How (Not) To Lower Your Blood Pressure

I haven’t written a blog post in a few months and noticed that one of my “recent” posts was about slowing down. I’m sure you are wondering, “How’s that working for you?”

According to recent blood pressure readings, not too well. At a doctor’s appointment a couple weeks ago, a nurse checked my blood pressure and mentioned that my blood pressure was higher than normal.

I was too afraid to ask what she meant by high, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I went to a local grocery store to get my blood pressure reading at the machine in the pharmacy department. After sticking my arm in the cuff and pressing the start button, I nearly fell off the seat because the machine started yelling.

“ARE YOU A MALE OR A FEMALE?”

“WHAT IS YOUR DATE OF BIRTH”

“PLACE YOUR ARM IN THE CUFF AND TURN YOUR PALM UPWARD.”

“RELAX.”

“BREATHE.”

“YOU ARE DOING GREAT!”

“ALMOST FINISHED!”

“DONE!”

While I appreciate the accessibility of the machine for visually impaired users, I believe the volume is a bit excessive. Not only did the machine startle me, but I imagine shoppers across the store and possibly in the parking lot heard the instructions.

Why the machine didn’t yell my results for all of west Little Rock to hear is beyond me. Yes, I know all about HIPAA privacy rules, but if people can’t see the instructions on the machine, how can they see the results?

My results weren’t terrible but not great either, so because of my recent milestone birthday and a family history of heart disease (both sides), I decided to make some changes.

I have made a conscious effort over the past two weeks to eliminate obvious stressors such as checking Twitter every ten minutes or reading comments after news articles, especially comments related to the current presidential campaign. In fact, I can imagine that the demand for blood pressure medication is at an all time high.

Today though, after two weeks of working somewhat consistently on better eating and exercising habits and trying very hard to relax more, I expected a good result when I stopped by the grocery store.

I have been out of town for a week and completely forgot about the loud volume of the blood pressure machine. My result, 143/81, was not a total surprise since the only thing keeping me from jumping completely out of the seat was my arm stuck in the blood pressure cuff.

Time to find a new grocery store.

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Image found on Flikr.com, Mark Turnaukas, licensed under Creative Commons

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Scooters, crutches, and automatic doors

I have been off crutches for three weeks since having surgery. Since I tend to go from 0-80, I had to use one crutch for a few days at first because it forced me to slow down. My mom says I’m hyper, and my sister calls me Type AA. I just don’t know how to move slowly.

Fortunately, I only needed to use crutches for three weeks after surgery. In that short time, however, I had difficulty getting around in some public places.

I won’t lie. I was excited to drive a scooter at Kroger. After a few halting starts, I quickly got the hang of zipping around the store. I kept my crutches in the cart but had to be careful while turning. I almost took down a Monster drink display when going around a corner too sharply. I also became conscious of people behind me, and I tried to stay out of the way as much as possible. I gave the right of way to parents with the huge kiddie grocery carts too. My only problem at Kroger was not being able to fit the scooter in the aisle that carries the cane, crutch, and walker accessories. I had to park the cart, get out, and hop over to look for crutch accessories because the aisle was too crowded with store displays.

Automatic doors became my best friend. I liked using a crutch to tap the button, and I could boogie right in with my crutches. I noticed that most places do not have automatic doors, including the Tax Assessor’s office on Rodney Parham. Some, like the Thompson library, have automatic outer doors but the inner doors are manual. I was at the mercy of a kind person to help me, or I had to cheat and put some weight on my left leg to get inside.

Some retired gentlemen that regularly meet at the McDonald’s where I get my tea during the summer were especially helpful. They would carry my tea to a table (I like to drink tea and read the paper in the mornings away from the cat) and check on me if they left first. I call them the Charlies because I’m pretty sure at least three of them are named Charlie. I have another name for the self-absorbed business people on phones or laptops at a west Little Rock Starbucks. The Charlies could teach them a thing or two.

I’m lucky. I only needed crutches for three weeks. I can’t imagine a permanent disability. I’m planning to call the City of Little Rock about the Tax Assessor’s doors. I think Little Rock can do better by it’s temporary and permanently disabled citizens.

Things to do when recovering from surgery

I am less than a week into my arthroscopic hip surgery, and so far, everything is going well. I only needed Percocet for two days, and we still have food in our refrigerator from wonderful friends. I have very little pain, but I’m having trouble adjusting to not driving and having to spend six hours a day on a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine.

Josie and Charlie have perfected the art of resting. Perhaps I need to channel my inner pampered pet.

Fortunately, John is 14 1/2 and has his driver’s permit. He has driven me to PT, driven himself to get a haircut (with me riding shotgun), and taken me to McDonald’s for tea. He mentioned needing a cap and jacket since he has become my chauffeur. I suppose he has forgotten about the nine years of me driving him to and from school and the four years of driving to and from swim practice and meets. I hope I get the okay to drive from my doctor on Wednesday. In the meantime, I guess I should order him a chauffeur’s cap (snort laugh).

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Charlie looks so peaceful when he sleeps. If only he were this still at 5:30 a.m.

 

 

The CPM is another story. I have to sit for six hours a day with my leg on a machine that moves up and down from 0-90 degrees. This device is supposed to prevent scar tissue from forming. Fortunately, I can split up the time. I usually do two hour intervals three times a day. So far during the 36 hours I’ve spent on the machine, I have done the following:

1. Binge watched Sherlock (I’m on Season 2, episode 1) and Scrubs (Where was I when this show first aired?)

2. Took a multitude of BuzzFeed quizzes in which I have learned that George Washington is my Founding Father soulmate; my actual age is 68 (BuzzFeed is 20 years off; it must have been my gin and tonic drink preference); I am not qualified to be a bartender; Saint Cecilia should be my patron saint; I should get a PhD in Comparative Literature; my cute animal soulmate is Piglet (he’s cute and slightly neurotic); I haven’t seen very many famous tourist attractions; my inner Broadway diva is Jennifer Holliday; and my name should be Frank.

3.  Ate too many snacks (thanks for the care package Cal, Laura, mom, and dad)

4. Read books, books, and more books

 

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I wish I could feel this rested. Josie knows how to chill.

I hate sitting still, but at least I’m having fun. Now if I can only finish my grad school application and turn it in by Monday. Guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow!!

 

 

 

 

 

At least the surgery is “hip”

I have discovered that getting ready for surgery is a lot like getting ready to go on vacation. I’m having arthroscopic hip surgery  tomorrow morning (see Foot Flushing post from earlier this year), and I’ve had so much to do to get ready. I’ve caught up on laundry, cleaned the house, and stocked up with plenty of reading material. The Actuary and the Evil Genius cleaned the downstairs floors (I don’t care what the upstairs floors look like; I won’t be climbing stairs for awhile) and went to the grocery store, and I made sure the cat has plenty of food and kitty litter.

I do the same thing when I go on vacation – clean the house, stock up on books, do laundry, etc. The similarities end there, however. I’ll be coming home to crutches, a strange device to wear on my leg that stimulates movement (to prevent scar tissue), and pain pills. If I came home from a vacation with those kinds of souvenirs, I’d probably never leave the house again.

Our refrigerator is already filling up with meals from friends. A women’s Sunday School class is probably the one of the best means to ensure a family has plenty of food when someone is sick or injured. Although we’re covered for dinner for several days, the Evil Genius picked up some salmon to grill for his lunches. When I was his age, I think the extent of my cooking was grilled cheese sandwiches. He also arranged his own transportation to and from swim practice for the mornings.

I haven’t finished all my projects, but I’ll have to channel my inner Type B personality and work on them when I can. I’ll probably stay off social media while I’m under the influence of Percocet.

This surgery is extremely inconvenient, but at least I have a “hip” surgeon for “hip” surgery. I’ll post an update when I’m off the pain meds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foot Flushing – Healthy or Hazardous

I started having hip problems (at least my problems are “hip”) last October when I realized that, on top of hip pain, I could no longer sit on the floor with my legs crossed or lift my leg past a certain point. I’ve never been flexible; I could never do splits, and I’ve never been able to bend down and touch my toes. This recent anomaly with my hip has gone far beyond my normal inflexibility though.

My primary care doctor referred me to an orthopedist since my hip didn’t improve after two visits and a steroid shot. I went to the specialist a couple weeks ago expecting a couple months of physical therapy to get back to my normal point of inflexibility.

Instead, the doctor said, “You have serious issues with your hip” and mentioned the “S” word (surgery), to which I immediately thought of another “S” word. He said arthroscopic hip surgery could save my hip and keep me from needing hip replacement surgery in the not too distant future. I go back to see him today to get results on my MRI, see if I need a CT scan, and find out whether or not he thinks I need surgery.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out what in the world I did to my hip. I’m only 48, and I’m active to the point of being hyper. I sprained my ankle in September when I was walking a rambunctious Rottweiler puppy, and I probably contorted my hip when I tried to get my foot out of the hole I fell into.

The other day, however, I had what I refer to as my “hipephany.” I was in the restroom at Wal-Mart, and when I tried to foot-flush, I couldn’t raise my leg high enough to reach the flusher. Then it hit me – I have been foot flushing in public restrooms for 20 years with my left foot. Could my quest to avoid germs have led to my present condition? I called my mom, and we laughed so hard, we cried. A sense of humor is good at times such as this.

If you are a fellow foot flusher, be warned. Foot flushing could be hazardous to your health.