There is a view of hypertension
in medical textbooks. There is also a different view
of high blood which is seldom spoken about in
medical schools and medical conferences. The story
below reveals the second view.
A woman visited me for the
treatment of high blood pressure. She smiled and
giggled as she answered my questions about stress at
home and work, infections, pain syndromes, heart and
kidney diseases, and food allergies. I looked at her
husband and asked if she smiled and giggled at home
the same way as she was doing during the visit. The
husband grinned broadly and nodded. Then I asked her
if she smiled and giggled like this at work as well.
She nodded joyously. I was puzzled. I looked at her
intently for several moments, then said, "You're not
giving me any clues to the cause of your high blood
pressure. I am a curious. I would very much like to
know if you can shed light on this. If you cannot
now think of anything from your past, perhaps
something will come to you later. If so, I would
love to hear about it."
The woman giggled some more and
then suddenly became serious. I leaned toward her in
anticipation. Her husband looked at her in earnest
as well. Several moments passed. Then she spoke,
first tentatively, then with growing thickness in
her voice, "There is something...an image that often
returns to me. I would like to forget it but it
keeps coming back. I was raised in a small town in
the South. I used to play with children and some
dogs on a dusty road near my home. One day a cop
drove by, then stopped, reversed his police car, and
stared at us. All of the children froze. My dog
stood by me motionless, then moved closer to me.
Some time later, the cop stepped out of his car,
pulled his gun, took aim and fired. There was a
sharp yelp and then the dog collapsed, with his eyes
fixed on my face. He convulsed and his eyes glazed
over as I kneeled near him. I never forgot those
eyes. To this day, I see them."
Her husband listened to her
intently, as if hearing her account for the first
time. I realized that either she had not shared that
experience with him or he had forgotten. We sat in
silence. Her face then softened, almost to a smile.
Some more moments passed. She stiffened and spoke
again, not as sadly as before, yet with evident
hurt, "There is something else. A strange thing that
I still don't understand. There is this question:
How did that cop know he wouldn't hit one of us
children? I was then seven years old, maybe eight.
Wasn't it strange for a child that young to have
that question? Later I felt ashamed to think that I
thought of the children more than of my dog. Was
that cop just practicing? Just practicing? Had he
ever killed a dog before? Had he killed a black
child? It was so many years ago, but the questions
keep returning and returning and...."
There wasn't anything there for me to say. Her
husband was quiet as well. "Let's go to the
examination room," I spoke and stood up.