Friday, December 3, 2010

Thrown For a Bit of a Loop

So this morning I went in to my old OB/GYN's office for my annual well-woman visit (no photos, so sorry). My midwife did my last well-woman, which was very cool, especially because it took place in my own little Home Sweet Home (convenient!) and because it involved cocktails beforehand - imagine how much more relaxed every woman would feel were she served an ice cold screwdriver before she was served a speculum! Anyhow, I had an inkling that this year I might be in need of some referrals to other doctors (for a mammogram, which at 43 I have yet to have; and possibly to a urologist to address the damage birthing six babies has done to my holding power), so I went back to the OB/GYN whose ship I jumped mid-pregnancy four years ago. I actually saw his Nurse Practitioner, so I didn't have to face him.

After filling out an inch-thick stack of paperwork, I was called back where the nurse weighed me, asked me a bunch of questions about my health history, and took my blood pressure.

And there was the kicker: it can no longer be denied that I have high blood pressure. The first time she took it, her eyes got big, she whistled and said "190 over 104." Seriously. She waited a few minutes, told me to try to relax and took it again. 178/100. Not good. Not good at all.

The fact is, I've had high blood pressure in the past. It first came to light when I was pregnant with the twins, and at that time it was diagnosed as pregnancy-induced hypertension. By the end of my pregnancy, I was in the throes of pre-eclampsia, and my blood pressure was so high while I was in labor (exaccerbated, I am convinced, by the on-call motherfucker obstetrician who spent a very long time trying to bully me into a completely unnecessary c-section) that they were afraid I was going to go into a seizure, and put me on a magnesium sulphate drip.

At that time, I thought it was just the pregnancy with twins that did that to me - it was just a lot for a body to handle, growing two babies at once. But when I got pregnant with Lilah my blood pressure also revealed itself on the high side. Same with Finnian. My midwife was able to help me control it with a high protein diet and various supplements, but on the sporadic occasions I've been to the doctor for various ailments between pregnancies over the last few years, my BP has always been on the higher side, though never as high as it was this morning. So I don't think I can chalk it up to pregnancy-induced anymore. There is a hereditary factor, as well. My dad had chronic high blood pressure and died from a massive heart attack at the age of 51 (which is less than ten years older than I am now). He was overweight and had several decades of hard living, hard drinking, and heavy smoking under his belt, which no doubt were the main contributors to his death, but still, I can't help thinking . . . I'm not overweight, I don't smoke (anymore, but I did for a loooong time), and I'm only a moderate imbiber, but there's the high blood pressure. Which at this point looks chronic.

So then the nurse stuck me in a little exam room giving me the usual instructions to get undressed and put that ridiculous paper robe on, and a few minutes later the NP came in and right away told me that my blood pressure "needs to be addressed as soon as possible," and I started crying. Fool. Ninny.

It's just that in the wake of Michael's ordeal last year, I feel so incredibly fragile and mortal.

You know, you go through your twenties and thirties feeling kind of invincible - or at least like, all that decline and health stuff that comes with age? It's so far off in the future that it's hardly worth thinking about. And then you find yourself in your forties, and especially if any kind of devastating illness has visited itself on your family or anyone you are relatively close to, and suddenly you feel so vulnernable. And it's terrifying at times, knowing that there might be invisible things going on inside your body that you have no knowledge of, no control over. And you have visions of your children being left motherless or fatherless. And everything you have to lose suddenly becomes so tangible that you can touch it.

Michael's battle with cancer has done a whole head trip on me. Every little ache or pain these days makes me stop for at least a second or two and wonder what it means. Is it something horrible hiding inside me, just waiting for the right moment to reveal itself and fuck my whole family over? The feeling usually passes pretty quickly by great effort on my part. And really, despite this burgeoning hypochondria, there is also a sense of utter procrastination. I can't deal with any of my potential issues right now because I have too much other stuff going on with Michael and the kids. My stuff can wait. I'll deal with it later. And there is a certain bliss in remaining ignorant.

But after this morning, I am no longer ignorant of my state of health, or at least not completely so. And now I have to address it. I left the doctor's office this morning feeling a little like a walking time bomb. Is my heart on the verge of giving out? Is there a vessel in my brain about to burst at any second?

I have an appointment with my family doctor early next week to address this blood pressure issue. The NP this morning told me that they'll probably put me on medication to control it, and maybe even baby aspirin. Gah. Is this the start of being old and lining up my prescription meds on the counter every day? How depressing.

Gotta do it, though. Take care of yourselves, people. Just do it.


Brandie said...

((hugs)) I hope you can get your bp under control. Does it cause any side effects?

I turned 35 this year, had surgery to repair the damage done by baby #4, and next week I'm having some skin cancer removed from my face. I felt old when I was the only person under 65 in the waiting room at the derm's. I'm with you in spirit if not in age!

Lisa B said...

Larry started taking the baby aspirin at 40 and said EVERY doc he knows started at 40 even though the official age recommended is more like 50...persinally I think more massages, facials, girls' weekends away and such are just the thing :)

diane rene said...

I get it - totally get it.
I have to PACK medication when we go places. I have to remember to put them in my carry on when we fly (because MY luggage always gets lost) because I HAVE to have it daily.
it was one thing when it was just my nightly migraine pills, but over the last two years it has grown to include thyroid meds, calcium supplements, another migraine medication, and we won't even talk about the bottles of tylenol and aleve that are basically all for ME. and all I can think is, "really?"

I hope you get the BP under control. I think you could still blame it on pregnancy tho ... or post pregnancy. it should be reduced greatly as each bird leaves the nest ;0)