it felt strange to be returning to mass general hospital (courtesy of my new health insurance, effective today)l. my last visit was the end of may, almost a year ago. they finally finished the new wing of the hospital. i was there early enough that the waiting room was empty. i wasn't able to book my doctor until the middle of april, so instead i was seeing a nurse practitioner today.
when the first nurse took my blood pressure (before i was led to one of the examination rooms) it was surprisingly normal, 130/80. could this be because i've been doubling my losartan dosage for the past few days? but i've been measuring my BP all this week and it was still high. the examination room was in the nurse practitioner's own window office, the walls decorated with all sorts of diplomas and accreditation certificates. i waited for about 15 minutes, bored enough to start browsing a parenting magazine.
when the nurse practitioner showed up, i didn't know what to call her. a nurse practitioner is sort of between a nurse and a doctor. the woman i was seeing though (camille madden) had a doctorly aura about her, and in fact had an MD degree. she was older and had a wiry frame, sort of reminded me of a kind english teacher. i told her about my issues: high blood pressure, upper chest pains around my heart, numbness in my left arm, and the pièce de résistance - groin pains. that last one started 2 weeks ago, sort of felt like getting kicked in the nuts but the low level pain never went away. i was thinking maybe it was bike related, but this has never happened before. the NP left the room and told me to get undressed to my underwear and put on the hospital gown.
when she came back she took a some more blood pressure readings. this time it was normal, and by normal i mean high: 140/100. see, i do have high blood pressure after all! for the chest pains she poked around my torso, trying to trigger a reaction. and for the groin, she prodded my abdomen and my leg. as i was getting dressed behind the curtain, she explained her diagnosis. i asked her again my groin injury. i probably wasn't clear the first time around so i made sure i used the word "testicular" this time. she looked at me for a second. "i'm going to need to check that." she i took off all my clothes again while she put on the rubber gloves. i couldn't even look down, just the idea of a stranger handling my privates was too much to consider. once again she poked around. this time she managed to get a reaction. pain shot up my body as a knee buckled and i had to hold on to a chair and the examination bed. it might be a hernia, she said. a hernia? it's one of those words i hear but i have no idea what it means. the good thing was she didn't think it was very serious. i still have my doubts, but i'm seeing my regular doctor in 2 weeks, and he could figure out a course of action with him.
as for my other problems: she was switching me back to 160mg of diovan (faxed the prescription to my pharmacy), the blood pressure drug i was taking before that had very good results before i switched insurance and had to change medication as well; the chest pain she thinks is just gastrointestinal, and suggested taking some maalox if the symptoms get worse.
before i left MGH, i had some blood work done as well an EKG. i hate giving blood and couldn't bear to watch as the technician stuck in the needle. the EKG took place in the room next door. i don't remember ever having one done before. i basically lay down topless on a bed while the technician put stickers all over my body (ankles, torso, head). then she gets this thing that looks like a little battery with a bunch of jumper cables and starts attaching the wires to the stickers. she then hits a few buttons on another machine, it makes some sounds, and i get a printout of my EKG. "take this back to your doctor," she said, "everything looks good." that's a relief!
originally i was going to bike into boston but the rainy weather changed my plan. after the doctor's appointment i walked down towards city hall to haymarket to pick up a few things: some goat meat, pineapples, scallions, ginger, garlic. i was there early enough that some of the stalls hadn't set up yet.
instead of taking the green line from government center, i walked down to park street to grab the red line directly.
this bit of snow validates my decision not to take out my motorcycle. i could've done it weeks ago, but i wanted to wait until the city sweep the streets in april. even if i did have my motorcycle out, this small amount of snow wouldn't have made a difference. by late afternoon, with the intermittent rain, all that snow had melted. nevertheless, i did shovel the slush off the sidewalk before hand.
when i got back home i took my bike out from the basement and rode to the nearby rite aid to pick up my new prescription. i updated my health insurance information. they told me they already billed me for the drug, but sent it to my old insurance, which i didn't have anymore. they were able to fix this clerical problem though, and i managed to get my diovan for $25 instead of $40.
coming back, i made a detour to johnny's foodmaster to pick up a carton of seltzer on sale. it was still drizzling and my glasses fogged up enough that i couldn't see. the bike lanes were also covered in slush, making for a slow and treacherous ride.