I didn't have a very good night last night. I spent the better part of it (from midnight until 4:30am) enjoying the gracious hospitality of the Emergency Department at Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County.
I didn't feel very well all day yesterday, but nothing serious I supposed. I blamed it on the mating season of the local Pine trees. Pine tree sperm has always given me a stuffy head and disoriented type of feeling.
I left work a little early and came home to rest a while. Around 6:00 I called my friend Nancy and asked if her and the little red-haired girl had eaten yet. They hadn't so we all trekked into Kohler for dinner at Garfield's, a local restaurant with a long history here, where I had a typical dinner of hamburger steak (medium rare) with salad and a 'tater.
After dinner we went to her house to sit and relax a bit, but along around 10:30 when I should have been considering getting home to bed, I began to feel extremely strange. All of my extremities seemed to have gone on strike. No, I was not paralyzed, or even numb. But instead my body's reactions to my brains commands seemed to be re-routed via long distance. And it was a lousy, staticky connection at that. Add in a very stiff neck, and legs that seemed to move on their own with no input from me, and you begin to think about the "S" word. That's right, the primary subject on my mind right then was stroke. My mind kept replaying the current Public Safety Announcement you hear these days on the radio which says "Time lost is brain lost". Now, folks, I killed enough brain cells in the '70s and early '80s. Even though I feel I was just "weeding out the weak ones" then, I don't really care to lose anymore now.
Before too long I became worried enough about the situation that I asked Nancy to call 911. Even though I was sure I could drive myself the 4 miles to the hospital, or at least ride with Nancy, I was lucid enough not to try either. I knew that if I arrived in the back of one of the City of Martinsville's shiny white and blue rescue vehicles, along with a couple of firemen in uniform to vouch for me, I would be taken right on in. If, on the other hand, I came walking in through the front door I knew I was destined to wait in the front room until who knows when.
Of course, upon my arrival at MHMHC, I was asked to describe what was wrong with me. Hell, I don't know. I just don't feel like me! There is an evil person with a remote control device messing with my arms, legs, and feet! Disconnect him, and I'll be fine, OK? Where's my tin-foil hat when I really need it? "What's the frequency Kenneth?" was actually beginning to make sense to me.
Fortunately, the excellent staff at Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County went right to work on breaking the remote control link. They also stuck in an IV drip, and took out more blood than I really thought they needed. They hooked up a blood pressure monitor that squeezed the hell out of my right arm on a fairly regular basis. They sent in a really cute girl to hook up an EKG. (That did not make much sense to me, an EKG should always be done by the ugliest male nurse on staff.) Hell, her eyes alone increased my heart rate by 20%.
The final diagnosis, by Dr.Bruce Mazurek, was that I had an extremely high blood pressure reading, for an extended time. In his words, I was within an hour or less of actually having the stroke I had feared earlier.
So, today is Friday. I didn't go to work. Instead I went to CVS and got a prescription for Norvasc filled. I've also been online this afternoon exploring changes I should make in my diet. In a comment on this site I was recently described as "cool, calm, and collected" (somebody dated themselves quite precisely, by the way, with that quote from a 1970's television commercial). That is an accurate description. People I work with are impressed with my ability to maintain my composure regardless of what is happening around me. I do have a stressful job, but I don't feel at all that the stress has contributed to this. I'm certain it is related more to my diet.
At 198 pounds,I'm not overweight (much). As proof, the photo of me that can be found with just a little bit of searching this page is fairly recent. But I am a southern guy. I like my chicken fried, I like my gravy, I like vegetables cooked to within an inch of their life, preferably in some sort of fat.
My research today has led me to what is called the DASH diet. I'm sure I can follow this regimen, especially if it means I won't have to experience last night/this morning all over again. But, I have noticed that nowhere on this diet does it list a serving of eggs. Not even once a week! I can have grits. I can have pancakes, I can even have hashbrowns. But what good are any of those without a gloriously runny egg or two?