Saturday, October 13, 2012

White Coat Syndrome......again

I'm sure you remember the episode I went through with my blood pressure in the summer of 2011 when just before surgery it was discovered that my blood pressure was too high for the doctor to operate. I got it under control and have been doing well since then -- until my dental appointment on Tuesday. As a precaution I took my sphygmomanometer (bet you didn't think I knew that word, don't ask for pronunciation) with me to the dentist's  and also a pill my doctor prescribed that would rapidly lower my blood pressure under these conditions. I would like to go to the dentist some day and have him say, "No problem, Wally.  I can fix that up in five minutes and you'll be on your way".  But that never happens. Two teeth that are beyond repair  have to be extracted. The actual work will be done next Tuesday. It was just an examination and consultation but when I got back in my truck I took a reading. My pressure was above the timberline. After taking the pill it had dropped twenty points within an hour and soon after that it was back to normal.

This White Coat Syndrome is a mystery to me.  I wasn't quivering like a Chihuahua, or consciously feeling fear. Yet, up went the pressure.  I keep my BP at normal levels with medication, but in a clinical setting it spikes to dangerous levels.  I did some research on the Internet and found something interesting. I read a story about a woman with the problem who  had, at a very young age,  a traumatic experience while receiving a routine vaccination.  That was my "aha" moment. 

When I was five years old a friend of the family contracted Tuberculosis.  Everyone who had spent time with him was required to undergo a clinical screening for the disease. I and my four sisters tested positive on a Tine test. Testing positive doesn't mean that you have Tb, especially if the Xrays are clear. It did mean that we had been exposed and the antigens were in our blood stream and always will be, but we did not have it and were never infectious. Yet, we had to undergo a regimen of Penicillin shots in our little posteriors once a week for what seemed like, to a five year old, a very long time but was only a few weeks. I took the shots without crying like a good little stoic -- the nurses bribed me with candy. We also had to take daily doses of vitamin C. This was before the advent of chewable vitamins shaped like cartoon characters. Our mom spooned powdered ascorbic acid into our Kool-aid creating the most vile concoction I've ever tasted. I'm sure that in 1950 that was the the latest scientific procedure. We also returned to the clinic annually for chest Xrays until adolescence.

So that's it. Sometimes, just gaining an understanding of why things happen helps to overcome them. I hope it's true in my case. 

5 comments:

Steven said...

The 'White Coat Syndrome' strikes me as well. And that is odd. Very odd. I was a Navy Hospital Corpsman in the 60's and knew all about BP's, TPR's and other things medical. I even knew how to pronounce sphygmomanometer. Heck, I was the 'White Coat'. Yet, I still show an increase in BP every time I visit the doctor. I have a feeling that if they let me take my own BP readings, I would be free of the syndrome.

Rain Trueax said...

I have the white coat also but it mostly seems to get me in doctor's offices and with no reason that I can explain from the past or today. I dislike going; so that's probably a factor. Even with the meds, which I finally gave up and do take, it goes up to a higher level when I go in but not like it once did.

Dawn said...

Although this may seem silly, have you ever asked your doctor to put on a jacket/sweater, take off lab coat before he came into the room?
Sometimes altering the appearance of the medical personal is enough to prevent white coat syndrome.

wally said...


Dawn: That's a good idea. Maybe if he looked more like Mr. Rogers I would be more at ease.

Kelly said...

Maybe you can find someone to make house calls!