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When I sat down to write this blog post, the title immediately jumped to the screen before anything else did. But it felt familiar somehow. I knew that I had written about trying to donate blood before... I thought I should look at some previous posts.
They Finally Took My Blood! Look at the date... November 5, 2010. I guess it's been awhile since I've given blood! And I was pretty damn excited the last time too! To the point of using essentially the exact same title. Weird.Continue reading
Wow… a little praise from Dr Lisa? That’s not what I was expecting at all. Where was the usual foot up my ass?
“So that’s 2 out of 3. If only we could get the diet and exercise bit going consistently, I think we’d see a lot more of this.”
Yup, and pigs may fly…
“Maybe it would help if you could visualize how bad that Coke is for you. Set a glass of sugar on your desk, and every time that you want to get a drink, you look at how much sugar is in that glass.”
And then I made the motion of sticking my finger in the glass and licking it.
“No, that’s not what I meant!”
Does she really think that I don’t take pure sugar from time to time? C’mon… I’m an addict!
As I entered the blood pressure results into my phone (there’s an App for that!) I noticed that the numbers were far better than anything I had recorded previously. 139/97? 147/116? 158/102? 177/111? 184/116? How am I still alive?
Oh riiiiight… that nightly cocktail of prescription drugs that I try to remember to take after brushing my teeth!
I went to see Dr Lisa today. Seems that our visits are getting closer rather than further apart. Maybe with good reason. Her staff hooked me up to the nice blood pressure monitor again… this is the one that is supposed to give a more accurate reading. They let me sit alone in a nice quiet room, with the lights dimmed down, and the machine takes 5 readings over 10 minutes and then averages them out. I just sat there in the comfy chair and tried to stay awake.
Shit. That doesn’t sound good. I knew before she even got into the room that Lisa was going to ask me what the hell is going on… except in a more pleasant bedside manner… but that would be her meaning.
I told her that I had an important meeting scheduled immediately following this visit. It was obviously weighing on my mind. The new house is still a disaster, and my parents are coming over to look at it tomorrow. My co-parenting trial schedule with my ex had started yesterday.
These were all good reasons to see a temporary spike in my blood pressure… but I wasn’t fooling anyone. It all comes down to lifestyle choices, and until I made some significant changes, my body would continue to rebel against me.
Let’s look at some of the causes of high blood pressure (also known as Hypertension) found listed on WebMD:
So I guess I’m going to have my medication changed around, and I’ve been ordered to start monitoring my blood pressure on my own (I have a machine) several times per week, and to start pushing that lawn mower and whatever else I can do around the house to try to improve my level of physical activity.
And back in another 6 weeks… crap.
See those numbers?!? Know what they mean?!? Yeah… me neither… but apparently they are pretty darned good. So good, in fact, that I even got a smiley face! Confused yet? OK…
I went to see Dr Lisa for my quarterly checkup yesterday. When she walked into the room and asked me how I was doing, she was taken back by my response… “Awesome!” That is never a word that creeps into our conversations… especially when discussing my state of mind.
I went on to explain… I’m 40 now (not that this is a great thing, but it’s a significant event since I last saw her)… I have a new job… Working Mon-Fri 8-5… sleeping at night… no more 3am Quarter Pounders… I have a new car, but I’m walking back and forth to work every day… getting an hour worth of walking every day… have a new place uptown… Things with J are going great… Haven’t heard from K2 since May… My stress hasn’t disappeared, but it’s taken a different form… and apparently change IS good!
As I’m telling her all this she reaches for the blood pressure monitor and asks if I’ve checked it on my own lately. I haven’t. I have a machine, but it’s packed away somewhere.
“Wow… I don’t believe it… 118/78!”
Is that good?
“That’s exactly where I want it! I’d say that getting off shift work has really made a difference.”
She’s been telling me that for years, and it was hard to deny that… but there just wasn’t much of an opportunity to actually do it. Now it’s happened, and apparently she was right. Who knew?
I made an appointment for 4 months, and if it’s still good then we’ll look at cutting back some of the medication that I take to keep it from exploding again.
I had a regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment yesterday. Every couple of months Dr Lisa likes me to come in and make sure that I’m still alive. This was one of those checkups. As soon as she walked through the door and asked me how I was, I replied honestly…
“I’m falling apart. Physically… I’m just falling apart.”
I told her that I’ve had a painfully swollen ankle since May, and figured that it was because of the new drug that she had put me on for my blood pressure. At the time, she had warned me that I might get puffy ankles. I wasn’t overly concerned when my left one got very sore, and puffed up a little. It wasn’t huge or anything like that, but it was noticeably larger than the other when you put the two of them together.
Seems that the puffiness that I’ve been experiencing is not what she was warning me about. I’ve got a problem with my ankle that is unrelated to that. She’s sending me for X-rays to rule out a problem with the bone (it hurts), but she’s thinking that it’s more than likely related to my flat feet, and lack of decent footwear. But there’s also another possibility… she asked me if I had any problems with my big toe.
She laughed… I am so glad that we’ve got a unique chemistry. But other than being ugly… have I had any problems with them? I have not. She then went on to explain that she wanted a blood test to rule out gout… and then she said:
“People with high blood pressure and… not optimal weight… can be more susceptible to gout.” She paused noticeably trying to find the right wording…
I started to laugh… “NOT OPTIMAL WEIGHT? Is that your politically correct way of saying that I’m not fat.. but I’m not of optimal weight?” I had her there.
We talked a little more, and she suggested a tighter sock… and then she said “I don’t imagine that I can get you to wear a stocking, so I won’t ask for that.”
“Hey”, I said with a laugh… “I wore a scrotal support for a couple of weeks, so anything’s possible!”
She just shook her head, and kicked me out of the room and told me to come back in September…
I had my regularly scheduled appointment this afternoon with my family doctor. I’ve mentioned her before… Lisa is awesome.
The first thing I had to do when I got there was step onto the scale. That was new. Something tells me that she`s going to be getting me to do that more often. Then we got into the question of how I’ve been. I told her that I was off work for a month, and then showed her my favourite pic on my iPhone. She`s a doctor… she`s seen it before. But she`s never seen it looking like THAT!
She laughed when I told her that I had been worried it might fall off. I think she thought I was joking. I wasn`t.
But then we got into the nitty gritty of why I was there. My blood pressure was surprisingly lower than I had anticipated. When she asked me how I was doing with work, and some other things… She could tell from the look on my face that I wasn’t doing well. I have a horrible tell when it comes to that personal stuff… I can`t look her in the eye… I just tend to stare at a spot on the wall or the floor.
Lisa thinks that I should go back and talk to my old psychologist about some of the things that are bothering me. It`s hard because if you ask me what needs to be done… I know the answers. I`m not stupid. Supposedly far from it (although I have my serious doubts). But it`s getting from Point A to Point B that seems to be the problem. I know what has to be done. But I can not seem to do it. And every time that I think I’ve hit rock bottom, I fall a little deeper in the rabbit hole.
She asked me a couple of very tough questions. I wasn`t keen on answering them, but I did. There`s no point in lying to her… she knows way too much about me.
I have to go back and see her in 6 weeks, which is a shorter time-frame than normal. I suspect that if things haven`t changed much in that time, that I`ll become a regular fixture in that office… again.
As I left, she reminded me about the Coke and fast food… and that I should really make that appointment with the psychologist… just to reinforce things… I nodded… we both know that I won`t make that phone call.
And in 6 weeks, we`ll probably go through the same thing again.
I had an interesting talk with the Dr this week. I told her that I failed my blood pressure check again the day before. 174/105 I think it was when I went in to donate. The 174 was high, but still below the acceptable level (180) but the 105 needed to be below 100. They sent me out to sit on the couch and “relax” before trying again. I didn’t feel un-relaxed, non-relaxed, whatever the opposite of relaxed is… but I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to sit there for 10 mins and play WordsWithFriends on my iPhone. I’ve been winning a lot more lately, so my stress level should have been ok. Well, my second check was a little better, but still not good enough to donate. I asked her what the problem was. Why can’t they just take it out. I was there. I wanted to give. Was it something wrong with the blood, or with me? She gave me the line about my heart being over-worked as is, and how they didn’t want to kill me in the chair. OK. Fine, be like that.
Well I had the conversation with my Dr the following day. When she took my pressure reading, it was still up higher than she would like it. We talked about some of the reasons why that might be the case, and agreed that some major changes have to take place. It’s not like it’s the first time we’ve had that conversation, but I think things are a little worse than they were before. I also reaffirmed my belief that I’m already more than halfway through my lifetime. She did the math. I’m not sure whether she agreed with me or not, but she felt that I’m too young to have blood pressure problems… So a third blood pressure drug was added to the mix. I’m starting to feel like a walking pharmacy. And if that wasn’t enough, she also increased the Zoloft because not every day has been a great day.
So last night I went home after work, and went straight to bed. No supper. Nothing. I took my coat and boots off, and went upstairs. 11 hours later I was calling into work… I had overslept and was going to be late. I’d blame it on the change of medication except that I haven’t dropped the prescriptions off at the pharmacy yet, so it can’t be that. It’s probably just everything piling up. I had another vivid dream last night. This time I was getting fired for something that I refused to do because they weren’t giving me all the information. Good times.
Tomorrow is the family Christmas dinner at my parents’ house. Mum’s having it early this year because I’m working through Christmas. I’m looking forward to sitting down and having a nice dinner. The guest of honour this year is “Nick”. I’m not sure if that means St Nick, but it does seem like an odd choice for a Christmas turkey. Then again, any family that names their turkeys isn’t exactly normal, is it?
I’d never given blood before, but after a period of soul searching, I decided to try to start doing some more positive things in my life. Something supposedly simple (yet very important) on that list was to start donating blood. So I called that number that has been drilled into my head for years… 1-800-2DONATE and made an appointment to go into the donor clinic.
That was almost 3 years ago.
As I sat down and started to read through the extensive list of “no-no’s” I saw one that made me flinch. Maybe it was better to come back another day. I promised to make another appointment and went on my way.
And so began the flood of phone calls from Canadian Blood Services asking if I’d like to schedule another appointment. These people are relentless. Eventually I decided to go back, and this time I made it a little farther through the screening process. But not much.
Apparently high blood pressure will disqualify you from giving blood. It’s fine if you’re taking medication to control it, but if your pressure is too high at the time, they won’t take your blood. Try as I did to convince the nurse that perhaps if they took some out, then it might lower the pressure a little… she wouldn’t go for it. They checked it two or three times, and it was still high. They suggested that I see a doctor about it, at which point I sheepishly admitted that I was already on blood pressure medication but had been slacking a little in taking it. Cue speech on importance of taking your medication regularly.
Another year passed of me dodging their phone calls. In that period I got a little more serious about taking my medication, and my doctor was relatively pleased with the results. (Now if only I would lose a little weight.. yeah yeah… I know) So I decided to give it one more try. Maybe the third time would be a charm.
Things had changed at the donor clinic since I was last there. Now when they prick your finger to check your iron level, they can get the results immediately with some nifty little machine that sits on their desk. Apparently I passed that test, and onto the next station I went. I aced all the questions about my travel experiences and whether I engaged in any forbidden activities. After that, they sent me to “the room” where I had to have my blood pressure checked, and answer some more questions, this time asked by a nurse in person, rather than on a form.
They ask some strange questions. They were particularly interested in whether my mother or grandmother had been born in South America or Africa. I guess they don’t care about Dad. Then more questions about personal stuff. And then they give you a sticker to place on the questionnaire as to whether or not you feel that your blood is safe to give. It’s just a bar code, and the nurse leaves the room while you choose the appropriate one and place it on the card.
Of course before any of that happened, I had to pass the blood pressure check. You can tell from the title of the post that I passed. But it was still high. (Don’t ask.. I can’t keep the numbers straight in my head. All I know is that 0 is bad.) Unfortunately for me, I had made a comment that I had failed this part before. The nurse seemed surprised and said “It must have been very high before, because we have quite liberal guidelines when it comes to that.) Well when I told her about my slack and idle approach to medication consumption, she proceeded to give me two examples of people she knew personally who had stopped taking their blood pressure medication, resulting in strokes for both. One regained partial movement on one side… the other went into a home… Yeah, that’s not what I wanted to hear.
After telling me that, it’s no wonder that it was high when she checked it!
I must say… the chairs that you sit in while giving blood are quite comfortable! I could really use one at home. Maybe another at work. I’m getting a little better with needles. I don’t like to look as it goes in, but after that, I don’t mind watching the blood flow out of me and into the bag. And the next bag. And some vials. Jesus, were they going to leave any in there for me!?
When all was said and done, I had a cookie and some chocolate milk… and away I went. At some point I guess that I’m going to receive a blood donor card in the mail (or a nasty letter telling me that I’m not allowed back there again). I’m looking forward to that.
And next month I guess I’ll have replenished enough of my stock that I can give again. Whohoo!