Friday, May 31, 2019


Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
As I've mentioned before, I am prone to headaches. This year I've had a particularly large crop of them, sometimes every other day or so. At first I thought this was just due to the weather; Hurricane Season in Florida begins in May, which means it's also thunderstorm season and that means storm fronts pushing pressure fronts ahead of them. If the barometric pressure drops quickly, I develop sinus headaches because my allergies cause sinus congestion which prevents the pressure within my sinuses from equalizing quickly.

However, I soon noticed a few things:
  1. The headaches didn't always correspond with weather changes, nor were they always sinus in nature. Many of them felt vascular (dealing with blood vessels) and it often felt like the veins in my head were throbbing and constricting as blood pounded through them. 
  2. They frequently happened after I performed an activity involving strain (carrying in heavy bags of corn) or after family members deciding it was a good time to have a screaming fight with each other. 
One day, after a particularly bad headache that ate most of the afternoon, I decided on a lark to check my blood pressure to see if that was causing my headaches. My mother has an Omron blood pressure monitor and I asked her to show me how it worked. I don't recall what the reading was, but it was high enough that she expressed concern. I thought it was high because of the headache, and resolved to take more readings at the same time each day. 

However, I became distracted by work and forgot to do that for a week, possibly more. It wasn't until yesterday -- a very crappy, stressful day -- that I decided I'd check because I could feel my blood pressure rising. 

It was high. Amazingly high. "Get thee to the doctor" high. I figured it couldn't be right, so I waited until everyone in the house was in bed, I was sitting comfortably, and after an hour of "me time" to settle my nerves. Here's what it read:

That's definitely not good. I'm not a doctor, but I know that if that isn't a fluke then I have Stage 2 Hypertension.

I took this after I woke up today. I had a good nights sleep, felt completely rested, and hadn't yet had any coffee (or, in fact, anything):

All right, this is definitely a pattern, I thought. So now the question becomes "What do I do about it?"  I don't have a job that provides me with health insurance, and I don't make enough money that paying out of pocket for a series of doctor's visits is feasible long-term. (I also don't think that the world owes me anything, so I refuse to steal from other people by enrolling in the ACA.)

I've been told that blood pressure medications are very affordable even without insurance, but first I need that pesky prescription to get one. I've decided to visit the local free clinic, which is an option a lot of low-preppers may not realize exists. Because it's a charity and not government funded, I won't feel like I'm stealing from people. They don't accept new patients until Monday, however, so I can't do anything about this until then except continue to monitor myself and hope that this spike in BP was an anomaly. 

I measured myself right before supper and the systolic is slowly going down. 

So what prepping lessons can we learn from this?
  1. It's a good idea to have a blood pressure monitor in the house. If mom hadn't had one I wouldn't have thought to check mine, and months from now I could have a heart attack or stroke. 
  2. Check your vitals at a regular interval once you're in middle age.  If I had been checking my BP sooner (like I intended) I could have gotten ahead of this sooner. 
  3. Don't immediately assume the worst. I admit that I'm greatly concerned that I'm not healthy like I thought, but instead have hypertension. But I'm going to measure myself 3 or more times a day this weekend, and hopefully my resting blood pressure will continue to drop. I have no illusions that it will be "normal", but if I'm lucky I 'll simply have an elevated BP. I'm more likely to have stage 1 hypertension, but I'll take that over stage 2!
  4. Have options for treatment.  There are ways to get medical attention in this world even if you don't have health insurance. For example, if you have the cash then the Minute Clinic at a local CVS can see you without an appointment. If you don't have a lot of money, then see if you qualify for treatment at a local free clinic. 

The only thing you truly have in this world is your body. Keep it healthy, because the only thing the world owes you is death. 

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