The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

Acting My Age, With Love and Gratitude

Yesterday, my post was loosely constructed around the saying “everything happens for a reason.” I closed with “What is the reason for this frustrating medical situation?”

I have my answer. A lot sooner, and not at all the answer I expected.

I received an email from a friend. He shared his very recent and very similar experience. He also shared what he learned from his medical professionals.

  1. Blood pressure varies quite a bit throughout the day (see the image). It is often highest just after you wake up (for 1/2 hour or so) and around dinner time. It is NOT very important if it is high during these times; that is normal! If you monitor, take it once a day ONLY, and do so about an hour after you wake up. Sit quietly, don’t cross your legs, take it three times in succession and record all three.

  2. Worrying about blood pressure makes it worse. You can get obsessed with it the way I did. That will get you into a feedback loop where you worry why it isn’t lower, and the anxiety will get it up even higher.

  3. You can make improvements to blood pressure with some very simple dietary changes. Eat less salt, for example. If you eat salty chips, try eating half a portion. Also, do more exercise. Even walking an extra 20 minutes a day will help.

  4. There are lots of different drugs for high blood pressure. One of the most prescribed is HCTZ. Basically it makes you pee more often, because kidneys are partly responsible for blood pressure. Another one is ramipril. I tried both, but by keeping anxiety down and exercise I can get by with neither.

blood-pressure flucuations

I almost wept to receive this medical guidance as interim support while I attend to my mission to find a family doctor.

I wrote:

Wow, I just let out the most enormous sigh. You hit the nail on the head about the anxiety. I have been lying awake at night worrying. I’ve also been taking readings first thing in the morning and right after dinner!!

I’ve been sitting still for the better part of three years while I’ve worked on my correspondence courses, and often under heavy stress to meet deadlines and handle the difficult course material. So, yeah, not much physical activity. These last four months, I’ve been sitting still even more, because I’ve been feeling crappy. It’s no wonder my pressure is wonky!

Today, I was motivated. I decided to complete my work at my desk, then take myself for a walk and take a reading at eleven. After my walk, I sat at the table. Rolled my shoulders and neck once or twice and took several relaxing breaths. I pressed the button on the monitor.

It gurgled and puffed and growled as the cuff filled with air. Then the series of beeps as the cuff deflated.

But what’s this? At the end of the reading, there was no alarm sound! I was in the clear! Three times in a row, no alarm. I was elated.

I wrote to my friend:

136/84! I ❤ you!

He wrote back, “Great, I would say for a person your age (are you about 45 or 50?) that is only very, very slightly above average. (See attached chart of averages.) With some simple dietary changes, and a little more exercise (really  just walk 1 or 2 miles more per day, and make it a real commitment), you will be at or below the average in no time at all.”

BP chart

Ahem. I ❤ him more! First for missing my age by a decade and a half and second for sending the chart. I’m almost on target.

What a relief, after several weeks of anxiety. I’m going to record my readings for several more days so that when I finally get that family doctor lined up, I’ll have data.

In the meantime, what’s the reason for my medical mishaps?  Well, all I can say, I’ve learned to be truly grateful for social media, and great friends like YOU!

Thanks for the support. Truly.





Categories: In Other News

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70 replies

  1. Great news. What a difference a day makes. What a great friend. And here’s to many more silent cuff days ahead of you, Maggie.


  2. Wonderful! My husband does have the same problem. He also has white coat syndrome which means that whenever he goes to a doctor his bp goes up.


  3. I have hypertension. It’s inherited. After a certain age, I couldn’t control it any more with exercise and diet. Now I’m on meds. It’s better to be on meds than to have a stroke. I wouldn’t mind a massive, fatal coronary, but maybe I wouldn’t be so lucky. Watch it but do not worry about it. Your friend is totally right; obsessing about BP can raise your BP (and make your life really boring).


    • Glad you have your hypertension under control. And I’m totally with you, there, Martha. Better to have meds than, um, deads. I have no qualms about using pharmaceuticals and that’s the route I will take, if I need to.

      Boring. I know. I’m sick to death, you should excuse the poor choice of words, hearing myself go on about this. It’s time to change focus.


  4. Yay, great news, Maggie!


  5. Oh, now I’m glad I didn’t have time to read your previous post until today so I got the sequel straight after and didn’t have to lie awake worrying. That is great news! Hope it continues. And that you find a decent doctor. Yours sounds decidedly creepy and weird.

    But I’m going to disagree with you on the “everything happens for a reason”. Don’t agree with that at all. Sometimes sh#t just happens. But we, as human beings, are usually very good at finding something positive out of it. But that’s just my feelings about it. Borne out of some pretty heavy sh#t that has happened in my life about which I could never believe it was for a reason.


  6. Very happy to hear this, Maggie. But still. See a doctor just to make sure a young chick like you is as great as her numbers say she is. 😉


  7. Blood pressure increases with wisdom. The older you get, the better you understand just how screwed up the world is. 🙂

    Fortunately, humor increases with age. The older you get, the quicker you are to laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What great news!
    I have really low blood pressure, usually 115/78 or so — until I go to the obgyn, then I have white coat syndrome. It’s always a good time. lol I kinda wanna scream, “Just take it all out and my blood pressure will go right back down, I promise!”


  9. Glad you are feeling less and less anxious. Glad you are still going to seek out a doctor who doesn’t collect Barbies . . . I’m looking for one who is into “transformers”?


  10. I’m glad you’re not anxious any longer. I have normal blood pressure, but I do need to exercise more. Best wishes, Irina


  11. Great news, Maggie!! So happy to hear about your improved BP and resulting cheerier spirit! Perhaps this is the bright future of healthcare – we all ignore the bureaucracies and consult each other 🎀💖


  12. Glad you are on the mend, Maggie!


  13. Great! By the way, I had to take DH’s bp every night for weeks after his surgery. It remained about the same– until neighbor came in and made him laugh uproariously one eve. I took the reading shortly after, and it had jumped about 20 points! Indeed, just about everything affects bp readings.


  14. Phew! Excellent information. We are all relieved to know there is a sensible explanation for your numbers.. I think everyone’s BP probably just went down 10 or more points! 🙂


  15. Take three of these first thing in the morning:


    • Hey Don – love the video clip – grinning ear-to-ear. And it fits exactly with something a friend sent me – Dr. Oz has suggestions for lowering BP and one of them was to get a pet. I’ve got two cats, so I’m twice as prepared! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m right there with ya, sister! Distance ed. is convenient for its accessibility to be done at home, but it makes it difficult to stay on track health-wise because we have to be so still! Walks are important. 😉 Good for you!


    • Thanks, sugar. You know, toward the end of my school work I was using words like prison and incarceration. Seriously. Apart from the fact that I’m done with school, I am DONE with school. No more. (Famous last words? Time will tell!)


      • Ok, you sound like me now…hahah. I always tell myself that I’m SO DONE; but when it’s over, and I’ve grown accustomed to loafing around (a little too much), I can’t wait to jump back into the drying pan. Yes, “famous last words”. ;0) Congratz to you and me both! x

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Great news, and thanks for reproducing the chart and the advice.


    • Hi Ellen. I hesitated to write three self-centered “woe is me” posts in a row. Now y’all know I’m a drama queen. But I felt that if, on the off chance, someone might benefit from the information, then I should put it out there.


  18. Great news, it’s so nice to have friend who can share their experiences so you can learn from them and relax!


  19. Oh Maggie – that’s such GREAT news!! I learned something new today and thanks so much for including the chart! I didn’t realize it was normal for blood pressure to creep up with age. I always assumed it was a function of declining fitness as we got older.
    This post just gave me one more reason to get off and my butt and stay as active as possible 🙂

    Hope you continue to see good results with your blood pressure 🙂


  20. Hypertension (“high” blood pressure) is usually genetic, Maggie. And many of us are, as your friend pointed out, labile (meaning it goes up and down during the day). But it’s really nothing to fear, nor is the medication that controls it. What is considered “normal” does go up slightly with the years, but needn’t. I know people nearly my age who are still as low as they were in their twenties. On the other hand, I went from low bp to “high” in three years in my early forties — a “high” that did not respond to a totally salt-free diet. (My mother and father were also both hypertensive, a condition controlled in both with medication.) So I’ve been on meds, too –changing as the state of the art improved — since then. (Forty years.) Some of them had slight side effects, which one could live with, but most of the current ones don’t and are available in genetic form, which makes them cheaper. As for taking your own readings, I wouldn’t. Just do what you think you should do — move more, eat less salt — and wait for your regular checkups by the doc. And if he gives you a scrip for Triamterene/HCTZ or a beta blocker or something from another family of drugs, don’t get scared. It will prevent other, worse things from coming along down the pike later on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing this, Nina. The more I read of others’ experiences, the less isolated and more hopeful I feel. Unfortunately, I am uncertain of my mom and dad’s health as related to BP, but dad did die of a stroke. My mother’s sister had a similar experience in her 40’s. She was having a routine checkup when they discovered her 240/something reading. She’s in her 70’s, active and well. Today, I take my application to the MD’s office.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Just a thought..I love the chart, it is so helpful. I have been one of those with unusually low BP. I had an aunt who was the same way. She once told me ” You will live a long, frustrating life”. What the hell, Aunt Mary ??? She died in her 80’s of brain cancer just 2 months after her diagnosis. Van


    • Hi Van – I wish I had had a chance to know your Aunt. She sounds like a firecracker!

      I had low BP at first. Thought I was blessed and never gave BP a second thought, for decades. A friend is the same way. Even now, in her 50’s, a reading of 117/75 is considered extremely high for her. Her mother, however, someone who also had a long, low BP life, died of stroke. Go figure.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Great news about your blood pressure Maggie. Keep it up. NO! I mean keep doing what you’re doing.


  23. Most interesting Maggie, and am thrilled that your mind has been set at ease! ❤


  24. Glad to hear your mind has eased over this Maggie. It’s taken years of medication to get my BP down, but now that I’m exercising more and the readings are getting lower, I’m hoping my doctor may start reducing my medication soon. I take two different tablets a day. My husband ended up going off his medication altogether after he gave up his daily beer!

    All the best to you. 🙂


  25. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

    Thank you for this info, thank you to your friend for helping you, and great job on gaining control of this.

    ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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