More than a few readers have written with questions about how the visit to the doctor’s office went Monday.
Surprisingly well is the short answer.
The biggie is the blood pressure: Down to 140/81. Back at the August measurement it was 156/89. And the improvement came despite putting back on a few pounds. How? Well, therein lies this morning’s tale…
I have been researching the hell out of blood pressure and for me it came down to just some very simple things.
The First Step on any meaningful quest like this is to invest what you need for good instrumentation.
I know it sounds silly, obvious, simplistic and all, but I bet the majority of people who take blood pressure meds don’t religiously monitor their blood pressure. Don’t be that guy!
For a whopping $22, Amazon will deal you a Clinical Automatic Blood Pressure Monitor FDA Approved by Generation Guard with Large Screen Display Portable Case Irregular Heartbeat BP and Adjustable Wrist Cuff Perfect for Health Monitoring which is all you need. Well, and batteries.
Over the past six years, or so, I’ve been using an assortment of monitors. They are all pretty much the same. On wrist, held at heart height, No crossing extremities – no idea why, but crossed legs raise BP. Go figure.
KEY: Use it. Keep spare batteries around. Or, get a rechargeable unit. A blood pressure monitor is worthless if you are not using it a couple of times per day, as I see it. But THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE.
I just like to measure my problems…
Second Step: Make periodic measurements of your body’s response to exercise. I built up a little spreadsheet which you can get ideas from…and as you will see, this dates back to 2014 when I got REAL serious about BP.
What I do is monthly, or so, I get on the treadmill and walk for 20 minutes at 2.5 MPH. When I stop, I start measuring how the recovery to resting looks:
The goal is simple: You capture your weight and date and the exercise parameters.
The first column is time: Times are in minutes. Time 0 is when you first get off your machine.
Column 2 is Systolic. The high number. Column 3 is Diastolic – the small number. And your pulse figures into it, too as Column 4.
Column 5 (Pulse Pressure) is Systolic (in this sheet cell B4) MINUS tour Diastolic (B5).
Column 6 is Pulse Pressure, another calculation. Systolic DIVBIDED BY Diastolic.
Column 7 looks blank. Column 8 is minutes past the hour when you start taking readings every 3 minutes.
So, in cell H4 let’s say my first measurement was at 27 minutes past the hour. Enter 27 here. Subsequent rows just add 3 to whatever that time is and that’s when your next reading is taken.
You might not think you need this, but you will. After a day or two of novelty factor, you’ll start answering emails, planning, making lists, returning phone calls and such. Now, what time is my next reading?
OCD? Oh…uh…a bit. BUT it’s how I have been testing my BP.
Then go look at Vaughn’s summaries here. Gives you some idea about what BP relations can look like.
While my 140/81 is no great shakes, do remember that I have 20-points of “white coat syndrome.”
When I wrote Monday’s column, the BP was 120/70. After a lot day of work Monday it was down to 111/59. Vaughn’s has a summary of systolic/diastolic pairs here that I use often: My BP is quite variable. With wheat and salt it runs on the high side. Oatmeal for breakfast and fasting and suddenly three-days later it’s marginally low in the afternoon.
Your results will no doubt vary…there is just no substitute for real data and keeping food-reaction notes along with it.
I cut out regular table salt I like salt as much as the next person, but the numbers off the readings told me I needed to drop it back so I went with Morton Lite Salt which is about half sodium chloride and half potassium chloride. This latter bumps up potassium a bit. Make sure to get enough iodine…a lot of “PURE” salt doesn’t have it so I needed to make sure it’s bioavailable somewhere…Lite salt was a good, workable answer.
The coffee weaning has been a beast. Jeez…what I won’t do for a good cup. But it’s now down to 1 cup per day (though I have a 9 OZ mug for the occasion).
Interesting side-story about coffee. When I was recovering from my (left) eye surgery, I noticed that if I drank dcaf there was a white fog that was prevalent in the operative eye within a half hour.
Some odd allergy:? Not sure, but hypertonic saline (like Mura 128 which is OTC) clears it up. Sometimes I get the same thing getting out of the shower: Foggy operative eye. One drop of salt saline and presto! Fog gone in a couple of minutes.
After cutting out decaf I went back to regular Folgers or Maxwell House, but still noted some “fogging” if I had >1.5 cups of bean-juice. Don’t notice the effect with tea, though. Figure it’s something in coffee or the way it’s raised (chemmies).
Also, occasionally too much caffeine can lead to PVC’s…so coffee – while great – turns out to have its downside. No health issue – runs in the family.
Remember, this is MY experience and your mileage may vary…
Drink less alcohol. Yep…into the 70th year, I’m down to 2 -measured shots at martini time. And yes, that too, seems to have some effect on my eyes the next day.
More importantly, though, if I have three drinks, say, and an evening of playing in the studio and, well, whatever consenting adults (uh..TMI.) the MEASURED impact on blood pressure comes around 8 AM the next day and it is statistically significant.
I never (or seldom) have hangovers, but gotta tell you, after recording the combined effects of coffee and alcohol’s after-effects. the breakdown of the alcohol into something or-other (my doc had the chemical name for), had to be seriously reduced.
There have been recent studies (my consigliere gleefully informed me) that say 2-drinks and slightly overweight people live longest and best. Well, the cohort studied was age 90+, but if I make it that far….lol.
Current operating parameters for Ure’s chemistry set (the bag of skin I put food into so my soul has a place to perch) are two 1.5 ounce shots of whatever the mood is at martini time and 9 oz. of not particularly manly coffee the next morning.
Again, not advice, but you may find my occasional notes on aging useful.
There are a handful of herbs and spices and such that do seem to have a serious impact on my body – and depending on how much chemistry experimenting you’re up for, you might try some of these (check with your doc or healthcare practitioner, though!)
Turmeric: Pills. Amazon. Good for circulation and reduces inflammation, or so it is alleged.
Vitamin D3: Long term use before effects – two months. Go look for YouTube videos on vitamin D3 – it’s magic. Get the right kind.
Vitamin C: A gram a day. And that’s with the veggies and fruits.
Krill oil. Helps the good cholesterol levels.
And the Best? ACV – apple cider vinegar pills. I get the 350 MG with 25 mg of potassium in ’em. (*Acetic acid in vinegar can leach potassium so keep tabs with your doc.)
Not only does it seem to level off blood sugar, but it reduces appetite and it’s a “home remedy” that MAY (allegedly, reportedly) have some impact on things like gall stones, candida albicans, and digestion..
If you hit PubMed.gov – the government health research website – you could get the idea that the Big Pharma people don’t quite know what to do with ACV. See “Authenticating apple cider vinegar‘s home remedy claims: antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties and cytotoxicity aspect.”
Vitamin D is in the same league. In one YT Video a doc says “I talked to one researcher who said if Vitamin D wasn’t already public domain, we should invent and patent it – because its so much better than other choices...” (Which we were left to assume were statins…)
IF you take D3, it takes fully two months for the effects to become apparent. Leaning how to run your own cheminstry set (body) isn’t an overnight deal.
Eat Non Inflammating Foods
(‘zat a word? Try inflaming.) This is something to be constantly tuning, but I’m not a doctor. Pretend I didn’t say that.
It’s just that I figured (after we ran out DNA sequences) that knowing geographically where I’m from would be best-served by eating the kind of flora and fauna from those regions. Reason for the DNA test? Helps get me thinking about ratios of what from where. Knew I was Danish and Scottish, but didn’t know I had some Irish…so toss in some Bushmills!
You see, wheat, for example, is not like the national crop of Scotland. If I were of a DNA that spent more time on the steppes of Europe, it’s be a different deal. But with the exception of oats and barleys, my DNA doesn’t look good for wheat. Root veggies? Bring ’em on.
When I want to drop 5-10 pounds in two weeks, all I have to do is go totally wheat-free. See the book “Wheat Belly” on Amazon.
Point is that some foods naturally “like” your body type while others – not so much. Vegetable soups with lots of root and winter vegetables (carrots, cabbage, and such) happen to really like my body. Phenomenal. Beet’s rock my DNA.
The other thing is fasting isn’t a bad approach, either. My friend Jeff in the local ham club has been doing the alternate day fasting diet and reports great results.
Under previous conditions, (meaning before working out the inflammation-reductions) whenever I fasted in the past, the results would be “shaky irritability.” But, with apple cider vinegar, the turmeric and so forth, the absence of food is less about collapsing blood-sugar sending panic notes to the brain.
Instead, the brain receives a polite memo along the lines of “Been on the losing side of a knife fight and get your throat cut and didn’t tell us down here? You can send food along any ol’ time now…” But not shaky.
Spend some time working of the glycemic index of foods to get an idea as to what pops right into blood sugars (from which crashes follow) versus the unprocessed, slow to convert complex natural foods.
Fermented is good, too. Things like kefir (half-cousin of buttermilk) and sauerkraut. Kim chi for the brave, too. But in any of those fermented cabbages, I can only tolerate those made with no sodium bisulfate. Sulfites = BAD for me.
Other people I know are allergic to any kind of sulfites (sadly, the ones in red wine, too) and I get the onset of breathing/asthma from ’em. Rum good…
Again, your body is (as religious philosophers have insisted) the “temple for the soul.” It has taken a surprising amount of detailed observation, but not that many tweaks, to transform mine from what was “marginal low-income housing” to an “OK upscale condo for the soul.”
You watch: Like any other property, I’ll just get it cleaned up and the tenant will move on….(that’s a joke – I hope!)
Wrapping up my report back from the doc visit. They will have my “extra tests” along shortly.
WHAT? Extra tests?
Because my eyes are presenting some corneal vascularization, the eye team (my March healthcare adventure) wanted me to have syphilis and Lyme disease tests run.
Syphilis? Lyme? In case you forgot, we did run goats here at the ranch (33 of em at one point) and goats that did get occasional abscesses and (not to gross you out) we had to treat them. What was it? Likely not the syph, but then again, this is how doctor’s play the Great Game of Rule-Out… You have watch House, right?
And Lyme disease? “Ever have a tick bite?” the doctor asked me in all sincerity. “In East Teas…on a tree farm…you’re joking, right?” That was before the golf course work, too…
I don’t expect to have either, but professionals in medicine leave no stone unturned. Especially when I’m paying for the heavy equipment to turn the stones.
95% (or better) odds it’s just the damn allergies expressing (like with the cataracts), but tough questions come from good doctors…
I’m not interested in 5 percent blind, so test away. Had one run-in with the blind option last year and that was plenty, thank you.
Go work with your doctor. Elaine, who hasn’t had a physical in 50-years and only goes to healthcare specialists on demand (like to remove a mole, or something) thinks I’m nuts. She like home remedies and the Internet.
But healthcare is a complicated business. I don’t look at it so much are paying for expertise. I look at the visits as a way to offload concerns because THEY, not I, should worry about the detail level.
Elaine can spend countless hours of online health research because that’s what works for here. I don’t want to use my time that way. Instead, I go to the doc with data and a list. Delegate and project track – next blood work in July. For me, it works.
It’s all just another rhyme off Frederick Winslow Taylor:
“What get’s measured, gets done.”
Write when you get rich,