I walked to my car with a prescription for blood pressure medication in my hand and felt like an absolute failure. After more than a year of monitoring my blood pressure and trying to lower the numbers, my blood pressure wasn’t better - in fact, it was worse, and I’d spent 6 weeks off work praying it would drop. I’d modified my diet, worked out more, worked out less and done everything I could to try to bring it down myself.
But I couldn’t.
When I went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription, I had a lot of questions for the pharmacist - but it turned out, she had a lot for me! She thought there was an error with the prescription. I don’t look like your typical hypertensive patient: I’m young (under 30), fit, and slim, and have no other medical conditions or medications that would cause hypertension. I don’t smoke, I’m not heavy drinker, and have few (if any) of the typical risk factors for high blood pressure. And yet, my blood pressure averages 150/95.
After confirming with the pharmacist that I was who I said I was, and that, yes, my doctor had prescribed blood pressure medication, I left the pharmacy with a strange sense of sadness. It’s irrational, I know, and yet I still can’t shake the feeling that my body has let me down.
And since hypertension rarely has any symptoms (that’s why it’s called the silent killer!), I wouldn’t have known my pressure was high had I not been in front of my doctor so many times with a pre-cancerous condition last year.
The only thing harder to swallow than that first 80 mg valsartan tablet was the knowledge that I’m a hypertensive patient and this medication is part of my new routine, though I’ll admit it was easier to swallow than the 160 mg tablet I was upgraded to a month later when my pressure was still too high.
Being told you need a medication to manage your health is overwhelming - especially when you work hard to lead a healthy lifestyle and identify as a “healthy” person (I actually self-identify as an athlete because I train hard, year-round as a runner). Accepting that you need medication - probably for the rest of your life - to manage your health isn’t easy.
But here’s the thing: sometimes you do everything right and your health still goes wrong because that’s just how your body is wired. Genetics and hormones and age affect things despite the best diet and fitness plans.