Under Pressure


An empty emotionless husk, isolated and resident in a foreign country…..

The Omron blood pressure meter sat on her desk corner.  A dead eyed silent monster waiting to be activated.  The wall clock ticked away on its relentless march towards the hour of reckoning, strumming her already frayed nerves.

Insidious erosive fingers of anxiety crawled up her spine.   She dry swallowed.  A cottonwool ball of acid sat in her throat, refusing to yield.

Restless she paged through her writing course notes, blindly staring at the pages.  The words a jumbling clutter of nonsensical hieroglyphics.   She glanced at the clock on the wall.  Another five minutes to go….

Just breathe, just breathe…” she whispered, but her body was in revolt.  She unclenched her hands and wiped her clammy palms on her trousers.

She opened her diary and blindly stared at the blood pressure readings she had written down every two hours.  Her eyes zeroed in on the upwards trend in both the bottom and top line of the readings.  Her heart stuttered in her chest.  Her last reading, taken at 2pm, had reached a dangerous high of 180/95.

Hysteria welled up, a freight train thundering through her body.  She curled her shoulders inwards, bowed her back against the onslaught.  A heavy cloak of despair settled over her.

Two minutes to go.  Hands trembling she unfolded the Omron instructions and read through it for the thousandth time.  Deep down she knew she was doing it correctly.  She had followed the instructions to the letter.

“You are going to be a drooling vegetable sitting in a wheelchair…” a witch cackled in her mind.

She took her reading.  190/98.  Phosphorescent white flashes set off behind her eyes and momentarily blinded her.   Simultaneously a deafening chorus of cicadas set up their song in her ears.  She jumped up, tore the page from her diary, grabbed the phone and dialled the doctor’s rooms making an appointment for the next day.

Taking a deep breath she stepped outside into the garden.  Toadstools had sprung up all over after the recent rains.  Childhood memories of Grandpa’s fairy tales drifted through her mind.  For moments it evicted the morose thoughts of death and wheel chairs with dribbling old ladies that occupied her mind.  The steel band around her chest loosened a notch.  “There has to be a way out.  Get a hold on yourself girl.” a stern voice in her mind chastised.


“Your blood pressure is not good at all.  I am going to prescribe extra medication.  Here is a pamphlet on the side effects.  Read it so you are aware.  You must also go for more tests.  We need to get to the root of the problem.  Are you sure there is nothing you are stressing about?”

“Not that I can think of no.  I will do the blood tests tomorrow.”

“Good, then I will have my receptionist book the renal scan.  They could probably do that next week and thereafter I will see you again.”

“Thank you.”

When she got home she went into her room and double checked the laws on euthanasia in Australia.  Confirmed euthanasia was legal in the State of Victoria.

With a new resolve she telephoned her daughter in Melbourne.

“Hi Mom?  Strange to hear from you in the middle week?  What is wrong?”

“Hello Darling.  Not much.  I just wondered if it would be okay if I flew down to Melbourne this weekend for a visit?”

“Sure.  That’s not a problem.  But are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yip.  All good, just thought I want to take a bit of a break and visit you and the family.”

“Okay then.  Email me your itinerary when you have made your booking and I will see you on Friday.”

“Thanks love, bye for now.”

She had no one she could share her anxiety with.  The stress she suffered.  She tried to blank out the vivid pictures swirling through her mind of her being homeless and destitute.  Nowhere to go, nowhere to run, no hope…..

She lost herself in the abundance of emails from overseas clients requiring legal assistance.  The light of day faded away unnoticed.

The front door slamming shut made her jump.  Sighing, she switched off her laptop and went to the kitchen, opened the fridge and took out the pre-prepared dinner of leftovers from the previous day.

“So what did the Doctor say?”

“Not much.  She gave me extra medication and I have to go for more tests.  She wanted to know if I am under any sort of stress.”

“What stress?  You sit at home and do nothing all day.  I am tired of your nonsense.   I am going to the gym.”

Tears of frustration moisturized her eyes as she looked at his departing back.

Under Pressure


“Hi Mom.  Glad to see you.  Dan has made a special dinner for us.  We thought that we could just stay in tonight.  It is that cold.”

“Thank you.  I am looking forward to just relax and stay home with you guys.”

After dinner she busied herself in the kitchen helping her daughter clear the dishes.  Dan popped off to the bar for a drink with his mates.

“Mom would you like another glass of wine?”

“Yes thanks.  Can we sit down, I have something to discuss with you.”

“Okay.  I thought as much.  It is not like you to just pop over this suddenly.  Here’s your wine, let’s go to the lounge.”

She sat down in the leather arm chair.  Took a deep breath and cleared her throat.  The Freddy Mercury song Under Pressure stuck on an endless replay in her mind.

“I have developed a blood pressure problem that refuses to settle down.  It may very well be that I could end up having a stroke.  You know my views on quality of life and yours are similar if not exactly the same.  I have decided to move to Melbourne because the law with respect to euthanasia applies only to South Australia.  Should I have a severe stroke I would prefer not to linger on and be a burden to anyone.  I have prepared all the paperwork and brought it with me.  You need to sign confirming your agreement and to take care that the necessary be done in that event.”

“Are you sure there is no cure?”

“Not completely but I may just as well be prepared for the worst case scenario.”

“Oh Mom…..”

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