The cough that changed my life


Signs. Portents. Omens. Some people believe in them, others tend to dismiss them. And while I’m not a particular devotee to concepts like manifest destiny, I do have to point out the significance of the cough that changed my life.

Making the call

So, our tale begins with the cough. This is before it becomes the cough that changed my life. Right now, it’s simply, “the cough”.

It’s a little thing, And it’s intermittent. But it’s persistent. Like, three weeks persistent.

I tried the basic home remedies. Soup. Vapors. Liquids. Meh.

Then I moved to over the counters stuff. Cough suppressant. Allergy medicine. Meh redux.

Finally, as the cough began to appear more frequently, I decided I should just suck it up and visit the doctor.

Doctor Who

Except, my previous doctor decided to move to a concierge plan. $1,800 per year. Right. Me, with my one visit a year for the annual physical. Nup.

Now, doctors are like lawyers, right? I mean, there are tons of them. And, since I don’t use insurance, I have my pick.

Except, a lot are moving to concierge plans. And a lot more have pretty crummy reviews (apparently, there are plenty of you who don’t enjoy your doctors). Plus, more than one do the “not accepting any more patients” thing. Guess there is such a thing as too much money.

But, I finally find one. Turns out, he’s remarkably close, much closer than my previous doctor. And, his affiliation is with the same hospital as the previous one, so that’s all smooth.

Nothing to see here

So, in I go. I spend most of the time in the waiting room practicing the doctor’s difficult name. I think I have it down pretty well when the nurse calls me in.

After the usual bland questions, the doctor arrives and proceeds to tell me nothing is wrong. Lungs are clear. Ears are clear. Yadda yadda.

He doesn’t want to prescribe anything, but he decides that three weeks is too long, given that I’ve tried other methods, so he writes up a scrip for amoxicillin.

The fateful number

Ah, but none of that is the real point of this post. Or, well, not the main thrust. I’m sure you’re all wondering, where is this “cough that changed my life” I was going on about.

That happens when the nurse takes my blood pressure. It comes in at a hefty 150/89. Yikes!

I’m historically at around 120-130/80. The number off the monitor is not even in my lexicon. Even the doctor mentioned his concern with that.

Bring on the white coats

My dad suggested later that it might have been “white coat syndrome”. I had never heard of that before, but it was easy to work out. Anxiety over visiting a doctor actually contributing to a higher BP reading than in normal circumstances.

While I would love to avail myself of that excuse, I realized the more likely cause was “lazy butt syndrome”.

Over the last year or so, my hermit-like life has gotten more pronounced. I haven’t been physically active (walking, working out, playing) in quite some time. My guess was that was the more contributing factor to that scary BP number.

Pressure to make a purchase

So, I now saw a dark path. A path filled with pills and defibrillators. The signs could not be more clear. But, it was not too late.

First things first, I researched home BP monitors and settled on one from Omron. It arrived a week later.

My first test, dismayingly, mimicked the numbers from the doctor’s office. I read the directions again and set myself to the prescribed process (rest quietly for 15 minutes prior).

Grabbing a book, I read a few chapters and then tried the machine once more. 133/80. Better.

Sometimes, routines are good

I immediately set out to begin my exercise routine again. Limber and ab exercises in the morning, followed by a daily 4-mile walk.

Of course, immediately, we get a cold front making walking too uncomfortable for me. Never fear, blog fans, only laziness, not heart failure, will stop this blog.

I dusted and cleaned off my Bowflex. It can double as a rowing machine and, while not as all-around healthy as walking (which is good for my mental health as well), it will allow me physical activity on those (few) “too cold” days here in South Florida.

The cough that changed my life

So there it is. From a nagging cough to a doctor’s visit to a bad BP reading to getting off my butt again.

It was an annoying and frustrating three weeks, but it proved to be the cough that changed my life!

2 Responses to “The cough that changed my life”

  1. Steve

    Welcome to middle age, Jeff! You sure took your time getting here.

    Please say on top of the blood pressure stuff. It is no big deal if you get prescribed the medicine to control it; the most important thing is to keep it under control.


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