Thursday, September 16, 2010

Under Pressure

Yesterday brought attention to a new issue in regards to health. For the first time in a very long time it has nothing to do with Ben. In our world that is awesome news. On a personal level it sucks.

Two days ago I began to experience heart palpitations, a slight headache, sensitivity to sunlight, and some very unusual pressure around my neck and shoulders. Because I've had anxiety issues before I just figured this was a mild reaction to stress - a miniature panic attack. It really wasn't much of a concern until early yesterday afternoon when it began to feel like my head my just pop off my shoulders at any moment.
I have no idea how or why I knew that my blood pressure was elevated - I just did. After consulting with Joan I decided to visit the local pharmacy and see exactly how hard my heart was working at the moment. By the way, given that we have what many consider to be a medically fragile child our house contains no less than four different oxygen tanks, a Pulse/O2 monitor, a concentrator/compressor set up that "squeezes" oxygen out of ordinary room air for when Ben is sick, an apnea monitor, two stethoscopes, a nebulizer machine, and other various accouterments for gauging and measuring our sons health yet we did not own until today a blood pressure cuff!

After slipping into the wooden chair and sliding my arm into the cuff I pushed the start button. This would be the first of about three dozen times over the next 4 or 5 hours that my upper left arm would feel like a mouse in a hungry python's cage. Today my arm feels like it could be used for one of those Fruit Roll-Up commercials.

That first reading of 157 over 104 didn't look too good. In fact the chart sitting in front of me told me that I was somewhere around Stage 2 of Hypertension. At this point I decided to sign in at the CVS Minute Clinic to see what a nurse practitioner would suggest I do now. After a couple of more readings it was difficult to determine if she was concerned or actually impressed. I do know that one's blood pressure is very much like golf in that lower is better. Par is 120 over 80. Perhaps she's a basketball fan? Two more checks gave us scores of 169/99 and 160/99. All joking aside the very nice nurse (who called to check on my today) told me to go immediately to a doctor. She actually scared the hell out of me when she suggested I might need a "transport" (EMS, ambulance, a firetruck would've been cooler).

Since I was only about a mile from home and I had no chest pains (then) I got to drive home so that Joan could cart me to the hospital about 3 minutes from our home. Because Ben's nurse had to check out once I arrived at the house he took the trip with us. Long story short, he was incredibly entertained that Dad was now the guinea pig and not him. I could've done without the laughing and smiling except it was my kid who has dealt with far more shit that me under medical care. Three hours later I was at home.

My blood pressure continued to rise throughout the afternoon and even with an IV beta blocker (Lopressor) my BP didn't return to normal. After a visit to my personal physician today I am now on a daily drug regimen along with changing my diet and beginning a more regular exercise routine. Even with the chest pains I experienced this morning I got the green light to travel to my show this weekend.

Despite the humor of the situation it truly did scare me. I am 48 years old. My dad passed away when he was 51 most likely from stress related issues. This has been a tremendous fear of mine since he died and particularly after we had Ben - to leave Joan with the care of our kids should I die unexpectedly is not acceptable so some life-changing disciplines are about to begin.

I am a thankful husband, father, son, and brother today. And I will remember this feeling for a long time...


Andre Rodriguez said...

Take care of yourself, pards. You can come to the mountains if you need a getaway.

Gretchen said...

Thank heavens that you checked things out.

Good luck this weekend.

Christina said...

Yes, good luck this weekend & good on you for listening to those very real warning signs. Be good to yourself young man! Because you are still very very young indeed.

Ben and Bennie said...

Unfortunately I didn't get to go to the show. I'm having trouble adjusting to the medicine. Folks are telling me it'll get better soon. The fact is that we REALLY needed that show.

Kyla said...

I'm so glad you are okay. Continue to keep an eye on that BP! Did they recommend dietary changes or anything else to help control it?

Eric Fischer said...

Is your lopressor a slow release preparation? I had problems with my beta blocker (dizzyness, fuzzy thinking) until I switched to a once a day slow release one. Also measuring your son's blood pressure in certain circumstances,(not in relation to your problem) could give you another indicator of his health.

Ben and Bennie said...

Eric, they changed me over to Atenolol. It took about 5 days for me to get over the dizzyness, etc. Plus I will be doing a better job with my diet plus exercising regularly.