Be Thankful For Today By Taking Care of You

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday was always a day where I gave thanks. But that stopped when my dad died. On a Sunday. I started counting the Sundays that came after the day of his death, Sunday, April 10, 2011. But today I woke up feeling renewed and for the first time, I didn't count this Sunday, I gave thanks. It's a great feeling.

This past week has been crazy but life-changing. And what I am about to write about is hard because there are some things that a person does not want to talk about publicly because of fear of backlash and negative feedback. But I believe now that it is my responsibility to share regardless. I mean, the title of this blog is Fearlessly Just Me, lol.  Christine Arylo said it best in her book Choosing Me before We:

If we are lucky enough to to wake up to the immense power we have to create our lives, we have a responsibility to share our stories and insights with others. Otherwise, the true power of our realizations is lost. Sharing allows us to see ourselves in the words of others, gain witnesses to our personal journey, and broaden the possibilities that lie before us. Through sharing, we as women can provide the emotional inspiration that others can use to eliminate the "shoulds", the "musts", and the "cannots" that bar their way to creating the kind of lives and relationships, they truly desire. (pg xii, Prologue)

So here goes...I haven't had health insurance for about 2 years. When I needed medical treatment, I just went to the local clinic and paid a fee. But that was only when needed - emergencies. But I have not had a physical in 2 years. I know that sounds horrible but it is actually the norm in America. So many of us don't have health insurance. The ones hardest hit are those, who like me, were laid off and go on unemployment and are single with no dependents. We have the option to sign up for COBRA but it's so expensive that many of us can't. But on the other side of the spectrum, we "earn" too much via unemployment to be eligible for Medicaid. So we go without health insurance and just make due with local clinics and (in some cities), hospitals who offer low-cost health care. When I voiced my disgruntlement over this, I was told by quite a few city and state employees in the "system" that I was better off getting pregnant because then I would hit the jackpot in terms of benefits available to me. It's sad when the system promotes having kids as a way to get benefits. But I digress...

In the past two years, being as clumsy and accident-prone as I am, I have had a few mishaps, which led me to the doctor. There was that time I tripped, while holding a file folder and that file folder ended up flying back and jabbing me in the eye. I ended up with a cornea abrasion. Ouch. There was that other time I accidentally slammed my left index finger in a car door and ended up losing a nail, which thankfully grew back in 6 months. I could go on. But I never took the time to go to the doctor, just because. And I think many of us are guilty of that. We only go when we need to or when we are forced to. By then, sometimes it's too late. We can prevent so many illnesses and medical conditions if we go to the doctor regularly and not just when we need to.

I finally qualified for medicaid in last month because my unemployment benefits ran out and now I am freelancing (writing, tutoring kids, and other projects).  I was still hesitant to go to the doctor night, I started having heart palpitations. And frankly, it scared the shit out of me. My dad died from congestive heart failure and I was born with a heart murmur. Not to mention the fact that I am overweight. So I made an appointment the next morning and went in this past week.

Now, for being an overweight person, I am active and feel good. I have been healthy for most of my life aside from some allergies, mild asthma and my heart murmur. No diabetes or anything like that. So I was not prepared when the doctor looked at me with the most concerned face I have ever seen on someone and told me that I had VERY high blood pressure, which was causing the heart palpitations. It was affecting my heart murmur. Huh? How can this be? I eat healthy and I take care of myself.

Well, I found out some interesting things. First, I needed to stop taking Motrin, which has been my over the counter drug of choice for YEARS, because it elevates blood pressure. I had no idea. I take Motrin all the time.  Second, I need to stop drinking alcohol. Alcohol elevates your blood pressure. I'm a social drinker so I don't drink all the time. But I love a beer or glass of wine here and there and have at least 1-2 beers or 2 glasses of wine every other day. Third, my anxiety and stress levels are affecting my blood pressure. Lastly, no more coffee, no soda, reg or diet (which is a habit I have been working on kicking for the last 2 months and am getting there).

So doctor orders: No more motrin (Tylenol instead), no alcohol, no caffeine and I have to learn to calm myself and not stress out. Lastly, he ordered me not to exercise or do anything that will cause my heart to race until I get my blood pressure down. He told me that if I get chest pain or shortness of breath, to call 911. Now if a doctor tells an overweight person NOT to exercise, that's serious. And then to tell me to call 911 if those things he said happen, well, I just about fainted. I left the office and honestly, stood at the bus stop, called my best friend Herman and cried. I love to power walk and dance and play Just Dance or the The MJ Experience on the Wii. I can't do any of those things right now.

It was truly a wake-up call. I'm now on meds for my blood pressure. But it was a blessing that I am thankful for. Had I not gone to the doctor, I could have died. I realized that I could not go on the way that I have been going. I'm not a calm person by any means, lol. I'm always on the go and just don't have the patience to deal with foolery. I can be high-strung and I know it's my anxiety. So now I have to constantly talk to myself and tell myself to not rush and calm down. I practice breathing techniques and am making a conscious effort to relax. I used to laugh at my friend who meditates and acts like he's the Dalai Lama but seriously, he's onto something.

Now I know some of you will say that, of course, I have high blood pressure. I am overweight and that's the cause. But that is not the only thing that can cause it. And overweight people aren't the only ones who have high blood pressure. Everyone can have this issue. And that's why I felt I had to write about this and put my business out there.  I wanted to shed light on the importance of going to the doctor and also knowing what you put in your body, whether it's meds or food. Always research everything. Look at labels on foods. Google any meds you take, even over the counter ones. Know what you are putting into your body, no matter what your size. I personally am going to start fully adapting the DASH diet into my lifestyle. I eat healthy now but I have to take it a step up.

So with that said, I realized that if I truly love myself, I will take care of myself fully. It's not just about being able to look in the mirror and say I LOVE YOU. It's about loving yourself enough to go to the doctor regularly and take care of yourself. It's about loving yourself enough to do things for yourself that will benefit your body, even if you don't like it. I will miss Motrin (I dread when that time of the month comes because I am going to suffer) and I will miss my Blue Moon and sparkling wine. I cannot express how much I miss coffee. I already miss dancing in my living room or power walking in the beautiful sun while listening to Prince. But these are the sacrifices I am willing to make because I love myself. And these are only temporary. Once this pressure gets back to normal, I am going to dance my ass off.  And I will be able to have a beer once in a while. I look forward to that day.

P.S. - I have been taking my new meds for 5 days and have not had any Motrin, alcohol, caffeine or over-exerted myself. I have not had heart palpitations for the last 3 days. I'm snoopy dancing on the inside! I go back to the doctor tomorrow. Wish me luck that my pressure has gone down! Even a little will be awesome!

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