January 24, 2016

This Advice -- "In Case of Blizzard, Do Nothing" -- Works for a Perceived Health Crisis

My house -- Nimesh shoveled the  walk

My Car -- You can tell it's a Honda Fit, right?

Saturday's New York Times carried David Dudley's op-ed piece titled "In Case of Blizzard, Do Nothing." I enjoyed reading it while sitting in my favorite living room chair and looking to my left at the blazing logs in the fireplace and to the right at the huge pile of snow that completely covered my car parked on my unplowed street

Dudley's wrapped up his column this way:

Cities need blizzards every few years to flush out incompetents, expose incipient dysfunction and generally stress-test the fabric of civilization. Like war, illness and poker, snow ruthlessly reveals true character. 
And, gloriously if briefly, it hides everything else — the plastic grocery bags and mini-marts and dog poop and salt-grimed Toyotas and sundry disorder of modernity. Watching the quotidian American crudscape transform into a fairy-tale kingdom is a legitimate wonder. Name another disaster that leaves the afflicted region more attractive in its wake. 
I’ve never quite lost my amazement at this phenomenon, the suddenness with which the familiar vanishes and a new, better landscape appears. Time has partly buried my childhood memories of Buffalo’s mighty blizzard of 1977, but I still recall the hallucinogenic dislocation of the great drifts that climbed over houses, the spectacle of a world made thrillingly new. It’s a vision that seems freshly haunting now, as we face the dread prospect of a climate changed by human appetites — the future winters, soggy and snowless, that await us all. Before it’s too late, let us all now pause, perhaps over a six-pack, and bear witness as the climate changes us.
"Do Nothing" Also Worked on a Health "Crisis"
One of my major health concerns for the past couple of years has been the spikes in my blood pressure (BP) that occur as the most recent Parkinson's pill (carbidopa-levodopa) loses its effectiveness before the new pill kicks in.

My internist has his assistant take a single blood pressure reading at my quarterly visits. When he sees the high numbers, he gives me a prescription for a blood pressure med (or two). I take dozens of readings on my home monitor during the same time frame that clearly show the blood pressure spikes coinciding with the "off" periods in the Parkinson's meds. So I'm not taking the prescribed BP med. Instead, I'm working with another doctor reputed to be one of the area's top experts on blood pressure... and on other non-pharmaceutical ways of dealing with it.

The blizzard of 2016 was scheduled to arrive in DC late afternoon Friday. For much of the week. I'd been having more blood pressure problems than usual. I was getting some spikes over 200 systolic (the upper number)... usually because I forgot to take my Parkinson's med on time. I was also experiencing drops in the systolic reading below 100 from erratic incidences of orthostatic hypotension.

The unusually high spikes last week started late afternoon and continued until bedtime. The tension in my gut that accompanied these incidents was keeping me from getting much sleep at night. On Thursday, I had a particularly bad night.

I worried that the problem seemed to be worsening, What if I had a real emergency over the blizzard weekend when it might be impossible to get emergency treatment?

I reviewed my options:
  1. I could take the BP med that my internist had prescribed and that was in an unopened pill bottle in my medicine cabinet.
  2. I could call my internist and/or my blood pressure guy and ask for advice.
  3. I could do a Google search on my own to locate an over-the-counter supplement that might ease the gut tensions.
  4. I could do nothing other than make better use of my home remedy -- meditation.
I tried calling both doctors but, given the weather forecasts, neither was expected in the office on Friday. I decided against taking the prescribed BP med or searching for other pill solutions. I've often found that taking a new pill results in side effects that outweigh any benefits. And I was reminded of my daughter's recent experience of damn near dying from the side effects of a new BP prescription.

Dudley's "do nothing" advice doesn't really describe how I handled the situation. True, I did nothing new. But I did make a determined effort to (1) take my PD meds on time and (2) step up the frequency and duration of  my meditations. 

Guess what? I'm feeling much better and sleeping much better.

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