Friday, May 03, 2013

Blood Pressure and Biofeedback, Contol and Panic

Considering my age, I shouldn't have delayed having my blood pressure checked.  Except for a very short time towards the end of my third (out of five) pregnancies, I've never suffered high blood pressure to my knowledge.  Of course I added the phrase "to my knowledge," because if you don't have it checked, you can't know what it is.

Being a "former dancer," though once a dancer always a dancer, I'm pretty much attune with my body.  I've recovered from injuries by using the method of doing the maximum physical activity that doesn't hurt and knowing the difference between "good hurt" and "bad hurt."  Just before I stopped teaching English in Beit El, I had felt that it was affecting my health, most probably blood pressure.

Seventeen years ago, when I was injured in an Arab terror attack, I then went to a Terem first aid clinic, and as a standard part of the exam, they checked my blood pressure.  Especially since I was very upset that the Israeli Police was claiming that the Arab terrorist had accidentally rammed into us, murdering one and injuring over twenty, there was no doubt in my mind that my blood pressure was boiling.  So as soon as the nurse began strapping the "sleeve" onto my arm I began telling my body to calm down.  It worked.  My reading was normal!  That's biofeedback. I did it without any formal training.

Nowadays, when you have your blood pressure checked, you're told to sit and relax for ten or fifteen minutes.  Yesterday I had needed to do something in the local clinic for my husband, so I decided that it was a perfect excuse to make an appointment for myself.  I purposely got there early so I could sit quietly and then have my blood pressure checked. 

The clinic has a moniter
similar to this one.
While I was waiting, the nurse spoke to me about a less pleasant routine exam, which was not suitable for relaxation.  Then she strapped the sleeve of the digital blood pressure monitor on my arm.  It was like a strong vise and it hurt.  What also wasn't good was that I watched the high numbers on the digital display.  The result was over 140 for the higher number, slightly above recommended.  At first I was upset, and then I told myself that considering the stress I've been through, my exhaustion and other excuses, it wasn't really high at all. 

The nurse told me to wait another few minutes and I did.  Now I began telling myself that the reading wasn't high at all for a woman of my age and I should be happy.   I told my body to calm down and relax.  I didn't look at the numbers, because they go up very high when the sleeve is squeezing hard.  There was no need to panic.  I was in control, and I am strong and healthy, thank G-d.

It finally stopped. I looked at the monitor:

Thank G-d!!

That doesn't mean that my body isn't capable of suffering high blood pressure.  It means that if I control my life and don't put myself under too much stress, my blood pressure will be good.  I really think that attitude is a way to keep healthy.

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