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Friday, February 06, 2009

Close call

Thursday morning, I went to the eye doctor's office for what I thought was a routine exam to confirm what I already knew, that it was time to get bifocals.

The ensuing four hours were far from routine.

In addition to the normal vision tests I've been doing since junior high, the folks at Belleville Optometry also did a retinal scan. When the doctor came in and decided he needed to do a blood pressure check, I was concerned.

It turned out that the retinal scan showed signs of elevated blood pressure. Instead of fitting me with glasses, he told me to get to an emergency room or urgi-health center immediately. After four hours of tests and medication at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, my blood pressure was down to where it needed to me.

During my four hours there, I was incredibly calm. I knew I had dodged a bullet, given my dad died 13 years ago from a massive stroke. I also knew some aspects of my life have to change -- now! So here's what I have to do:
  • Get out on the bike or the walking trails more often. Last year was an incredibly busy year. Planning for The Gerry Frierdich Road to Recovery Ride and the move of the Tour de Stooges from Lebanon, Ill., to Highland, along with bad weather, kept me off the bike during the spring. Teaching publication design at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and the incredibly long time I had to spend preparing for class -- the first class I ever taught -- cost me lots of great cycling time in the fall. I'll have more time for cycling and walking this year. We're not doing the Gerry ride this year, planning Tour de Stooges will be much easier this year since we're established in Highland, and if I return to SIUE to teach the publication design class, I'll be spending much less time on class preperation.
  • Eat healthier food and eat less of it. Since God gave me a body better suited for being an offensive lineman than an elite cyclist, I've struggled with my weight all my life. I also tend to eat out way too much. I have to modify my eating habits to shed those pounds.
  • Relax more. Designing the front page of a daily paper is a stressful job because of the daily deadlines and last-minute news stories, among other things. I need to develop some stress-reduction techniques to calm myself down.
I think we caught the problem early enough so I can do something about it. I'm confident I can lick this thing.

Oh, and as for the glasses, I am indeed getting a pair of bifocals in the next couple of weeks.

I got to go. I've got some exercise to do!

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