Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hypertension 23: The 12 Christmas Ways Hypertension Makes Me Grumpy (or is that Sneezy? Why can't it be Dopey?)

Christmas, 2007 is approaching, so it seems fitting to list the Twelve Ways Hypertension Makes Me Grumpy. This list is in no particular order, partly because my spouse keeps asking me questions while I write, because soon we have to go out and buy a Christmas tree (actually, given our family, it will be a hybrid Christmas Tree, Chanukah Bush, Christian Science Shrub and Pagan Bonzai), clear the living room for the various decorations, moving my medications to make room for a Christmas wreath, asking why I keep review copies of books on the floor, etc.

Actually, the paragraph above is Grumpy 12. It has nothing in particular to do with Hypertension, apart from the difficulties in dealing with several things happening at once, when you are on difficult prescription medications and are supposed to avoid stress.

11: patches on my chest and side itching from where they were shaved of what little hair I have left. The shaving was for a stress test at the speciality gym. I was put on a treadmill until I huffed and puffed, so see how close I could come to a heart attack. Blood was also taken, and now I wait until January for the results, which will help the gym prepare an exercise programme for me.

10: exercising. Has anyone kept track of the number of exercise fanatics who have had heart attacks while jogging? Can we exorcise excersising? Do the heads of fitness instructors spin around 360 degrees, and then spit pea soup?

9: dieting. There may be a point to continuing to live even though you can not eat anything. Maybe someone can tell me. I hunger for this knowledge.

8: medications v. dieting. My recovery regimes are in a state of civil war. I am supposed to eat less, but the medications make me tired, so I eat more, to get some energy. However, the medications also lower my metabolic rate, so it's a double whammy: I eat more and burn it off less. Please talk to the bulge in my stomach about this.

7: worry #1. Hypertension is a condition where you often feel just fine. Its real impact is that it makes you worry. Worry about a stroke, heart attack, sight impairment. There is quite the long list.

6: worry #2. Apart from the medications making me tired, now because of an anti-cholesterol agent I need a blood test every three months to see if my liver is being damaged. What are the odds my liver, to which I am quite attached, will be damaged? Will the blood test catch the damage in time?

5: guinea pig. No one knows how the medications will work on you until you take them. It is sort of like Russian roulette, but without the Russians or the pistol. You can add to this that the doctors often poo-poo the side effects of the medications. They will say you'll get over the tiredness, when apparently you may NEVER get over the tiredness.

4: confusion in medical advice. One doctor says this, another says that, the 'alternative' doctor says something else. Yet they all say similar things, the differences are often in the details. One doctor says Hypertension can help create 'floaters', small spidery dots in the corner of my vision, the other doctor says hahahaha.

3: pacing yourself/premature aging. Heck, I used to do whatever I wanted. Work, go shopping, write, check out a movie. Now it's like: when do I make room for my afternoon nap?

2: controlling stress when it can not be controlled. A key to Hypertension treatment is to lower the stress in your life. Do you have a 17 year old daughter? Is lowering stress possible? I have to keep working, how do I reduce the stress there? My mom is 90, and yesterday we had to buy her a wheelchair because she was not getting into the dining room at her "retirement community" on time for dinner, and was ending up eating sandwiches instead of a full meal because the kitchen was closed.

1: I can't remember so good no more, eh what? As in, leaving my car in the airport parking lot with the keys in the ignition and the motor running. What is it like when everything seems normal, and you get a wake up call like that? Can I trust what I'm doing and seeing? How long will I have to keep making notes each morning to remind myself what I should do during the day? Did my spouse really tell me to take out the page of the newspaper listing the best Christmas light displays in town--did I forget or did she?

Y'know, I thought a list of twelve items would be very hard to come by....

Merry holidays, whatever your religion. There is no reason to think 2007 will be any better, but I'm hoping anyway.

0: elder care. I wrote the above post this morning, and finished it around 9:30. I then spent about an hour clearing a path in the basement to the small room where we store the Christmas stuff, and had gotten one box of ornaments up when the phone rang. It was the retirement community my mother lived in. My mom, who is 90, had fallen in her suite. They could not get her up.

My wife and I rushed over there (this is not the first time she fell, the last time she ended up spending two weeks in the hospital until they were sure she was okay and there were 'home care' arrangements for her through our socialized medical system). Mom seemed okay but my wife (a former nurse) and the home care nurse both were concerned she may have at least fractured something. So we called an ambulance.

I spent the rest of the day with mom in the hospital, while my wife and daughter looked after getting a Christmas tree etc. That was from about 11 am until 7 pm, when they released her. Mom was fine and safe to be released, although shakey. My wife came by with our station wagon and we took Mom back to her suite, and spent another couple of hours with her, getting her in bed, with a home care aide providing support. I just got home. It was about ten hours with Mom today.

One of the issues people my age--61--face is caring for their parents. It takes a significant amount of time from my daily work, just to get her to and from medical appointments. That is in addition to phoning her every day and seeing her at least once a week for dinner.

There are so many stresses in this life. The Golden Age of Retirement is a major one, both for the retirees and their children.

I'm now back at home, and am going to drink some very fine Scotch.

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