Friday, February 06, 2009

To your health

It's winter in California and the rain has finally arrived. At least we've had two days in a row with more than a few drops. We're still in drought conditions and will probably have to conserve water this summer. For now, I'm just enjoying the rain on the roof.

I was also thinking about my health. I have a daily regimen of vitamins to accompany the one prescription medication I need. If I have the slightest hint of the blahs, I tend to figure out what the problem might be and solve it myself:
Sniffles? What or who have I been exposed to?
Sore throat? Who else has one?
General achy body? Could be the arthritis gene acting up in the damp weather or it could be the onset of a winter cold.
Whatever the symptoms, I handle them myself.

The important thing I learned a long time ago was to listen to my body. Stress will override the calm I need to listen so if I feel stressed, I need to stop it immediately. After studying biofeedback and taking aikido for five plus years, I have conditioned my body to relax. My breathing will slow, my pulse will slow, my blood pressure will drop, and I will be calm.

Whenever I donated pheresis (white blood cells, not whole blood) at the blood center or Red Cross and I rushed in for my appointment from my job, sometimes my blood pressure would be too high for a safe donation. I would ask for a minute or two and then it was fine. Once I had the tech taking my pulse and slowed it five beats while she was looking at her watch. "Stop that!" she laughed.
"What would you like it to be?"
"72 would be nice."
A minute later, it was 72. She shook her head.
I can't do that every time but I can come close.
The best part of donating pheresis is the terrific feeling I have after. Usually, I donate a double while watching a video. Two people can be helped. I know I have taken good care of my blood and a patient, perhaps a child, will have highly oxygenated, vitamin-enriched blood to fight their disease and place them in remission. It's happened before. When I worked at the blood center, I had the opportunity to take my donation along with others and deliver it to the local hospital. I tracked its use and it went to a child, a little boy with leukemia. He was in remission shortly after. You can imagine the smile on my face as I checked the computer and thought, "I did that."

When you find yourself rushing around or stressing, take the time to stop, sit and calm yourself. Stress can cause more problems than a temporary rise in blood pressure. If you're feeling a little depressed and if you can donate, find your local Red Cross and do so.

Take time for yourself. Take a nap. Curl up with a good book. Have a cup of green tea with honey and lemon. Treat yourself to a cookie or that piece of chocolate. Your health will improve, your attitude will improve, and you can avoid a visit from the winter cold demon--or worse.

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