Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Passing A DOT Physical Has Never Been So Harrowing

Today while sitting around the company terminal in Grand Prairie, Texas, Ed and I decided we might as well go get our DOT physicals done. By law, we have to get them done every two years. I had been a little hesitant because my normally perfect blood pressure of 120/80 had been a little high.

In order to get a two-year medical card, you can't be over 140 on the top number or 90 on the bottom number. I had been monitoring my own blood pressure in the truck for over a month, with a blood pressure machine my mother lent me. I even have an Excel spreadsheet, averaging the readings over time. Needless to say, it was the only thing on my mind that morning.

For a fat chick, I'm pretty damn healthy. I don't take any medications, my blood sugar is always good (my mother is diabetic and has pricked my finger many times to take my blood sugar), I rarely get sick, I don't have any physical limitations or issues (save recent intermittent joint pain in my left ring finger), don't have high cholestrol, rarely get sick and have never had high blood pressure. That's more than I can say for some of my thinner, younger and exercising friends and family members.

Anyway, got a little sidetracked there, but it'll tie back in later, I promise. So Ed and I went to the clinic a few miles from the terminal, signed in, and sat in the very full waiting room with the rest of the crowd. Everyone in there was waiting on the same thing - a DOT physical. It looked like we'd be there all day. Ed was called in, but was back out within minutes - they had taken his blood pressure, did his eye exam, height and weight, etc. They sent him back out until an exam room was ready.
Then the sky started to get dark. A storm was coming in for sure. But it wasn't just a storm, which we found out when someone changed the channel from ESPN to the Weather Channel. It was a tornado. Actually, several tornadoes. So as we sat there, we were watching this on the local news:

About twenty minutes into watching this, the manager of the facility came out into the waiting room and asked everyone to please come back into the interior of the building. So the group got up and filed into the hallway inside the clinic. The waiting room was all glass and it was clear they wanted everyone to get to a safer location.

The tornado sirens were going off and the manager had a weather radio pressed up against his ear. I guess this is a normal April in Dallas, as most of the people seemed more irritated that they were just standing there, rather than worrying about the four tornadoes that were touching down all around us. Just then, the nurse called my name. Great.

As she ushered me to the back, I joked about it being a bad time to get a blood pressure reading, that since I wasn't from this area, the whole tornado thing was a little unsettling. She took my height and weight, asked me to read the eye chart, and handed me a cup for the pee test. After I got the all clear on that, she sat me down to take my blood pressure. Uncharacteristically, I was a little freaked out at what the results might be. And with good reason.

When the cuff expelled all its air, I turned my head to the nurse and she blurted out my blood pressure.

"What??" I said. "That's got to be wrong."

"Yeah, it is a little high," she laughed. "Don't worry, we'll take it again later." Damn right we take it again later. Thankfully, the second reading was much better. Down around my regular neck of the blood pressure woods. The doctor loved me - he said I was sufficiently flexible, he discovered I actually did have a heart, and my hearing was spot on - he passed me with flying colors.

After the physicals were over, we naturally went to for a bite to eat. On our way to the nearby restaurants, we passed a lot of debris from the storm. Fences were down, roofs were torn off, trees were uprooted, car windows were broken, even WalMart was temporarily closed due to damage. The restaurant we ate at lost a good amount of their roof tiles and the scaffolding from an area of the mall where they were doing renovation was strewn across the parking lot. It looked like a tornado went through!

After everything died down, we got online and saw a few pictures. One of the most amazing was this one, of the local Schneider trucking yard:
A a trucker friend of ours drives for this company and said that as far as she knew, there were no fatalities but she wasn't sure if anyone was hurt. The carnage is really unbelievable. Loaded trailers on the road aren't very stable in the wind, these empty ones were just thrown around like toothpicks. You can see more here:

Ed and I were so fortunate to have not been in the path of these tornadoes. I always kid about how we seem to always escape the natural disasters of the country - mudslides, earthquakes, Nor'easters, tornadoes - and how I always wish we could see just one. Well today I was glad that we (narrowly) escaped the path of destruction. I don't know what I would have done if we were on the interstate and I saw that funnel cloud coming toward us. It's not like trucks move fast to begin with, and unlike cars, we can't just pull a u-ey and head in the opposite direction.

And had not been at the clinic, we would have been sitting in our truck not watching the Weather Channel, that's for sure. We wouldn't have even known it was coming. I'm sure one of us just would have commented on the darkening sky, the wind and the suddenly pounding rain, but not even considering where it came from.

There was definitely more than luck on our side today.


june in florida said...

You definitely don't fool with Mother nature, glad your ok.

ELH said...

Saw,those videos of the trailers being tossed all around, pretty scary stuff for sure..glad you guys were safe...and healthy...

Willow said...

Glad you are safe!!!

Angela said...

There were not any reported injuries even at our company yard. I guess there must have been adequate warning and everyone on the yard got into the safety of the building before the tornado hit. Pure miracle if you ask me. My buddy was down there the other day and said some of the tractors are still on the lot, piled up in the back and he said it made him sick to his stomach to think what it would have been like had someone been in any of those trucks. Apparently the wreckage was something to behold.