The subject of blood pressure is enough to give you hypotension. In the quest to stave of hypertension, the GP now commands that all her patients over 50 have regular blood pressure checks.

The annual summons arrived in a text message that demanded that I attend the surgery and use the blood pressure pod in the waiting area to ensure an accurate measurement. A phone call was in order, to check whether this was the kind of thing I might be able to see to do.

I was fifth in the phone queue and used my waiting time to walk up a hill so that by the time a person who introduced herself as a “Care Navigator” answered the phone, I was a bit on the puffing side of fit. Between gasps I set out my question. Was this the kind of thing that had been designed with accessibility in mind?

“Ahhhh…I…am…just…trying…to…remember,” She said. “Yes, it is. It’s in the waiting room.”
My expert communication skills had let me down. I tried again. “Yes, I’ve got that, but is it the sort of thing you could do for yourself if you can’t see?”
“Well, you sit on a chair and its right in front of you.”
“Has it got a screen?”
“Ahhh…yes. It’s got a screen.”
“And how big is the screen?” I was struggling for breath now.
“Well…I…should…say…from…memory, it’s about the size of my telly.”
“How big is your telly?”
The sound of a horse exhaling let rip in my ear. “From memory, about 24 inches.”
“24 inches?” I checked.
“Maybe 34,” she said. “I can’t remember.”
As my Care Navigator plunged the depths of her memory I began to speculate about her viewing habits. Would she need a large screen to make the most of Strictly? Could a small screen satisfy?
“So, you need to be able to read the monitor?”
“I think so,” she stumbled.
“And how big is the font?”
“It’s big. Definitely big.”
“More than 18 point?” I thought I had better check before I trudged up the next hill.
“From memory…I don’t know.”
I made enquiry as to whether help would be at hand in the event I couldn’t find the pod or missed the chair or mistook the cuff for a coffee cup holder.
“Just ask a Care Navigator for help,” she said.
I couldn’t resist. “Oh, like you. Wonderful. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” she said and suggested I went straight away. I said I would but not because she was having a CRAFT moment, but because all those hills had taken the wind out of me and it seemed easier than keeping the conversation going.

It was only after I had ended the call that it dawned on me my Care Navigator may have been slightly misled by the tone of my request. Questions of accessibility around this do-it-yourself test may not have been uppermost in her mind as I desperately tried to keep up the pace on a particularly nasty gradient.
Three hills and two flights of stairs, taken at pace, later, I found myself in the throng of a late Friday afternoon rush. “Next,’ bellowed a voice from the middle distance.
“Do you mean me?”
“I’m coming to get you.”

This Care Navigators was on it. She knew the way to the pod, the chair, the monitor and the cuff and a quick check brought total recall on how to use it. Then she shared my date of birth, my name and my blood pressure reading with a man struggling to observe the two-meter guidance, gently swaying from side the side as he reflected out loud on his own CRAFT moment and wondered why he was there.

Results show I am the wrong side of hypertensive.

Note: CRAFT is a term my friend Radiator overheard being used by an Aristocratic looking shopper in Fortnum and Masons. “I’m having a CRAFT moment,” she complained. When her companion asked what that was, she announced, in an upper-class drawl, “can’t remember a f…… thing.”