Tuesday, 27 September 2022
It’s finally happened. Or rather, I finally decided (hopefully not too late) to face it head on. Those two words that until very recently, didn’t really scare me as much as they should have. The dreaded moment I have to face and deal with my “Blood Pressure”. That band of pressure on my temples, agonising to the touch, finally got too much. It lay throbbing, lurking at the back of my neck since the previous Saturday, like it was something alive. I suspected what it was, knew it was there (or maybe I only really did acknowledge its existence just then) and I knew all the years of putting it off, of near-denial, had to stop.
The doctor at the clinic down the street didn’t have much sympathy for me when I walked in and explained my symptoms. He gestured at the LCD screen with the pressure readings he’d taken since 2018. I just nodded at his mercifully short lecture and basically said “let’s do whatever it takes”. He might have been surprised at how little resistance I offered, but this isn’t something you resist. Not really.
I told him about my dad’s recent stroke, about how it ran in the family. The doctor was understanding, and he repeatedly tried to impress on me just how dangerous the situation could be if left untreated. Like I said, I didn’t resist, or argue. That thick band was already squeezing my neck again, and if I wanted a fighting chance, I needed treatment, and quick. I left the clinic with two types of medication, and said I needed to take one of them immediately. Tonight. I didn’t need any more encouragement.
The thing about this thing, at least as I experienced it, is how insistent it is. I dropped nearly 30 kg since 2017, tried to exercise at least 3 times a week, ate relatively healthily (but come on, I knew all those pizzas would call on their debts), monitored my heart rate, have what I think is a not-bad-at-all resting heart rate of 51 bpm, all the stuff that’s supposed to help – but this is something that comes no matter what, as long as you have the genes for it. I have no wish to become a ticking time bomb.
Anyway, here we go. I am armed with a home BP monitor, an Apple Watch, and the iOS Health app, the latter literally went off when I keyed in my initla BP reading (ARE YOU SURE YOU ENTERED THE RIGHT MEASUREMENTS??) but this is the beginning of my journey. There are many others, some longer, and harder, but this is mine.