The Upward Slide

I own a new adjective: hypertensive.

It’s been over a week since I had the eye injection and the sight in my right eye is somewhat improved. It could be coincidence. It could be that time was going to take care of the problem. It could be the Avastin. It could be both.

The reason I can tell it’s better is because when I look at a straight line, the dip in the middle is now minimal. When I follow the line, it undulates as the dip moves along my line of vision. It’s a phenomenon that makes me want to say: Far out, Man.

Before, the line had a steep downward curve past the midline of my vision field. One reason I could not read with that eye, the words were distorted and blurred in the middle. Now I can make out the words, though they are still a little blurred and slightly curvy in the middle.

My new ophthalmologist was immediately concerned about my blood pressure. Though no vital signs were taken at his office, he wanted me to have it checked out. The ophthalmologist I’d been seeing for years never mentioned my blood pressure when he diagnosed me with a retinal hemorrhage. All he said was let me stick a needle in your eye. But this new doctor was persistent and I promised I would.

My BP ran around 110/60 for years and years. Even on the busiest, non-stop days at work, I hardly broke a sweat. “How do you stay so cool?” the other nurses would ask me. “Why raise your blood pressure?” I would respond.

And now, now that I am retired from all those adrenalin rushes and working at something I enjoy when I feel like it, NOW I get high blood pressure? I suppose a contributing factor could be the sedentary aspect of “ass in chair” that writers suffer. Perhaps a standing desk over a treadmill is in order. You’d think all the years on my feet would have immunized me against hypertension.

It took a few years for it to trend up. First 120’s, then 130s and now 140s/80s. I can’t say I didn’t notice it. All the while I was being seen by a doctor every two months for over TEN years. But no comment was made by either one of us. Vitals are taken as part of the ritual. Something to document. Something to prove you’re still around, heart beating. It’s amazing how tunnel vision develops and you end up focusing on one big thing.


That’s all we saw, every two months. RA and RA-related numbers. The irony is that RA is probably complicit in these numbers as well. All along, my up-and-coming hypertension was hiding in plain sight.

I’m now on Lisinopril 5 mg daily. “It’s a little dose,” my doctor said. He wants me in the 130s. And he wants to check it again in two weeks. He retook my blood pressure himself, with a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope, though the nurse had already taken it with the blood pressure machine. I liked that he did that. That’s how I started out taking blood pressures on my patients. The good old-fashioned way, where you can trust your own ears and not a mechanical object.

So, heads up: Learn your numbers and talk to your doctor about your blood pressure readings. Stay active and maintain a healthy weight. And if you love salt, cut it out! In all seriousness, I hope no one else has to worry about their BP.


8 thoughts on “The Upward Slide

  1. Wren

    So glad to know that your vision is improving, Irma! That just has to be scary, and I’m sorry you’ve had to go through it.

    I had to start BP medication (I take lisinopril, too, but my dose is a little higher than yours) back in November. My BP had done the same, slowly rising over time, mostly over the last three years or so. I blame my sedentary lifestyle, weight-gain, RA, and living with and caring for my elderly mother full-time. I’m hoping that as I change my ways–daily walking and exercise, smaller portions, jettisoned goodies–I’ll get to where I don’t need the medication anymore. But thank goodness its available! I certainly don’t want to have a stroke or heart attack, and I’m sure you feel just the same way.

    I hope you’re feeling good today, Irma. Sending you a warm hug and best wishes, as always. 😀

    1. Irma Post author

      Hi, Wren. I’m just amazed that it took an ophthalmologist to say: Look at your blood pressure. When they referred to the retinal hemorrhage as a “stroke” I didn’t like it, but that’s exactly what it was. And now I’m in the unusual position of being glad it happened. A warning sign. And then I wonder, what if we’d noticed the numbers before? Would I have needed a needle in the eye, or two or three. But it is what it is and all you can do is act to prevent any more surprises. I hope we both get to stop Lisinopril! Take good care, Wren.

  2. J.G. Chayko

    High blood pressure has been called the silent killer. Many with high blood pressure don’t have any symptoms. I spent my Valentine’s day in urgent care with my better half who had a scare with high blood pressure. Now we monitor and try to be more active. Glad to hear your sight is improving and that you are on treatment to prevent further issues from your blood pressure. Stay well.

    1. Irma Post author

      Hi, J. This certainly took me by surprise even though it was right in front of me! What a way to spend Valentine’s Day. I agree about being more active. That’s my goal every day now.

  3. Carla Kienast

    Irma: I’m glad the injection helped! (it’s tough to go through something like that, but “seeing” improvement afterward helps validate the decision. I am sorry that your blood pressure is up and it’s a good thing that you’re treating it, but I’m sorry that you have yet another health issue with which to deal. Sending hugs and warm thoughts your way.

    1. Irma Post author

      Hi, Carla. I’m sorta dreading the next eye doctor visit while at the same time looking forward to literally seeing more improvement. I’m just glad there’s a way to treat it even though it has to involve a needle! Hope you’re doing lots better.

  4. Kim

    First, I’m so glad you are recovering from your eye experience! The other day, I talked about your experience with my patient’s mom- my patient is having a chalazion looked at tomorrow, and they will most likely lance it. Darn thing has been there since January, and just won’t go away. Anyway, I think it made her parents feel better knowing that she most likely will only experience some discomfort during and after, and nothing too horrible.

    Also so glad you were on top of the BP before it got out of hand. My husband’s BP has always been good, but over the last year, began to creep up. He’s been dealing with chronic pain issues for just as long, and will be having surgery on his neck within the next few months. This past summer he had a discogram done that created a lot of post procedure pain. He ended up in the ER with chest pain and they spent 3 days chasing after a cardiac event. Turns out, it was not a a heart attack, but was all related to high BP. The doctors felt his uncontrolled pain caused his high BP. He’s now on a handful of medications for pain and BP. My point being (yes, I have a point), is that maybe those of us with RA may be susceptible to hypertension from all our pain we deal with.

    1. Irma Post author

      Hi, Kim. I’d never heard of a chalazion before. I hope that my experience did help to lessen their stress about the procedure and that it went well if they had to lance it. Pain can definitely make your BP go up, but when it’s sustained it’s a good thing to look into it. I should have spoken up sooner. I linked to a good article in my post about how hypertension is often overlooked in RA patients. In this case by the patient herself! Hope you are doing well.


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