Millimetres of Mercury

It boggles my mind a bit, they measure blood pressure in millimetres of mercury. As in, your blood pressure is 120/70, means that on an old fashioned sphygmomanometer the measurement they take when they hear your heart beat stop (or maybe start) showed 120 mm of mercury until they hear it start (or maybe stop, probably you shouldn’t ask me to take your blood pressure), showed 70 mm of mercury. In a world of high tech drugs and spinning magnets which take pictures of my brain, this seems very quaint.

That’s the curious and quaint part.

My blood pressure has been borderline high since Gabe. In that time – 11 years – I’ve taken up running and lost 60 ish pounds. I’ve quit smoking (and started and quit and started and quit. Currently I’m in the quit phase, but if I’ve learned anything it’s that the most I can hope for is the idea of being a former smoker. I will never be a non smoker). I eat beans and tons of vegetables, I look at sodium levels in canned soup. I do all of the things that I should do.

I offered to lose the last 20 pounds I’ve been kicking around (Ok, 25, I ate very well in Mexico!). The doc said that this wasn’t the worst idea, but she looked at me quite nicely and said that it was mostly genetics. My father was dead by age 68, my mother was 67. While neither of them did well at managing their health, the genes, they are not on my side.

I’m telling you all of this because I probably should eat kale, and because it’s kind of a bummer that I’m going to wind up on bp meds, which I thought “old people” took. Mostly I’m telling you this because I’m proud that I didn’t blame myself for this. I didn’t shame myself for the extra 25 pounds, or the days when I don’t go to the gym. I realized that this wasn’t my fault. I’ve actually done reasonably well to get healthy since Gabriel’s birth. The meds? They would be ok. Which felt like a sort of victory.

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1 Response to Millimetres of Mercury

  1. loribeth says:

    I’ve been on bp meds since my late 40s. I didn’t like the idea but I came to see it as inevitable. My dr said losing weight might help (and I haven’t made as much progress on that front as I should…), but that, yes, part of it is genetics & that can’t be helped. My mother is on bp meds, my dad is on blood thinners, my paternal grandmother had extremely high blood pressure & died at 68. Stress can be a factor too (and you’ve certainly had enough of that!). My readings are much better these days since I retired. 😉 I’m on one of the lowest doses, which makes me feel slightly better about it.

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