This month we are running repeats so we can take a bit of time off with family and friends. This week’s blog is by Teresa and was originally published on Feb. 2, 2021. In the blog Teresa references a recent visit to her doctor and why it is critical that we each act as our own health advocate to receive the best care. This is particularly true for women of color. Much has been made about how we are in poorer health than other groups. I believe one of the reasons our health suffers is because our concerns/complaints are routinely dismissed, and the resulting treatment options are inadequate. Read today’s blog and stay well.
I recently went to the doctor for an evaluation. Other than the extra precautions taken due to COVID, the first part of the visit was as routine as any other. The nurse came in and asked the usual questions. What is the reason for the visit, how are you feeling, blah, blah, blah, etc. It is when the nurse took my vitals that things went a little off. The nurse took my blood pressure, noted it, but didn’t tell me the reading. I asked about the reading; however, she then put the thermometer in my mouth. After the nurse removed the thermometer, I asked again, “what was my blood pressure reading?” The nurse told me in the most casual way that my reading was very high. The actual reading that she shared meant that I most certainly would have been in a hypertensive crisis. She was casual and I was freaking out. I said there must be a mistake, please conduct the reading again. To which she responded, “it’s okay” and refused to repeat the reading. She said my reading was ok, but it was far from okay. Once the doctor entered the room, I mentioned it. She took another reading which was more in line with my typical readings and much closer to my normal readings. The doctor provided a few reasons as to why the first reading might have been a bit off.
Fast forward…weeks later Lou and I were interviewing Stephanie Spencer, Executive Director of Urban Baby Beginnings. (The episode is titled “Happy Time, Scary Time”.) During this conversation, we discussed the importance of advocating for oneself in doctor’s visits and how the symptoms and care of black women disproportionately receive a lower standard of medical attention. It was during this conversation, that I realized that is what happened to me during my recent blood pressure check. During that visit, the nurse totally dismissed my high blood pressure reading. She didn’t even bother to ask questions about my history or sound an alarm regarding my initial high reading. You are probably wondering, why I didn’t press the nurse harder. I truly didn’t think to do so. Don’t make my mistake. If something, especially your blood pressure reading is not right, don’t settle. Immediately press for answers and treatment.
High blood pressure is a very serious problem with the possibility of very real repercussions if left unchecked. I suggest you buy a home blood pressure monitor to keep track of your blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you need to be able to check your blood pressure frequently. Having a monitor at home is absolutely necessary to monitor this condition typically referred to as the “silent killer” since many times you won’t have acute symptoms or be able to physically tell if your blood pressure is dangerously high. Know your numbers. Normal blood pressure is less than 120 over less than 80. Left untreated, the damage that high pressure does to your circulatory system can contribute to heart attacks, strokes and other health threats. Remember: Your best advocate is you. Speak up! (Source)