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Monday, August 23, 2010

Borderline Hypochondriac

It's been a long time since I posted and what has happened that I can write about? I had a scare at the doctor - a pseudo-scare, sufficient for a hypochondriac. As usual, when the nurse took my blood pressure, I asked for the numbers. I'm always low. Have low blood pressure. I fainted on my 11th birthday. This time she said it was 138 over 78 or something.

"That's high, isn't it?" I said, alarmed.

"High normal," she said.

High normal? Wha? Pounding heart, sweating palms, shrill voice for the doctor who asked if I was under any stress this year. Besides the job search, the tense homelife, and handling being a parent, did she mean?

Please note that the nurse did not even tell me my numbers -- I asked for them. Nor did the doctor mention them. Okay, I might not have given her time to mention them, since as soon as she shook my hand, I brought them up.  Furthermore, no one described them as other than on the high side of normal. Nevertheless, I spiraled into heart disease, diabetes, and of course, because I'm married to a neurologist, stroke. Did I mention C is a stroke specialist?

If you have high blood pressure or any of the above mentioned terrible conditions, I am truly sorry. I know how you felt when you received the diagnosis. And you might be pretty pissed at my reaction to NOT having any of those diseases.

Nevertheless, the positive thing that came out of the visit was my realization that I have given up all of the stress-relievers that I have used at one time or another in my life. Exercise of any kind except walking the dog; yoga; deep breathing and finding my "special safe place"; and meditation. Okay, hold on. This is actually untrue. I was at the doctor due to a leg pain that began after I started using the weight machines at the Y, so I had already begun to relieve stress through exercise once again. I'm honest. To a fault. Usually my own. But anyway, any of the more groovy types of stress release I had abandoned.

That afternoon, terrified by my brush with coming close to the borderline of a chronic condition, I came back to the house and loaded up my ipodtouch with Zencasts on mindfulness meditation and started sitting. And except for a day or two, I've sat for twenty minutes every day, observing how difficult it is to concentrate on my breath and labeling my thoughts, feelings and sensations.

And you know what I've found? Absolutely everything in my life is exactly the same as it was before I went to the doctor and almost had high blood pressure. All the stressors are there, all the little pleasures that I may or may not succeed in noticing. However, I can tell that my heart rate slows down just a little bit when I sit still for a few minutes every day, and sitting still for a few minutes is a relief.

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