Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hypertenson 25: Living In Fear

Having any medical condition creates fear in the patient. Hypertension creates more fear than most, however. It is a disability of fear.

Unlike almost all other serious health conditions, you usually feel fine if you have Hypertension. The only tip-off that you have it comes when you are diagnosed. I had no idea I had Hypertension until I was in the emergency room with kidney stones, and the nurse took my blood pressure. The issue with Hypertension is what it can do to you in the future, not what it is doing to you now. That is where the fear factor comes in. Fear of the future.

Hypertension increases your odds of getting a stroke, a heart attack, damage to your eye sight, kidney problems--the list is kinda long. The higher your blood pressure, the worse the odds get that Hypertension will create or contribute to health bad news. This creates fear. The higher your blood pressure numbers, the worse the fear.

This is horrible to write, but with diabetes, you know what you have, and you feel it right away. If you have a mobility problem, from polio or another medical condition, again you know what you have. You then worry about how to cope with the condition itself. With Hypertension, the symptoms are all hidden. You feel fine. You are not worried about coping with the condition as such, and the drastic impact it can have on your life. It is awful to write this, but if you have a problem with your legs not working, at least you know what you got & what you got to cope with & what you got to do. It is "concrete". With Hypertension, you're never at such a "practical" stage. You worry about what could be, not what is.

Hypertension leads to fear, also, at work. With a clear cut physical disability--sight impairment, for example--again you know what you have, and how it should be accommodated in the workplace. The situation is concrete, the solutions clear. The case law is substantial, to help you. If you have carpel tunnel, you know what you have to do in terms of repetitive strain. You can cut back on certain work, get an ergonomic keyboard, take other steps.

With Hypertension there are no such simple solutions. Again, it troubles me to write "simple" about such difficult health conditions as repetitive strain injuries or sight impairments. But at least those are concrete, with concrete approaches to resolve workplace difficulties. With Hypertension, you can be afraid to raise the issue with your employer.

That is because in the workplace, the way to "treat" Hypertension is to reduce stress. Reduce stress, you lower your blood pressure, at least temporarily. This creates enormous problems in today's workplaces because stress is often the name of the game. Yes, Hypertension requires changes in your entire lifestyle--in what and how much you eat, in exercising, in reducing stress at home. But as noted in another post on this blog, we spend about half our conscious time at work. What happens at work has an enormous impact on our lives.

Raising any disability issue at work can put you into conflict with your employer. Having any disability can put you at risk. But the law recognizes physical solutions to disabilities. Hypertension is in another category.

In workplaces these days, there is a huge pressure these days to produce, to be "competitive", to avoid having your job "outsourced" to another country, moved to another Province or State where the business can get a better deal, given to an unemployed person eager for a job. Union representation has been dropping for decades, and without a collective agreement workers must rely on labour laws. Labour laws are very weak. Where I live, an employer can legally fire you for almost any reason--how you comb your hair--and your only recourse is a civil law suit. Civil law suits are expensive, with no guarantee of success.

To eliminate stress at work is to often put you into direct conflict with your employer--it can mean reducing your productivity, for example, which is the opposite of what the employer wants. And if your employer reduces your productivity to accommodate you, then heck & by gosh them proverbial ol' floodgates open up and every worker will want to work less (or so the manager's fairy tale goes).

Helping someone with stress is not as simple as getting a better computer monitor or building a ramp over some stairs. That stuff is concrete. But stress? Everyone is stressed at work these days. If they complain, they risk being terminated (a much better word for it than "fired", don't you think?). That is, again, where the fear factor raises its nasty fangs. You are afraid to seek solutions because chances are those solutions will put you into direct conflict with your manager. You will be seen as non-productive, as avoiding work, as weak. Lowered productivity makes the manager look bad, to add to the problem.

This makes Hypertension a condition of fear. You worry about what it could do to you in the future. Raise it as an issue at work, and you risk losing your job. And,'ve seen this coming...all that fear...creates more stress...which makes your Hypertension work.

The whole thing is a vicious circle.

I need some ice cream.

Except it will increase my weight.

Note: Yes, 'Hypertension' is spelled incorrectly in the title of this post. I had not spelled it correctly in a much earlier post, which I discovered when I misspelled Hypertension as 'Hypertenson' when typing it into Google to see if my blog was listed. 'Hypertenson' caused this blog to make the first page of Google--if someone typed 'Hypertenson' instead of 'Hypertension'. I corrected that spelling...but since then I have thought, should I not appeal to people who can not spell?

Okay okay okay. Frankly, it's fun being on the first page of Google--just ask Frank if you don't believe me.

1 comment:

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