Wednesday, September 22, 2010
You Should Know Your Numbers
Recently, I went to see my gynecologist for my annual exam that was more than a few years overdue. I decided to go out of town to the next nearest hospital to see a new doctor. I wanted a female doctor, and the practices in my town can't seem to hold any for a significant amount of time, and the couple that are here are not too far away from retiring.
Well, the exam went very well except for one thing. My blood pressure. Yes, I was a little nervous about meeting a new doctor and having the exam, but I was feeling "fine". The nurse took my blood pressure. She took it again. She asked if I was feeling okay. She left the room and called in another nurse to take my blood pressure. She did and they both exchanged looks that made me feel uncomfortable. Nurse #2 asked me if I was scared. They informed the doctor that the numbers were high and maybe it was just due to my nerves. After the exam, nurse #1 took my blood pressure again. 154 over 100. Now, there is a history of high blood pressure in my family, on the maternal side. The new doctor recommended that I call my regular doctor on my way home.
Now, I do have a regular doctor. I see him whenever I'm sick. Well, apparently, the last time I was sick was five years ago. Yes, I know. I was a bit surprised to receive that information as well. Boy, the days just tick right on by, don't they? So, the earliest I could get in to see my doctor would be five days from the time I called him (which was before I drove home from the gynecologist). Hey, I waited five years, so what's five days? An eternity.
In those five days, I was very good. I stayed far, far away from WebMD. But, I did start to pay attention to how I have been feeling over that past several months. The tightness in my throat; the pressure behind my eyes; feeling "flushed" on and off; the pressure I sometimes felt behind my knees and in my upper arms. Sometimes a 'swooshing' sound in my ears, and the thumping I would feel in my chest at bedtime (I also have a heart condition that I never seriously considered to be heart disease until I just found out that it is heart disease and I should definitely take it seriously).
Monday was the day of the appointment. Three thirty didn't come fast enough. My doctor asked where I've been. Did I move away and come back or something? Nope. Just haven't been sick. We went over my health. I'm in my very early 40s; thin; non-smoker; non-drinker; overall healthy eater. He took my blood pressure: 160 over 110. He also did an EKG, which was good.
Yup. I have high blood pressure or hypertension as it is also called. I am now on a once a day pill to help lower it. Monday evening, when I got home from the pharmacy, I took my first dose. Within an hour I felt completely different. I felt like I was an over-inflated tire that someone had opened the air valve to let some pressure out. It's amazing. How subtly this condition came upon me and I didn't even know it.
Only after I took the medication did I look into what hypertension is. I learned how it is known as the 'silent killer'. Many people have it and don't even know it. I was aware of my family's history but I never thought it would pertain to me. I learned (on WebMD) how it can lead to heart attack or stroke if left untreated. It can also damage the kidneys. Today, I went to Walmart and purchased a home blood pressure monitor. The tag on the shelf said it was $45, but at the checkout, it rang up at $36. Now I can monitor my blood pressure at home and also use it for my children. Hypertension doesn't just target the middle age or elderly, it can also affect teens.
I have cut back on my coffee intake. I was drinking up to four cups a day; I've cut that in half. I've also cut way back on my chocolate consumption - those who know me well know what a true sacrifice that is........and I will be walking regularly (I know better than to say 'daily') with my daughter.
I am so very thankful that Jesus kept His hand on me every single day. I am grateful that I have a wonderful friend who pushed me into going to the gynecologist. If I hadn't, I don't want to think about where I could be today.
Hindsight is 20/20 (and yes, my actual vision is more like 20/400), but I share this information as a caution to those out there who believe they're "fine". I thought I was = hardly ever sick, young, thin, non-smoker, non-drinker - but this disease snuck right up on me.
I encourage you to know your numbers. It could save your life.