On November 30th, I had the pleasure of taking a morning drive to the medical campus next to the hospital to pay my doctor a visit. Nothing serious, just a routine exam that I’ve gone through every year for the past who knows how many years. I was the first appointment of the day and ended up getting there before the staff even had a chance to flip on the lights and set out the sign in sheet. Everything was pretty mundane and routine until the doctor came into the room where I waited in my horrible flimsy gown. As she was reviewing my chart, she said something to me that no doctor has ever said to me: your blood pressure is a little high.
By “high” she meant it was 120 over 90, which are both within the safe zone with my diastolic number right on the border of Okayville and Hypertensionland. I’m sure most of you are making a face at me and thinking that this is not a big deal. But for me, someone who has always had consistent readings of systolic pressure between 115 and 125 and diastolic between 75 and 80, it was definitely a shock and a concern. While my doctor went on to discuss horrible things like the mammograms I’ll need in 10 years, I sat on the paper covered table silently facing my mortality. My unusual rise in blood pressure may have been from the fact that I was nervous about the appointment (my nerves act up no matter how routine and simple a doctor appointment happens to be) or possibly from the half gallon of caffeinated green tea I chugged 20 minutes prior to my pressure being checked (in preparation for my job of peeing into a Dixie cup) and wasn’t even something my doctor was concerned about.
She advised that we would check it again next YEAR to ensure I was okay and assured me that there was nothing for me to worry about. I have tons of reasons not to worry about this, but the little voice in the back of my head keeps whispering to me “you DO need to worry because you are getting OLD….”
I don’t consider 30 to be old but I also know a 30 year old body and a 20 year old body have a lot of differences between them. The metabolism of my youth is no more, random aches and pains are now part of my routine rather than a cause for concern, I can’t pull all nighters like I did in college, I have about 5 gray hairs that drive me absolutely insane, and I very noticeably feel the gap between myself and people just entering legal adulthood.
My mother developed hypertension along with a host of other medical problems, and while I seriously doubt I’m in danger, the fact that she developed hypertension is reason enough for me to be a bit on edge about my blood pressure reading. Ever since my doctor visit, I’ve been questioning the things I do on a daily basis and how they impact my body. What short and long term effects I’m causing with my behavior are beginning to seem very important and I’m beginning to wonder if I’m doing what needs to be done in order to ensure I live long enough to resemble a wrinkly piece of jerky.
Overall I don’t feel as if I’ve transitioned from a strong young person into a frail old lady. I do feel that I should begin to be careful and more mindful of my behavior. I’m not old yet but my body is aging by the second and I can’t sit around playing Xbox and taking shots, pretending that just because my mind is young, my body follows suit. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I can accept getting older and make the necessary adjustments without losing a hold on my youth. The saying “you’re only as old as you feel” is true to an extent, but I need to pay attention to the moments where I feel my actual age and make sure I’m keeping one eye focused on taking care of myself the way I should. I wish myself luck….