Know Thyself: Monitoring Blood Pressure

This was a discussion yesterday on Twitter, after Stephen posted his blood pressure [presumably from a checkup], and then a variety of us were discussing blood pressure and such. For those who don’t know, Mom had a severe stroke in 2000; we are blessed to still have her with us. The last couple of years, I’ve been cognizant of my blood pressure and working to reduce it with medication and lifestyle changes. [The former has had far better effect, but I’m working on the latter.]

I use an Omron automatic blood pressure monitor to check mine, and I try to measure it twice a day: in the morning after I awaken, and sometime after dinner. I keep my unit near my desk, and I will wait until I have been seated at my desk for ten to fifteen minutes before I break out the cuff. [I’ve been out here at my desk for about a half-hour after waking up, reading email and generally plugging back into the Internet.] The Omron has a memory for logging, but I choose to use my iPhone for the logging. I use IncisiveGeek’s BP Tracker, available for $1.99 in the App Store. It’s handy, and I can snag readings when I’m at the doctor’s office, too. In fact, I usually get appreciative looks from the nurse when I ask, “Hey, what was my BP and pulse rate?” and start tapping it into the screen.

For those who are curious, which includes my mother … since 24 Oct, when I started using this app, I’m running 128/75 on average. A little higher than I’d like, but given how crappy work has been of late, I’ll take it.

As a sidenote: right around the first of the year, I decided to hit Starbucks up early in the evening [don’t ask why; I don’t have a good answer]. That was a terrible choice for me, personally—my systolic spiked 25% because of the espresso, and my diastolic was up 30%. Standard levels of caffeine are generally not dangerous for me, but … whatever turbo fuel was in that cup made me feel just horrible. When I was feeling that bad, I took the reading, confirming that my BP spiking is why I felt like crap. Blood pressure is called the silent killer, but it’s really not that hard to listen to your body, folks.

[Note: this is not to say that Starbucks is bad for you, or that they were trying to kill me with that peppermint mocha. It’s just that I clearly have a sensitivity to espresso now that I have largely weaned myself from caffeine. Knowing what doesn’t work for your body is as important as knowing what does work for it.]

Closing the Windows

Every autumn at my house, there are two great days for me:

  1. The day I can turn off my air conditioner, open up my windows, and let Nature cool the house. Admittedly, I do this as early as I can, and there are days when it hits 30C upstairs during the day, but I can live with that to not run my A/C.
  2. The day I have to close my windows because it’s too cold outside to leave them open at night, but yet not too warm during the day that my house gets hot if they stay shut.

Today is that second day. In case you’re wondering, yes, I do eventually turn on the heat pump, but only when it gets below 5C outside or so. My house holds heat pretty well, and so do I; it’s only when pipes are ready to freeze that I’ll fire up the heat, and even then I only keep it around 15C downstairs; it’ll be near enough to 20C upstairs to be comfortable. It helps that my neighbors on both sides really like to run their heat up high, as I get some of their residual heat through the common walls between our townhouses.

A Brief Vacation Update

So, let’s see … the ear infection killed my Friday, so I didn’t go to visit my parents over the weekend as expected. Presumably, I was going to work. But no. I felt like crap all weekend. I went in to the office to get my work laptop around 0630 yesterday, came home, went back to sleep, got up in time to go to Hooters for my boss’s birthday lunch [it’s his wife’s idea; honest], came home, went back to sleep [for as much as I hate to sleep, I love to sleep when on vacation], and when I considered working last night, my ear got to acting up again. Gah.

I haven’t done diddly crap today, other than canceling my reservations for the chalet. I figured it was 50-50 that I’d still feel like dogmeat, and I didn’t want to be spending $200+ to feel like dogmeat in Guntersville when I could feel like dogmeat in Madison.

At some point, I still have to do some work. Oh, and my count for work phone calls this week is already at five. I have probably three or four hours’ worth of work to do, and then I can forget about work [yeah, right] for the rest of the week.

So what am I doing? Finalizing plans for the long-overdue desk-building in the loft [ready to be doing layout later this week … am probably putting the chalet money towards prototyping], sleeping, and generally not saying a word. This probably surprises some people who know the gregarious, outgoing, extroverted me, but when I’m alone, I go into complete hermit mode. [This surprises exactly none of the people that have ever lived with me, however.] Also, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about random things, and that’s good. This is, functionally, a week-long passive soak. Intuitively, companies understand this, and that’s why I’m getting paid to sit on my ass right now.

I should’ve known better than to make any damn plans for my vacation. My plans never survive contact with the enemy. :casts an eye towards the motto of this Weblog’s jokey name:

I considered an ice pick to help things along.

Several years ago—at least eight, given where I was living at the time—I got a middle ear infection and an external infection in the same ear. I remember that narcotics really didn’t make it stop hurting; the only thing that touched it was one Extra Strength Tylenol paired with 1000mg of ibuprofen. [Before you shake your head, I had an RN tell me about that combination. She said that she’d had that stop pain when nothing else would, not even narcotics.]

Oh yes … right before I start my vacation, I’ve come down with the same combination of maladies. I’m so thrilled. I went to the doctor for the middle ear infection on Monday, and the external one really fired up today, causing me to leave work so I could go back to the doctor. I’ve got these drops that are supposed to dull the pain [no dice] and more that are antibiotics [I think those might actually be working], costing me $100 combined. [Amusingly, the narcotic? $10.] Until the Darvocet kicked in a half-hour ago, I was intermittently yelping just to get the pain stress out of my body. Now I’m sorta … dulled to it all.

Oh yeah, I’m gonna hit up a 24-hour drugstore about 0500 for some Extra Strength Tylenol … that’s the only way I’ll make it through tomorrow. :sigh:

A Lump of Coal for Me

Got all the shopping done last night. Got most of the laundry done last night. Was finishing it this morning, when, about 1100 … WHAM. Felt like I’d been run over by a train. Putting my shoes on to drive over to the bank was an ordeal. Waiting in line at the bank, I couldn’t hold my head up—too shaky and weak.

Got home, and the fever kicks in.

Yeeeeep, I’m afraid I might have the flu. Slept the afternoon away, and all I do right now is hurt. The fever has subsided some, but … meh.

Hopefully I’ll feel fine in the morning and can pack up and go see family like I intended to do today. Otherwise, well, I’m gonna just be very pissed off at having the flu for Christmas.

C’mon, Santa! Even work said that I’ve been good this year. What’s the deal?

In SW Ohio

Well, we had the funeral and committal yesterday in Delphos. Funerals are for the living, and we certainly needed it, even if we didn’t want it.

Afterwards, we started making the drive back, having decided to do so late on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, my right ear started to bother me yesterday—another blasted ear infection. I figured that I could make it until I got home—which I would do today [on Friday], a day early, because we’re only seven hours from west Tennessee—but after a couple hours of sleep, it’s obvious to me that I won’t make it that far without serious complications. My right ear canal is, unfortunately, swollen shut by this moment [0130 EST]. Unfortunately, both aren’t closed, so I can still hear the chorus of snoring Morris men in the room.

I’ve looked up a doc-in-a-box in Beavercreek, and I’ll be waiting on them to open at 0800. Joy, joy, joy.

Otherwise Occupied

Things are generally busy around here, but last night, I got a call no one ever wants to get; my sister-in-law Cindy suffered a seizure, and Doug was calling me from the ambulance on the way to the hospital. As of now, she’s still in the ICU, albeit slowly improving; at mid-afternoon, she knew roughly why she was in there, but was still pretty groggy.

As you can imagine, it’s been pretty stressful. If y’all know my brother and anything about his regular work, you know that he normally goes in to the office by 0330 to do prep for the pre-Today show at his local NBC affiliate. The timing of this could hardly have been worse, as Doug normally would have been winding down to head towards bed in another hour or so.

I’ll echo his thoughts: I’d appreciate thoughts and prayers sent his and Cindy’s way.

Fighting a Cold, Running Full-Steam Anyway

Well, I started coming down with a cold late last night. Joyous. I have been a one-man snot factory today. Hopefully none of my friends here picked this up from me at our gathering last night. [I was feeling kinda meh, y’all, but I thought it was a sinus infection and not a cold, and I really wanted to see everyone.]

In other news, things at work continue unabated. The week off was awesome, and I’m glad that I took it, because if I hadn’t, the crazy events of the last two days might have put me over the edge. [It’s all been good, very, very good. If this business is feast or famine, well … let’s just say that we have more leftovers than you did at Thanksgiving and Christmas combined. And no refrigerator. It’s cuh-razy, y’all.] As it is, my head’s still spinning, but it’s like, “Wow, this is nuuuuuuts.” In a good way.

Posting may be light while we absorb the glut and while I fight off the rhinovirus.

Partially Unblocked

Well, as I’m awake due to indigestion or something, I’ll happily note that my left ear has begun to reach that largely unblocked state that I’ve come to know and love with having a few of these external ear infections over the last few years. In terms of attenuation, it’s now something like -12dB in that ear instead of the -30dB or more that it’s felt like for the last few days. Good timing, since I’d like to work today, and working involves being able to hear people on the phone…