The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Blood Pressure Control 160You, of course, have heard the saying “everything happens for a reason.” I’ve got a story that illustrates this truism.

I was sick most of April. Had a nasty flu bug that set me on my butt, hard. This was the second illness in less than four months. That alarmed me. If it was flu, then shouldn’t I have acquired a resistance from the December event? It seems the bug had morphed and came around for a second go. This time, the bug made its home in my lungs and I had a barking cough from the start. Not good. Especially since two of my friends who also caught the same germ felt compelled to take themselves to emergency clinics, and both were diagnosed with pneumonia.

After two weeks and no sign of improvement, I decided to go to the clinic, too. After a reasonable four-hour wait I received treatment. X-Rays revealed “something” on the lungs, but since I haven’t heard back, I guess the “something” was not a “bad-thing”. The attending MD prescribed Ventolin just in case… but I haven’t needed it. I returned to my sick-bed, knocked back the Buckleys and waited out the germs. I have, more or less, recovered.

But. When the triage nurse took my vitals, I had a shock. My blood pressure was 157/100. Later at home using our personal monitor, ditto. Uh-oh.

It would appear that I was sick for a reason. That is, to uncover the fact that my blood pressure has gone from normal to near dangerous in three short months.

One of my sick friends also had elevated BP. Her MD suggested it was a spike related to the illness. That fits with what my triage nurse told me.

But how long does a spike last? I recorded 10 points HIGHER, yesterday, almost two weeks since the clinic visit. That’s getting mighty close to danger territory. Combine that fact with my awful-izing tendencies, and you have me not only updating my last will and testament, but dramatizing my story here on T-ZAMB.

As to the title of this piece: each of the attending medical staff that day remarked on the blood pressure and urged me to see my doctor.

It’s been four years since I last clapped eyes on my MD. I don’t want to return. I have declared myself without a medical practitioner ever since. Which is a very, very risky thing to do in this political climate when family doctors are scare.

I had three appointments with her. Twice for a physical, and once with a badly sprained ankle. After each visit, she left me feeling confounded by her professional medical care.

When I told her of tinnitus, she did not check my ears because “everyone gets tinnitus.” With the injured ankle, her idea of examination was to reach out with her foot to test mine.

During one physical, she completed half the routine, then told me to go to Walmart to have my blood pressure checked. Her exact words. She was in a hurry to get through her case load and get on with her vacation to Amsterdam.

You tell me: would you trust your blood pressure issues with a doctor who prescribes Walmart?

We won’t even discuss the fact that one entire wall of her office is clad in Barbie dolls.

Two weeks ago, when I was at the emergency clinic, I went to the office of an MD who I happen to know is receiving new patients. I have the application form. On the first page is the query: Why did you leave your last Doctor?

Good question. How do I answer that?

“We have differing ideas on what constitutes professional behaviour.” or “She has Barbies all over her wall.”

Seriously, I want to answer the question so that I don’t come across as a dingbat. I don’t want the new guy to disqualify me because he thinks I’m troublesome. But I don’t want to be disqualified because I already have a local MD.

Clearly, a medical professional must attend to my blood pressure concerns. Tomorrow I will take my application to the new doctor. I may attach a letter pleading my case. Or not. I have no idea what it will take to convince this guy to consider my needs as worthy.

But if I don’t hear from him soon, or if the answer is negative, I may have to call up Dr. Barbie and schedule a visit.

What is the reason for this frustrating medical situation? Stay tuned. I’m sure all will be revealed, sooner or later. In the meantime, it’s me, Dr. Google, and you.

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74 replies

  1. Oh gosh. In the meantime, try some meditation to lower your blood pressure? Kinda everyone does get tinnitus, but I think doctors are supposed to check!
    I’d write that she was a flake. She was a flake. Sans Barbie wall, still a flake.
    I hope you can get it all sorted out soon.

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    • Re: tinnitus – Exactly. It’s common enough, but as you say, an MD is supposed to rule out things like 58 years worth of ear wax build-up. You should excuse the gross reality that was uncovered by a naturopath – my plan B in this case. The tinnitus is still there, but I can hear an entirely new range of sounds!

      Thanks for you well wishes. Meditation/deep breathing: all good strategies to lower anxiety.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Update us, will you? I’m trying to think of a Barbie career costume outrageous enough to send your former MD, but I can’t come up with one. How sad. She sounds awful. But as Wild Thing reminds me from time to time, 50% of all doctors graduated in the bottom half of their class.

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    • LOL – thanks for the smiles. Laughter being the best medicine, after all. Wild Thing makes a very good point, and one that is worth remembering. Because, in spite of that realistic fact, I still expect the professionals in my life to behave… professionally!

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  3. Holy smokes, that doctor should be reported to the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons. Seriously. Keeping my fingers crossed that you get proper attention and treatment soon, Maggie.

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  4. First, off, I hope that your lungs and BP are on their way to solid recovery. Second, get a new doctor and don’t be afraid to act like a consumer when you do. I had a doctor that I didn’t like. I kept him listed as my Primary Care Physician, but I didn’t see him. Finally, I decided to get a new PC but I interviewed them before even asking for their forms. The guy that I ended up with was curious as to all of my questions but he agreed to meet with me after a visit to remove some stitches. The conversation was a good exchange for both of us and he is my doctor now. Good luck!

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    • Thanks Dan, for the encouraging thoughts.
      I’m not sure that the Canadian System is the same as yours. Since our medical professionals are paid for by the provincial government, we don’t have the same luxury of picking and choosing MD’s. There are simply not enough to go around. Now, I suppose there are private clinics out there, but if I found one, no doubt the cost would be beyond my means.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Maggie, it might help to “manage up” this new doctor, instead of(Justifiably) slamming the old. Perhaps you could say you heard the new doc was good with treating blood pressure problems. And evaluating tinnitus. BTW – a hearing test is the first step to determine hearing status. Tinnitus is hard, or impossible to treat. Good thoughts on you getting the new doc. Some good health info can be found on blogger friend Sally Cronin’s site
    http://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com
    Maybe you already know Sally. Christine

    Liked by 2 people

    • Many cases of tinnitus can be cured through self-administered auditory re-training of the ear. Google and YouTube provide a wealth of information about this.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Christine. I’ll take a look at Sally’s blog. As for the new MD, you make some good points. I’m leaving off any mention of the Barbie doctor.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good, Maggie! Glad you’ll consider not including words about the Barbie doctor! I just read the new post with good info about blood pressure from a fellow blogger. It’s correct, stress a big factor, lack of exercise, use of too much salt, and add one more, carrying extra weight! Your new doc will prescribe meds if needed. Granted normal blood pressure is different for each age group. However, the new doc will check out your general health in all systems to determine what’s a normal blood pressure for you. I’m way older than you and normal for me is a lot lower than what’s stated on the table. You are already on your way to good health…keep it up and don’t worry. It’s usually lifestyle changes (what you’re doing) that the doc will prescribe first. Good luck! Christine

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  6. What Dan said. It pays to be straight up in situations where you are definitely not at fault. I do hope you feel better soon and get the attention you need and deserve.

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    • Hi AM – lovely to hear from you. Yes, I am wobbly about taking a straight up stance. That comes from years of avoiding confrontation as well as an unrealistic opinion that MD’s are gods.

      Thanks for your kinds wishes.

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  7. I too would look for a new doctor – her medical treatment sounds dismissive at best. I would encourage you to take all this seriously. A friend of mine just died because of recurring and delayed care with “lung/flu issues”. And if it were me I’d see a cardiologist for blood pressure.
    I so hope you get the proper care – confidence in my doctor is the criteria for me.

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  8. Are you sure she’s actually a doctor?! That’s awful care. I had problems with sudden high blood pressure and it turned out it was my thyroid that needed a low dose of medication. My blood pressure went back to normal. So my point is it can be many things, but it has to be checked out by a doctor who doesn’t check your ankle with her foot. Good luck and take care of yourself (literally).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your reason? At your last visit your doctor was leaving the country. A lie? No…..

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  10. It is very problematic at best to shop and switch doctors with our government health care, especially since there is a shortage of doctors. I feel bad for people that can’t get out of a bad care relationship with their MD. What to put on the application? Say you can’t take your MD seriously. Her exams have been superficial and lacking professionalism. Usually MD’s have their Diploma’s on the wall, this one has Barbie Dolls. You can’t have someone toying with your health care that went to Mattel University. That should get his attention. Good Luck with that endeavour and I hope you get answers and resolution to that BP issue without delay. Feel better soon. Please.

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  11. I hope you can switch and get fixed asap. I have the reverse problem. I want to keep my GP but as I have moved 3 miles I am now out of the catchment area. Policy must have its day even if it is manifestly ludicrous. Well, that’s the NHS bless its cotton socks. Finding a good GP/MD is so important. The last 10 years I have been so lucky. Now it seems it is running out. I hope you fare better.

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  12. Dr Barbie has not taken your medical concerns seriously in previous visits and you deserve better.
    Good luck with the new doctor and please let me know!!

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  13. (1) Everyone does not get tinnitus frequently, but a large number of older people do. If you reported that you were having it very frequently, and your hearing tests as normal, I think your doctor should have asked, or checked, whether you were having balance problems, to test for Meniere’s. If the tinnitus was coming from only one ear, that could have meant something even more serious.

    (2) Not touching your ankle? To me, creepy and disrespectful.

    (3) The B.P. thing? Outrageous. And, I don’t know Canadian law, but here it would be fraud, for if that doctor billed for a physical, but BP wasn’t taken, a physical was not administered.

    Yikes.

    As for the Barbies, those are a separate matter. Odd and disappointing, but maybe she intends them ironically. One can hope.

    Maggie, you have a fun and revealing Freudian typo–check out your last word: “In this political climate when family doctors are scare.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 – Thanks, Babe, for this.

      Yes, I hesitated to mention the Barbie dolls because, I don’t really care if she has them displayed in her office. But it makes for good blog fodder. Actually, no there is one thing that troubles me about the dolls – who dusts all of those Barbies?

      You are absolutely correct about the fraud. There have been reports of Ontario doctors who, when called for a physical will ask, “Top or bottom?” They double dip that way. The patient is obliged to make two visits. One for examination above the waist, and one below. Good old profit motive.

      I need to get myself a hearing test. For hubby, too. We both need “assistance” in that regard.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Barbies did make for good blog-fodder–it was another dependably-good Maggie post.
        🙂
        The dusting thought is creepy. Does one take wet Q-tips to all their little made-up eyes and lips?

        That tops vs. bottoms bit is outrageous!!

        As for the hearing, ah well. To be expected, and thank goodness we live in a time of better than ear horns. BTW, my first comment re: a “test” for Meniere’s was misleading: There is no test, per se. I meant to check whether your low-frequency hearing was worse than average. This plus your tinnitus might indicate early Meniere’s, in which case I for one, would cancel that planned Circus vacation–or at least the tightrope-walking segment.

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  14. Could you respond with “not applicable” and in your meeting casually say that you haven’t been to a doctor in years. All of that is true. Sometimes they are looking for information that will help them treat you better rather than a way to eliminate you as a patient. I left my last doc because the office staff was just awful and I regret not letting him know that. However, he left the practice right after I did so maybe he knew. Good luck.

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    • Hello Kate! I’m hoping that the new guy is looking for ways to include rather than ways to exclude, as you suggest. My answer is that I moved from far away (true – nine years ago) and that I need a local MD. What remains unspoken is the fact the the local Barbie MD is a non-starter.

      It’s a tricky dance, isn’t it, this feedback situation, especially when there is an imbalance of power. Or a perceived imbalance, at any rate.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I would definitely be getting rid of Dr. Barbie! Anyone who recommends Walmart for treatment is just WRONG!! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  16. How about this one?

    Doctor to my wife: You say you have pneumonia but you don’t.

    Me: Yes she does, She has pneumonia on the bottom and top of both lungs and the middle of the left lung.

    Doctor: No she does not, there is nothing on the x-ray.

    Me: Did you check the MRI she had last week?

    Doctor: What MRI?

    Me: Check your file.

    Doctor (after rummaging through her file). Damned if you are not right.

    Me: We are here because the zpack antibiotics they gave her last week conflicted with her regular prescription medication.

    Doctor: No, it didn’t.

    Me: Are we going to end this conversation by you saying. “Damned if you are not right” again?

    Liked by 2 people

    • … no words. Other than I hope this event is in the long ago past and your wife has recovered. AND that you have a new MD.

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      • Thanks Maggie. She is fine. It is lucky that I went into the exam with her, she was too weak to speak, so I stood up for her (usually it is the other way around).

        As for the ER doctor, you get what comes your way.

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        • Ah, yes, of course. I thought it was your regular guy. Glad to hear she’s better, in spite of the incompetence. Glad you were there to advocate on her behalf. Shouldn’t have to be that way, should it?

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          • I am shocked that a second set of eyes are not standard practice in medicine. Whenever you have critical decisions being made, there should always be review. It’s purely ego that this is not done.

            Liked by 1 person

            • When I was a girl, I played with puzzles. Kitties and mountain scenes, and so on. I assume I had kitties and mountains. The only puzzle I can actually recall was of Dr. Kildaire. His and other Hollywood MD’s set my expectations. You know, that my MD would care. That she would be informed. That someone would read the reports and act responsibly.

              HA!

              Liked by 2 people

  17. Wow, what a mess. No wonder your BP is high! If the tinnitus started recently, it could be connected to the raised BP level. Oh, my.. I feel compelled to pray for you. Meanwhile, relax… keep your bed a nearby friend for a while longer. It takes weeks to get over lung things. God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I would have lost my Dr. at the Walmart BP referral. Dear God.

    Be well and see the new physician. Now is not the time to be polite. Take care. Van

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    • Thanks, Van. I saw Barbie only once after the BP thing – that’s because I needed her to prescribe x-rays for my foot. It was that, or wait all day long in the emergency ward. Since I was a working gal at the time, I opted for expediency. But I’ve “fired” her, now, for certain.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Oh, Maggie–so sorry to read this. Did the doctor take a Barbie off the wall and ask you to point to where it hurts? No? Idiot doctor. Maybe you can state a lack of medical professionalism as the reason for selecting a new doctor. Sounds so much better than, “I think she’s a nut job.” I hope someone can help. No one is sick for that long for no apparent reason. Please let us know how everything goes. I do miss you, my friend. XO

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lois. Thanks, hon, for you kind words. You see, I hesitate to write a lack of medical professionalism as the reason, because in my mind I’m bellowing I think she’s a nut job!!! and that the new guy will get that and drop the application like a hot potato.

      Things are looking up. I feel so much better having posted this and getting tremendous support here and offline. Thank you! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I like your post, not the fact you have to deal with all that. My husband has high blood pressure since over 10 years, they put him on different medications. Some help for a bit, then the blood pressure is high up and all over the place. I started researching it a bit. questioned the quack my husband went to. It’s scary. Then, I got a chronic disease (RA) and researched that as well. Food has a lot to do with both of our problems, more than I liked. I threw vegetable oils out, margarine and don’t fry food anymore. Salt is a neglected spice in our home and I cook differently. One mile on the treadmill is a must every day. Believe it or not, after controlling the salt intake and adjusting our diet we both do so much better. His blood pressure is still a little bit out of whack…but not in the 150 anymore.

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    • I truly appreciate the time you took to respond, thank you. I will take your advice to heart.

      Number one for me: I need to get moving again. I’ve been sitting still for the better part of three years while I’ve worked on my correspondence courses, and often under heavy stress to meet deadlines and handle the difficult course material. So, yeah, not much physical activity. These last four months, I’ve been sitting still even more, because I’ve been feeling crappy. It’s no wonder my pressure is wonky!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Lady, you and I have had quite the April, haven’t we? So many parallels: from the high blood pressure to the lack of a GP/MD. Mine retired in November, and we’ve been trying, without success, to find a new one. I wasn’t really applying tons of effort, truth be told, because “I’m fine…I’m in no rush to get a new doctor…I don’t take any prescription meds…” And then, BOOM! The attack of the killer gallbladder.

    A few thoughts for you re: blood pressure:
    1. Do continue to check it at home (or shoppers, or walmart) every day. When you take it, take it 2 or 3 times as that will give you an average. (Sometimes you’ll give a false high the first time around.)
    2. Try OTC supplements, like: Garlic pills, Fish Oils or Omega 3 with CoQ10. I use the first two, daily, and find they keep my BP in line (other than when my stress is off the charts, like when moving house, or when my pain is off the charts, like during a gallbladder attack). When both those things happen AT THE SAME TIME(!), there isn’t a supplement in the world that will lower my BP. 🙂
    3. If it stays high, see a doc and take what they prescribe you. High BP is a silent killer. Mine was very high many years ago due to a stressful job and not enough exercise (+ extra pounds). I took the prescription meds for 5 years (was told I’d never come off them). That was before My Year of Sweat. 🙂 I proved that you can bring your BP down through exercise and healthier living – but I still do the natural supplements because they certainly don’t hurt.

    Take good care of yourself, Maggie.

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  22. I’m so sorry, Maggie. I do believe decent medical professionals are as frustrated as we patients that bureacracy has replaced sound healthcare. Who cares whether we have cost coverage if the care is non-existent or crap?

    And trying to find a different practitioner is nigh impossible as far as assessing whether it’ll be an improvement. Nevertheless I’m glad you are taking that necessary step. Everything you’ve been dealing with the past year has been stress-inducing. I’m not sure there’s a quick fix but certainly obtaining the expertise of a new doctor is the first step. No matter what, don’t give up.

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    • It is an insane situation, and you’ve captured the essence of it, Sammy. The vulnerable (the ill, in other words) are obliged to navigate a system that has only the bottom line in its sights. We are like so many hamburger patties waiting to be processed.

      It is a crap shoot, this finding an MD. Who knows? I might be jumping from the frying pan into the fire, speaking of flipping burgers.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Not a true story but could be:
    Doctor: And why are you here?
    Me: I have a fever.
    Doctor sticks the thermometer in my mouth. Three minutes later, he says:
    Looks like you have a fever. So you’re not feeling well, I take it.
    Me: How did you know?
    Doc: Just an educated guess.
    Me: You are the doctor. I suppose with 4 years of college, 4 of med school and 3 in residence, you could tell me a little more than that.
    Doc: You’d think. (Listens to my hear.) Cough please.
    Me: Cough cough cough.
    Doc: I would say you are sick. Go home, take two aspirins and go to bed. Come back in a week if you’re still not feeling well. We’ll send you to a specialist.
    Me: But, Doc, what’s wrong with me?
    Doc: Damned if I know. That’s why we’re sending you to a specialist.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. After a heart attack and stroke, I now have annual checkups, have lost weight and take my meds…3 for HBP. Don’t mess around Maggie. For a long time, I had a “It will never happen to me” attitude too.

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  25. Just say you don’t want to trust your BP to someone with Barbies on her wall. Get thee to a doctor.

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  26. First of all, I’m so sorry you’ve been this sick. My husband, always a pillar of strength, was knocked for a loop by something which almost compelled him to…..wait for it!…..go to the doctor. He got better eventually so nothing that drastic occurred, but I so sympathize with how you must have felt. I don’t know about everybody getting tinnitus but we both have it and it’s bad enough that a common question around here is “how are your ears tonight?” I’ve noticed mine ring a lot when I’m stressed. Is that weird? But it’s true. Do you have to reveal to the potential new doctor who your old one was? I’m thinking you could just say “she retired” and leave it at that? Probably not so easy.

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    • Hi Barbara – glad to hear you hubby rebounded. The fact that your ears ring more when stressed makes intuitive sense to me.

      The thing with the application is that we also must sign a release so that the MD can do a search on our medical file that is kept with the Ministry of Health. If he elects to do so, he will see Dr. Barbie as my most recent MD. And he will see that she has not retired to Amsterdam or anywhere else for that matter. I may be over-thinking this. But in case I’m not, I want to position myself as best as I can and not come across as a fibber. A bad way to start a doctor/client relationship.

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  27. I don’t know about things happening for a reason (other than physics and chemistry etc.) but this could be what you needed to find a good doctor if that’s possible for you. 157/100 isn’t very high for a person who is having problems breathing and may have a fever.

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    • Hi Martha! I hope I find a good MD, too.

      You are right. The BP reading isn’t all that high given the circumstances, and I have heard plenty of stories, now that I’ve spent the better part of a week talking to anyone who will listen about my concerns. My hubby registered 210/something. An Aunt was recorded at 240/something when she was in her 40’ss. She’s in her 70’s now and doing fine. Both were not in ill health at the time.

      Here’s what happened, I think – I’m surround by nurses and doctors and technicians and each and everyone looks at my BP reading, sucks in their breath and says, “Oooh. Better attend to that.” I am prone to anxiety and it kicks in big time. But the more I talk to people, the more I realize that one random reading, taken during a period of illness especially, is not enough to warrant the level or alarm that I experienced. The reading was noteworthy, but not an indicator of crisis.

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  28. Oh gosh, Maggie, how old did you say you were? You tell the (hoped-for) new doctor the reasons you left the last doctor, just the way you told it here. (Well, dressed up a bit.) To wit: (1) She was in a hurry to get out of the office and did only half the annual physical I had come for. What’s more, she neglected to take my blood pressure. When I asked her about it, she told me to go to Walmart’s. (2) On another occasion, when I complained of tinittus, she said everyone gets it and did not check my ears for wax buildup or send me to an audiologist for tests of hearing loss (which tinittus often accompanies). (3) When I came with a badly sprained ankle, she kicked it with her foot. That was the extent of her treatment. I have no confidence that despite her license to practice medicine, she can take care of me competently…. I’m sure the new guy will take you on with this kind of patient history.

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  29. Maggie, I do hope your new doctor is sympathetic and treats you like anyone would like to be treated, with respect and concern. Hope your BP is settling down again and you are not feeling stressed!
    My computer has been having your problems and has just returned after three nights away from home! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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