A New Beginning

I spent several hours in the ER last night. It wasn’t anything super major – I was mostly worried I was anemic or dehydrated enough to pass out, and it seemed a better option to go to the ER than to pass out at home and require an ambulance. They hooked me up to all kinds of machines, gave me some IV fluids, drew some blood, x-rayed my chest. All to tell me that there wasn’t anything diagnosably (is that a word? Hm…) wrong with me.

This happens to me a lot. For a long time, I believed, as they (and my mom) always implied, that it was all in my head. I know better now. You know, now that lots of things have gone wrong with me. (Like the thyroid condition that finally grew large enough that hands could feel it, even though I had been complaining about it for six years with “nothing wrong.”)

Last night was one of my better experiences. Best of all, it finally gave a hint at something I’ve been experiencing since 2009. I have orthostatic hypertension. Basically, my blood pressure is fine and dandy…until I change positions. Then – for some unknown reason – it surges to levels that are uncomfortable. Lying down last night, it sat at its usual 136/82. Sitting up, it jumped to 145/83. Standing, 164/90. A normal body increases slightly as blood vessels constrict to raise the blood to the head. My body apparently freaks out and throws all its blood upward at a hard, throbbing pace. At its worst when I was pregnant, it gave me tunnel vision on standing. (Unfortunately, I didn’t know that was a thing back then, and I didn’t report it to my doctor because she had a nasty habit of telling me that my problems were just “because you’re pregnant.” I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia instead, and to this day I don’t know if I actually had it, or if my blood pressure issue was just getting worse.)

So far this year, I’ve had one week wherein my head didn’t ache all day, every day. I don’t know if that’s my blood pressure, my diet, my neck (it hasn’t been right since I hit my head last May), or what. We finally have state-covered insurance (bless you, taxpayers; you are going to make my life livable again!), so I intend to get to the bottom of it. The headaches, and everything else.

As far as I have read, there’s nothing to do for orthostatic hypertension, at least until they find an underlying cause (and there might not be one). However, it’s still hypertension. My resting BP – 136/82 – isn’t a great number to start with. That, I can do something about.

To be completely honest, my stress level is ridiculous. (Living with in-laws, trying to figure out how to redefine my life, get divorced, deal with past emotional problems and current anxiety, and my husband lost his job on Monday.) My diet was great back in November. Now…now it’s mostly sugar and salt. All the things I was doing right to manage my anxiety went poof as if they hadn’t been at all.

I’m not taking care of me.

This blog is my official declaration to the world that I am changing that, starting right now (as I take my allergy meds).

Starting tomorrow, I’m ditching the excess sugar (goodbye, Sprite!). I don’t care how much my in-laws bring into the house, I will not eat it. I may not be able to better control my food until our tax return shows up so we can buy our own food again, but I can do that much.

I am exchanging my daily outdoor walk (now that the pollen is too explosive, which for some reason exacerbates my BP issues) for Vitamin D capsules. I’m not sure yet what I will pick up to give me quiet, reflective, freedom-of-the-outdoors time, but I’ll find something.

I am seeing the doctor tomorrow morning, which I hope will be the first of many appointments that will lead to answers. If she is not cooperative enough, I’ll find a new doctor – social phobia issues can take a hike. I will get referrals for GI, orthopedics, PT, and ENT, and actually go to them. I will also actually contact my old doctors and consolidate all my records. I’ve been really worried about that.

I will think outside expectation, and figure out a way to do my work without killing my body. Whatever works, works. No more excuses!

But I will also be nurturing to my body. Not only what I put in it, but how I use it. A lot of my reticence in doing things like yoga and pilates comes from my orthostatic issues – any change in position can be massively uncomfortable, bordering on scary (my head throbs, my ears pound, my eyes hurt – it all feels like it’s going to explode when at its worst). I don’t want to push through it (no strokes for me, thanks), but I don’t want to do nothing, either. So I will be finding activities and experimenting with things that worry me. Because if I don’t try it, I won’t know if it’s a problem or not! And about half the time, I end up doing nothing instead.

Next up: Goals!

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