My doctor and I recently discovered that I had very high blood pressure. That’s putting it politely. To put it accurately, my blood pressure was in “holy shit” territory.
PSAs and ad campaigns talk about hypertension as “the silent killer” because you can be quite free of any secondary symptoms, and in my case that was true. I had a couple of symptoms, and given my family history, I had an idea it might be high. I didn’t know it was that high.
Right now we are still in the calibrating-medication stage. The pills have lowered it from the you-can-have-a-stroke-at-any-moment levels, but it’s still not quite where my doctor and I would like it to be. Clearly life-style and diet changes are in my future, but right now I’m not devoting a lot of time to making those changes, except for two small ones.
This is because I know myself and I know if I tackle a wholesale change the odds are very good I won’t stick with it. I might stick with a few small changes though. While we get the meds to help consistently, I have identified two things I want to do. I call them the Rule of Five and the Rule of Four.
I thought that in my day-to-day life I walked a lot. I will walk three miles at a stretch sometimes. While I can walk a good distance, lately I hadn’t been walking frequently. Sometimes I was only getting out for a serious walk once a week. I thought about it, and decided I really missed the daily walks, especially ones in the morning. I know myself well enough to know if I said, “I will walk every day,” and then I missed a day, I would be disappointed in myself, and I would bag the whole project, so I’m going to take a short walk, about one mile, five days a week. If I take a longer walk that day because I walk down to the bookstore or to the grocery store, that’s fine. If I miss a day, that’s fine too, because I only have to make five. Right now, when it’s not raining, walking is pretty easy, but I already have a plan to drive to one of the malls if it’s raining hard, and walk around inside there.
It helps that I can take pictures when I’m walking in the nearby park.
The Rule of Four is harder.
I have one cup of caffeinated coffee a day. I begged my doctor to put that at the bottom of the list of things I have to give up. She didn’t seem concerned about it. I also have at least one decaf coffee drink, filled with sugar and fat, nearly every day. It started with one or two a week, then slowly crept up because I can afford it, and I’m self-indulgent. Am I going to give that up? Probably not. I am going to try to cut back to three a week, though. This will actually require strategy and decision-making. It’s a lot harder than grabbing my camera or my phone and going out for a walk.
(Talk about a first-world problem; having to cut back on a luxury food product. Oh, the humanity!)
I know there will be other changes, and I know this isn’t the only health challenge I will face, it’s just the first one. I’m taking it pretty easy on myself, and I hope I can keep to these two rules. Wish me luck.
UPDATE: Today, (Thursday, December 7, 2017) I had my pressure checked at the doctor’s office and it was a personal best. When I check it at home, daily, I am getting slightly higher readings, but I am pleased with today’s results. I’m moving in the right direction.