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Living with hypertension

Every day that we wake up is a gift from God. I am sitting here next to the open windows listening to the birds sing and enjoying a cool breeze coming through the windows. I spent a few moments this morning picking up different items that our furry children have knocked off the desk and other furniture. My wife’s birthday presents which are her newest furry children, have turned our house into their playground. Kittens are like babies in that they are full of energy and nothing escapes their adventuresome spirit.

In the last couple of years I have reckoned the fact that I need to live a healthier lifestyle. Like most Americans I have been living through the consequences of obesity. I went from being a very healthy male to a middle aged obese man. How did I get there? I got there by going from a very active lifestyle in my youth, to a mostly sedentary lifestyle. I ate what I wanted and got very little exercise. One day I woke up and realized that I have not seen very many older people that are severely obese. You could say that was my wake up call. I realized that if I want to live much longer that I needed to make some radical changes in my life style. It meant that I needed to eat less, eat healthier and get regular exercise.

One of the consequences of being obese is high blood pressure. I have been managing high blood pressure for almost a decade. One thing that is important to take note of is this. Hypertension can cause heart attack and stroke. One or both of those can be life ending events. The longer that hypertension goes without being treated increases your chances of having either one of those. Over the years I have gotten familiar with how I feel when my blood pressure gets out of whack. When my blood pressure starts to climb I feel nervous inside. I feel anxious and I start to get light headed and sometimes dizzy. I hate it when episodes of high blood pressure make me feel that way. My tendency has been to ride out the storm until it passes. Denial sets in and I do not want to admit that the episodes are a sign of what is to come.

Yesterday I had another episode. I thought that I was going to have to ask my daughter to drive me to a local health clinic. Instead of driving myself or calling an ambulance, I rode out the storm. I sat here at my desk with my blood pressure monitor and waited until the pressure went down slowly. Instead of going to the doctors office I decided to tough it out and go to work. I ignored the fact that I needed professional medical help. You would think that after living with hypertension for almost a decade that I would know the warning signs and know how to react intelligently. Instead, I went to work and decided to ride out the storm on my own. That lasted for about 2.5 hours and then I told my employer that I needed to go to see a doctor. Back in February of this year my co workers go to watch me get carted off in an ambulance. During that episode my heart was throwing PVC’s and making me feel really strange. PVC’s are premature ventricular contractions where the heart is not pumping the blood in a steady rhythm. I have been having PVC’s for several years but did not realize what it was. I would be driving down the road or doing whatever and I would get this nervous fluttering sensation in my chest. There would not be any pain associated with the event so I always opted to ride out the storm. Back in February the episode lasted for hours and put me in a place where I could no longer ignore the symptoms.

I am glad that I finally took myself to Healthfirst and saw one of my favorite doctors. We have been going to Healthfirst in Charleston for over 12 years. They are a faith based healthcare facility that I would recommend to anyone. One of the things that I love about them is that they are very professional and at the same time care about their patients. Most of the time they get you in and out of there within 15 to 20 minutes. I have been to some doctors offices where you show up at the appointed time and it can be upwards of an hour before you actually see the doctor. That has never happened to me at Healthfirst. My doctor listened to my concerns and then ordered an EKG, blood work and an echocardiogram for my heart. The good news is that my heart is in good condition. We just have to get the hypertension under control. My doctor told me that the Maxide that I was taking was no longer working for me. Over the years I have changed and the benefits of the drug were no longer benefits. Now I am under orders to take it easy for a couple of days, and start taking new medicine. I am hopeful that the new meds will help me to get the hypertension under control. My goal is to put the episodes behind me and that they do not happen as frequently. My doctor told me that my heart is greatly benefiting from the cardio level exercise at the gym. He told me I was doing a good job and to keep it up.

I am thankful for life this morning and that I feel better. I am going to take it easy and enjoy a day away from the office. I plan on going to my happy place and reading a book I started weeks ago. I plan on soaking up everything around me and appreciating it. I plan on slowing down so that I can appreciate those things that I take for granted. One other thing that kills people and causes hypertension is stress. We live such busy task oriented lives that we do not recognize the symptoms of stress. We like to call stress multitasking. Maybe we would be better off by taking on less tasks. One of the drawbacks of living in a digital age, is that we are distracted by so many things. Our attention is divided so much, that we are losing the ability to focus on a single task. Our goals are important to us and we get consumed with the details of trying to make those goals a reality. I am not saying that goals are bad. What I am saying is that we need to find balance with our goals, and not kill ourselves trying to reach them.

My hope for you dear reader is that you will learn from my mistakes. I want to encourage you to slow down and reduce your stress levels. Be good to yourself and get regular exercise and eat healthier. Be sure to get plenty of rest as well. Find the time to enjoy life in whatever way that you can. Reach out to those that you love and let them know how important they are to you. If you do these simple things you will experience a fuller more abundant and healthier life.

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  1. Great article my friend. We are right in the same boat although my doesn’t seem to act up as bad as yours. Went to the doc a few weeks back and my BP was 190 / 120 or some such. Not good at all. We need you with us for a long time to come – and so do those kittens! You need to be healthy so you can enjoy that empty nest syndrome when and if it ever gets here.

    • Thanks for the comment Michael! I feel much better today even though I do feel a bit different on these new meds. Over time I am sure I will get used to them. I need to buy a BP monitor for the office probably. I have one at home that I have been using for about 6 years. You might think about getting one. They dont cost that much.

  2. I too had a wake up call while James was in Iraq. My BP was high and my heart was hurting. I had a scan and it showed damage from years of high BP, one side of my heart is enlarged and it makes a weird feeling in my chest when the BP gets high. So, I started taking my meds and walking. The doc said that the heart is a muscle and will heal with time and better meds/exercise. I still get dizzy, see spots, have flutters from time to time, but it’s better.

    • Liese, thanks for stopping by and commenting. When they did the echo on Tuesday they told me that the left side of my heart is slightly enlarged for the same reason but that as the levels are reduced that will go away. The best thing that any of us can do to reduce the hypertension is to eat healthier and get regular exercise. Congratulations to you for the walking.