Applying to the Peace Corps is somewhat like jumping through hoops set on fire. Especially since my medical care professionals seem to have stripped me naked and thrown gasoline all over me.

This burns a bit. Anyway, on to my story.

At the behest of the Medical Office I am refilling out some paperwork, mostly because a nurse mistook the blood section of the urinalysis for the hemacrit section about 3 inches to the right. Oh, and it appears they took my blood pressure wrong.

The Peace Corps was a little worried as it appeared I have really high blood pressure. This is not the case. Normally, its low. But, because I want a job with them, I will jump through as many hoops as they put out before me. I really have to get out of Iowa.

So I get to the doctor's office around 2:20. At about 3:15, the nurse in charge of just checking blood pressure calls my name and then proceeds to apologize profusely for leaving me out there as long as she had. Apparently, the blood pressure check queue is its own thing apart from the one people wait in to see an actual doctor. It was no problem at all to wait, as they had the new issue of Outside magazine. We get into the exam room and I explain why I'm here and she flips through my chart. I watch her flip through the chart and I notice my name is misspelled. I point this out to her. She looks at it, looks at me and says, What do you go by? I answer, Katharine or Kat. she says, But not Kathy. I say, No, never Kathy. She asks what my birthdate is, I answer. She looks back at the chart, looks at me and says, I'm going to go get your chart. I begin to wish that I'd brought the magazine in with me.

So, she brings back the chart, makes some notes and then goes to take my blood pressure. She can't hear anything. So, she tries the other arm. Still can't hear anything. She gets the mercury way up high, and she hears nothing again. Nurse Shelley decides to go get the blood-pressure-taking machine. She hooks me up to it, says relax, and then lets the machine take it. I watch my arm turn white, and then slowly back to flesh color as the blood begins to flow back into it. We do this three times, each time getting an error that says, Outside readable range.

The nurse goes to get a new nurse, Nurse Sasha. Nurse Sasha proceeds to try and take my blood pressure. She says to me,I'm going to get the mercury up really high, this is going to hurt. This is not a problem, at this point I'm four months into what is usually a six to nine month process of applying to the Peace Corps, an hour of nurses trying to take my blood pressure is a drop in the bucket. Nurse Sasha says, I think I heard something, but I'm not sure. It sounded really low. I explain that this one day in which my BP was written down on my medical forms was the only day in my recollection it had ever been above 120/something. She says, "Hmm. I'd like to try the other arm." So, she does. And nothing. Well, not nothing. She made a face and said it sounded low again. I asked Low, Low? Like it could be a problem low? And she said, Yes, like it could be a problem. Skippy.

Nurse Shelley returns with a different blood pressure cuff and tries again. She agrees with Nurse Sasha, she thinks she's hearing it low, but she's not sure. They discuss this and decide that the P.A. who took my b.p. the first time heard something artificial and not the actual sound that indicates what my systolic pressure is. Under normal circumstances, this would make me ridiculously angry as if this and the U.I thing had been done correctly the first time I'd already be medically cleared and I might know where I'm going. Alas, I am not, and I do not and this is the only thing I can do about it. So, I actually think its funny. Apparently, to two nurses and a machine I have no blood pressure at all. Weird. I have a pulse. And, I'm not even to the best part... they had the cuff so tight on both my arms, I started bruising almost immediately so they want me to wait a day before we try again.

On the way out of the office, Nurse Shelley asks when this all has to be done; when I am leaving. I tell her, Oh, soon as possible]. They won't place me without this information. She gives me this sort of sad, I'm sorry look. I tell her I'll see her on Wednesday and we can try again.