As regular readers will know, last week we suffered water damage to our home when our dishwasher decided to fill itself late on Thursday night . . . and kept on filling itself. Our insurers called in ServiceMaster within an hour of our lodging a claim, and they spent Friday testing for water contamination, cutting and boring holes in a couple of walls to aid air circulation, removing wet insulation, and preparing to dry out our home. By Friday night there were more than a dozen big roaring fans and dehumidifiers at work, and they stayed in place until Tuesday. Fortunately, all went well, and we're now into the process of getting quotes to replace flooring and repair the damage.
Unfortunately, the stress of dealing with all that, and the non-stop 24/7 noise of all those roaring fans, affected my health. I hadn't expected that, but I'm no longer as young as I was, and the doctors tell me that stresses like that do hit harder as we get older. I woke up early on Sunday morning feeling very uncomfortable, with chest pains and some referred pain in my left arm. Having survived two heart attacks already, you can imagine that those warning signs were not welcome at all. It didn't take long before I was on a gurney in the local emergency room, with nurses measuring my vital signs.
Fortunately, I wasn't having a heart attack: my EKG was normal. However, my blood pressure was very dangerously high, at seriously life-threatening levels. That came as a complete surprise. The ER doctor said it was almost certainly a physical reaction to the noise and stress of the previous 48 hours. When I shook my head in disbelief, commenting that I didn't feel stressed, he reminded me (rolling his eyes) that I wasn't 21 any more, and that as one gets older, one's body reacts to stress a lot more than it used to - and it won't necessarily warn us about it with obvious symptoms. I can see now why they call high blood pressure the "silent killer"!
I was discharged after a few hours with instructions to monitor my blood pressure several times a day, and to return to the ER at once if it spiked at all. I haven't previously bothered to check my blood pressure routinely, but after this episode, you can bet I'm going to be doing so, probably more than once per day! I ordered a blood pressure monitor off Amazon, one recommended by the doctor. It's very simple to use, and gives me peace of mind. I'll also be checking my post-heart-attack prescriptions with my health care provider, to see whether I need an increased dose of any of them, or a new medication to add to the mix.
The purpose of telling you all this isn't to make you go "Ooh! Aah!" at my medical misadventures, but in the hope that some of you will consider checking your own blood pressure more regularly. If you're older, or a heart attack survivor, or in poor health due to other conditions (all of which apply to me), I've just learned the hard way that it's very worthwhile to invest in your own blood pressure monitor and use it regularly. (One word of warning: it seems that small wrist-size blood pressure monitors are notorious for not giving very accurate results, irrespective of the model. I had one for some years as a result of my earlier heart problems, but found that when comparing its readings to those obtained by my health care provider, the former were very inaccurate; so I stopped using it. My new blood pressure monitor, which reads from upper arm or forearm, is much more accurate.)
Fortunately, my blood pressure has been within normal limits (for me, anyway) for the past several days. Long may it remain so!