.  By that Monday, I was vomiting and fainting and I stopped the med completely (another stupid thing, but I did consider how my BP would shoot up in doing so). I called my doctor and told him I *have* to do this my way.  By stepping the dose up slowly over the next few days, I was fine on the prescribed dose.  Hitting my system all at once though is something my body just couldn’t handle.  

In taking my BP every couple days over a week and a half, I saw the numbers were going down but not nearly enough.  I called the doc and reported the latest readings and he still *insisted* that I go to the ER.  It was either that or drop another $60 at his office to be seen for another reading and a dose adjustment.  I did not have $60, I’d just dropped my entire unemployment check at his office at the initial visit, so this time I had no choice – I had to go to Lawnwood. 

Checking into the ER, my initial reading put the staff on alert:  240/120 – Hypertensive Crisis.  The previous afternoon’s reading was around 203/116 – I am willing to bet that just the thought of having to go to this hospital spiked it.  Immediately, I was in a bed hooked up to a monitor, getting about a dozen vials of blood drawn, the works.  The odd thing is, I *felt* fine, but this is why they call hypertension “The Silent Killer.”  They ended up doing a chest X-ray on me and an EKG.  Bloodwork came up clear, X-ray came up clear, I don’t know what the EKG said.  After receiving additional medication, 3 hours later my BP had reduced to 174/91 – the lowest it’s been since this whole ordeal started.  That was enough for them to discharge me with two new medications in a combo pill to be added to my original one.  

Because of the urgency in getting those numbers down to stay, I have gone headfirst into the full dose of the new med(s).  Since I lack a way of checking my BP at home (can not afford a home device), I have to go to a pharmacy or a fire station to get it checked for free.  Driving right now is not an option, so it’ll have to wait until my head clears from the new med.  What a headache this has all been, especially thinking of all the medical bills when I’m trying to survive on a tiny unemployment check that pays my rent but nothing else 😦