Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

March 17, 2018
by funny

Money, Medical Practice, and the Patient

So you’re no doubt all on the edge of your seats: WHAT did the Mayo say about the endless blood-pressure conundrum, in the wake of the Affair of the Phantom Heart Attack?

Mwa ha ha!

Friday morning I stock up the covered wagon, yoke the oxen, climb into the seat, snap the bull-whip, and head across-country to that fine organization’s doctor’s offices — from my house, about halfway to Payson. Traffic isn’t bad, for a change — it’s the tail end of rush hour — and I get there in less than an hour.

That notwithstanding, they call me right in. I present the current three months’ worth of twice-daily blood-pressure measures called up by my cardiologist “in the wild” (this is what we call doctors who practice outside the coveted Mayo system), explain why I thought I needed to make a fast run on the ER at 2 a.m. the other morning, and fork over a long list of questions and observations:

The main question/proposal: We need to treat the causes of this supposed elevated BP, not the results.

Factors: There appears to be a correlation between what I tag “annoyance” (comprising annoyance, frustration, anger, and related negative emotions) and higher numbers. A correlation also exists with hot flashes. And another factor appears to be pain: headache, musculo-skeletal, dental, etc.

  1. Hot flashes: These episodes occurred before I started on the amlopidine & they continue, but it wasn’t until after I started taking it that they began happening with some frequency. Whatever is causing them, they clearly are directly connected to BP spikes. BP is elevated every time I test during or shortly after a flash.

What is causing these hot flashes? Could there be an ovarian problem? Can we address this issue?

  1. “Annoyance”: I seem to have developed a problem coping with minor (and major) daily aggravations, such as computer hassles, urban driving, work stress, bureaucratic bullshit, & the dog yapping. Unclear whether a causal relation exists between mild anger or irritation and spikes: the “annoyance” tag also appears many times in the absence of a spike — often when numbers are in the low 120s and 110s.

Some of these issues cannot easily be dispensed with:

  • To live in the city, I have to drive.
  • My business partner declines to fire the infuriating client.
    • I can’t do business or function socially without dealing w/ a computer.
    • I am not getting rid of the dog.

What can be done to address a physiological reaction to frustration, annoyance, and anger?

  1. Pain. This is a constant: at my age, you just hurt as part of life. Chronic sources of pain:
  • Headache. Probably sinus; occasionally migraine. Sometimes stress.
  • Hip pain. Undoubtedly related to osteoporosis.
  • Mastectomy scars.
  • Dental pain of unknown etiology.

Recently learned that pouring cool or cold water over your head can stop a stress or migraine headache, and this drops BP reading rapidly. Otherwise: I can’t take acetominophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin.

Got any other ideas? Is there a way to determine whether I actually am allergic to OTC pain-killers? Or to desensitize me to at least one of them?

  1. Supposed” elevated BP. There appears to be a great deal of controversy over what is dangerous and what is not.
  • Mayo’s ER doc called me, three times, a “very low-risk patient.”
  • British NHS guidelines differ from US guidelines.
  • HOPE-3 researchers (Lonn et al.) found BP-lowering drugs led to no change in mortality & morbidity after 5 years.
  • New AHA guidelines have been criticized on several grounds.
  • Pharmaceutical companies fund the American Heart Assn., confounding the issue with an obvious financial motive
  • Other studies (e.g., Diaou et al, BMJ) suggest guidelines are too low and many people are overtreated

What, really, is the science-based, proven significance of BP spikes that occur in response to external stimuli? Is an average BP in the mid-120s/high-70s to mid-80s something that needs to be treated? Show me the science that proves it!

To my astonishment, the woman they assigned to me — a P.A. who specializes in cardiology — actually sat down and read all this bullshit! Instead of just glancing at the figures I’d compiled for the cardiologist (which is what he does: gives a cursory glance at the overall average), she sat there and studied the spreadsheet. She read my questions and thought about them. (I hafta ask you: when have YOU had a doctor behave like this?)

After I’d had time to calm down (nothing makes me more miserable or more nervous than going into a doctor’s office or a hospital, except possibly a face-to-face encounter with a home invader), she took my blood pressure and pronounced it non-alarming. She was familiar with the HOPE-3 study and knew about its five-year finding that blood-pressure-lowering drugs had exactly zero effect on mortality and morbidity among its large sample population.

And finally she opined:

• 108/75 is too low for me. This is why I have been feeling so dragged out I can barely haul myself down to the bathroom.
• The occasional spikes into the 140s are not very out of the ordinary, nor are they anything to get hysterical about.
• I should quit taking the drug ASAP. (Beat her to that one!)
• I should knock off tracking my blood pressure every damn day, for godsake.
• She was ordering a stress test and a full blood panel. Go downstairs now, please, to get the latter done.
• Make an appointment, please, for the stress test. Seeya soon!

It was pretty clear that she did not think I needed to be on a $125/bottle calcium-channel blocker — or anything else. Nor did she think there was really much of a problem. The average BP compiled over the past three months of 123.4/81.9 struck her as within the safe range.


When I staggered out of her office and bounded down the fire-escape to my car, I felt more like crying than celebrating.

Sumbiche. I’ve been through two years of this torture, with doctors in the wild trying to pressure me onto these drugs by repeatedly telling me that if I don’t take them I’m going to drop dead of a stroke or heart attack.

One hesitates to state the obvious: that I was gratified when her opinion echoed my own. But yes: I was gratified that her opinion echoed my own. But that is because my opinion is grounded fairly solidly in science: I do know how to read a research report, and I certainly can distinguish between science and woo-woo. Those traits follow naturally on several years as a technical editor.

* * *

Some years ago, my beloved, long-time, and much trusted GP, Tim Daley, quit his private practice and went to work for the Mayo. He had done his residency at the Mayo in Minnesota and was delighted when they opened for business here in Arizona. Despite the pleading and dismay of his partners, LIKE A ROCKET he shot out of downtown Phoenix and off to Outer Scottsdale.

Naturally, I followed him. One does not easily let go of a competent, intelligent doctor imbued with experience and common sense. Getting insurance that would cover the Mayo was sometimes challenging, but in the occasional years that My Beloved Employer dropped the ball, I would go out on the open market and buy my own.

Eventually, Tim retired.

His parting shot to me was this: Never hire a doctor who relies on a private practice to make a living. Get yourself a doctor who is paid a salary. All other doctors are motivated to “discover” reasons that you need treatment and medications that will keep you coming back to their office for endless consultations and further rounds of treatment.

“Holy shit!” said I. “Where does one find a doc who gets paid a salary, this side of Luke Air Force Base?”

“In Arizona? Your only choice is the Mayo. Or,” he added, “doctors who have ’boutique’ practices, whereby you pay a stiff annual fee for the privilege of becoming one of the limited number of patients they see.”

Toward the end of my tenure at The Great Desert University, the state offered PPO coverage that included the Mayo, so I was able to stay on their rolls that way. (Wander off, and the Mayo will dump you: especially if you’re on Medicare, whose bureaucracy they prefer not to deal with). Once I got on Medicare, I was a legacy patient and so they could not gracefully boot me out.

I hadn’t thought much about Tim’s advice in recent years. But now on reflection it comes back to me. Get a patient with BP in the 120s or low 130s believing she has “high blood pressure,” slap her on the smallest dose of BP meds you can prescribe, and you’ll get her locked in to coming back every three months for a consultation, now and forever. And that will be a consultation for which you can charge Medicare and her Medigap insurance, to the max. She will, in a word, represent your bread-and-butter.

So, my friends. Bear in mind that medical practice is not a religious calling. It is a business. You are a cash cow, no less for doctors and hospitals than for vendors of televisions, communication systems, real estate, and cans of beans. In America, you have to be an alert and aware consumer of medical treatments, same as you need to be an alert and aware consumer of anything else.

And good luck to you…

March 16, 2018
by funny

Mall as Gym?

So we just knew there has to be something worthwhile remaining amongst America’s dying suburban malls.

And no doubt of it, most of them are dying. Not too long ago, I commented on Scottsdale Fashion Square, Arizona’s answer to Rodeo Drive. That entrancing venue along with an open-air shopping center are about the only retail malls in the Phoenix area that can be said to thrive.

Friend of mine and I made a grand tour of Scottsdale Fashion Square a few months ago and found the commerce pretty lively. The rich, after all, are always with us. And when there’s only one Prada store in the whole state, well…

So yesterday SDXB, who appears to be dying of boredom out in lovely Sun City, announced that he wished to schlep to Scottsdale and spend some time hanging out in that august realm.

We arrived shortly after 10 a.m. and were greeted by — wouldn’t you know? — a friendly concierge, who apologized for all the construction. The place was pretty much torn apart, though the stores were trying to do do business around the chaos. Probably because of said chaos, the place wasn’t as crowded as it had been, but new and even more ridiculously upscale stores had been moved in.

We spent about 5 hours trotting around. Then we went to a couple of freestanding stores in central Phoenix, which required us to not walk but RUN across two  major thoroughfares, twice. By the time we headed home, we had gotten our exercise, free, thanks to a three-story shopping mall and a spread out sprawl of storesl

And therein lies a strange tale:

We observed that all the Majorly Fancy-Pants Retailers — Armani, Bulgari, Kate Spade, Jimmy Choo and a slew of others — are clustered together on the west end of the mall. The middle-brow stores that you’d expect to see in an ordinary shopping mall anchored by a department store or two are banished to the east end of the mall, down by the entrance to the movie theater and the greasy-smelling food court.

Hm. Interesting strategy. In effect, they end up with two malls: Rodeo Drive on the Desert and yet another plain-vanilla shopping ghetto for boring chain stores full of Chinese products: J. Jill, Ann Taylor, Express, and on and mind-numbing on.

Remains to be seen how that will work out. Personally, my guess is that most of the custom will go to the elegant stores, and the Chinese-junk stores will languish. Why even bother to go out to buy that junk, when you can order it on line? But why not go out and buy from a Brighton or a Cartier when you are Mrs. Gotrocks, you can afford it, and you have nothing else to do? And no, you’d never be caught dead in a dowdy piece of J. Jill fatlady junk designed to fall apart in six months?

How d’you think this will go, dear readers?

March 13, 2018
by funny

Annoyance, Anxiety, and Pain?

This stuff has gotta stop.

A new doc’s appointment coming up on Friday, I’m wrapping up a blood pressure/events diary by way of discussing the blood pressure conundrum. Fack, what a Pain in the Tuchus, caps and lower-case.

By way of trying to infuse some sense into ream after ream after ream of brain-banging numbers, I took it upon my little self to mark each arguably hypertensive event with a tag relating to any concomitant circumstances or emotional states that might be relevant:

  • Pain, headache
  • Pain, other
  • Annoyance
  • Anxiety
  • Alarm
  • Hot flash

That’s about it. There really aren’t that many things that unnerve my cardiovascular system. but I guess those six are quite enough.

So today I’m organizing 575 entries (yes, you did read that right!) and it strikes me that I’ve entered “Annoyance” an awful lot. Like…oh…at least once a day. Often lots more than once a day.

Indeed. If you believe this little transcript of miseries, I am “annoyed” every single goddamn minute of my life.

Huh! Think o’ that.

Well, “annoyance” runs a fairly wide gamut: from mildly peeved (more junk mail in the postbox!) to irritated (Trump news, computer hassles, driving the homicidal roads of Phoenix) to freaking enraged (Cox makes a hash of things, Mac crashes and loses a sh!tload of data). But what that’s saying is that I traverse a spectrum of emotion that runs from ever so slightly ruffled to mad as a cat…every day. Every freaking day.

No wonder my blood pressure hovers near the ceiling.

And therein lies the issue: That, whatever it is, has gotta stop!

Exactly how one makes a steadily flowing tide of rage come to a stop escapes me. Really: I have no idea. But one expects that recognizing something makes it possible to deal with something.

So one hopes.


Ah, yes, Today: it began with five hours of wrestling with intransigent computer hardware. An hour on the phone with a Cox tech (Cox has recently taken a page out of Apple’s book and now, mirabilis! offers a service that allows you to talk with a tech in real time). After much thrashing around, he fixed one issue (re-connected the [ever-annoying…] new MacBook to the [unhappy, cranky] Brother printer. Then realized, in short order, that the wi-fi card on the stegosaurus-vintage Mac had crashed.

Finally get breakfast and a couple cups of coffee along about 11 a.m.

Feed the dogs and feed myself. Post a new chapter from The Complete Writer at Plain & Simple Press. Realize it’s a bit too bloggish and…come to think of it, out of date. Rewrite it. Add new material, expanding its scope a bit. But find myself a bit too tired after the morning’s marathon Annoyance to go on at much length.

Decide to take a full half-hour (it expands to 40 minutes) to unwind preparatory to running the last BP measure I intend to commit, by way of finishing off this diary to present to her Doc-hood. Use the time to draft a little bit of the Ella story. Don’t get far.

Numbers: Not too bad. Average: 122.4/78.1. Craziness factor: intense…

Consume afternoon in cleaning up the data I’ve collected and trying to make sense of it, the morning having been blown with trying to make the computers and Internet connection work.

My friend calls to say that her mother has passed. Not unexpected — she was very elderly and not well. But sad. We agree that she should refrain from going to the planned concert this weekend…especially since it happens to fall on her sister’s birthday.

Out the door like a rocket, running late as usual.

Naturally, Missouri Road is blocked down to one-lane-in-both-directions, preparatory to new lane-painting. Not a paint truck in sight, as far as the human eye can see. Takes for fuckin-ever to get through that mess, but fortunately I left not quite so late as it felt. Get to the Apple store right on time.

There we learn that the MacBook cannot be fixed, because Apple considers a nine-year-old computer too superannuated to be bothered with. But given that I dropped it and dented one corner of the thing pretty badly and yet it STILL kept on running, I can’t complain.

Peruse Apple’s present offerings and realize that really…seriously…I should have bought a MacBook Air. It would have cost a fraction of what this MacBook Pro cost; it has enough memory and power to do the main jobs I do; it lacks the annoying touchbar; and its keyboard has not yet been stupidized.


Peruse the iPhones. Learn how to get ahold of refurbished versions and how to recognize the ones that probably will run for a few years. Think the price, even on the second-hand models, is stupidly obscenely fukkin fulminating outrageous.


Drift out of the Apple store. Drift through Saks, check out the Eileen Fisher racks, miss my crazy friend who could spend more money just thinking about it than I can spend working at it. We loved to shop there, which was…crazy, where both of us were concerned. Once in her presence I bought a pile of Eileen’s I couldn’t afford. Took them home. Looked at them and thought holeee shit i can’t afford this. Dropped them back in the bags and returned them.

A week later, happened to pass through the store again, only to find a gigantic end-of-season sale going on. Bought back all the stuff I’d returned, 30% to 50% off. 😀 My friend never knew.

Hit the road at the height of rush hour. Remember not to turn onto Missouri. This leaves just one option: drive up to 24th and go west on Glendale. Traffic is bumper-to-bumper-to-bumper.

But manage to dodge left across oncoming traffic into the (ever-crowded) Sprouts parking lot. Dart in and grab a few things, among the Pomí tomatoes that you can no longer buy anyplace else in town, not even at AJ’s, not even at Fry’s.

Up 16th to Northern, hit a ribbon-shaped parking lot. Nothin’ going on, except a cop helicopter buzzing a ’hood to the north. Just traffic. Traffic. Traffic.

Home, park in front of the computer again. Numbers, numbers, numbers… Forget to feed the dogs. Forget to feed me. Finally give up.

Feed the dogs. Myself, too tired to eat.


Here’s a beautiful piece we’re singing during Holy Week, one of my favorites. Said a commenter on YouTube:

I felt so distressed this morning and found this lovely piece of music, and it healed my mind. Music like this is so healing. Thanks for posting. Very grateful.


March 12, 2018
by funny

It Lives! It Moves!

Holy mackerel! She’s HEALED! It’s a miracle…

Seriously: woke up this morning, for the first time in living memory, completely pain-free: no back pain, no hip pain, no headache. It’s been weeks since I’ve felt this well.

To what to attribute the Divine Generosity?

Well, we had a gentle rain spread over two days. It probably washed a lot of the dust and pollen out of the air. Spring is sproinging here, meaning the bermudagrass lawns and a lot of similar weeds have already leapt to life. I’ve had a nonstop headache for day after day after unending day, accompanied by a stubbornly stuffy head.

Add to the air-laundering job the fact that two days ago I sought recourse in the Flonase bottle. I don’t like to use it, because one of its side-effects is glaucoma. Thanks: the Adventures in Medical Science have been fun, but now it’s time for someone else to enjoy them. 😉 But I figured a few days or couple weeks on the stuff isn’t going to blind me right this minute.

And, probably more to the point: on the ninth, I decided to knock off the blood pressure pills. Over the following three days, as the stuff has worked itself out of my system, I’ve felt better and better — and today I’m pretty much back to normal.

Three factors in that decision:

1) In the month since I started the amlopidine regimen, I’ve felt just completely, utterly dragged out. Immobile. Literally, I’ve felt so wrung out that I’ve stopped walking the dogs (wasn’t that brisk one-mile walk what we were supposed to be doing to treat the blood pressure???), stopped caring for the yard, stopped doing the laundry, stopped writing…you name it, I’ve stopped it. Some days I have sat in an easy chair or in bed with the computer on my lap and done…exactly nothing. I haven’t finished the current chapter of Ella’s Story because I haven’t had enough strength to dream up what comes next.

Interestingly, among amlopidine’s side effects are fatigue, exhaustion, and lethargy…

2) I suspect the surprising new hot flashes — which themselves drive up the blood pressure — have something to do with the side effect of amolipdine described as “warmth.” Obviously, if the manufacturer described this phenomenon as what it is — a fuckin’ hot flash — no woman over the age of 50 would agree to swallow the stuff. That of course would be counterproductive to the goal of getting every Baby Boomer in the land on blood pressure meds.

3) The stuff in fact is doing nothing to stop the spikes in blood pressure. Although it indeed has driven the moments of normal BP down into the 110/70s, nevertheless, the jumps into the 130s and 140s persist. One particularly annoying and stressful day, after I’d squirted the nose with Afrin (well known for jacking up your blood pressure), the numbers hit 141/93, an alarming state of affairs. Two hours later, though, the average of six readings was 107.2/65.8, and by dinnertime (when readings are normally at their highest) another set of measures averaged 116.7/74.7 — hardly indicative of the stroke that I’m told is imminent.

Is it really even driving normal, un-spiked blood pressure down? Well, consider: this morning’s set of blood pressure readings, after feeding and hassling with the dogs, banging around the house, brushing teeth, washing face, and all that routine Brownian motion, average out to 112.7/79.2. The highest in this set of six readings was 122/83. The lowest was 107/78, though the lowest diastolic reading was 69.

Given that before I started taking this drug, I regularly had readings in the 120s and occasionally in the 110s… I suspect this stuff isn’t doing enough good to make it worth feeling like sh!t all the time.

So…what is the explanation for the spikes into the 140s and even occasionally the 150s?

Welp, I believe the issue is a combination of chronic allergies that produce a nonstop headache and passing episodes of vertigo plus what can only be described as excessive sensitivity to stress.

Ever since cardiodoc demanded that I test my BP several times a day, I’ve kept a spreadsheet. In it, I’ve recorded what was going on around me…so whatever progress was happening at any given time is enshrined in Excel.

Think of that. 😉

Sooo…. What I did was build a set of categories of stressful circumstances that seem to occur regularly around the Funny Farm:

  • Headache
  • Pain, chest (mastectomy scars tend to ache; not cardiac-related)
  • Pain, other (like, say, the hip and the back)
  • Hot flash
  • Annoyance (including work stress)
  • Anxiety
  • Alarm (startling events)
  • Excessive salt consumption
  • Light-headedness
  • Drugs, other (i.e., Claritin, Afrin, Flonase)

This produced data for another spreadsheet: one that lists the dates of all the spikes, the highest reading for each event, and the average reading for each event.

Twenty-one such events have occurred since January 9. Of them, 15 have been associated with pain and 16 with annoyance, anxiety, or alarm.

Obviously, there’s some overlap — since I was in pain for several weeks after having hurt a hip in the frenzy to exercise by way of bringing BP down with “lifestyle changes,” any of the other circumstances can occur with it. At one point, the pain from the hip injury/bursitis was so intense I could barely walk up the hall from the bedroom to the kitchen.

Looks suspiciously like causality to me…

So what are the sources of “annoyance/anxiety”?

{chortle!} When you have the personality of a hummingbird, lemme tellya: everything annoys and enrages you. We have the following most common causes:

  • barking dogs
  • jangling phones
  • computer hassles
  • Cox’s interminable fuckup of my phones and computer system
  • polemic disguised as scholarship
  • time pressure
  • worry over health issues (i.e., over the BP matter)
  • having to take these time-consuming, nervous-making BP measures twice a day

I do not know when I have flown into a rage so soaring as the one engendered by Cox Communication. I’m still mad…but there’s nothing I can do about it, so have given up fulminating.

Pain is a form of stress. So are anxiety (nagging worry; 30-minute low-flying cop helicopter buzz-overs, reading or listening to the national news) and alarm (jangling phones and doorbells, potential cardiac symptoms at two in the morning). So what we’re really looking at here is 31 instances of stress associated with 21 blood-pressure spikes.

Admittedly: sometimes normal and low BP readings occur in the presence of one or more of these circumstances. Apparently, not all pain causes a spike; not all aggravation causes a spike. But that notwithstanding, every spike is associated with one or more of the listed factors. And every hot flash is associated with elevated numbers.

Maybe what I need is not blood-pressure meds but a tranquilizer.

Bourbon, anyone?


March 9, 2018
by funny

More of Ella’s story…the serial adventure

So here we are, one week into the scheme to serialize — online — not one, not two, but three books: If You’d Asked Me, Ella’s Story, and The Complete Writer.

This little adventure seems to be working on one level: Plain & Simple Press’s Facebook site now has something like a hundred “likes,” which I guess is to its credit. It’s kind of amusing to put dollops of these books online — in the case of Ella’s Story, anyway, it gives you an excuse to look for exotic images to decorate with.

Pretty time-consuming, though. The fiction piece is easy to put up, but the two nonfiction bookoids (If You’d Asked and Writer) require some fairly elaborate HTML formatting. I am not fond of coding. And there seems to be no simple shortcut to set up links for the tables of contents. Because I haven’t come up with chapter titles for the novel, I’m not building a TofC for that — at least not yet. Because…I can’t see how to create a ToC without having chapter titles: the code to set up page jumps from a table of contents entry to a title takes the reader to the line below the target text, so you have to have something to link to that’s above the first line you’d like the reader to see. I suppose I could enter some sort of symbol above the chapter numeral. But??? I dunno…let’s figure that out later.

Anyway, I uploaded Chapter 4 of the noveloid today: a flashback to Ella’s first meeting with Bhotil, in which she learns (to her dismay) that she’ll be living and working on one of Varnis’s two moons.

It remains to be seen whether loading a chapter a day, rotating among the three books, is a good idea. It does get something from each book online each week. This week we’ve seen  two chapters from Ella, two from Writer, and one from Asks. Next week two chapters from Asks and Writer and one from Ella are slated to go online.

This may be uploading content too fast, for a serialization scheme. In olden days when real magazines still existed, a publication like Saturday Evening Post came out only once a week. Pulp penny dreadfuls like Argosy came out monthly. So a serial story appeared weekly or monthly, not daily. It’s possible that daily publication is more than the market will bear.

On the other hand, it’s a different market and a different medium. Publish the stuff too slowly, and people may forget about it.

Then there’s the issue of keeping up with the schedule. Writer and Asked are complete, so it’s just a matter of copying and pasting existing copy, some of it already camera-ready, into web pages. But Ella is still in progress. To crank a chapter a week will be a challenge. Especially since I have no idea how Ella gets out of the predicament she gets herself into on Zaitaf.

This should be innaresting…

March 8, 2018
by funny

Morning at the Mayo…

So along about 2 a.m. I woke (again!) with a hot flash and the dim sensation of chest pain and, when I checked the numbers, totally soaring blood pressure.

Usually these wee-hours chest aches appear to be pain from the mastectomy scars. If I shift position, it goes away.

Not so this morning. Indeed, before long the pain migrated into the left armpit and down the arm. Lovely.

The nearest hospital is not one with the greatest of all possible reputations. And indeed, I’ve had less than perfect experience in its ER — granted, it was a long time ago…but still…

If you call 911, they will not take you to the Mayo. They will give you the choice of said nearby hospital, St. Joe’s, or Good Samaritan (whatever they’re calling themselves these days).

St Joe’s is the fine institution whose pathologist called me at 7:00 in the evening, said “I’m sorry: you have cancer,” and hung up. So as you can imagine, I’d prefer to go somewhere else. Good Sam is another inner-city hospital, crowded and over-worked.

The only hospital in the Phoenix area that is consistently rated “Excellent” is the Mayo. If you live in North Central and you want to go there, you either get a friend or spouse to drive you or you drive yourself.

Lacking friends or spouses at 2 in the morning, it was into the Toyota and off in a cloud of dust.

Did you know that when there’s no traffic on the Phoenix streets, you can run a red light with no risk of killing anyone or of getting arrested? Did it twice. 😉

Interesting. I’ve never run a red light on purpose before. Nothing happened.

Ripped up the freeway, flying like a bat out of Hell. A six-banger will do that for you, especially when it’s installed in a rather flimsy late-model vehicle. But the guy who’d hit the on-ramp with me (two lanes) was damned if he’d let some woman get in front of him. Before long he disappeared in the distance. Before much longer, I saw the cop lights flashing: caught the poor schmuck.

Thanks, buster: if you hadn’t been going 90, that would’ve been me, even though I was only going 85. 😀

Four hours later, it was clear

a) I was not having a heart attack;
b) I had not had a heart attack;
c) I was not about to have a heart attack (“a very low-risk patient,” said the Mayo’s cardiologist);
d) yep, the blood pressure was very high when I showed up, and
e) yep, the blood pressure dropped down into the normal range well before I keeled over and died.

When I remarked that I’d like to know what the chest aches are if they aren’t a cardiac problem, especially when they seem always to be associated with high blood pressure and/or hot flashes, the Mayo’s ER doc said high blood pressure itself can give you chest pain.

Holy sh!t.

Thus one theory in the offing is hot flash > jacked-up BP > chest pain. But, ER Doc said, she did not believe it was a heart attack. After a slew of tests, she could find no evidence that I’d had a heart attack or that anything was out of whack with the heart itself. She approved of Cardiodoc’s choice of meds and said to keep taking it.

So that was a fine way to spend the night.

Missed the pup’s appointment with the vet to have her teeth cleaned. Missed about five hours of sleep. Missed some peace of mind.

The Mayo, though, is first-rate. They were exceptionally nice to me and kicked into gear the minute I walked in the door. One can’t say that about my experience with other hospital ERs here…