You can take the girl out of the mania, but you can't take the mania out of the girl.
That doesn't even make sense, I know, but most of December not long after I was diagnosed with hypertension was senseless. When I went for a follow up two weeks later the nurse asked if I forgot to take my medicine. "Are you on Adderall?" she asked. Heck no. This beta blocker is just about the only prescription drug I've taken in my life besides rare antibiotics. "Well take a deep breath. Maybe I can get some better numbers. You know you've gained three pounds." This, a pet peeve of mine. I hate when I tell them I don't want to know my weight due to my OCD tendencies with numbers and they make comments about it. I reminded her we are in the middle of the holiday, everyone gains weight. She smiled, shrugged, repeated the study. Still sky high. So my doctor started me on a second drug, told me to take my pressure once a day to make sure the numbers were going down, and come back in two weeks.
Sure enough the numbers came down, but I was in despair. Two prescription drugs? Hypertension doesn't even run in my family. I bumped into my cardiologist friend in the cafeteria on call New Year's Eve weekend, and shared my story. He told me to get on a low salt diet, specifically the DASH diet. I promised and walked over to get my normal lunch - a cup of soup, which to my alarm had almost as much sodium as a normal person needs in one day. I withdrew from the soup stand in fear and grabbed some fresh veggies from the salad bar.
Now I've been on a lot of diets in my life for various reasons - gluten free to calm down IBD, watching calories, etc., but I learned over the next few days avoiding salt is like avoiding the AIR WE BREATHE. It's in everything. Last year I was so proud of myself for buying unsalted butter but I needed to get a little more serious this time. Soup was out the window. Soy sauce, even the low salt OMG. Salad dressings. All preserved and canned foods. Most things pickled. The yummy salami and pringles and cheese that my impossibly and aggravatingly fit husband brings to the couch to watch TV after a full dinner every night; somehow he can do this whether he's riding his bike or sitting on the couch for two months and gains not an ounce of fat. My body is not so forgiving. It has to go.
I made a quick trip to the supermarket and bought every superfood to lower blood pressure I could find on Google on New Years Eve. Ordered ground flax seed off of Amazon. Have you ever eaten naked beet chips? If you do, when you go to get that little bit out of your tooth don't worry, as I did, that your mouth is bleeding. And I guarantee one naked beet chip will be enough for the rest of your life. I drastically cut my food intake. I went back to the doctor for my yearly wellness visit a few days later, ugh. I've visited the doctor more in the past month than I have in years. The nurse, again with the weight thing. "You've lost 12 lbs since you were last here." I was startled. I certainly did feel less bloated. I guess I was so salt overloaded I was carrying at dozen lbs. of excess water weight that took only 10 days to shed. In retrospect I did spend much of the first two days in the bathroom. Current in office blood pressure: 100/70. Whew. The doctor was so impressed he advised cutting back the water pill in half.
Well, that didn't work. The numbers crept up. And thanks to the nurse telling me my weight, I was manically stepping on the scale every morning. The cardiologist informed me that some people have a low tipping point, and mine is obviously one of those - losing a few pounds could help a lot. When four days later my weight hadn't changed despite severe food restrictions and my blood pressure was so sky high it scared me into taking the second half of that pill I had an uncharacteristic ugly cry meltdown in the shower, laced with intermittent screams of rage at lack of control. The very same me that read The Untethered Soul two months back and decided my soul had transcended any Earthly need for control. I took a deep breath. I am the same person that looked at myself in the mirror admiringly a month ago without knowing the numbers. No more numbers. And what was that diet the cardiologist recommended again? I googled and found there was a book! On the DASH diet. Whew. I can do anything with a book. I ordered it on Amazon and learned it is ranked #1 Best Diet Overall by US News and World Report. It was developed as a heart healthy diet and turned into a sensation. And better yet there was a new one published advertising eternal youth as well! Well, younger you anyway.
It arrived Sunday and I skimmed it over an hour. Got the gist. To my relief I can actually add food to my current restricted diet, a lot of it, if I just eat the right things. And it's really easy, except the suggested recipe part that almost gave me a nervous breakdown. And the part where it gives examples that seem to require I quit my job and tie myself to the kitchen to create such a varied diet. Luckily I can largely achieve the basic formula with food at my grocery store and in the hospital cafeteria. Maybe try a recipe every few months if I get a day off. And it encourages daily red wine! Perhaps not as much as I'd like but definitely a plus. I'm just waiting on my food scale from Amazon to learn what four ounces of fruits and veggies are, guestimating in the meantime. Reminding myself that this doesn't have to happen overnight. Hopefully if I keep it up a few months I can get off of the meds. I'm 44 years young, I've got a lot of days left in this meat suit. I've got to keep it going - there's much more to do.