Most nights, if I lay on my right side with my head deep in the pillow, I can hear and feel my heartbeats.  I’m not sure whether it’s their volume or that the throbbing associated with them is so pronounced that is so disturbing.  Whatever it is, I must turn over on my back or on my left side to get some peace. Otherwise, my thoughts go in directions unfavorable to happiness…maybe I’m “hearing” high blood pressure…maybe the sound and feel of my heartbeats are trying to warn me about the condition of my heart…maybe the sensations are messages, calling my attention to my mortality.

Finally, I go to sleep.  But then, later on, I find myself on my right side again and I hear and feel the heartbeats.  I wonder what it is.  I wonder whether I should worry.  And then I tell myself worry is the province of fools; either act to address the matter or accept that there is nothing I can do and ignore it.

Lately, not long after I awake in the morning, I check my blood pressure and find it high, much higher than it was a couple of years ago when I was checking it religiously every day, along with weighing myself to measure the impact my daily walks was having on my weight.  I started looking into blood pressure and the different levels of hypertension. I compare my blood pressure numbers with charts describing stage 2 hypertension and hypertensive crisis and I don’t like what I see.  I wonder whether I should seek medical help for a hypertensive emergency.

But, I allow myself to relax and check again.  Repeated measurements give me numbers I do not like, but at least they have fallen…no longer urgent, just concerning.  And then, I remember a few years ago that I controlled my blood pressure through a regimen of diet and exercise.  And, so, I will slowly return to those good old days.  I will not push the exercise until my numbers have fallen considerably, but diet is an immediate remedy.

The idea of blood pressure medications is deeply unappealing; I’ve taken blood pressure medications in the past and experienced troubling and dangerous side effects that I’d like not to repeat.  So I will “self-medicate” by behaving as if my health mattered; eating well, getting exercise, and keeping tabs on my blood pressure.  But, if my efforts don’t yield reasonably significant results in a relatively short time, I will yield and visit a doctor.  I have grown less and less confident in doctors’ advice, though, believing many of them are too quick to rely on chemicals.  Yet I do not have any interest in asking for advice from “holistic healers,” either, because I tend to think their methods of assessing the safety and efficacy of treatment are based more on word of mouth than science.

And, so ends today’s health rant.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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