Backed Into a Corner

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On May 11, my doctor asked me to start logging my blood pressure three times daily, which I’ve mostly done since then. Yesterday, my blood pressure escalated throughout the day to the point that the reading at around 10:15 pm was 205/119.

So off to the ER we went.

It’s back down now (relatively speaking) but still quite high, something like 162/109 at last reading about an hour and fifteen minutes ago.

But I’m in a quandary.

I know that exercise is going to be vital to getting my blood pressure lower, but with it being as high as it is, I’m scared to go walk just in case something happens while I’m out there alone.

At this point, I really don’t know what to do and I won’t have a doctor on board to advise me until the end of June. Walking in the evenings is going to be difficult due to the limited amount of time my wife and I have then to get everything done that we need to do at night, though that’s going to be rectified soon enough when her work schedule changes in a couple weeks. I’m just scared to wait until then; I feel that it’s a matter of extreme urgency that I start to lose weight and get my blood pressure down to manageable levels.

Anyone have any advice on what I should do?

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A Trend Emerges

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Regular followers of this blog are familiar with my two black books, one containing my daily health and hygiene checklist and my daily vitals, and the other holding my running to-do list. I’ve noticed a couple of trends emerge across time.

First, I notice that by the time I get to my post-dinner activities, I barely want to get off the couch. Those familiar with the Spoon Theory will recognize that feeling of being “out of spoons” by this point in the day.

Secondly, I’ve noticed that if I start the day in pain, or pain develops at some point during the day, the rest of the day is almost always something of a wash.

So I’m doing two things to try and correct the problem. The first is that I’ve moved my yoga/stretching to just after my morning walk. I think the cool down stretching will do me some good and I’ll be in a better place mentally and physically do to it earlier. The second is that I’m trying to remember that if I need to take time away from my checklist regimen for pain management to return to it as soon as the pain has stopped.

I’ll start these things in earnest in a couple days, once I flip pages in my checklist book.

I think the situation is important to address because whenever I don’t get my checklist done I start to kick myself mentally for not even being good enough to get the bare minimum done. Making it easier to do that makes it easier to say I’ve accomplished what I set out to do with my day, and gives me less reason (excuse) to browbeat myself for failing to do the baseline of what I need to do to take care of myself.

I also need to figure out a backup plan for walking. I don’t have any athletic equipment at all that wicks away moisture, I walk in Crocs because I don’t really have anything else, and I’m generally out walking in the one pair of jeans that I own that fit me. And they’re expecting it to be a wet summer here in Austin.

I’ll eventually get it all figured out. It’s good that I note there’s a problem and am doing things to correct the problem. Now to execute this plan, which looks flawless on paper.

May 20, 2015: Three Good Things

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1. My wife started a new job today. I know that’s technically not my good thing, but it does mean that there’s considerably more wiggle room in the budget from this point forward, and that means less stress about finances. And that’s a good thing for both of us.

2. I was going to drive my wife to work (we only have one car) so I could try to do something outside the house today, but the thought of leaving started a panic attack. I was able to get it under control before it went completely off the rails into total irrationality.

3. I eventually did leave the house, during the evening to go dink on the computer at a local Starbucks. I was itchy the whole time, but I think I hid it well. It was the threat of getting caught in a thunderstorm and the insanely uncomfortable barstools at Starbucks that finally had me heading for the door. Thankfully my wife was there to make sure that I stayed calm when things started getting a little antsy.

Apprehension Sets In

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Recently I’ve been discussing the projects that I have either already undertaken or am considering undertaking. And I realized where my uncertainty of late is coming from.

With regard to the project that I’ve already undertaken, I have a concrete plan of what I want to accomplish. There are a half dozen objectives that I’m working toward that I hope will improve the quality of events in my chosen hobby. The project that I’m researching has so many steps that all need to be taken in a precise order that I’m overwhelming myself having just started my research.

Keep in mind that it’s still a challenge for me to hit everything on my checklist on a daily basis. This involves taking my vitals and my medications throughout the day, personal hygiene morning and night, eating three meals a day, walking, writing, getting my to-do list done, yoga (or stretching, I might be in transition based on my body’s more pressing need to increase my range of motion), noting my good things throughout the day, leisure, and getting into bed before midnight. That’s not that big of a list, and yet I regularly fail to do at least two or three things on that list. Now, I’m taking my meds without fail, and I’m catching my vitals almost all the time. But the other stuff I have problems remembering, even eating sometimes.

And I’m looking at creating a volunteer office and a nonprofit organization out of nothing? How dare I presume I have the energy for this?

But I have to remember, that everything is done in tiny little chunks, and that one step leads to another. I can’t get bogged down by the overall scope of what I’m trying to accomplish; I just need to focus on the one part that’s in front of me right now.

When this is all said and done, I know that these two projects are going to be part of the legacy I leave behind. It’s important that I do them well. But as for today, I’m out of energy and I’m out of spoons and it’s time to do something mindless and fun, even though I haven’t hardly done anything at all today toward anything productive. (I’ve been tired and in pain a lot of the day.) My day’s big accomplishment is that I’ve been able to pull it together long enough to pack up the laptop and head out to a Starbucks. The question is how long I can stay here and be out and about before I completely freak out and we have to pack up and head home. The weather is starting to become a factor as well, so I’m trying to stick it out until we have to go home due to an incoming thunderstorm.

On the plus side, though, my head is doing better than my butt is. Starbucks should really think about some more comfortable barstools in their establishments.

The Bechdel Test

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For those that weren’t aware, I consider myself a feminist. I don’t think there’s any job that a man does that a woman can’t do, nor do I think there should be any difference in pay. I think that the way our society objectifies women is reprehensible, and I am a firm believer in women’s rights.

So I’m a little embarrassed that I never looked into the Bechdel Test before last night.

The Bechdel Test is a measure of whether a movie has strong female characters in them. I’ve known about the Bechdel Test for some time, but because of the number of movies that failed to pass, I was under the assumption that it’s a complicated thing.

Last night, I found out what the Bechdel Test is. And I am appalled.

It has three criteria. That’s it.

1. The movie must have two named female characters,

2. who talk to one another,

3. about something besides men.

That is the full extent of the Bechdel Test. The conversation can be about nail polish and pass the Test. (In American Hustle, that’s the subject matter of the passing conversation.) It doesn’t have to be long. The qualifying dialogue that passes Jurassic Park is between Ellie and Lex and it’s a statement by one and a response by the other.

The movie must have two named female characters, who talk to one another, about something besides men.

And this has been a difficult thing for Hollywood to do for years and years.

Now, to be fair, according to BechdelTest.com, of the 31 movies they list as being released in 2015, all but seven pass. One of my favorite this year fails the test, because Ex Machina only has two named female characters and one of them has no dialogue at all. The female lead whispers into the ear of the other once – that’s all the conversation the two have, and it’s implied to be about the movie’s antagonist. Artistically, I understand why Ex Machina failed (the female lead only knows English and the other female character in the movie doesn’t know a word of it, and the film’s cast overall is very small) but really, how hard can it be to get two female characters to have a two-line conversation about something besides men?

Will I boycott movies that don’t pass the Bechdel Test? Not universally, though if I find that the female characters in a movie are vapid and shallow, I’ll tend to avoid it. But it is something that I’ll be looking for in my future movie watching endeavors.

May 18, 2015: Three Good Things

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1. Today is the first anniversary of the day that a little tuxedo kitten literally wandered in our door and stole our hearts. Two Socks owns the place now, and we, her dutiful staff, have showered lavish gifts upon her today, such as liberal time chasing the red dot, seafood gooshy food, and chopped up bits of cold boiled shrimp.

2. I took the next step in maintaining my psych medication regimen: I called for an intake appointment with the county mental health services (since I’m on Medicare, that’s where I was referred to). Still waiting on a call back, but I have the number of the person who made the referral and she asked me to call her back if I had problems, so come Wednesday if I haven’t heard anything I’m going to light a fire under someone’s butt.

3. We watched The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies for the first time. We liked it, but like many others, found it lacking somehow (having never read Tolkien, I’m unsure where it was lacking, but there was a distinct feeling that the ending raised more questions than it answered).

May 17, 2015: Three Good Things

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1. I got to spend time with two dear friends today that I don’t to see enough of these days.

2. I spent part of the evening planning out a hypothetical trip to Disney World for my wife and myself.

3. I spent another part of the evening poking the budget for the rest of the year and found out that hypothetical vacation doesn’t have to be hypothetical after all, so long as we plan it for sometime in 2016.