A few years ago, I was sent to the ER after an accident at work. The doctors were very concerned about my blood pressure while I was there and told me it was near stroke level. This came as a shock to me- despite a family history (both sides- yay!) of HBP, mine had always been low to normal. They couldn't/wouldn't treat me for it since it didn't seem to be part of my injury and was therefore not covered by worker's comp, but strongly advised me to see my regular doctor about it ASAP.
The problem was, I didn't have a regular doctor. Years of not having insurance or the money to pay high bills prevented that. I had gone to a couple of walk-in clinics over the years, so I was at a loss as to where to start my search. (I had insurance by that point, but hadn't used it) My parents had just moved up here and Mom suggested that I go to see the internist that they were seeing. He wasn't taking new patients as a rule, but agreed to take me on when Mom pointed out that it might be interesting to see the role genetics played in my health. So that's how I met Dr B.
He nearly had a stroke himself when he took my blood pressure at the first visit. According to him, I should have been dead from a stroke before I walked into the office. (I may be exaggerating slightly here, but it's pretty close to what he said) I told him that I felt fine, but he correctly pointed out that it didn't mean I WAS. We had gotten my medical records from NC and I managed to get him the records from several of my clinic visits, but it was hard to narrow down exactly when my blood pressure started to go bad. To complicate things, I was in the early stages of diabetes.
Well, in addition the the raft of medications I was now suddenly taking, I had to make changes to my diet. (bet you were wondering when that was going to come up, right?) As I've mentioned, I used to be the fried food queen. Mom had to have gall bladder surgery a few years before they moved here, and told me that I might want to cut back on fried foods some to hopefully avoid that in my future. I did for a while, but my current job had me lapse back into eating fast food a lot.
Fast food was one of the first things to get cut. Not completely, but a lot less of it. Frozen dinners were also cut down on. I've never been too crazy about them, but they were an easy out if I didn't feel like cooking and didn't want to go out for a burger. And actually, the Marie Callender dinners/potpies are pretty dang tasty. They're also fat/sodium bombs.
We talked about sugar consumption. When I was younger, I'd go through a 12 pack of soda a day. By the time I started seeing Dr B, it was down to a 12 pk a week. Now I might get through the equivalent of a 12 pack a month. I rarely drank alcohol, so the sugars in that weren't an issue. We discussed tea/coffee and the look on Dr B's face when I told him that I drank around a quart a day was priceless. He relaxed a bit when I told him that I drink my coffee/tea unsweetened, but said that the caffeine was not helping my blood pressure. That subject is one we agreed to disagree on- I told him that I wasn't giving up caffeine for anybody. Mom tried to decaffeinate me once in high school and my teachers were calling her within 3 days and begging her to fix whatever was wrong with me. It wasn't pretty. I have still managed to cut back on it- I drink a large glass of iced coffee at home and then drink iced green tea & water at work. Unless I've forgotten to brew my coffee or tea at home, and then I get a large coffee from Starbucks on my way in to work.
The harder part on the sugar consumption was cutting carbs. I was baking cookies for the officers on a fairly regular basis (and eating them) and I have a genetic pre-disposition to loving bread & cakes. (Dr B says there's no such thing, but I know better, having seen 4 generations of my mom's family descend on a bakery like a swarm of locusts) Noodles- thick chewy, doughy noodles are one of my favorite comfort foods, especially in winter weather. Not to mention that I love white rice, which is apparently the worst kind. This is an ongoing work-in-progress. I stopped baking cookies. (not just for this, but because it was getting expensive and people were demanding them instead of being grateful that I made whatever I made and brought in) I try to avoid bakeries, but Whole Foods makes some VERY good pecan rolls, brownies, breads, etc. Trader Joe's makes a chocolate kissed shortbread cookie that I can eat a whole tub of in one sitting. (And I'm guiltily admitting that there's half a tub of them on the desk beside me as I type this.) I eat less rice now than I used to, but it's still white rice. I just don't like brown rice.
And we're back to fruits/vegetables. I don't eat as much of either as I should. The fruits I like best tend to be high in sugar. Or I add sugar to them- apples are meant to be in a pie, dammit! LOL. My diabetes medication creates an interesting reaction with leafy vegetables, and we'll leave it at that. I eat salads, but not often because of that. I like spinach & kale, but they create the same issue.
So, I'm still struggling. Not going to give up though. I CAN do this. The weight didn't all appear in a day, and it's not going to go away in one either.