To medicate or not to medicate, that is the question

For years, my blood pressure has been high every time I stepped foot into a doctor’s office or hospital. Not just a little high, but HIGH: anywhere from 150-170 over 100-130. The kind of readings that forever make the person taking my vitals ask me if I’m on blood pressure meds. “No,” I say. “Never have been, because my blood pressure is never high except when I come to see you.”

During the dark days of February this year, while I was in the hospital, my blood pressure sometimes rocketed up into the 180s (systolic – that’s the top number), at least once up to 200,  and the nurses would look at that, then look at me, ask me if I had a headache, dizziness,  or chest pain (no), and the doctors would order something to lower that to a better range ASAP. After all, on their charts, readings over 180 are in the emergency care bracket; i.e., the “is this person about to have a heart attack or stroke out on us?” range. While I was there, the med generally shot into my IV was hydralazine, which I found made me jumpy and anxious. So, on top of that, down went a xanax, to keep me calm. About an hour-ish later, they would take my blood pressure again, and the readings were anywhere from 110 to 130 (systolic), and that made them happy.

Fast forward to being discharged from the hospital, with two meds for blood pressure and an order to check in with my primary care physician. One was amlodipine, taken once and day, and the other was hydralazine, three times a day. My primary care doctor dropped the hydralazine and replaced it with a one per day lisinopril. I found my bp still bounced around, despite the meds, but a lot of times, when taking my bp, it was low. Very low: often the systolic was under 100 and the diastolic under 80. While this falls into the “normal” range, sometimes it was as low as 75/48 – far too low, and what it read Friday morning at 11:30, according to the record book I’m keeping.

Why does this matter? Because Friday afternoon, after feeling pretty good (although requiring a break that morning after 11:30, as I’d been out weeding), by Friday afternoon I was getting the hot/cold alternating feeling and a queasiness that told me I was in for a round of puking – or, in my case, dry heaving, which is what I mostly do. I had an orange just after 1 PM, and my bp was 94/57. Somewhere between 3 and 4 PM, when those alternating waves of hot/cold had started, the heaving began. It went on for over four hours. Ironically, when it began, I had just begun grinding up the anti-nausea meds I take, but had not managed to get down the tube. Once the heaving starts, it’s too late. So, for those hours, I sailed between contracting just about every muscle in my body as it tried to expel whatever it thought it needed to expel (but couldn’t) and napping in exhaustion briefly before the next round started.

The bad thing about all this is that the combined birthday party for the MonkeyBoy and the Soul Eating Baby was set for Saturday, and I was supposed to be smoking a couple of butt and making a batch of barbeque sauce. That, of course, absolutely did not happen, even though by Friday evening the waves of heaving had finally passed.

I finally managed to get the anti-nausea meds plus the other things I’m supposed to take down the tube, get some water in me, and basically slept on and off into Saturday morning. yesterday was much better, and today even more so, although I’d planned to climb into the bee suit today and do a quick, non-strenuous check of the hives. Tomorrow may be better for it.

I know you’re not supposed to do this, but I dropped the bp meds completely, beginning Saturday morning. I’ve found if I take my bp right when I wake up, it tends to be a bit high, but the rest of the time, it has been low: 99/67 this evening at 6 PM, before a tube feeding. Remember kids: it really isn’t advised to go off your meds without your doctor’s stamp of approval, and even though I did it in this instance (because I am the Captain) I do not recommend it.

So, things are a bit weird on ranch in the blood pressure arena, and there is going to have to be another chat with the doctor about this business, as this should not be something to have to worry about in addition to all the other things swirling around in this  current medical non-crisis-but-annoying-thing in March.

Also, fuck you, cancer, for making me so susceptible to aspiration pneumonia.

2 thoughts on “To medicate or not to medicate, that is the question”

  1. I have white coat syndrome, too. My doctor did the same thing to me, first with atenolol and then with HCTZ. I would get so tired that I would fall asleep with my head on my desk and I got carsick a lot. Finally, I ditched the meds. Since the nurse always freaks out when I get my BP taken, I think I am going to start taking it at home and then show a photo of the digital BP readout to the doctor so they know I’m not making it up. My systolic is often in the 150s at the doctor’s office.

  2. My log – in which I’m detailing not just my bp but whatever has happened when I’m taking it, like eating, not eating, taking my other meds, working in the garden, just waking up – shows it bouncing all over the place. And it also shows very weird stuff: for instance, exercise is supposed to lower your bp. Yet after a session in the garden, transplanting tomatoes and pulling weeds, my bp rocks a systolic of 150-170. It’s crazy. The simple act of drinking a cup of chamomile tea lowers it dramatically. However, I’m still glad right now that I stopped those meds.

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