Exactly one week ago I decided that enough was enough with the blood pressure conundrum. By this time last week, I had myself so worked up that I was spiking 150/97 readings(!!) and feeling just like you feel when you have to make a cold call and tell or ask some total stranger something, or like you feel in the 6th grade when you’re about to take a math or spelling quiz. At length I realized that the tension caused by obsessing over this bullshit simply had to be what is pushing up those crazy, never-before-seen spikes.
So I decided to put the damn Omron contraption away, close the BP spreadsheet, and stop thinking about the stuff for a full week.
That was good.
The project was to do a daily two-mile dog-free walk, an evening 1.5-mile dog walk (for a total of 3.5 miles a day), plus one 20-minute yoga practice, plus the 10-minute back-pain exercises the physical therapists showed me some time ago.
I haven’t had a true, verifiable ocular migraine in years. Many years. This cleared, as of yore, in about 15 minutes, leaving behind a mild headache. Mercifully in my precincts these auras do not end in severe pain. That’s something. I guess.
This was followed, that very night, by the single most brain-blowing terrifying nightmare I’ve had since I was a small child. It was really, I think, more on the order of a hallucination: awaking in the midnight darkness, I heard two men in the front of the house, speaking to each other in subdued voices.
For an instant, I was dead convinced there was a pair of prowlers in the living-room. Mercifully, the dogs were on the bed and I had not completely lost my grip: if there really was anyone in the house, the dogs would be going screaming batshit. They were not. They were awake (dogs are often awake at night, interestingly) and just sitting there quietly. Unfazed. Unalerted. Totally unbatshit.
It actually took a second to persuade myself that the “visitors” were phantasms, because if they were real the dogs would have…well….noticed.
Stress and migraine are connected, and migraine is also associated with a wide variety of sleep disturbances, among them dramatic nightmares. And it can take a few days for an episode of stress to evince its various side-effects.
Come dawn, now freshly re-obsessed, I decided I should see what the BP was, in light of the Episode of the Fantastical Night Visitors. So dragged out the contraption again, hating every minute of it. Dogs yapping in the background (not exactly a restful environment), the average was 130/84. Not great, but a far cry from stroke-worthy. As of that evening, the overall average for the several days since I’d decided to quit obsessing was 125.5/79.4. That also is not ideal, but it certainly isn’t in the “high blood pressure” range. Unless, of course, you’re in the business of peddling pharmaceuticals…
Today — another couple days later — the average of readings is 124.6/84.6. So it doesn’t look like I’m going to die soon.
The exercise routine has gone well except for yesterday, when I had so many out-of-the-house things to do that there really was no time for walks or calisthenics. A shallow search online did not come up with any very credible figure for how long it should take for a determined lifestyle change to affect one’s blood pressure. Many sites insist that lifestyle changes do lower moderately inflated BP, but they decline to say how long one might expect this to take. One (1) modestly credible site suggests about 10 weeks.
Meanwhile, YouTube has any number of nice videos demonstrating various yoga routines. Picked a couple by a character named Adriene, who has a pleasing demeanor and does not annoy with too much rah-rah or very much woo-woo. Her “relaxation” practice and her “back pain” practice are nice, easy routines that each occupy about 20 minutes. Then I found a guy who demonstrates beginning weight-lifting workouts for the geriatric set! Chortle! These are absurdly easy but go on long enough to work up a very light sweat, which is supposedly ideal for circulatory purposes.
So. Today is the start of another week, during which I hope not to see the damned machine for seven whole days and nights. Barring a rainstorm (highly unlikely), nothing should get in the way of the proposed fitness exercises, spread out, on any given day, from 7 in the morning to ten at night. And then we shall see what we shall see.