Yesterday evening I noticed that I was one post away from a kind of blogging milestone: namely my 700th WordPress post. (In fact, I’ve written more than 700 posts since there are some posts in my old Pivot-based blog that I didn’t import into WordPress when I made the big switch back in August 2004, but I’m not going back to count them.)
So, I’ve been looking for something to write about. I didn’t want to write another rant about annoying drivers on the Queensway or stupid drivers who don’t stop at stop signs(Oh, I had a chance to get run into by a big car carrier today that blew through a stop sign on Johnston and Southgate after work today) and it’s too early to write about the Ides of March (that’s tomorrow). We switched our clocks forward on the weekend in a vain attempt to save energy, but I grumbled about that a couple of days ago.
And then a topic came to me…
I’ve been going to the doctor every couple of months for the better part of the last three years after I was diagnosed as having hypertension for no readily apparent reason. It’s not prevalent in my family tree and my blood tests, which tested for everything except habitual drug abuse and pregnancy, were fine. No electrolyte imbalance, no cholesterol problems, nothing. So, with some mild pharmaceutical assistance and some lifestyle changes we got my blood pressure back into the range where it should be and I checked in with him every couple of months.
A few visits ago I asked him how long this would go on for and he told me that when they see hypertension in someone my age and no apparent reason for it to be there they embark on a 5-year monitoring program. We had a plan and it was progressing nicely. Cool.
And then I saw a poster for a research study at the Ottawa Heart Institute looking for a link between genetics and hypertension. I called them up and got some information and then headed off to the UK for a couple of weeks. After I got back, I hemmed and hawed about it and then called them back and signed up.
When I was called in, they weaned me off the meds for a week and then I went back in for the actual tests. The tests consisted of several blood pressure readings to get a baseline. To both my surprise and that of the researchers, my blood pressure was more or less normal. They decided to postpone the blood test portion of the study while they awaited the results of a 24-hour blood pressure monitoring test, which involved me wearing a blood pressure cuff and a small data logger. Every 20 minutes while I was awake and every hour while I was asleep (or supposed to be asleep) the cuff inflated and recorded my blood pressure.
When they analysed the results from the data logger, they determined that my daily average was more or less normal, although there were just enough readings above the minimum threshold for the study that I barely qualified to be in the study. (I suspect that the high readings were probably from when I was installing my brand new washing machine – pushing heavy appliances around will cause your blood pressure to increase – go figure!)
So, they called me in again and I let the draw a whole bunch of vials of blood. Of course, it took two attempts before they were able to fill all of them, much to the frustration of all concerned. Those who have known me for a long time will probably have heard me utter something to the effect that “my blood is happy where it is”. Well, this experience just confirmed this belief.
Research like this, however, is very important and if my participation might help further the understanding of hypertension then I’m in favour of it. Even if it did mean I had to have a whole bunch of blood removed.
A few days later, the results of the blood test came in and everything was normal. So, at this point my BP was normal without the meds and my blood work was normal. Normally, they would provide instructions to resume the medication they weaned the participant off, but in my case they referred me to my doctor.
Back to the doctor and he was pleasantly surprised and said to stay off the meds for the time being and come back in a couple of months to see how things were going. In the interim I checked in with the nurse at work a couple of times to have my BP checked.
Went back to him again today and found my BP was 120/82 and he told me to check in with the nurse at work every now and then. Assuming the pressure is in the 120s and 80s, I won’t be going back to him for six months. It appears that I have managed to get off the 5-year monitoring plan a couple of years ahead of schedule, which I am really really happy about.
So, that’s the topic for my 700th WordPress post.