<< On the Case | Main | Busy Hands, New Socks >>

Achieving the Correct Tension

<general warning... there is no knitting (well, there is a knitting reference) and there are no pictures... this is just me talking about me... proceed at your own risk/interest level>

It's funny to me how sometimes knitting terms overlap with a non-knitting concept in my life.  

In the spring, I went to give blood, only to find that my blood pressure was much higher than it should have been.  Shortly after, I had my very own diagnosis of primary hypertension.  The arrival of my very own chronic condition was not really a surprise to me.  It runs in the family.  I had gestational hypertension when I was pregnant with Z, which is generally considered to be a harbinger of hypertension to come.  I even told people that it was probably just a matter of time.

My rational self understood it, my emotional self did not.  My doctor told me not to worry, it was manageable.  The funny thing is, it wasn't the chronic condition in and of itself that bothered me.  It was the prescriptions he was writing for me and the realization that I was in my mid-40's and starting on a lifetime medication regimen, and multiple meds.

I do not like taking medications.  Particularly not ones that might never go away.  I spent the first couple of months grudgingly taking my meds and just generally being in denial.  

A child, however, is the most amazing thing.  I can look at this small person that I have made and see myself and my spouse and a whole collection of amazing things that she helps me remember seeing when I was small and everything was magical.  My child is 6 and she has so many wonderful things ahead of her.  And I want to see that story unfold and develop as long as I can.

That probably sounds melodramatic. I don't mean it to, at least not in the sense that I think that I'm going to keel over dead from hypertension.  What I mean is that seeing her reminds me that I need to do what I can to be as healthy as I can, no matter how much I don't like some of the mechanisms that keep me healthy.  It also means that instead of grousing about my medications, I needed to look what I could do to limit the need for them.

And for that, I had a very good example:  my dad.  Dad has dealt with the same condition for most of his adult life.  Two of the things that helped him were regular cardiovascular exercise and maintaining a good weight.  The better he did at these two things, the less medication he took. 

So I started to think that maybe if it worked for him, it would work for me.  

Cardio exercise is easier said than done when one of your meds is a beta blocker.  These things are like rate limiters on your heart.  But I decided to get off my elliptical and away from my heart rate monitor and just head outside and go running.  I've tried to do this before, and always fell off the wagon.  But this time, I armed myself (or rather my iPhone) with the Zombies, Run! 5K App, gave myself permission to have more than my fair share of nice workout wear (I actually have a fun workout wear subscription!) and by the time I had my next appointment with my doc, I was running 3-4 times a week, felt a lot better and felt like I had one of the pieces that would help me manage my condition with lifestyle instead of drugs.

My doc agreed and we dumped the beta blocker.

Life got hugely better after that.  The day after I stopped taking the beta blocker, I was like someone had lifted a brick off my chest while I was running and I posted my first 5 mile run of the year.  About a week later, I did a 6 mile jog around Central Park when John and I visited NYC. I hit my first 100 miles and treated myself the new pair of running shoes (it is always about the shoes!) that I promised myself when I reached that milestone. And I was watching my weight tick down gradually.  More than that, I just felt happier (I've since learned that beta blockers can have neurological effects). And a better attitude makes a lot of things better.

With the summer coming to an end, I've logged a little over 200 miles, including one 10K run that I am particularly proud of.   My jeans are a size smaller.  My diet is better (an mostly gluten free), and last week I experienced something that surprised the heck out of me:  I didn't get my regular run in and not only was I bummed about it, I was cranky about it.  I mean seriously cranky, folks!  I was actually in a bad mood about not exercising.  Apparently I have gone from a resolution to a habit.

It appears to me that, just like in knitting, sometimes my personal parameters aren't at the specified gauge.  And then I have to change needles -- or tactics -- to get there.  To, as knitters across the Atlantic would say, get the right tension.  Right now, that tension is still a little tight with the yarn I've got to work with. A little hypertense, as it were.  But I'm hoping as I keep trying new needles, I'm eventually going to get there.  Just like preparing to knit a perfect sweater, I have to work a little bit to achieve the correct personal tension.  And once I get there, I know I'm going to make something beautiful.  Just this time, that project is me.  

Congratulations on your good results so far, and best of luck on continued progress. It sure is not easy, but the mindset you've chosen is certainly an important part of the equation.

I'm glad that you have a goal and a process for getting there. I've been lucky my entire life when it comes to blood pressure. Even now, at almost 37 weeks, my blood pressure is consistently in the 110-ish/60-ish range, though the answer to that is just that different chronic conditions run in my family. Good luck with getting and staying healthy!

Entry Categories

Entry Tags

Recent Entries

Knitting Challenge
It's always fun to have your kid tell you she wants you to knit her something.  Sometimes, however, it's challenging…
Busy Hands, New Socks
My current job finds me planted in front of my speaker phone or my computer for teleconferences and webinars.  I…
Achieving the Correct Tension
<general warning... there is no knitting (well, there is a knitting reference) and there are no pictures... this is just…