It’s a warning

‘A stroke is the worst of all,’ my
GP said to me once many years ago. 
Her words have stuck. 
‘Imagine it,’ she said.  ‘You’re
alive, but paralysed.  At best you
might get back your ability to walk, to use a knife and fork, to speak again, but at
worst you’ll sit like a vegetable, brain damaged and unable to care for
yourself for the rest of your life.’
My older sister takes good care of herself these days.  She meditates first thing in the
morning.  She eats a balanced diet,
does not drink too much, or smoke, and is physically active.  Recently she started to feel dizzy to
the point she dared not even drive her car.  
Next a visit to her GP who told my sister it was lucky she
had arrived at the doctor’s surgery when she had.  She could have suffered a stroke.
 Besides the dizziness, my sister’s blood pressure was up.  The doctor then urged my sister to take blood pressure reducing drugs. 
This then is story one: my sister’s
blood pressure, and given she is my sister I go out in sympathy with her.  I
watch as my head starts to feel dizzy and my blood pressure rises.
Story two:  my sister in law who last week took herself off
for her regular two yearly visit to the optometrist.
‘There are signs of a stroke, here’
the optometrist said to my sister in law after he had examined her eyes.  Best you take yourself off to your
doctor to get it checked out.’
My sister-in-law’s doctor then sent
her off to a specialist for tests. 
She’s yet to get the results but her GP had tried to reassure her that
these are signs only, not facts.  Besides people can sometimes have tiny strokes
and not even notice.  Still it’s a
A warning of what? I have this
tendency to identify with people and their ailments. In any case, I’m off to
see the doctor tomorrow to check out my own rising blood pressure.
I bought a blood pressure monitor
from the chemist so I could take my blood pressure myself away from the anxiety
producing doctor.  ‘White coat hypertension’
they call it.  You see the doctor
and the minute she applies the cuff around your arm and pumps up the monitor
your blood pressure increases. 
Now it’s happening to me.  I can feel my heart race as soon as I
consider the possibility of trotting off to the kitchen to check my blood pressure.  And it has not registered at 138 or less systolic since I started
checking a week ago.  So now I’m
Story three: my mother’s heart
began to fail over eighteen months ago now.  Medication has kept her going but there’s only so much more
her heart can take before it gives out altogether. 
The blood pressure monitor sits on
the kitchen table calling to me. 
It calls to me, ‘come now and try again’.  You never know it might be normal once more and then you can
sigh a sigh of relief and when you go to the doctor tomorrow you can tell the
doctor it has been high at times but it has also been normal.  And the doctor will say, these things
happen, not to worry. 
Or the doctor, my doctor, will be
like my sister’s doctor and whack me onto blood pressure reducing
I’m happy to self medicate from
time to time with alcohol.  I’m
happy to buy over the counter herbal remedies, but I do not enjoy the thought
of taking the medication that western medicine produces unless it is for short
term purposes.  Nothing of the long
term variety for me and yet I know there are times when it is essential.
Until ten years ago my mother
boasted that she needed no medication whatsoever to keep her going.  Even in her early eighties apart from a
calcium supplement and the occasional use of painkillers to help her with her
arthritis she took nothing.  Now
she takes lolly bags full of the stuff, pink and blue, yellow and green, large
pills and small, morning, noon and night.  
There are worse things could
happen, says my optimistic self. 
So what if you need medication to reduce your heart pressure?  But the me that prefers to have a body
that goes on regardless, that needs almost no attention whatsoever beyond
eating, drinking and sleeping, and the occasional walk or exercise, hopes to be
My mind split off from my body however, is a different matter.  It needs all the attention it can get.