~secret code stuff~

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Currently (2020) my most updated blog is pinkfeldspar.

Spaz is a useful side blog for sorting other stuff out.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

ebola? panic? human cattle panicking and not learning a thing?

Cool stuff from the last couple of days.

This is cool because I wrote this. Yes, I'm a Burt Gummer fan. Click the pic for more info.

This is cool because I've talked about getting a scalp tattoo if I ever lose my hair. Click the pic to see more info.

This is cool because it's a real rifle and because of the links I found directly afterward about Ebola preparedness in the United States. Click these pix for more info.

The rest of this is me being a cool drill sergeant all over your butts.

See, the first rule of any epidemic is STAY HOME. <-- That preparedness plan is from 2006. It's still viable. If you're really that worried about ebola, don't wait till you think you've been exposed to suddenly bolt and take to the hills, or go on a cruise. Any spoonie who is already a carrier for something like CMV will tell you this is not enough.

Despite having pandemic preparedness guidelines in place since at least 2007, people are still unaware of how disease actually spreads (you wouldn't believe how many people still don't wash their hands) and that running around looking for food and medicine during a fever is the fastest way to infect your fellow man.

Did you know that HIV, MRSA, VRSA, and C diff are infecting people across the U.S. every day? These are just as scary as ebola because DEATH.

Let's don't use this as an excuse to spread disease, please.

I could go on. This is how spoonies see the world. I have lived with this kind of fear for 20 years because people around me think coughing their lungs out and barfing in public is no big deal. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? Or maybe it kills the person you were standing next to in a line at a theme park.

STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK. And please, for the love of anything you hold dear, stop asking the general public to look at your sore that won't heal or touch other people's owies without washing your hands first. The rest of the world thanks you.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I don't know if I'm being brave or stupid

Anxiety attacks are no joke. My blood pressure hit 171/92 at 7:20 this morning because of stuff I was writing elsewhere that kept hitting and pinging some of my worst triggers and took 20 minutes to come back down below the 140/90 line that my doctor freaks out about. I was kinda proud of that, usually takes an hour or two, in the past, even longer, and it's gone way higher than that, too. But my stomach and chest have still been tight all day and I'm doing maintenance workouts in small batches that won't trigger the fibro after all that hooplah.

Some people say "Get a grip." I have to very seriously UN-grip my whole body. It's been an all-day job staying on top of this while I keep working on that other writing, also in small batches. So why am I even doing it???

Because I can. Because I've come this far. Because I want to.

They say face your fears. They never say what to do after that. My biggest fear is my own body over reacting to everything. To me, anxiety attacks are like facing down a dog that is about to leap and bite or getting on a big horse that wants to bolt. (I've actually done both in my life several times, and honestly, I'll take the dog and horse any day over anxiety attacks.)

One of the jokes around my house is that if the world falls apart from some doomsday scenario, I'll be among the first wave to die, if for no other reason than because I won't be able to get my thyroid pills. Ever think about that? Five years ago I was on handfuls of medications, and I very clearly wouldn't have lasted through a major crisis like a nationwide economic crash.

I'm changing all that. I used to be real tough. An accident and a couple of illnesses changed all that for a long time, but I'm changing it back. Because I want to. Some day my anxiety attacks will last only a few minutes while I face even harder triggers, if they don't give me a heart attack first. I'm working on lowering that risk, not because I'm scared, but because I want to.

I used to be able to run. It's been a long time since my sister and brother and I pushed 200 head of nearly wild cattle between woods and hills through 2 miles of pasture to a chute, but we never stopped until it was done, and then the real work began.

I want to be able to run like that again.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

common misconceptions about cross contaminated food allergens

I keep running into these problems, so I thought maybe I should write them down. This is why I no longer 'eat out' or pick up food from a deli or eat anyone else's cooking, no matter how stringent they think they are controlling for my specific food allergens. These are real examples I have experienced with certified professionals, trained food handlers, family members, and the general public. All of the professionals and workers in this list were informed of specific food allergies ahead of time.

1. A top chef in a Japanese steak house assured me he didn't cook with lemon, and indeed cooked my entire meal in front of me with no lemon. I was very glad I had enough benadryl on me to control the reaction I started having with the first bite and on through the meal to the point where, when our meals were all done being cooked, he sliced a lemon in half and cleaned the grill with it. Lemon seared onto a hot grill puts lemon into every bite of food that comes off that grill. That reaction went on for several hours on 150 mg of benadryl, and I was later watched in a clinic.

2. A massage therapist with a doctorate in physical therapy believed it was enough to use hand sanitizer after eating peanut butter before touching my bare skin with her bare hands, even after I had alerted her to intense skin reactions to even the most minute amount of anything peanut. Hand sanitizer doesn't 'kill' peanut allergen. A food allergen is not a germ. Smearing alcohol on anything oily doesn't magically make that oily substance inert. This came up three times between us in three different sessions. I finally had a genuine skin reaction one day that scared several therapists (my upper back and neck turned a brilliant flaming red that looked like a very bad sunburn) and I had to take benadryl before I left the building. It never happened again after that, and she stopped arguing with me about it. I personally wonder if she experimented on me because she thought I was making too big a deal about having such a dramatic food reaction.

3. A pizza place locally famous for making pizzas with various nut toppings (which I was not aware of until I walked in) offered to make me a nut-free pizza on a cleaned off counter, but the cook didn't switch her gloves out. Touching a food with gloves and touching another food with the same gloves is cross contamination, no matter how stringently you have purged and cleaned your work area and use all different dishes for the food. Thankfully I actually saw this happen since the cook's work space was open to the public. It's just best never to go inside an establishment that serves nuts and have surfaces and people all around you coated with what could be toxic to one's self, if you have a nut allergy.

4. I ordered water without lemon in a very nice restaurant assuming that would be safe. As the waitress started across the room toward our table, she suddenly went 'oh' and stopped, set the tray down, and delicately fished a lemon slice out with her fingers, then served that glass to me when she reached our table, thinking I hadn't seen her. Removing a food from a dish doesn't remove the allergen and the risk for reaction. While the rest of you go ew, her fingers, I'm going holy cow I could have wound up in a hospital if I hadn't seen that. I have never trusted anyone to serve me water since then. Same goes for coffee, after watching a woman slice lemons and then grab a clean coffee cup by the rim for me with one of her fingers inside without washing her hands first. Again, if I hadn't seen that happen...

5. I ordered water in a sandwich shop and was handed a cup to take to a soda fountain, which shared a spigot for iced tea with lemon with plain water when switched. When I went back to ask for tap water because of a lemon allergy, the server couldn't understand what the problem was. Running water doesn't remove a food allergen all by itself. Not having any idea how long that spigot had lemon building up on it without being cleaned isn't even relevant. My water being exposed to any lemon at all was unacceptable. That also goes for clear soda spigots that share to plain water, since most clear sodas are a 'lemon-lime' flavor.

6. I ordered breakfast out thinking what problem could I possibly run into just ordering pancakes, eggs, and bacon. As I was shoveling it down (I was starving) and realizing it was happening again, I happened to glance up through a doorway and saw a cook wipe a pan out on his apron. Having cooked professionally myself, I suddenly thought oh yeah, Hollandaise sauce, which has lemon in it. If the pan my food had been cooked in had been used multiple times through the morning and wiped on a common apron (I swear I was in a nice restaurant, not a 'greasy spoon'), then it was likely my food was cross contaminated. Wiping a pan out doesn't remove a food allergen, and heat doesn't 'kill' an allergen. Even though my waitress had strict instructions to keep all citrus away from my dishes and food, a cook in a hurry had me racing to the ER on a Sunday morning because all the walk in clinics and urgent cares were closed.

Other reactions in public places have happened, but those are the biggies where you'd assume that alerting your server and cook would make your food safe. Alas, I have to be much more vigilant than that, as in this next example.

One of my worst hand reactions (puffing, redness, really bad itching) was after I'd been pushing a cart in a store. Either the wipes other people had used to 'clean' the handle were spiked with refreshing lemon, or someone had been eating some of the free food samples while they shopped that I avoid like the plague. I had to go wash my hands vigorously with soap a couple of times and take benadryl. While the rest of you freak out about germs on your cart, I freak out about you all touching everything and me dying from it. By the way, wipes don't 'clean' cart handles. Hospitals use disinfectant wipes that are so strong you have to wear gloves to handle them, so the puny wipes offered by stores for cart handles are only there for your peace of mind, and they certainly don't magically remove peanut butter... It doesn't mean you don't have to go wash your hands after touching things other people touch.

Since I brought up washing my hands, I'd like to ask the public to please stop stocking citrus scented soap in public restrooms. I've learned that not using soap is safer for me in public, which goes against all good advice during flu season. I've thought about carrying my own soap, but I seem to be just as well off never putting my hands near my face while I'm not home, since the point of entry for germs is eyes, ears, nose, and especially mouth. Then when I get home I wash my hands and change my clothes.

Back to food. I was once told by a family member that a special recipe had been prepared especially for me at a holiday gathering. As awkward as it was, I asked to see all the ingredients so I could check labels. Something as seemingly innocuous as ketchup with 'natural flavors' had me apologizing for not eating what was prepared especially for me (many acidic foods are flavor boosted with lemon, which doesn't have to be listed as an ingredient by law), and ever since I have instructed everyone around me that it's ok, don't worry about me, eat what you like to eat. I will take care of me, and I will be careful around you and your food, or won't come over if it's a really big deal (peanut butter pie, lol), because I think other people should enjoy their food. I have learned to eat before I visit with other people and I'm working on being a good conversationalist to help distract from being awkward because it's weird when other people feel guilty when I'm not eating, and it makes me uncomfortable that they're uncomfortable.

I no longer order coffee out, or any other drink. I bring only sealed bottled drinks everywhere I go, even if the place I'm in sells them, so other people won't have to handle my bottle. I pack my meal or snack in a Spiderman lunch box and take it into restaurants with me. I wear a medical alert bracelet in case there are questions, and so far no one has had any problems with me doing this. I've never been kept out of or told to leave an establishment because I brought my own food and drinks. I remain aware at all times that allergens surround me, could be on any surface or object, and will probably be on someone's hand when I shake it. I still hug people (I've had reactions doing that) and shake hands, but I'm very careful to wash my hands frequently and never touch the food I bring with me with my bare hands while I'm out in public.

I carry medications on me everywhere I go in case I have a reaction. It's not anyone else's fault I'm difficult. However, sooner or later, we all know someone who knew someone who had a near fatal reaction in a public place, and some of us wind up with kids who have food allergies. It's important that we all become more aware of why protocol is protocol (actual hand washing vs sanitizer, food handling, etc) and that everything we do affects the people around us either positively or negatively.

Something to think about- we know how we feel about a drunk driver killing a child, right? How about a negligent food preparer/server who inadvertently kills a child with a severe food allergy because they were in a hurry and/or dishonest?

For people who still don't get how heart rending it is to never know if your child will come home from school each day, and a question I feel coming on of whether food allergies are the new 'racism' (very first comment)- What it feels like to be the food allergy mom (click) by Katherine Martin. This is also basically how I feel about being the only person on board a plane who can single handedly shut down the snack venue and has to hear angry people demand to know where the peanuts are and why they can't have any. I can't tell you how terrifying it is to feel trapped in a small place jammed full of people who have been snacking on nuts and no chance of escape for several hours and I don't dare touch anything.

I'm the sort of person who is able to stand up and confront in public, not because I'm brave, but because I'm not afraid of looking stupid. There are a lot of people in this world who will never tell you they are having pain or panic or some kind of reaction going on because they are timid and afraid. It especially gets dumb when the public misunderstands what the problem actually is and nearly kills someone trying to 'save' them because they don't have a lick of sense when the person in crisis isn't able to speak well for themselves. It's human nature to be judgmental, and people with challenges live in continual judgement everywhere they go. Your kindness and consideration could literally be life saving. It feels really good to know your presence might have actually saved someone's life. Imagine knowing you saved someone else's child and kept a very bad day from happening for the people who love that child.

That's what food allergies are all about, Charlie Brown.

:edit: 10-13-14 This link was given to me privately.
Vaccines and the Peanut Allergy Epidemic
While I disagree over the origin of autism (I was unvaccinated for the most part as a child and come from a Mennonite family history, which indicates genetics, also based on other family member personality types and behaviors), I am shocked at the prevalence of peanut ingredient as a main vaccine excipient for so many years, and that this was known and unpublished to the public. I have not researched the truth of this article. In personal retrospect, to be fair, my peanut allergy did not begin until my 40's, and by then I'd had a number of shots throughout my adulthood. I also have multiple food allergies (autoimmune reaction disorder), all recent in the last 5 or so years, so I can't blame my own stuff on a simple swipe at demonic vaccinations. Vaccinations do still save lives (I grew up with disabled polio victims and people going deaf and developing heart complications and even retardation from hard measles, among other diseases), and prevent quarantinable epidemics (I remember those, too), so I'm still on the fence with vaccines.

Friday, October 10, 2014

that rug really tied the room together

Some mornings you feel like The Dude just looking for his rug.

All I wanna do is plug in 'coffee, 2 creams, 1/2 sugar' into LoseIt and right away I'm stymied by technology that won't allow for variation in a long list of generic specifics. I finally stumble onto a customize window but now I have to figure my own calories. The whole point to getting on this site is so I don't have to count the calories myself because I obviously have a hole in my head and can't count right.

I keep cycling through this existential 'why am I even on this page' crap, and I keep remembering it's because I thought I kept it at or under 1500 calories yesterday and somehow still put on a pound while I slept. Which could partly be due to the pred rebound OR, as my faulty memory strangely illuminated without any problem whatsoever at 2 a.m. in the dark, I forgot to write down the bowl of cereal that I ate and possibly even the cheese. Which would bump me over 1700 calories, and no wonder the scale went backward. Dang it.

The nutritionist I saw last month suggested, so this morning bright and early I'm wrestling with the controls and feeling cranky. I have to do math. At 6 a.m. With a glitchy brain. Math used to be such a breeze for me. Bleah. But then I remember I really wanna lose the rest of this weight (I think I've remembered that 3 times already) and I get back to it.

Ok, so coffee the way I make it is 130 calories a cup. Since this chart says I can have only 1183 calories a day on the plan I chose (I'm a free plan person), I can tell already I'll be cutting out the second cup of coffee tomorrow.

I'd keep whining, but I'm recalling that I used to have a whole lot more to whine about, so I'm slapping myself and yelling GET A GRIP YOU BIG BABY and slamming myself against the wall. Maybe that's Walter. If you haven't seen the movie, spoiler alert, he's a big softie with PTSD. I like Walter.

See, prednisone really screws up the way your body metabolizes stuff, even after it's over and done. I've run into this in so many searches. I find a rare guy here or there that remains a stick without trying and says the rest of us are being silly, but it's a real thing, lotta fluid gets moved out and then more packs on, fat storage winds up going to all the wrong places (this is medically documented), and if you're diabetic and hypothyroid, oh well sux for you, just shudup and eat a cookie and buy a moomoo.

I've discovered that a person really can make it through steroids without any weight gain by strictly monitoring carbs while the pred is spiking blood glucose, but once the pred is over, your body will do everything in its power to keep that new artificial glucose default going, and the carb cravings get pretty bizarre even a couple of weeks after the prednisone is over. This is something you don't find medical professionals writing about because they stupidly don't know, most of them not having gone through long rounds of steroids or maybe not as intensely observant of themselves on it, like I am. My body got real used to my blood sugar being 180 through the day, even when I had no carbs at all, thanks to the prednisone, so now that I'm off, my brain/body feedback loop is screaming for restitution and trying its hardest to fight recovery in its own very faulty way. If I weren't diabetic, this probably wouldn't be a problem.

So I have to retrain all over again. I have to give my body time to readjust back to having blood sugar levels below 120 all day, preferably in the 90's, and exercise regularly to let my body know I want to USE the food I eat, NOT store it. It's a contest of wills, my conscious self over my unconscious automatic faulty programming. Who will last the longest?

This is my rug. Gotta go walk that second cup of coffee off now.

:edit: I've made my LoseIt profile public, in case anyone wants to join me or check on how badly I'm falling on my face, lol. You may need a community account before you can see it, sorry.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

for whoever can't sleep at 2 a.m. because their blood pressure is freaking them out

I really hadn't given a lot of thought until this last week to how experienced I am with monitoring blood pressure compared to a medical professional on the other end of a telephone call, like a nurse or a pharmacist. They are good people and undoubtedly well trained, and particularly wonderful to talk to when we are scared, but this week I was privy to a family member adapting to a new blood pressure med and grew very concerned about the 3 big M's going out of control- misinformation, misunderstanding, and medical mistakes.

Medical pix give me anxiety, so I'm going to put funny pix in this post. They all click to original source.

I'm sure this is a common scenario- a newbie takes a blood pressure reading, experiences a little panic about the numbers, calls a pharmacist or nurse and expresses their fear and concern, and that person almost automatically responds with a consequential action, in this case, changing the dose of the blood pressure med. Over the phone. Without a doctor being aware of what is happening.

Thanks to having so much experience with me in the house, Scott was able to help our loved one with repositioning the arm cuff which then led to much more pleasant numbers, and no need at all to change the dose and/or drive in to urgent care or call an ambulance.  Having been through two decades of my own arm and wrist cuffs and also being trained to take a blood pressure in nursing school, one of the first questions I asked when I got the call was- did you get the cuff positioned right, because those numbers don't sound right at all. I'd never heard of a systolic/diastolic combo as weird as that one, which usually means the cuff isn't reading the pressure properly. I couldn't believe that neither a pharmacist nor a nurse had even thought to question that before dispensing medical advice.

Even though taking a blood pressure reading is very easy, especially with today's techy gadgets, it's also very easy to mistakenly get a bad reading if you haven't been trained or don't take the time to read the instructions. It also helps to practice every once in awhile, and then write down what you get at what time throughout the day or night. Over the course of several days you'll find that 1- your blood pressure naturally goes up with movement and/or worry, 2- your blood pressure normally goes up and down all day and even all night, 3- you can make your blood pressure numbers better by pooping first or staying hydrated or simply just not caring what the numbers will be. It's very nerve wracking to shoot for a target number and then try to hit it on the nose, and even more nerve wracking when a new med makes you feel funny so your body responds against it and then you think the pill is killing you because your blood pressure went up instead of down.

My doctor is happy when he sees that my blood pressure isn't over 140/90. I have all kinds of tension driving into town and then sitting in his office, and my blood pressure pill can't force me to hold at 120/80 for beans. But after I get home and piddle around, I'm back down to 115/75 or something like that. It's hard not to believe your blood pressure pill will stop your heart from beating when dose time comes around and your pressure is already really good, and then you can go through another panic reaction if you go ahead and take it and suddenly your BP surges up to something like 180/110. Many people don't realize your body can override your BP med and that changing a dose based on panic causes even more problems down the road.

You don't know all this if you don't take your blood pressure. Ignorance is bliss. However, if you have diabetes or heart disease, you need to be checking it at least once a week to make sure you're on track with your meds in between doctor visits. The thing is, most people don't catch their blood pressure actually behaving well, even if it might be. That's why it's good to take a few readings at different times through the day for about a week when you first start taking your own readings. Find out what your normal really is. Your normal is an average of ups and downs, and your target for normal is around 120/80.

I have learned over the last 20 years that I can still function at 90/60 if a time release calcium channel blocker gets metabolized too quickly (even aced a college exam in that state), but you definitely don't get into a car and drive until you get over feeling like molasses dripping slowly down the furniture. My doctor pulled me off the time release after I got that reading and called him, and eventually switched me to a beta blocker. I've also learned that just switching to different kinds of blood pressure meds don't automatically solve problems IF your body doesn't or can't respond correctly or over responds while it's still fighting the sudden withdrawal of the one before, so jumping from a beta blocker or calcium channel blocker to an alpha blocker might bring one person relief and another person more problems. I went through a pretty rough month one year trying a different kind every week and finally on the fifth week came back to a beta blocker, which isn't ideal for me because I have multiple allergy issues and beta blockers exacerbate histamine levels and aren't necessarily top choice for diabetics, BUT I'm used to it, I tolerate it well, and with as much experience as I have with it, I am able to adjust my dose while I monitor over several days if there are any changes, like when I'm on prednisone (big blood pressure drop) or experiencing any kind of inflammation or autoimmune flare up (blood pressure goes up and stays up when I'm sick).

Types of Blood Pressure Medications - It really does help to know more about the med you're on.

Choosing Blood Pressure Medications - Having more knowledge also helps us relax, and relaxing gives us more accurate pressure readings.

High blood pressure is a scary thing over time, but it's not something that's going to outright kill you right now today just because you took a blood pressure reading and scared yourself silly and it keeps going up every time you take another reading. Walk away from the cuff. Don't start popping blood pressure pills trying to force it down, and I'll tell you why with this example about the antihistamines Benadryl and Zyrtec- They're basically the same thing, only Benadryl works immediately to bring histamine reactions back down in the body during a crisis, while Zyrtec works more over time to help keep them down in the first place. Taking Benadryl doesn't prevent new reactions from happening because it mostly works the first hour or two you take it, but Zyrtec does if you keep it in your system by taking one every day, and the antihistamine effects are continual. Blood pressure meds are kind of like this. Some are more immediate, but most work best over time. When you start a new BP med or change your dose, it can take a few days or maybe even a couple of weeks before you see a steady lower reading, with others you might have a more immediate response. The last thing you want to do without supervision is pile on more medication to do something immediate that might actually have adverse longer term affects.

Any kind of pill that causes change in the body can feel disturbing. Your body is used to a certain way of doing things, it's got its own default set, and a pill is forcing it to change how it does things and set a new default. The first few days you're on a new med or dose change you might feel light headed or sluggish, and it will get even more confusing real quick if you start taking readings and panicking, because then your body will think you believe the pill is poison and it will fight against it trying to 'save your life', even though that pill might be what is saving your life in the long run.

I know all this because I have lived through some monumental panic attacks that sent my BP soaring to 240/130. I'm high risk for blood clots and strokes (family history), so you can bet that scares the crap outa me, but I'm still here, not one sign of even a mini-clot yet (yes, I've had brain scans), and I'm getting tired of panicking over it. Just a note here- I've only twice ever been given something to bring my blood pressure down and I hated it. I've had nitroglycerin spray under my tongue in an ambulance when it wasn't even that high, and another time I had it intravenously, probably more to force me to calm my nerves than anything so they could send me home. I wound up with throbbing headaches both times.

If you think you might need emergency help because you see a high reading, do this checklist- Am I breathing ok? Is my chest hurting? Am I dizzy? Am I moving around and functioning and thinking normally? If high blood pressure is the only symptom you are having and it's happening while you are in an alarmed state, then it's most likely temporary. I'm not advising you to sit at home with a pile of nerves and screaming high blood pressure, but I am saying that it will most likely come down after the adrenaline (fight or flight hormone) is filtered back out of your bloodstream and tissues, and even in an ER it has taken up to 6 hours for mine to come down. They mostly just watch it. If there are no other emergency symptoms, they generally don't treat, because if they treat and you really didn't need it because you're already on a blood pressure pill, your blood pressure will really drop when it does come down, which will scare you all over again. It's a fun little roller coaster that winds up getting really expensive really fast. So if you aren't having any other symptoms, try distracting yourself with ice packs and TV or a book (never do heavy exercise with your blood pressure already up real high) or maybe talk to someone on the phone or something, and then later you might notice the readings coming down.

Having said that, if you've got a history of blood clots, heart attack, or strokes, don't wait 6 hours if your blood pressure is staying high because I said to, because I certainly don't. I expect mine to come back down in about an hour or two, and it's always been back down in six without much intervention.

Also, if you have a jumpy spouse or whoever in the house that doesn't know how to help you stay calm and relaxed and actually kind of makes it worse with their attitude or their own panic or crabby reaction, it's your call whether you're going to sit there and let that dictate whether you go into some kind of overload and have a heart attack or something, which is one reason I have so much experience going on to the ER. People who don't have their own experience with how scary it is feeling their heart pound or simply just fearing death in general can be counterintuitive to blood pressure coming back down if they can't help being snippy or snarky or just plain mean, even if they don't mean it. When their turn comes, they'll be a big baby, too, but in the meantime, anger and hurt feelings only make high blood pressure worse, and feeling sorry for yourself in that kind of situation and not going in just to make someone pay if something really does turn out to be wrong is a stupid game to play. I've watched people play that game. No one wins.

Ok, back to basics. If you take readings at home, it's important to practice on other people besides yourself, it's important that other people learn how to take your blood pressure for you if you need them to (kids love this), and it's important that you NOT take every single reading so seriously that you wind up sending yourself to the hospital. It's ok to see weird numbers. The first thing you do is check whether the cuff is placed correctly, whether it needs a battery change, whether you might need a new one if that one has been dropped too hard or is getting old, and whether you get crazy numbers on anyone else in the house. Never assume your first reading is written in stone or that it means death, ok?

In all my years, I've also discovered that there is such a thing as too much blood pressure medication. Logic would seem like the more you take, the more your blood pressure goes down, and then at a certain point you just don't take any more because you've reached your goal. Wrong. Blood pressure meds don't work like that. Your body will always try to keep your heart beating until it simply can't any more, and your fight or flight hormones will always try to boost your heart rate up if your body feels like it's getting too low until it simply can't. I didn't know for years that one of the reasons I was waking up with a racing heart out of a dead sleep was because my heart rate would drop low enough that my brain would kick it back up, and this didn't stop until I lowered by blood pressure med dose, even though my daytime blood pressure was staying above 120/80. It's actually pretty normal for blood pressure to drop and spike while you sleep, but mine was getting a little ridiculous about it. I seemed fine while I was up and moving around, but the second I went to sleep, boom, racing heart. I went to sleep clinic, no signs of apnea, wore monitors, no signs of any problems once my SVT was corrected, but I ran across an article at Blood Sugar 101 called Why is Blood Sugar Highest in the Morning? 

Taking a bit too much blood pressure medication can also cause your blood sugar to go up first thing in the morning. That is because if your blood pressure drops too low at night, the body will also secrete stress hormones to raise the blood pressure back into the safe zone, and they have the side effect, as we've seen, of raising blood sugar.

Again, the tip-off that this is happening is that you are likely to wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. with your pulse pounding, sometimes you will think this is because of a vivid nightmare, but it is more likely that the nightmare was a response to the surge of stress hormones that raised your blood pressure.

If you measure your blood pressure after waking, the main thing you'll see is a faster pulse. The blood pressure will be back in the normal, or even slightly high zone. If you raise your medication because the blood pressure is too high first thing in the morning, you may make the situation worse!

If you are waking up with a pounding pulse in the early morning hours and see your morning blood sugar rising, too, talk to your doctor about whether your blood pressure medication needs adjustment. 

That one article has saved me so much grief. I'm on less than half the BP med dose than I was on when I first read that article, and I feel so much better! Part of that is I've discovered other things that artificially raise blood pressure. The biggie for me was my birth control pill. My blood pressure had been high for years and I never thought to connect it with my birth control until I went through menopause and my blood pressure just went insane and nothing we did could control it. A doctor finally pulled me off my birth control and voila, blood pressure suddenly dropped and I had to cut my blood pressure medication dose in half. Then suddenly it went up again because (try to follow this, it's just ridiculous) stopping the estrogen suddenly sent me super hyper thyroid because evidently estrogen blocks thyroid hormone uptake and I therefore had to take a higher dose of synthroid for years, and suddenly the whole dose was being used without the birth control pill in the way, so my blood pressure surged again. (That's a whole lot of suddenly.) My doctor stopped the thyroid pill until that leveled out, then started a lower dose, and suddenly my blood pressure dropped again. That was two really interesting months, and I was a mess. But I've never since gone back up to as high a dose of blood pressure med as I was on previously.

I've had another pleasant surprise lately. I have discovered, as I am cutting all wheat from my diet, thanks to another dumb food reaction that took 2 1/2 weeks of prednisone to control, that cutting my carbs way down again is also having a very positive impact on my blood pressure, and I'm once again having to cut my medication dose and monitor every day. If my body winds up defaulting down to this new blood pressure default level, I might even be able to wean off my blood pressure pill (never cold turkey off a beta blocker). I'm very excited about that. In case you are on the fence about wheat and/or carbs and fighting your own high blood pressure battle, check this out. It's a bit of reading, but if you are desperate for relief and nothing is working, you can always try it. Sure worked for me.

Sorry so long, but I got to thinking about how I wish I could find more people just talking about their experiences with this stuff when I was younger and searching the webs for stuff in the night. I mean, not freaking out in forums or whining on blogs, but just talking about stuff, you know? Well, this is me talking. You are going to be ok, but you've got to want to get better bad enough to make changes and stick to them. In the meantime, learn about your blood pressure meds, practice taking your blood pressure, and don't feel guilty when it gets scary. You're not alone. I've been dealing with blood pressure pills for 20 years and it's still scary sometimes, but mostly because I hate the way my body feels and reacts when things change.

Pills are like bandaids, they are temporary patches to help us manage what should be temporary problems. Sadly, they've become lifestyles, and now it's all about managing our medications. Popping pills to fix things isn't the answer, but while we're having big problems, they are a relief, and they give us time to figure out what is going wrong and find ways to get our health back on track.