It’s already the month of May and you know what that means. Warmer weather. Mother’s Day. Yard work. Memorial Day (further down the line). For me it means it’s time for a visit to my doctor’s office for my annual physical check up. Yay me.
I don’t know why my appointment is scheduled at this time of year, but it seems fitting with the season of rebirth. I can begin another year with a clean bill of health. Or so I thought.
After my initial small talk chit-chat with the physician assistant who was conducting my exam, it was time to get down to matters at hand. This was the first time in years I didn’t have a list of gripes and groans to ease my hypochondria. As I’ve gotten older and seen friends and family experience real health issues, it makes my irritating ailments seem minor. Last year I wanted to find answers to my chronic knee pain that was impairing my life on a constant basis. I’ve been to an orthopedic clinic off and on for almost four years. After a couple of MRIs and a series of cortisone shots for the pain and swelling, I was back where I started. The advice from my doctor was not what I expected.
“Have you tried living with this condition?” the doctor said. “You can spend a lot of time and money chasing a solution that might not exist.”
The doctor was right. I spent a year living with my knee symptoms. I continued to exercise and working through the pain. This year, my knee didn’t make my top ten list of things to bring up during my exam. Thank you, Aleve® a/k/a Wonder Drug.
I think that’s why I was so surprised after the physicians assistant took my blood pressure. His demeanor suddenly shifted from lighthearted to serious. And you never want your doctor exclaiming the word “Whoa” when he is looking at your test results. My blood pressure was at a record high. My numbers have always been perfectly normal, year after year. Suddenly I was a candidate for medication. How could this be?
I searched my brain for any factors that may have caused high readings on the monitor (aside from the obvious road rage I experienced on my way to the doctor’s office while driving through Everett trying to avoid traffic and looking for a parking space – and this is pre-casino Everett!).
There may other things contributing to my high blood pressure readings: outstanding student loans, overdue bills, everyday life, working too much, my children, newspaper deadlines, North Korea, Donald Trump and Kanye West’s bromance, miserable weather, strange noises from my ten-year-old SUV (I love you, my faithful Dodge Nitro. Hang in there until I get my inspection sticker).
The doctor chose not to put me on blood pressure medication just yet. I have a couple of months to change my diet and hit the gym before my next evaluation. I will try to exercise more, although I will continue to read books while I pedal the exercise bike. Some things I simply won’t give up. I’m faithfully visiting the gym almost every day and I’m catching up on my reading at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.
I’ve made some diet modifications as well. This past dreary winter was a great excuse to indulge in all the comfort food I could get my hands on. I’m willing to change for the better. Market Basket Apple Fritters are out. Green Giant Riced Vegetables are in. I never thought I would like riced beets as a side dish. Now it’s a weekly staple on my grocery list.
I’m making a concerted effort to change my lifestyle (slowly, I don’t want to shock my system). I’m trying to find natural ways to lower my blood pressure so I don’t have to rely on medication. I’ve added deep breathing exercises to my home routine. I’m watching less television news. I hear petting your pet can lower blood pressure figures, but I’m severely allergic to my cats so I won’t be doing that.
I am looking forward to my next medical appointment to see if any of the positive changes I’ve made have influenced my blood pressure readings. Maybe the last reading was a fluke and I don’t have high blood pressure at all. Maybe all this healthy proactivity isn’t even necessary. Or maybe this was just the scare I needed to head off something in the future more catastrophic than a cat allergy. Who knows?
Like everyone else, I’ve got a million things to do and not enough time to do them. I’m going to make an effort to slow down and pace myself. I’m reminded of the lyrics from one of my favorite rock-and-roll songs by Blondie, “…Take away your calendar watch and you can’t keep track until your heart attack…”.
Words to live by.