Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hypertension 30: Juggling As A Life Style

Ever watched a juggler who is working hard? A juggler juggling juggle-type things—knives, chainsaws, flamethrowers—while maintaining your balance standing on a wooden board supported by two rolly polly metal cylinders? Maybe while on a small boat in the middle of a storm? And not wanting to do any of it, but there is no choice?

Welcome to life with Hypertension: dangerous, unpredictable, requiring total focus.

Dangerous? If you do not juggle your things properly (does that sound quite right?), you could end up with a stroke, heart attack, kidney failure—the list is pretty long.

Unpredictable? No one knows how a medication will affect you until you gulp it down like a guinea pig. And how you eat and when you eat it can give you energy or not, fatten you up or not. And if your teenage daughter keeps talking to you while you are trying to write something like this—will you take it with good humour, or get furious?

Focus? It is easy to drive through a stop sign, eat too much, forget to take your medications, lose your cool.

Sure: say I’m overdoing it. But: does not Hypertension come, in part, from overdoing it? From being stressed out so much that your intensities raise your blood pressure? Perhaps it’s in my nature. Perhaps I should strip myself of the intensity, go au naturel, buff it up and face the naked truth. Easier said than done.

You must balance eating and what you eat, sleeping and when you are awake, when to take the pills, when to move around, when to lie still.

Used to be, I never ate breakfast, but would have a cup of coffee in the morning and then eat a decent lunch at 11 am. These days if I wait until 11 to eat, I’ll need a nap.

No, hungry or not, I have to eat something first thing in the morning. Then I have some energy. However, if I do too much physically—say, go shopping and stay on my feet for two hours—I’m worn out. I have to pace myself. But I’m not ninety, I’m sixty-one. (Okay, you’re twenty-one? Bite me. (I’ve never understood that phrase, “Bite me.” How does inviting someone to hurt you qualify as a comeback?))

Then there is eating, one of life’s great pleasures. But you always have to balance how much you eat with what you see on the scale. The medications make me feel weak, so naturally I want to eat more, to get energy. But I am supposed to lose weight—made doubly hard because the medications also lower my metabolic rate. So how weak should I start to feel before eating something? And what should I eat? The answer is not three squares a day, but six or seven much smaller meals during the day. But none of it includes rich ice cream, which fattening-wise is like eating a glob of lard.

If I am careful, balancing how much I do physically with when and what I eat with not too much coffee with not too much physical activity with enough sleep the night before, I can make it through the entire day without a nap—but then I’m ready for bed at 9 pm (instead of when my former 11 pm).

It is like being in a cage. And that is another balancing act, keeping the different frustrations in check so they do not become overwhelming. Irritability leads to anger, weakness leads to depression. If you’re not watching, it sneaks up on you before you know it has arrived.

Does this sound like whining? Maybe it is. Reasonable concern or whining, whining or reasonable concern—it’s a juggling act, I tell you….

Thanks for listening, because, frankly, no one else want to hear it--right? been there?

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