The major stressor and the Gordian knot


Things get tied in knots; sometimes the only solution to a bad marriage is a divorce. But that applies in other situations:

Teacher/student – this teacher has it in for your kid, for whatever reason, and the only way the kid will survive is switching to a different teacher, or a different school.

Parent/child – the child must leave home to get away from a controlling parent OR the parent must eject the nestling which has turned into a cuckoo bird and is eating the family out of house and home.

Boss/employee – leave that job, if you can, before it eats your soul; fire that employee before she sets the factory on fire.

And one I’ve done once before, in many years in the system: if the main stressor in your life is a particular doctor, switch before they stress you into the heart attack they think they’re protecting you from.

The signs were many.

Doctors have different outlooks on life, differing way of using ‘guidelines,’ different bedside manners.

Because change is so hard for me and others with ME/CFS (usually entails MORE doctor visits, transferring of many records, finding the new person, hoping you don’t have an emergency until you’re comfortable with the new one, getting them to read all your paperwork…), we often stay too long with one who ‘at least fills out the Social Security paperwork.’ I don’t need that any more – but worrying about blowing a gasket (ie, stroke) from an occasional blood pressure spike is a sure way to spend your life worrying about your pressure, which RAISES it.

I had reached the point of considering my home BP measuring device an additional stressor, and the taking of the BP another. But I have friends who have had strokes, and it ain’t pretty.

It reached the breaking point a month or so ago when something (I have an idea now, but no proof) led me to have a BP spike DURING my semi-annual cardiologist visit, in their office. ONE measurement. They refused to take it again (to see if it would be coming down), and instead went to full alert.

Full speed ahead, man the torpedoes!

To make a very long story short, after having an abysmal experience with – and stopping after ten pain-filled, zombie-brained, gut-wrenching (lit.) days – another BP med, I switched cardiologists – to the one I just saw (and had met during one of my hospital excursions and noted he was a breath of fresh air then).

He says, not only don’t worry about it, but don’t measure it! He realized the process had become stressful, but that my record of measurements didn’t show a real problem. He suggested, since I need salt to maintain blood volume, and don’t follow a low-salt cardiac diet, that I might have had too much some night (yes, yes, yes! very possible – when I add salt to the occasional popcorn or nuts!). NO ONE had ever told me it could set off a spike.

He actually listened to my difficulties with tolerating meds, said I’d tried most of the first-line ones, and reacted badly, and that the next line of them would likely have even worse side-effects. But that he didn’t think I needed any.

I see him in six months, and the largest stressor on my list (death due to not taking the doctor-prescribed cardiac meds) vamoosed in a puff of smoke. Plus the secondary stress I was also ignoring: going to that office and that doctor. It’s subtle.

Changing was the right thing to do – and a serious object lesson: listen to your stress level. If a doctor constantly puts you on red alert, consider whether this is the best doctor for you. With the other one, I felt every time that I was defending myself from being put on medication I didn’t need.

Such a relief: I agree.

I should have listened. To myself. We’re not all alike; neither are they.

I was just worried the first one would prejudice the second one, and I would then have to go far afield to find… You can always stress yourself out.

And I learned that the salt I need may cause BP spikes. Good to know – will watch that more carefully.


13 thoughts on “The major stressor and the Gordian knot

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      All I’m doing now is telling myself NOT to second-guess him. I didn’t go in looking for the outcome I received; all I wanted was a saner approach to trying any more meds.

      This was great, above and beyond. I took husband – to make sure I wasn’t too much either way – and he was fine with the outcome (he’s been on meds over 20 years since a quadruple bypass, and several more stents). I’m fine – I think. It is a shock to the system to just stand down from defending against imminent catastrophe. Maybe that’s why I’m so tired: I’ve been fighting that battle for a long time now.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. J.M. Ney-Grimm

    … I switched cardiologists – to the one I just saw (and had met during one of my hospital excursions and noted he was a breath of fresh air then).

    I’m so glad you’ve found a good cardiologist who listens!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Me, too. So much garbage to dump. I spared him – he’s in the same practice, and that wouldn’t have been useful, any way. Different attitudes toward meds, maybe.

      But I’ve gone through an amazing amount of pain, IATROGENIC pain, and am happy not to do that right now.

      I can’t afford to keep losing so much time. I haven’t written much, and I’m too slow as it is.

      Wish I’d gotten him first – but would never have thought to try this particular guy. The extra stress was not helping. Not everyone can find a way to cut off a significant chunk like that, but I wish I’d listened to myself and done it sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. J.M. Ney-Grimm

        Understandable that you wish you’d found him sooner. I do, too, because it would have spared you a lot of pain and worry. But at least you found now, rather than a year from now!

        It just isn’t right when doctors are causing pain and suffering.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Thought I’d answered! As usual, in the pain I also learned that the problem may be the doctor, not the patient. I have absolutely no regrets – hope the other one is having good results with draconian methods which cause great stress, but I have bowed out, and the stress is considerrably lower – plus led to a VERY good visit with my primary a week later. Led directly, because my BP was fine, even after I had to keep correcting the BP-taking technique of the office nurse (?).

          Since each thing they do wrong can raise your BP, it is stupid of them not to have the proper technique. I have located the paper that explains it all:
          The Importance of Accurate Blood Pressure Measurement

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Two doctors, one female, one male. SAME practice, different offices (the new one is actually much CLOSER). Two completely different attitudes.

      The first one told me (against what I had learned from the literature) that from experience, from the ER, stopping the meds led to a massive heart attack. The second one told me that the guidelines often take years to catch up to the research (in the hospital last year, the one time we met before).

      I understand that people in general don’t pay as much attention to their doctors as the doctors would prefer – they call it non-compliance, as if we were toddlers. I understand women often get less aggressive care than men – and actually die at a higher rate if they have a heart attack – and their symptoms are often not taken as seriously.

      But treating a thousand people with powerful drugs for 5 years (or whatever the numbers are) to prevent one heart attack is overkill.

      And the first one made no attempt to help me deal with side effects, while the second one was very concerned about the side effects.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      It makes perfect sense – and I will watch it when I have those salt cravings, and take it MUCH easier on the intake. I needed a plausible explanation – and, as you say, control – to both handle it AND stop worrying about it. Obsessing raises BP, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. joey

    Oh, I knew that. I learned that when my friend had high BP after birth. Then I also learned that the amount of salt in cheddar cheese varies greatly per brand. (she’s a cheesehead) May I recommend No-Salt shakers? My FIL likes it, whereas some people, like my friend, took up Mrs. Dash.
    Have broken up with lovers, kid, doctor, jobs, and switched teachers for Sassy once, too. Boy is that one a story. Phew.
    Anyway, I sure hope this pans out for you.

    Liked by 1 person


Comments welcome and valued. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.