Archive | October 2012

My Blood Pressure Story

People always want to know why or how I had a stroke. High blood pressure is my answer. It’s been the hardest thing for doctors to diagnose because I’m not in any risk categories. It all started in 1997. Prior to that, I always had normal blood pressure readings at the doctors office. It was never an issue.

It started after I had a few appointments to see my doctor because I had been running a fever, yet I wasn’t sick. He had me taking my temp, and I was also going in for my temp to be taken. The readings were always slightly high. He referred me to an infectious disease doctor. That scared me! He called to make my appt to make sure I was seen ASAP. They got me in quickly, but for those few days that I waited, I worried. I didn’t know what was wrong with me!

When I nervously arrived for my appt, the nurse took me in and did a blood pressure check. BP was something like 170/95. She told me to lay down, because she didn’t want me to have a stroke! (Now, I know that laying down makes your BP go up! She shouldn’t have had me do that!) At that moment, in my mind, I was thinking that I must have had something really wrong with me! I was not relaxing!! The dr came in, took my temp, and told me it was normal. What my dr had been using was the ear thermometer, and I was too! This dr used an oral thermometer. He told me that the ear ones ran a little high. OMG! All this time, I never had a fever! His main concern now, was my BP! He wanted me back to my regular dr ASAP.

All of the stress kind of made a phobia for me about having my BP taken. It would be around 150/90 for several weeks. He put me on BP meds. I almost fainted several times after trying them. He then sent me to a cardiologist. The heart dr ran tests, and concluded it was “white coat syndrome”. Meaning, my BP went up whenever they took it, but I didn’t walk around with high blood pressure. Made perfect sense. I have never been overweight, have always had perfect cholesterol, never smoked, and would only drink occasionally. I was not a candidate for high blood pressure!

Fast forward a few years. I had a new doctor. I was still getting high BP readings. He didn’t believe that I didn’t walk around with high BP. So, he put me on meds. This time, I almost died from taking that pill! My BP went so low, I really thought that I was dying. So, he told me to stop the meds, and obviously I couldn’t have high BP. He wanted me to do hypnosis or bio-feedback. I was very open to that! I like alternative ways to treat things.

I saw a lady who was the best in that field. She was amazing! I learned so much! She could get normal BP readings from me in her office. She felt like my high readings were from a surgery that I had, prior to all of the high temperature readings. I wasn’t sure, but I knew it was possible. She went with me to my dr appt, but once again, BP was up. She was too expensive for me to keep seeing, since insurance didn’t cover that type of thing. So, I was on my own to get control of it, with the things that she had taught me in our sessions.

I was a mystery to all of the doctors. They could never figure it out. As the years went on, my BP readings were getting higher. I always wondered if I would ever know if I truly had high BP or not. It bothered me, but I still would feel the panic when the BP cuff came out. I felt an adrenaline rush every time. I was always happy when they wouldn’t take my BP!

Fast forward to Sept 2010. I had to have a minor surgical procedure that required me to be knocked out. I knew my BP would be an issue! The anesthesiologist came to see me in the holding area before surgery. He didn’t want to do the surgery because my BP was too high. 232/110. He wanted me to see a heart dr. He recommended the cardiologist that I had seen before. He’s the best. So that’s what I did. He ran every test known to man! Every test came back negative. The final test was an ultrasound of my heart. It would tell him, conclusively, if I was walking around with high blood pressure. If I was, there would be a thickening of the heart. Well, guess what? No thickening. I was not walking around with high BP! BUT, he said that because my BP readings were so high, he had to put me on meds. That was fine, and almost a relief. I was hoping that maybe I would start to get normal readings.

It took 3 months to get used to the meds. Readings were still high, but he felt that it was better than it was before. I finally had surgery in Dec of that year. The anesthesiologist was still concerned, because while I was under the anesthesia, my BP was never under 140/95. It should have been way lower! I told my dr, and he said everything had been checked, and there were no issues.  He wanted me to stay on the meds, because it would prevent me from having a stroke! Yes, he really said that! So I stayed on the meds, and 3 months later I had a hemorrhagic stroke caused by high blood pressure!!

While in the hospital they ran tests, and also looked at the results from all of the tests that I did 6 months prior. They also studied the heart ultrasound, and came up with the same conclusion. They repeated some of the tests. Everything was perfect! I’ve had amazing doctors! My endocrinologist is still digging for rare things that could be wrong, but so far he’s found nothing. I take 3 different BP pills a day to keep my blood pressure down. I can still spike a good one in certain situations. I have different meds for that, to bring it down quickly.

I’ve learned how to not stress over things. I know how to “let it go”! My life is too important to take a chance on another stroke, because of something that’s out of my control. I truly know what matters, and have my life in perspective. I feel very peaceful. I’ve always been a happy and positive person, and I feel even more happy and positive than ever! Even with the side effects that I still have from the stroke, I know it’s temporary, and will just get better with time.

So, for the most part, my BP is under control. Why I have it, is still a mystery. Until they figure it out, I will continue to eat well, take my meds, be as stress-free as possible, and love my life because it’s great!

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Too loud!!

I’d like to let you know about something that happened to me from my stroke, that I thought was weird.  Noise. Yes, noise. That’s a problem now. All kinds of noise. What I’ve learned, is it’s not so uncommon of a problem after a stroke. Regular noise feels like out-of-control noise. It feels like chaos.

When I first had the stroke, I needed it quiet. My husband can be loud when he talks, and I remember telling him that he was too loud. He very quickly realized that he had to turn down his voice. I was talking very low, I think from my vocal cords being partially paralyzed. In a way, I think that it helped other people to talk low, also.

When I was transferred to the in-patient rehab hospital, I went from having my own room in a nice quiet hospital, to a room shared with three others. There weren’t any beds available in the stroke section, so I was placed in the spinal injury section. My room had  a very loud woman with “no filter”. I heard everything! Too much!! I needed sleep, and was not even able to get any small naps. Bryan and I would often go to the community room and work on my speech and other things, just to be alone and quiet. I was beginning to see that noise was going to be an issue.

After getting home, the challenge was to somehow make people understand that I couldn’t be around noise. It put my blood pressure up every time! We didn’t have a lot of visitors for this reason. Social situations also put my BP up. I’m normally a very social person, so that was hard for me to not have people over. A few months after the stroke we decided to go see a movie. We never thought about how loud it is at the movies! As soon as the previews started, I knew it wasn’t good. Somehow, I was able to stay for the whole movie, but I’ve never gone again. That’s okay, because I was known for falling asleep in the theaters anyway! Hahaha.

If anyone knows me, you know that I love music. I love all music! I couldn’t listen to the radio in the car. It was too much! I wanted to listen to music, but it felt like chaos. Little by little I would turn up the radio to a level barely audible. Then when I could drive, I would try to sing with the radio. Yes, only when alone, because you don’t want to hear me sing! That seemed to help a little. Now I can have the radio up to a normal level, but when we talk, the radio has to be turned down. Now, I actually even have the music on in the house during the day. It’s at a level where I can talk, and not feel like I’m competing with the music.

We haven’t gone to a lot of big social gatherings because of my noise and social issues. I have gone to some functions, but end up having to take extra medications because of my BP. I know that it will continue to get better, because it’s something that I continue to work on in small doses.

It helps to know that I’m not alone with these weird little things that are new to me now. It also helps that my family and friends are so understanding. Like I’ve said before, life is different now but it’s all good!