After the birth of my daughter and over the past three years, I have tried to make peace with my chronic hypertension in my own way. Going for walks, eating healthier, learning my body, etc. For the most part, when you take your blood pressure 163 times a day for three years, you begin to learn the tips and tricks that help keep you from panicking badly. I'm grateful to say I haven't had really, really high numbers in a long time and that for the most part, when I see 'higher-ish' numbers, I tell myself, "This isn't your first rodeo. You know what to do."
But panic happens. My issues are more like having Type 1 diabetes than it is typical hypertension. Sometimes you never know what you're going to get. My blood pressure can be as low as 88/72 but trying to go off of it, my blood pressure spikes and the chest pressure is so intense, I feel like I'm dying. Is it the pain of the weaning off medication that causes my blood pressure to spike? Am I in pain because my blood pressure is spiking? Who knows!! It's a total racket and nobody is House, a doctor that wants to spend endless hours examining their patients until they get to the bottom of these weird mysteries.
For the most part-- forgive the TMI, Squeamish-- my blood pressure is 100/80 unless I sit for too long editing or I have my period. Then I can REALLY expect to feel like crap and my blood pressure is in the 130's-150's/90's-100's. Not horrible numbers, by any means, but I feeeeel terrible. Head/chest/eye pressure... shakiness... dizziness... harder to breathe... It feels like I'm 180/120. I power through but it's just not fun, especially when watching a chatty/whiney/energetic toddler.
I am open and believe in being able to heal yourself. I absolutely believe in miracles. I've watched every show, said every mantra, prayed every prayer... I really try to be as mindful as I can when I'm spinning outside of my body. But despite the "Every day in every way, I'm getting better and better" mantra that is ingrained in my head and chanted over and over like breathing, it's never helped the fear in a way that feels real. It was almost said in an escapist sort of way. Like the kid in 'It' who gets scared, pretends It isn't real and starts reciting every bird he's ever learned in Boy Scouts while holding his ear.
But for the most part, I manage. I feel like crap everyday but I've learned to live with the crap and am grateful I'm still around for my Ruby Toots.
Thennnn... Covid. OY. What's Covid like? Not the flu!! Not for me, anyway.
I actually didn't get it too bad when the rest of our house was wiped out. I was always still able to do dishes and make dinner. Despite being terrified with a pre-existing condition, I was cautiously optimistic. Maybe this was going to be okay. And I was... until I got my period two weeks later.
Suddenly I was having a lot of heart palpitations-- PVC's they're called. "The good kind!" nurses say. They're supposedly non-problematic but are terrifying to experience. And, in my experience, whenever I've had a lot of them at the same time, my blood pressure has spiked. I had tremendous head pressure on the top of my head, my forehead and the side of my face. My nose went numb. And my blood pressure was in the 150's/100's more often than not and lasted an extra week-- that part being highly unusual for me.
So what now? Am I one of the ones that was going to die of an aneurysm after the fact? Heart attack? There are so many unknowns with Covid. I mean, Ruby got it. Will her whole generation have three eyed children? It's just stuff we don't know yet. I was truly terrified.
Again, you don't go to the ER for 150/100 but it's how my body was feeling at that number. Not right. Not right at all. When you have enough understanding to know you're spiking in new and unusual ways, it's unnerving to say the least. When my numbers are in that range I never know if they're going to continue going up. The unknown is always worse than reality.
So I got in the shower, which is what I always do during spikes. A long, hot shower usually brings it down considerably. When I'm scared, I usually find a block of 20 bathroom tiles and repeat my mantra focusing on each one saying it five times, "Every day in every way, I'm getting better and better."
This time, being sick to death of being scared to death, I just took a deep breath and said, "You know what? I am HERE... and I am experiencing ALL of this." A moment later, "This is happening."
Everything was still happening in my body, my hands were still cold, my breathing was shaky, I still had the same chest/head/eye pressure... But I was going to stay on earth this time. I guess I surrendered to it. Or maybe I learned to trust it. I'm still not sure. But for once, I wasn't panicky. I wasn't trying to force it away, force it to heal. It was like a conversation with my body. "Okay, skin suit... we're doing this. Let's go through this together this time."
Strangely, saying these words, I find myself in gratitude more often than not. I love my body. Think it's badass. I realize what a freaking champ it's been my whole life. I make friends with it. "Woah, you've taken a beating these past three years. Thank you for not giving up on me." (Poor thing, I've only cursed it-- repeatedly, harshly, terribly).
These days, when I find myself grieving-- lost loved ones, painful relationships, the state of the world, financial stress, my own growth... this is my new go-to. Presence. Trust. Deep breathing. Being one with my body. It feels... GOOD. It feels grounding. It feels more healing than the former. So I'm sticking with it.
I can't promise you it's going to heal me. I can't promise anything about the endings and beginnings of life, a lesson my family is experiencing all too well right now. But I'm done trying to control and fix the narrative.
"I am here. And I'm experiencing all of this."
Here's hoping this 'mantra' might be the same for someone else that needs it. Thanks for listening. xoxo