Saturday, August 08, 2015


Until recently, when I read a little bit about blood pressure in "The Brick" for my CPT studies, I never really understood what the numbers meant or what they should be. It's a bit embarrassing to admit this, because I spent a good few years in my late 20's and early 3's battling high blood pressure...taking it on the doctor's word that I needed beta-blockers.

Oh, I'm sure I did, but it also proves that in those years, I had my head in the sand when it came to my health.

Things have changed. Now I understand that the systolic (top) number measures the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts, and should be at or under 120 (generally should be under, but 120 is acceptable). The diastolic (bottom) number measures the pressure in the arteries between contractions, when the heart is "at rest" for a small moment. It should be under 80.

With a history being pre-hypertensive and Stage 1 hypertensive, I always approach the blood pressure cuff at any doctor's office with some wariness. While my weight loss took care of a lot of my blood pressure issues, the fact remains that I deal with a certain amount of anxiety, and that can cause the pressure to elevate. Every time I visit a doctor's office, I worry, just a little bit, that my pressure will be up--which, of course, causes some stress and can cause my numbers to elevate. Funny how that works. Most nurses acknowledge this and so, since my numbers have been mostly really good the last few years, we don't worry bout it, and I haven't been on beta-blockers since 2010.

Yesterday, I had to visit the doctor for a reaction I'm having on my neck--a small cut got infected. It's not serious, just annoying and itchy. Last time it happened, I took an antibiotic for five days and everything healed up well. This time, as soon as I noticed it starting, I headed off to the doctor to get more antibiotics. But of course, before I can do that, my vitals must be taken.

I don't worry about the scale much these days. My pulse reading was right where it should be, according to the trends I see on my FitBit. But when the nurse strapped that cuff on my arm, I felt a moment of worry, and I forced myself to take a deep breath.

The worry was all in vain. The nurse looked at the numbers and smiled. "Oh, very good."

"What are my numbers?"

"One-twenty over seventy."

Well, then, not bad at all.

I'm oddly proud to have such a good reading. I have worked so hard to improve my health and to have it show like that is amazing.

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