Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Trip to the Doctor Changed My Picture of Success

It started on Monday evening.  I came home from work and my ankles were HUGE!  By Tuesday my legs began to hurt because the skin was so tight and my head was roaring.  On Wednesday my wedding rings, which the week before spun around my finger, wouldn't budge and my chest burned.  Thursday I decided that it was time to call the doctor and make an appointment.  I expected to get in to see him in a week or two.  As I described my symptoms to the receptionist, she suddenly put me hold saying, "Just one second.  I better get the nurse."  The nurse?  Why do we need the nurse?  The nurse came on the line and asked me again what symptoms I was experiencing.  After going through my list she asked, "Where are you right now?  Are you able to come in . . . now?"  Maybe this was a little more serious than I thought.  I texted my boss and headed out the door. 

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I drove to the doctor's office.  I knew what the problem was - my blood pressure.  I had worked so hard to lose weight and improve my overall health so that get my pressure would go down and I could get off of those pills.   

I arrived at the office and they didn't even give me a chance to sit down in the waiting room before I was whisked to the back.  Yep - my pressure was back up.  WAY up. 

Fortunately, I have a FABULOUS doctor (Dr. Gerald Byers of Premiere Medical Associates). 

"Remember Lisa, skinny people have high blood pressure, too" he said to me after checking my pressure himself and seeing my chin drop to my chest when he read the numbers.

"OK, the simple fact that you used the word 'skinny' makes me feel a little bit better, but this still stinks!" I replied. 

Dr. Byers reminded me of what he told me a couple of years ago (This man either has an amazing memory or he takes great notes!).  I had three things working against my blood pressure: family history, stress and my weight.  I had taken care of and continue to take care of the weight part.  I still have no control over my family history.  Now I need to tackle the stresses in my life and how I am handling them.  I also need to go back on medication.  That was not what I wanted to hear.

Dr. Byers asked why I was so against being on the medication.  The first thing that I thought of was that that was what was supposed to happen.  You lose weight and get off your pills.  I thought of all the episodes of Biggest Loser that I had watched where they celebrated people getting off their medications.  The people were so happy and proud.  It was a sign that they were succeeding in meeting their goal of being healthy.

I've had a couple of days to process this.  I realize that I was putting a lot of my focus on those pills as my sole symbol of success.  In my mind, having to go back on them was a sign of failure.  Was that a realistic picture of success and failure?  No.  I can write a long list of ways that I have been successful in improving my health over the past two years - completing multiple 5Ks, fitting into size 14 jeans, JJ and Ellie asking to go to the gym to name a few.  Does it really matter that I have to swallow a pill once a day to keep my blood pressure under control?  No.  Is it a serious matter that without that pill my pressure is so high that I can't even safely exercise?  Yes.  Looking at it that way makes me realize that the benefits of taking my blood pressure medication far outweigh the benefits of being able to say that I take no medications.   

Besides learning the valuable lesson of re-defining what success looks like to me in terms of my Health Journey, I also was reminded the importance of keeping my doctor's appointments for my blood pressure checks.  I have to confess that I had been so excited to get off the medications that I didn't go to my last six month follow-up back in November. 

Another reason I love Dr. Byers - his response to reminding me of how important that is: "If I wasn't so proud of you, I'd be reading you the riot act about not keeping your last appointment.  Instead I will just say I better see you in two weeks for your blood pressure check."

Don't worry Dr. Byers.  I'll be there.

1 comment:

  1. Lisa -- thought I'd send a note of encouragement. A couple years ago I went to a health fair-type thing where I work to get everything measured like I did each year. I was stunned when the nurse told me my blood pressure was too high and I needed to see a doctor right away. I figured something was wrong and the doctor's visit would clear up the measurements. I'm in good shape, run several days a week, play tennis, bike, eat fairly healthily, never had problems, blah blah blah. Well, sure enough, after a quick call home, I learned both my parents and my brother were on BP medication. And so am I. Like you, I watch the Biggest Loser and wonder if somehow I could give up these pills. And then I pill. Relatively low dose. Combats my genetic predisposition. Get a grip, Shelley. Be encouraged...and in the meantime I'll be praying that the numbers stabilize enough for you to get back to exercise. This is my favorite time of year for running/walking. DAffodils, tulips, new blooms, new life. Happy spring!

    Shelley Milligan