Having previously missed out on getting a 'book on the day' GP appointment by telephoning for one at eight o'clock, I walked to the surgery and waited for the doors to open, to get a 10.00am slot, to learn about findings from what was, in my opinion, an unsatisfactory 24 hours spent with a blood pressure monitoring device, during which it made many more efforts to take readings at odd times when it wasn't programmed to.
After breakfast I returned to meet another doctor, not the one who'd commissioned the use of the device, and got the usual lecture about my systolic reading being too high, which I knew anyway, as it's been like that for years. He urged me to accept extra medication to treat the condition 'aggressively' to get that reading down, to avoid a fatal stroke or heart attack, and was evidently displeased when I questioned the value of the readings provided by the device.
I was surprised to learn that I've been on blood pressure medication for eleven years, since that fateful year when the closure of St James' Tredegarville church became inevitable, and I was left to pick up all the piece and dispose of the contents prior to sale, one of the most stressful times of my entire life.
In all those years, I have never had chest pains, headaches, seizures of any kind, nor dizzy spells, nor the kind of physical symptoms associated with so called 'mini-strokes', only an occasional nose bleed. One or two early hypertension drug trials, not to mention statins did give me unpleasant side effects, and I had to insist on trying something else instead. I know my blood pressure is high, and have done everything I can to get it down naturally, weight loss, alcohol reduction, diet and exercise, relaxation. Little has changed. I'm a decade older, and blood pressure tends to go up anyway as you get older. You can't win. Nosotros somos todos mortales, like it or not. So why the big worry?
The contemporary epidemic of longevity is resulting in a major medical, social and economic crisis. Doctors furrow their brows and write notes about problem patients no doubt, if you challenge their world view that more must to be done to prolong lives drawing to a close. Can they cope with the idea that life is a gift to be cherished and eventually relinquished naturally, not a mechanism to be maintained as long as possible?
To be fair, it's not a digital equation. A stroke or a coronary, even if untreated may not end life but prolong it, with lengthy and expensive treatment and years of infirmity. So, reducing the risk is reducing the medical bill, maybe. The statistics are very complex, so risks and costs will, in any case vary, from person to person. Having a decent conversation about this range of issues with medics working hard to deliver a service in limited time slots is impossible. At least I can debate with myself in this blog.
Anyway, I conceded to a month's trial of a supplementary medication before I next leave for Spain, to get some idea if I'd have adverse reactions to the drug, before leaving the country. Our local pharmacy is opposite the surgery now, so I submitted the prescription immediately and had a interesting and quite reassuring conversation with the pharmacist. He's engaged on a research project into hypertension medication, and needed an opportunity to discuss with me the drugs I've taken for the past decade, as I'm a regular customer. Now it's a question of getting on with the new regime of pills, and seeing whether or not it makes any difference.
Meanwhile, back on the streets, I collected forty four items of litter walking to the surgery and back. The haul included several beer glasses carried away by drinkers and dumped some distance from the pub in question. Considering I walked the same route to church at eight o'clock yesterday collecting just ten items, the increase represents mainly Sunday leisure time consumption. Later I went to Pontcanna Fields, and collected a staggering eighty one pieces of litter, mostly from one large football pitch area. One particularly telling indication of the culprits was a line of half a dozen Lucozade Sports energy drinks just behind one pitch touchline, plus the plastic packaging which had held bottles together prior to sale. I try to avoid feelings of outrage at this defilement of public space by careless self-centred people whatever their age. I just feel a lot better when I can rest my eyes on a cleaned up sea of green.
At the end of the morning I had a call from Ashley to take him to Chepstow again, as a follow up from last Friday's visit. I picked him up from the CBS office with another batch of radios for inspection, and we went there and back again in three hours. Getting home from the office took far longer than I would normally expect. Traffic going out of two at four thirty was very slow moving. After an early supper I set off across town again for the evening Mass at St German's, and thankfully the roads were clearer and traffic was free flowing again. There were half a dozen of us at worship, and once more, I enjoyed expounding the scriptural texts freely and spontaneously, rather than preaching a prepared homily. It's not because I didn't have time to write one, but more that I wanted to explore spending time on the texts in situ with a small group of faithful people I know quite well. Will it make a difference?