On blood pressure

My blood pressure was normal this morning, which is what I want it to be. My grandfather, a lovely, kind-hearted generous man, died of a stroke at the young age of 62 years. I can’t help but think that he had uncontrolled high blood pressure and that it was also uncontrolled. There were probably other factors that contributed to his death at a young age, but the blood pressure thing haunts me to this day. So when I was going through a courtesy screening process for high blood pressure at my church a few years ago, I took heed when the nurse told me I should get my high blood pressure checked out. I needed medication. I had inherited high blood pressure, and I needed to do something about it. Beside medication, I have changed my eating habits, lost some weight, and made exercise a daily part of my life. I don’t smoke, and although I occasionally have a few non-standard beverages, drinking is not a part of my life. I was pleased that this morning, in spite of driving in crappy traffic conditions on I35, my blood pressure was well within the normal range. This is encouraging. Our modern life style of over-commitment, jammed schedules, poor sleep habits, questionable eating habits and choices, and stress does not lend itself to having naturally normal blood pressure. The heart, lungs, veins, and arteries all work in tandem to keep us upright and moving in a consistent manner, but even the slightest problem can cause the blood pressure to go up which increases everyone’s chances of having some other vital system fail: kidneys, liver, brain. I suffered from headaches as a child, and today I am headache free unless the headache is a synecdoche for something or someone else—especially if it involves putting furniture together. Sometimes I would like to blame our fast-paced consumer society that puts a huge emphasis on buying and consuming to the detriment of all of considerations and factors. Black Friday, a real blood pressure buster, is looming on the horizon and will whip people into a lathered frenzy of hysterical consumers and blind irrational spending. At other times I’d like to blame our bizarre addiction to digital communication—email, texts, social networks, blogs, television, movie services, and eight other things yet to be imagined. Desire, to be liked, to want, to covet, to envy, drives a lot of things that make us have high blood pressure. Schedules, bookings, travel, meetings, deadlines don’t help either. I’m not sure that the instant communication networks to which millions subscribe really help anyone at all. We like hectic lives, shrouded in quiet desperation as we wait for the weekend or the next vacation. And, of course, we suffer and our collective blood pressure goes up, and frankly, I don’t see any relief in site.