Confessions of a (former) couch potato
I have to confess; I used to pride myself in being one of the most inactive persons on planet earth. That, in any case, was probably one of the few things that I shared with current U.S president Donald Trump. The very idea of getting off the couch used to make me break into a terrible fit of sweating, which, I told myself, was actually great, since sweating was, in my view, the whole point of exercising.
The exercise freak brother
I have a brother who is something of an exercise freak. Not very surprising, considering that he has so much free time on his hands. One of my favorite ways of needlessly needling him involved me telling him that watching television was as much exercising as I was ever going to get.
Not only did this give my eyes a much needed workout, but the very sight of people running around doing all those karate moves was enough to break me into a sweat. If I needed a really good workout, I would simply find some Zumba video or something.
Watching while those crazy people went at it as if they did not have anything better to do was all the exercise that I needed. It also really worked up a healthy appetite.
The Wake-up Call
My flight through cloud couch-potato-land came crashing down a few days ago, when I visited the doctor as a result of chest pains. Nothing terrible really. Just a few stabbing pains on both sides of the chest every once in a while. I actually set out for my couch-potato job, before deciding along the way to drive to the doctor instead.
The initial diagnosis
The nurse who took care of me upon my arrival first checked out my vitals. My temperate at the time was around 37.7 degrees Celsius. I had suspected that it would be slightly elevated on account of the fact that I had been having night sweats.
The Blood Pressure Test
Next, the nurse checked out my blood pressure using one of those gizmos that seem designed to squeeze the living life out of one’s arm. Now, this is where my couch potato pyramid came crumbling down.
An alarmed nurse
The first sign that I was in trouble was the nurse, who had been jovial only moments earlier, suddenly looking dead serious.
“Your blood pressure is dangerously high,” she told me. “Has something been troubling you lately?”
That really got me laughing. The nurse must have thought I was crazy or something. Where has anyone ever seen a human being who is trouble-free?
My blood pressure readings were apparently at 160/90. To those that are not in the know, a normal blood pressure reading should be around 120/80. Once it approaches 160/90, then you are firmly in heart attack and stroke territories.
The nurse, who I still think was rather alarmist, immediately rushed to the doctor and I was promptly whisked in, never mind the fact that there were twenty other people waiting in line.
The doctor immediately ordered my detention in the observation ward. This reinforced my belief that doctors who are younger than me are alarmists, but that is a story for another day.
In any case, I was given a pill that was supposed to lower my blood pressure. I was also given a few painkillers and was ordered to have blood tests conducted. Reducing high blood pressure had suddenly turned into a bitter pill to swallow (I hate pills).
A few hours later
Fortunately, my blood pressure had stabilized to around 150/88 a few hours later. 8 hours later to be precise. The doctor then prescribed some medication for me, including painkillers, an antibiotic and some blood pressure pills. It was only then that he concerted to have released from the hospital.
Reducing high blood pressure
Other than the fact that the doctor gave me two days off from work, another great thing about the whole thing is that it has enabled me to get off the couch for the first time in my 34 years on planet earth. I have also become painfully aware of what I eat.
I have started doing some exercises every morning, before heading out to work. The fact that I really am not fit is highlighted each morning by the fact that I am still to go beyond a few press-ups.
I am still on medication and my blood pressure now hovers around 130/85. I plan on seeing it all the way down, but I am going to do it my own way; through exercising and by following a diet that not only is healthy, but one that is also palatable.
A few weeks from now, I have another appointment with the excitable doctor. That’s when it will be decided whether or not I will have to be permanently on blood pressure drugs. I hope that will not be the case. Reducing high blood pressure could, in any case turn out to be the jolt that I needed to start following a healthier lifestyle.