Thursday, July 10, 2008

Doing Your Vitals

'Way back when, a lot of teachers were also nurses. Mrs. Doyle was one such lady who returned to teaching Third Grade and serving as the School Nurse during WWII, when we simply didn't have enough pople to go around. But there was a war going on and rather than just talk nursing, Mrs. Doyle taught it, starting with basic health. She gained our respect by producing an antique sphygmomanometer from an equally antique Black Leather Bag and commenced to give the whole class a tune-up. Indeed, she was not satisfied until the whole damn class had learned how to determine Blood Pressure. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. When you say vitals the implication is that you are recording:

Blood Pressure
Pulse Rate
Respiration Rate
Body Temperature
Weight... and so forth.

That last ...and so forth... looks unscientific as hell but it makes sense to a kid. Along one wall each student had a list showing our body weight, height, color of hair & eyes and several other data elements, some not specific to human vital signs but all of profound interest to a gaggle of eight year olds.

Even more interesting is the fact we collected the data ourselves. And if you think that's a Big Deal, it's not. In fact everyone should be able to not only define their vitals but should have no trouble collecting such data and recording it in a tabular fashion.

Because that's what you do when you get sick.

Ecept nowadays, most folks don't. In the modern world you simply plug yourself into your computer and let it collect your vitals automatically. That guarantees less chance of making an error when you collect the data but it also ensures more uniform reporting. It also guarantees the data will be communicated to whoever needs it.

Which is why you could have knocked me over with a feather when a local 'health care worker' shows up to 'record' my vital signs.

Mebbe when digging the Panama Canal but definitely not in the 21st Century. By the time the 'health care worker' has driven to your home, imposed themselves on you, recorded your vitals -- correctly, I hope -- you are looking at a significant cost in time and gasoline.