Friday, March 19, 2010
felt the cuff tighten around my bicep. My forearm turned red--it reminded me of beets. Pressure radiated in my hand and I thought it would rupture. Damn it hurt. This wasn't normal. I watched with curiosity to see if it would explode, as if it weren't attached to me, as if it were a YouTube video, but without warning, the cuff loosened, the air released and my arm returned to the white I was used to seeing as the blood flowed normally.
A second later the machine I was attached to started to beep and squawk and flash bright red around a number over 200. It kept squawking and chirping until a nurse came in and hit a button labelled 'alarm off'.
"Your blood pressure is high," she said. Her gaze fixed on the monitor.
"No shit," I thought to myself. Sarcasm might have made me feel a touch better, but it wasn't going to help the situation.
"And glad to see you came running at the sound of the alarm," came another thought I kept to myself. I wondered how long it would have taken for them to respond if I had, as they say, gone into cardiac arrest. Some things are better left undiscovered.
Later, a physician repeated the comment, "You know your blood pressure is high," but unlike so many times in the last couple of years, he added, "We're going to put you on medication," to deal with this hypertension.
I have to wonder why these nurses and physicians have told me I have high BP but offered nothing further until now. Am I supposed to know what to do? As I supposed to ask, please put me on Ditrexaine Hydrocholride Poxin, 50 mg tablets, four times a day, after meals, with a shot of apple juice. I should know this. I guess.
The medicine came in the form of a long needle in my left hand with a long tube and 50 ml IV bag. The solution cooled the surface of my hand as if I had rubbed ice on it. Later I had one of the biggest bruises I've ever had in my life. It lasted over a week. My right bicep was also bruised from the BP cuff.
There's was greater surprise to come during my visit with a cardiologist to have a stress test done. He wouldn't even consider putting me on the treadmill because my BP was too high. Is too high. Ugh!
What gives? I eat loads of healthy food, exercise... I don't smoke. Hell my at rest heart rate is in the 60s. I hit 58 bpm today. How many people can say that? Few, but I still have hypertension and I do notice it. I am reminded of Trudeau in a victory speech, "Well welcome to the 1980s." Well, welcome to middle age.
It's not about diet and exercise to solve the problem, it's meds and meds alone. Go figure. And here is the kicker, I'm not supposed to be exercising or otherwise exerting myself because "you could blow a gasket." The exact and sophisticated words of this heart specialist. Days before I asked about exercising and was told I could do all the cardio I wanted because it was good for me. It leaves me with little confidence when I'm getting contradictory advice. It seems more plausible to me I could "blow a gasket."
My hypertension, it appears, is related to age and genes and not my diet or exercise. While my lifestyle may have some impact, it's at a point where it's beyond my control. I am now on BP meds. Atenolol. A beta blocker, for what it's worth. I have no idea how the med works, but it is supposed to work, yet I have to see evidence of it.
When I picked up my meds, I also bot a BP monitor. An Omron model HEM-741CAN. It's a beauty with slick...never mind. I strap myself in and push a button. The machine does the rest. For some reasons I have images of Glenn Gould measuring and recording his BP with a hand pump and stethoscope. I know how that story ends. Was he taking beta blockers? Probably.
I don't like the fact I have shut down my exercise. I've averaged 6 days a week for the last four years and 6.6 days a week in 2010. Those numbers will fall when all I want is for my systolic and diastolic numbers to fall and I can get back to my workouts. Come on 140 over 80. I can hear the dice rattle across the table.
Posted 2010/03/19 at 20h24ET in Exercise.