Coffee heat rising

{moan} Life in the Land of Old Age..

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. 😮

Imagine that.


7 thoughts on “{moan} Life in the Land of Old Age..”

  1. I don’t know Funny….Did the Doc do blood work last visit? And if so how oxygenated was your blood? I’m no Doc….but was with my Dad for over 35 years as he coped with heart disease. Have you had a cardiac cath or an ultra sound?….I swear it sounds like you have a leaky heart valve…and to compensate for the “leak” your heart is pumping faster/more often….sometimes. This could also explain the headache and vertigo as well…BUT I’m no Doctor. Will share that we went thru everything with Dear Father….He had quadruple bypass surgery at 50, a second bypass 30 years later and at his passing had 17 stents installed in his chest over the years. IMHO what you describe is really nothing to mess with….Know of an excellent cardio guy here on the East Coast that I would be happy to refer you to if you would like….He and my Dad grew old together…..

    • Hmmm….. Many, many years ago — I was in my 30s — a GP told me I had a mitral valve prolapse. This was in the day when madly treating MVP was all the style. (Yes, there are “vogues” or styles in medicine that come and go.) Coincidentally, my father had just had a heart attack and undergone a triple bypass. I asked his cardiologist to look at me. He did a sonogram and a stress test, and concluded that if there was a mitral valve prolapse, it was undetectable and nothing to worry about. He said if I ever had any “problems — without saying what those problems might be — I should look into it further.

      But this is an interesting idea. I’ll ask one of the quacks next time I see one.

      • Sounds like a good idea…You are correct, IMHO, certain maladies seem to come into fashion that require treatment and then just as fast the tide turns, the malady considered benign and it is decided no treatment is required. The curious thing at my last “wellness visit” my “new Doc” INSISTED I have an EKG despite having no symptoms or complaints…And wouldn’t you know it…he found “some things” we need to keep an eye on…Of course he did.. As for your health, it is amazing to me the strides that modern medicine has made in the 35 years of my Father’s care…Might want to figure this out….could be nothing…..could be something….Best Wishes…

      • I believe these “styles” in treatment are driven by the pharmaceutical industry. They have ARMIES of sales staff who fan out across the country, make appointments with doctors, and go in person to pitch the latest and greatest drug or treatment. In some cases, they’ve been known to bribe doctors or to give them gifts or dinners or free trips in exchange for getting patients on their employers’ drugs or going to conferences to shill the drugs. Doctors are human: they’ll fall for a good enough pitch, same as the rest of us will.

        Here’s the thing about the blood pressure drugs: if they’re not statins, they’re doing little or nothing to extend your life. If they are statins, they can have side effects that are a great deal nastier than making you so dizzy you can’t drive your car. The HALO-3 study (2016) showed that yes, blood pressure reducing drugs do cut your numbers. But after five years, there was NO DIFFERENCE in mortality rates. Mortality and morbidity rates dropped in the statin group, but not in the group that took BP drugs such as calcium channel blockers.

        So you can take these drugs, enrich the drug companies, make yourself and your doctor feel good about it, and be damned.

  2. Just a thought. If you are having hot flashes and then get a migraine at the same time or close to it, it could be hormonal. This is what happens to me. Hot flashes are followed by a migraine. Now that I know that, I take a tumeric supplement daily, exercise hard daily to lose extra weight and I’ve found a great improvement. I also don’t eat after 6pm. I’m feeling much better. I have found that doctors never suggest that migraines could be hormonal, they’d rather shove pills. Exercise and weight loss will help your blood pressure too I’m sure. It has to be hard exercise though, as in dripping wet after an hour, because a walk around the neighborhood won’t do much at our age.

    • Yup, all of the above. Haven’t been able to exercise so much since the hip went out a few weeks ago, but thank goodness it’s getting better. I don’t eat after about 3 p.m. (chortle!! nya nya! my starvation is better than your starvation! 😀 ). And you’re dead right about hormonal influence on migraines. But (grump, growl!!!!) it sure is annoying to have that darned hormonal stuff come BACK on you after 20 years of total freedom from it!

      We used to do soy beans to cope with it. I never found they soy helped much, though…and now they say the stuff isn’t very good for you.

      You just reminded me, though, that I’ve gotta get that bike out and run it around the ‘hood while the weather’s still amenable. Think I could work up a sweat on that without spavining the hip any further. Thanks!

      • ‘My starvation is better than your starvation!’ haha that made me laugh 😀 It’s hellish sometimes not being able to eat in the evening as that is the time I most enjoy it!! Snacks with a good show on the TV or laptop have become a relic of the past for me now. I do it because I hate those damn migraines and for a while there I was getting them far too often, as in every week. I stopped eating soy (used to eat it) and meat that isn’t organic (hormones added) and I am seeing a difference. It has been a few months since the last migraine so definitely an improvement there. Yes, the bike is a great idea! I am really pushing myself lately to get stubborn weight off and, once I am where I need to be, will slack off a bit. I have done a lot of reading up on the migraine/hormonal connection and frankly I am amazed that doctors never seem to mention the link. Instead of advising diet/exercise/supplements as a line of treatment for those who want to try that first, they shove pills with who-knows-what side effects. Makes me mad. Keep on keeping on!

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