So….yesterday along came what appeared to be another migraine. This, during rehearsal for Sunday’s service; in addition to that, I was also looking forward to singing along at last night’s Evensong service.
Better get on the road while I can still drive without picking off any of my fellow homicidal drivers, think I. That thought thunk, I excuse myself from the service and slink away.
Back at the Funny Farm…holy ESS AITCH AI! The damn tattling Omron informs me that I’ve spiked a blood pressure reading of 165/105!!
Obviously, I soon will be leaping off the edge of this hole in the ground here and pulling the dirt in after me.
Now I’m wondering…is this really a migraine? Or am I having a stroke? Or…WTF?
Last major spike — which was nowhere near that high on either side of the slash mark — came when I was having a fine hot flash. (Can you imagine? Damn near 73 years old and having hot goddamn flashes again?)
After some recourse to the Hypochondriac’s Treasure Chest, I discover that a headache can be associated with high blood pressure. But such headaches are not migraines. Elevated BP, interestingly, is not associated with true migraine.
Uh huh. Are you saying, dear Google, that I am having a stroke?
These antics proceed through an irritable, headachey, cranky day. I do, however, get through the current Chinese math paper by about 9 p.m., which is…something. I guess. My head still hurts, which, one imagines, could be caused either by detailed discussion of F-tests and p-functions as they apply comparatively to the evolution of state-owned and privately-owned corporate boards or…by an impending stroke.
Stroke. Definitely a stroke.
Meditating this thought, of course, is not conducive to sleep. Not only does the headache proceed, I’m enjoying palpitations and vertigo, too….just like the ones that initially drove me to the cardiodocs.
At 1 in the morning, I get up and go back into the office and lash myself back up in the damn Omron. Still spiking at a mere 146/93 on the initial reading. This figure falls to 123/89 in the course of the full testing maneuver (which entails wasting about 15 minutes with repeated measures between resting periods — it really is an amazingly annoying procedure). But 146 is still not at all a good systolic reading. And 93 on the diastolic side? Pushing 90 at the lowest ebb? Remarkably not good.
So finally I throw in the towel and decide to swallow the first of the blood pressure pills dispensed by cardiodoc.
Here’s the problem with that. See these here?
Those are pretty typical figures over the past week. Every number in blue is a figure in the “safe” range. Black: not great, but not life-threatening, either.
If average blood pressure is in the low 120s or the the mid-teens, then a medication that pushes it down still further will cause severe, dangerous vertigo. That’s dizziness of the fall-down-and-break-your-hip variety. Dizziness of the you-dare-not-drive-your-car variety.
This, we already experienced with the previous cardiodoc: the stuff he gave me made me nonfunctional. And believe me: with all my heart (heh!), I do not want to do that again!
New Cardiodoc was concerned enough about the occasional spikes — which usually go into the 140s but can go as high as 155 or so — that he pressed a new variety of pill on me. I’ve been resisting, because when I’m not in his office and not surrounded by strangers prodding me and yakking at me and making me take my clothes off, my average BP over the course of a typical week is about 128/83 — and that includes the spikes. Over the past week, though, as I’ve lost weight the blood pressure has lost elevation. Even with the batsh!t 165/105 spike and a couple other spikes in the 140s, this week’s average has been 125.4/84.2.
Push that down very far, and I’m gonna be falling down every time I try to stand up from a chair or the toilet.
Reassured by the Mayo’s PA, who had the common sense to observe that I’m not required to stay on these pills, and if they have an untoward side effect, I can just…well…you know: stop taking it, I decided I’d better try the damn stuff. Despite the lovely low figures of late, these spikes are damn scary, especially so because we do not know what is causing them.
The figures are routinely low in the morning — though you can see that over the past few days (except for yesterday…) they’ve been surprisingly low in the evenings, too. Normally, the BP rises late in the day. So what would make sense, if anything in this makes sense at all, would be to take the daily dose around 4 or 5 p.m., when I won’t be driving anywhere (except for Wednesdays…)
As for the headache:
Well, it’s still in the offing, and as we scribble the morning’s average BP is 121/84. Higher than it has been over the past few days, but still: not suicidal. Whether the pill pushed the figures down or whether the pressure just dropped on its own, as it always does in the morning, is now unknown.
But whatever: it is surely NOT high enough to cause my head to hurt. Which it decidedly still does.
This suggests some other headache etiology, hm?
Well, you’ll recall the fine respiratory flap that started last March and went all the way to the end of October before it cleared up?
Yes, that may have been a cold or flu (and that is why I’m trying with all my wiliness to avoid the flu this spring). But between Cardiodoc 2 and the young Mayo doc, we suspect the issue was not an infection — or at least, not one that lasted the entire 8 months — but probably allergies. Or allergies complicated by an infection. That theory advanced, Mayo Doc recommended that I double up on the 10-mg doses of plain, unadulterated Claritin (hold the pseudoephedrine), gulping down one pill in the morning and one at night.
And damned if this didn’t work! Within a few days, the head congestion started to clear up, and within a month it was gone.
Also gone? The dizzy spells and palpitations!
Turns out that in old bats Eustachian tube and sinus congestion can cause both dizziness (this is pretty common) and presyncope. In other words: I wasn’t enjoying near-fainting spells and crazy world-spinning because of the blood pressure. Those must have been caused by head congestion…which went away when the Claritin kicked in.
Past couple of weeks, I’ve been forgetting to swallow a daily Claritin. The pill-a-day lifestyle, really, is not for me. And in the absence of the antihistamine, my head has slowly been gooping up again. It is almost March again: right when the head thing started last year. Right when things start to grow in the low desert.
And so…very likely what feels like a sinus headache is a sinus headache. And it, along with the vertigo, is coming back because I quit treating it. 😮