Texas celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15. My employer, Del Mar College, is fortunate in that we have an Hispanic minded organization Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE) which puts together different functions for the college staff and community. I am a member and was fortunate to serve on the committee this year.
As part of our NAHN chapter community contribution, several members did Blood Pressure checks at both campuses on three different days. On the first day, September 15th at around 1030, an employee came in to get her reading. I took the blood pressure, paused, took a deep breath, and then took it again. Here was this black female, about 170 pounds, 5’5” tall, about 55 years old (maybe younger) with a reading of 180/110. On the second reading (I follow what I teach) I got about the same. With my pulse slightly elevated, and I’m sure my voice up a few octaves, I asked her in my most professional manner: ‘ Have you ever had high blood pressure?’. She replied that she had been told she had high blood pressure and had been given “some pills” to take. She took them a few days then promptly quit taking them and did not return for monitoring.
Of course, many things are going through my mind as the Nursing Process is evolving through my brain. THINK! I keep telling it, but it got frozen in time I guess. I looked at her and told her what the reading was, expecting to have a semi-hysterical woman on my hands. She gave me the prettiest smile and said something like ‘are you for real’. Then she proceeds to tell me it has been almost that high before. I got some history and she said she had some family with hypertension, some history of heart attacks. I quickly went into my teaching mode, etc. risk factors, etc, prevention, etc. need for medication, etc. All this while she is smiling at me. She had the nicest smile.
I offered to call a family member to take her to the doctor since I did not want her driving. She promptly declined, said she would go to her office and call her doctor. I made her promise (almost to the point of getting it in blood!). I even offered to call the physician myself, I was going to plead (beg or threaten) with the physician to see this woman today! After all am I not a patient advocate? She left the room where were checking blood pressures, escorted by 2 co-workers who promised to send her home. She gave me the warmest, biggest smile.
At 4:45pm, I called her department to ask if she had left to see her physician. Guess who is on the other end of the line? You guessed it – then I really needed someone to check my pressure. She said was just going to call. I reminded her that most offices close at 5:00 pm and strongly urged her to call. Again, I offered to call for her. No, she would do it herself. I began to wonder if perhaps there was a streak of stubbornness here.
Jump forward from that date to September 28th when we are back at the West Campus again doing blood pressure checks. My beautiful smiling friend walks in and gives me an even bigger smile and hug. She tells me she went to the doctor about 5 or 6 days after I checked her pressure. While in the doctor’s office, her pressure was 220/120. She then proceeded to have a cardiac arrest in the doctor’s office! She had a few days stay in ICU and telemetry. Her doctor told her that if she had not been in his office, she would not have survived. He initiated CPR and fortunately for my smiling friend, his office is right next door to a hospital.
She tells me she is on medication and plans to take it as ordered. I told her I was so glad to see her and grateful that she went to her doctor. She said she now understands the dangers involved with her high blood pressure.
I pray that she does. I had shared the story with a coworker and found out this same person had had several episodes where her pressure had been high yet had not sought medical attention. Perhaps this time she will. Her smile is too beautiful to not have around.
Those of us who did the blood pressure checks had a really great time providing education to the students, faculty, and staff who stopped by. We even got a write up in the school newspaper, picture and all! We are aware of what hypertension does and want to expand this to our Hispanic neighborhoods. I personally feel that perhaps I had a small part in contributing to this lady’s continued stay here. Perhaps we will soon grow in membership to provide this and more to our community.
Con Carino y Esperanza,
Rose Caballero – Corpus Christi Chapter