It was a headache that felt like there was no more room for pain. It felt like it would just burst open my skull and let loose some pain. Nausea made worse by driving on jam-packed EDSA two hours short of midnight—I felt like a dying candle flame, a flicker short of putting out the light. Cubao was still too far away from home. I felt I should just endure the very heavy head else I would add to EDSA’s vehicle procession. And I did.
As soon as I reached home, I headed for the toilet to induce myself to vomit. I thought it would relieve me and let me sleep the pain off. Without fuss, I went straight to bed and dozed off. The next morning, my watch told me I slept for a full eight hours. Good, I told myself, and hoped the headache was gone.
It wasn’t. At this point, seeing a physician should be in order I thought. I did. I described to him what I felt that night. Listening to me, I was sure he already had a hunch what was happening to me. I told him: “I suspect it had something to do with my blood pressure.” He checked and he said: 170/100. Very high, he said. Then he performed some basic tests, perhaps to tell us if there had been damage. As far as he told me, I was okay. Except that a blood pressure that high is of concern. “Anything above 140 is alarming.”
I was indeed alarmed. I thought to myself: I was fortunate to have not had a stroke that night.
Two weeks of medication, a blood work up, and watching my diet gave me good results when I saw my doctor again. My BP was at 130/90, which was still not down to my normal 120/80.
I am already hypertensive, he said. Another month of medication, after which I should visit him again.
Things I should avoid, he told me: stress, fatty food, salt, sugar. Get a hobby, he told me. Get my mind off stressful thoughts. Only then that I realized that three days of watching the news, monitoring status entries in Facebook, and getting text messages on typhoon Ondoy’s wrath did me bad. It was the anxiety that brought me the stress, and perhaps consequently the hypertension attack.
I am more mindful now. It was a close call. I can’t afford to be complacent. I am turning 47 in a few days and I thought it would be a good gift to myself to watch what I eat, watch what I watch, watch what I listen to, and watch what I do.
Grateful I am.