For a multitude of reasons, I have spent more time visiting the doctor in the last year and half then I have in the previous 45 years combined. Asthma, allergies, skin infections, eye irritations, running injuries. I feel like I’m visiting a medical facility a couple times a week (in the last week of April and the first week of May, I was at a medical facility six times).
At most of those appointments, I have my vitals taken. Temperature, weight, blood oxygen level, blood pressure. And at nearly every one of those appointments, my blood pressure has been too high. Typically, in the doctor’s office, my blood pressure is 140 to 150/85 to 96.
I have been on blood pressure medication since 2017. In 2019, when I was deep into training for the Chicago Marathon and newly sober, my BP at my annual physical was 132/84. Still high, but moving in the right direction. My doctor was encouraged, even with my BP still a little elevated, and said if things kept trending in the right direction, I may be able to ditch the meds.
Clearly, they have not.
In the nearly two years since that discussion about ditching my meds, I have been injured a few times and picked up some pretty bad eating habits. I’m not as active as I was in 2019 (I’m still sober though) and I rediscovered a love for salty chips, frozen pizza, and ham and cheese sandwiches. I did not stop taking a pill every morning for my blood pressure, instead I’m taking two (I was taking 5 MG of lisinopril, that has been increased to 10).
There is a good chance, because of my family history, that I will be taking meds for my blood pressure for the rest of my life. My doctor told me I may not be able to outrun my heredity.
It is because of that family history that I know I need to take this seriously. Being healthy isn’t just a matter of wanting to be a good runner, it is about avoiding heart disease that has touched too many people I love. If I don’t change my diet, stay on my meds and lower my blood pressure, I’m facing a future of heart problems I do not want to think about.
I’m trying to do better. I no longer buy chips when I do my weekly grocery shopping and I don’t eat ham and cheese sandwiches every day for lunch. I’m eating more salads, more oatmeal and I’m trying to make my snacks healthier. I’m also trying to be more active. That should improve once I start physical therapy and once I’m fully vaccinated (May 14) and feel comfortable enough to go back to the gym.
This will all help me be a better runner and being a better runner should help me get healthier. When I’m feeling good and able to train, it is easier to keep my diet dialed in (though it has always been a struggle), and hopefully keep my blood pressure in check.
I’m 47 years old and I can’t ignore this stuff anymore. I spent the better part of my 20s and 30s treating my body like shit. I just can’t do that anymore.