Crossing the Threshold to Middle Age

Well, in 2015 I guess I have officially hit “middle age.” I guess I could have claimed this toward the end of 2013, when I got my first pair of reading glasses, but now it seems I’ve crossed the rubicon.

It happened just over a week ago.

I wasn’t feeling well. I’d noticed a cold coming one for several days and that morning it hit me like a freight train. Swallowing hurt, and my voice was non-existent, so I figured I’d head to a nearby Urgent Care to make sure I’d hadn’t developed a strep infection. So dropped my family off at school, swung by a Starbucks to pick up some coffee, and checked in to the clinic. It was all but empty so I only sat for a moment or two before being called back to an examination room. Given all the bugs blowing around my area I’d expected to wait a bit, so that was a nice surprise. In fact, it was the highlight of my week. Things went south rather quickly after that.

As I sat in the examination room the nurse came in and asked some questions, which I answered as best I could with my broken voice. She then took my blood pressure, paused a moment, and said, “I think this cuff is too small.” She came back in a moment with another blood pressure cuff and took my blood pressure again. With that, she departed.

The doctor then came in to the room and said, “Are you sure you’re feeling ok?”

This is never a good sign.

It turns out my blood pressure was not only high, it was so high the doctor couldn’t understand why I was actually as functional as I was. I could have been walking around like that for months and had no idea. I’ve never been so thankful for a train-wreck of a Cold.

After the doctor consulted a colleague she gave me three immediate action steps. First, I had to promise to make an appointment with my primary care physician. Second, I had to commit to getting a blood pressure cuff and reporting my pressure back before several hours were up. Third, she gave me a temporary prescription for a water pill to help control my pressure. If my pressure had not gone down by the time I called the doctor back, I was to take the pill 1. My pressure was still very high when I called back, so on the water pill I went.

The water pill did help my pill did help my pressure come down to a more safe level, which is the stop gap she was going for in prescribing the treatment. It didn’t get all the way down to where it’s supposed to be, but over time it dropped more and more increasingly towards safer levels. This morning, even before I started the slightly strong medication prescribed by my primary, I finally got a “green” result in my morning pressure check 2. Immediate crisis averted.

Now, for the first time in my life, I’ve started paying attention to the amount of sodium in the food I eat. I don’t like to add salt to food so I never really considered it before 3 – but wow was I surprised. In the span of a week my diet has significantly changed. I’m much more aware of what makes up the food I eat, and I’m actually counting out serving sizes of the food I do eat. Let me tell you, if you can only have 12 blue corn tortilla chips you savor every one of them. I also didn’t have coffee for a week, which was not nearly as difficult as I expected.

In a few weeks I’ll go back to my primary doctor, see how the new medication is working, and get cleared for a workout regiment.

Welcome to middle age.

  1. I have to comment on how professional this physician was. She was absolutely committed to walking with me to make sure the medicine was working and I followed through with making an appointment. She also didn’t want to make decisions for my long-term care as that wasn’t her role. 
  2. I celebrated by eating a dozen Philly soft pretzels, was that wrong? I’m kidding, wipe that look off your face. 
  3. Young people can get away with that type of thinking, I’m middle-aged. 

3 Thoughts

  1. I feel your pain, Wes. Yes we have arrived. I get to check my husband’s BP – although his is not dangerously high, it is right on the borderline of being considered “elevated.” I taught him how to check mine and he completely cut off all circulation to my hand – but he finally got it and I am good. We have both recommitted to making healthy choices and increasing our activity level. It so helpful to have a partner on the same page to encourage you and keep you accountable. My PCP once mentioned that I should make an appt for a physical when I wasn’t pregnant – that was about 6 years ago, so I guess I should do that….and schedule my first mammogram….ahh middle age!

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