I have an Omron blood pressure monitor to take my own BP as I suffer badly from white coat syndrome. It looks a bit like this but it’s an older model and it certainly didn’t cost that much.
2011 was a good year – no falls, broken bones or surgeries – so I got out of the habit of taking my BP because I wasn’t seeing any doctors. I had probably not taken my BP at home in more than 9 months.
Just after Thanksgiving I had my yearly medical and my BP was high in the doctor’s office but she sort of wrote it off because she “knows” I’m monitoring it at home and would mention if it was getting high on my own machine…….
Three weeks later I went back for a follow up to zap sun spots as our insurance doesn’t cover any “procedures” during a medical even though she had plenty of time to stun the spots with nitrogen. This visit she said “wow, your BP is very, very high” and asked what readings I was getting at home – ummmmm – sprung.. She took it 6 or 7 times getting a higher reading each time as it started to hurt both my arm and my head!
She eventually released me with homework – take my BP twice a day and fax the readings to her at the end of January.
I came home fully expecting my machine to show the usual 120/80 previously recorded but the figures which came up really scared me. They were in the high 150’s over 110+ range. I didn’t remember the figures the doctor got but if my BP was this high while “relaxed” at home it must’ve been in the critical range at her office. Perhaps my machine was malfunctioning…….. subsequent readings showed similar disturbing numbers which discounted that theory.
Given that my father had his massive stroke at 54 and his father died even younger than that from cerebral hemorrhage, I was frightened. I tearily said to the manservant “it’s one thing to have a stroke and just die because I won’t know anything, but I don’t want to have a stroke and survive like dad for more than 20 or 30 years” (though dad would say he’s very glad he survived).
I took a hard look at the last few months – well the year really. All the worry over my father and being so far from home & the decisions being made; worrying about my kids, especially the Economist with his near garroting and then the collapsed lung; lots of stress & uncertainty at work – would I lose my job; would I move offices; would I have the same position in the new office; if I stayed in the old office what would my role be; I ultimately moved offices but went on my own – no work friends went with me – the only good thing was the 3 miles from home.
Then came the period from Thanksgiving to Christmas – lots of entertaining and being entertained. These occasions started to spill from the weekends into the working-week nights. My diet, alcohol consumption and sleep were going to hell. Just as well I was still walking….
After Christmas I determined to cut down on salt (hence the less bacon resolution), cut back on the alcohol (my one glass-of-wine-a-day had expanded into 2, 3, 4, more…..) and to find some zen.
In the last 2 weeks my readings have lowered heaps but they’re still higher than “normal” – they’re now in the 130’s over mid 90’s. I no longer feel that my blood is trying to injure me and I’m optimistic the numbers will continue to lower as long as I control those “bad” elements – really I’m quite happy with one glass of wine a night and I like fruits & veggies ; I just need to work on some de-stressing techniques as family & work will always worry me.
And on the subject of fruit & veggies ……. we were watching the news the other night when the presenter said a new study showed that “eating 3 kiwis a day could lower your blood pressure” …… I’m sure New Zealanders would call that cannibalism.
And they must be dismayed by this: