When all of the scariness with my heart rate and blood pressure started, I spent the time before I realized that this was probably not a passing thing hoping things would calm down so I could try the ketamine and maybe get longer lasting pain relief. When I finally did realize how serious things could be, my primary care doctor told me I needed to start monitoring my blood pressure and heart rate.
There were two options for this (maybe a third but the third one was never discussed and I wouldn't have taken it). We could either go to a drug stuore with a BP monitor and check it a few times a week, or purchase one ourselves. Places like Target and walmart have these monitors in the pharmacy, but there is no tactile or audio readout of the information you get on the screen. I could, and did, rely on Mom at first. She's been great about reading the information for me. But there's no privacy in that, and at school that wouldn't be an option.
Another option, which I didn't discuss and didn't like was going into a doctors office, or for that matter a pharmacy and getting help to get my blood pressure taken. That's not very efficient, and can have the issue of privacy.
The last option, which I took, was to purchase a blood pressure and heart rate monitor. This seemed to be the most convenient, since I could thake my BP/HR when ever I needed to, and do it in the privacy of a dorm room. I figured they would be pretty big, and there was a down-side to that, but I decided that it would be worth it to have the added safety and ability to measure things until things stabilize.
I had a few mandates for the product
- Speech: There is no Braille blood pressure monitor, and even if there were, it would be out of my price range.
- Independence: I had to be able to start and stop the measurements and readings.
- Heart rate: I needed to know my heart rate in addition to my blood pressure. I've never succeeded in taking my pulse without sighted help to watch the clock.
- Location: It had to take the blood pressure from the upper arm, not the wrist, since that's not an accurate measure for me.
- Price: I was looking for the cheapest one with all of the features I needed.
One thing I'll note here is that I honestly didn't expect anything else. I truly didn't know what else to require, and didn't know how picky to be. I'll get into availability of adaptive health equipment another day.
So, what'd You Get Already!?
As mentioned in the title of the post, I got the
LifeSource UA-767T Talking Blood Pressure Monitor
The specks are mostly there on the linked page (where we bought it), so I'll just go over personal observations.
Set up was pretty quick. Mom read instructions, which were only available in print. I don't know how hard they would be to scan, but anyway, it might be worth getting sighted help, to put it together. If you're pretty tech savvy, you probably could figure it out pretty quickly. Another option would be to ask at the doctors' office for help, since I'd bet a nurse could put it together quickly. All you really have to do is connect a rubber hose (which also contains the cuff at one end) to the actual box which has the button for starting and stopping, a headphone jack, what I think could be a volume control and a few switches for setting stuff like how hard the cuff inflates (there is a more techy term, I just don't remember it right now).
Once the batteries are in and the cuff is connected, you are supposed to set the blood pressure cuff for 30 points past what you think your top number will be. I just left it where it was, and it was fine. Then, you thread the end of the cuff through a metal "loop" like you do with a belt buckle. Slide the cuff up your arm (roll up your sleeves first) and then tighten the cuff so it stays in place (there's velcro to help). Press the large circular sstart button, and relax. The cuff inflates, then there is a bit of silence, then you'll hear beeping. That's a simulation of your heart beat. after the cuff deflates, a clear male voice gives you the stats.
I also wanted to mention the fact that this thing is small! The machine is small, and the cuff is relatively small, but would fit a medium sized arm. You can select a different cuff size when you buy the monitor. The instructions, machine and cuff all fit into a nice carrying case. It's a bit smaller than a few video cassettes stacked up. It would fit nicely in a carry-on or suitcase.
In general, it fit all of my criteria. The only thing I'd change is the availability of accessible instructions. I would still give it a thumbs up.