61. If the stress does not kill you, I know a family that will

keep calm“Crickey!”

Not the best word someone could use when I told them what my blood pressure figures were.

It was a couple of days after I had spent the day wired up to a portable blood pressure machine so that the surgery could get an average blood pressure reading.

It was an interesting experience walking, sitting, eating and sleeping with this thing. It gives a warning bleep and then seconds later would noisily go about its bicep inflating business.

When I went to get wired up the nurse took a reading and announced that it was actually higher than it was back in April.

You don’t say!

Back in April, I walked out of the surgery determined to not have to take medication. That’s when I started the running with purpose. Fat lot of use but I will still be keeping it up.

“So how do I turn it off, when I have my shower?” I innocently asked.

“Oh no, you cannot take it off”

I felt my face ask the question before any words were needed.

“Wet wipes” she added happily.

‘Of course’, my eyes said horrifically. I’m only two years old, that will not be a problem.

I would have thought in this day and age the device would be the size of a mobile phone, silent and flipping waterproof.

Wrong on all three counts.

Slung around my neck like a heavy man bag, I did my best to conceal it under my jumper and jacket. As I sat down next to a woman on the bus it bleeped and then started pumping away. The woman peered over her phone to try and find the source of the noise.

What doesn’t everyone bleep, sound like an aquarium pump and have a bicep that inflates?

Nothing to see here woman, get back to your silly phone.

When I took it back they said that it would take a few days for them to analyse and get back to me. I didn’t panic when they actually called me the day afterwards.

“We suggest that you start a course of treatment right away”

I asked what the figures were.

Systolic reading was 160. Diastolic reading was 108. 160 over 108. She was calm, as doctors are. I wasn’t approaching zombie status then. Apparently, it’s high. Not have you got a will high but not good high. On the NHS Hypertension webpage, the systolic was right in the middle of the helpful red block while the Distolic was right off the bottom scale. Just for confirmation the site gives you the helpful message,

‘High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80)’

Over the age of eighty you know!

When I tried to enter my readings into the boxes on the front page, which then gives you a pretty graphical representation, I got the following message,

“Your Diastolic number falls outside of the normal medical range Please Seek Medical Advice.”

I decided against achieving the hat trick of misery and didn’t go for another PSA test. That can wait until the new year. I started the blood pressure medication and it will be reviewed in two week’s time.

I have stuck to the advice that the nurse had given me. I had cut down the salt, dairy and I have been exercising regularly. I have even cut out cow’s milk. I thought that would be an impossible task.  I tried oat’s milk and wondered how somebody could market paper pulp as a food product and keep a straight face.

I had better joy with soya milk and have successfully made the switch. The elephant in the room, of course, is the regular, medicinal, night time, ice cream that I consume. Take a seat ‘Nelly’ as you are not going anywhere soon matey.

Taking the exercise to another extreme, last year a very dear friend of mine did a 10K run in my honour for Prostate Cancer UK. He raised over £2500. This year he said he was doing exactly the same again. I thanked him and said that I was honoured again. I also said that I would make sure that I made a decent donation, we talked for a while and soon afterwards I put the phone down. I sat for a while and said it would have been great if I could have joined them. I have been running 5km up to three times a week. 10km was a massive jump that I had convinced myself that I could never do.

I called back about three minutes later. I was quite nervous but I said you know what I will do it. I didn’t have a clue how I was ever going to do it. However, he kindly added a nugget in his conversation,

“If you cannot run it you can walk it”

Immediately my face changed. ‘Walk it” I said to myself?

What am I some fat git that cannot do a 10km run? Walk it? Prod me with a stick? Or did you mean cover me in batter and roll me around the thing? I heard the Rocky theme in my head and the next day I started training. By the end of the week, I had pushed myself to 9.69km, the next Sunday 12.95km and Sunday another 12km. All with no more than eight minutes worth of breaks. Now they took me between one and one and a half hours to complete. I want to be comfortable doing at least 12km so the 10km route is easy. At one stage I was also thinking about pace but I have not had enough time to concentrate on that. For some bright reason they have thrown in a couple of hills in the official route so I have to take that into account as well.

I have finally managed to book a visit to go and see pops for the end of November. It was timed so that I could be there for Thanksgiving. So far the only downside for my proposed visit is that I cannot just turn up to a gun range and fire off some rounds. You would think in the land of the gun where everyone and their cat has one it would be an easy thing to do. Nope. New York has some of the strictest gun control laws in the USA so turning up at a gun range is not going to happen. Pops is one of these liberal types and was horrified when I asked him if he had one year ago.

At the very least the trip promises to be a mixed range of emotions.

Most of which will probably not be good.

Just to recap. My dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2011. Untreated that led to liver cancer which is now stage four. His kidneys are beginning to fail and he needs but has steadfastly refused, to have a hip replacement. Which at this stage in his life is fair enough but it was about six years ago when they first mentioned his hips but he didn’t want to do it based on the results of someone else’s unsuccessful surgery. In the words of his wife “It’s just bone grinding on bone now”.

When I joined my current company it was the middle of the year so I only had half of my holiday allowance, which I quickly used. When my dad’s wife began selectively telling me what the doctors were saying and not asking the right questions it became obvious that it wasn’t looking good. I was looking at next year at the earliest to get over to the states. I enquired if I could take five days in advance from next year’s leave allowance, so I could go and see my dad.

Instead, they gave me five day’s compassionate leave, which was a fantastic gesture.

Then a week later our entire team of eight was called into a mandatory meeting at the end of the day. The two heads of the division were also there. They told us our team was not making enough revenue and they do not seem a long term future in what we do. End result was that all of our positions were under review for redundancy.

You couldn’t make this up.

At the time of writing, I don’t know if I will be coming back to a job. My team is a specialist team and what else we are meant to do within the company is a mystery.

I leave this Friday for New York. My stay will include Thanksgiving with my sister, dad, his wife and my sisters extended family. It’s not that they don’t get on. It’s akin to taking a bucket and just chucking all of the cleaning products from under the sink all in at the same time. It’s either going to work really well or it will be blog-worthy for all the wrong reasons. The good or bad news is that I will only be in that slow-burning melting pot for a few hours as I will be flying out later the same night.

Going to be an experience.


If you would like to donate to the run, here is the link.


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