How I handle the low blood pressure that accompanies my Parkinson’s
Discovering how greater hydration can help prevent inadvertent 'naps'
My husband, John, was leaning over me and saying, “What happened?”
I looked up at him and said, “Why?” What I was trying to say is, “Why did you wake me up?” But I couldn’t get the words out.
Then my arms, which hadn’t tremored since my deep brain stimulation device was turned on almost two years ago, started rising in front of me, as if a magician were conjuring a rabbit out of a hat. That’s when I realized that this gorgeous deep sleep I was having was on top of all the shoes and boots in our mud room. It wasn’t an afternoon nap; I’d passed out.
I’d always thought low blood pressure was a good thing. That may be because John has a family history of high blood pressure. In fact, one of our fun family routines is taking and comparing our blood pressures; we get great pleasure from this decidedly weird activity. John usually declares me dead at some point and checks to make sure I’m breathing. Oh, we’re easily amused!
Parkinson’s and certain Parkinson’s drugs can lower blood pressure. I spoke to my neurologist about my “nap,” and she asked me how I’d felt before I went down. That’s when I realized that not everybody gets a head rush when they stand up, nor do they have a buzzing in their ears or get so off balance they fling themselves across the room when they get out of bed. It’s good to talk to people and figure out what “normal” is.
My neurologist recommended a few changes; the main one was staying more hydrated. Drinking more water is easy, especially since I’ve bought some tablets and powders to make it taste more interesting. I make sure that I drink water while I exercise, and in between exercising, I usually go for tea or coffee because caffeine is apparently good for us folk with low blood pressure.
In the snack department, I always like coffee with a muffin, though; with water, it’s different. And inviting friends over for water doesn’t have the same appeal.
We eat healthfully, especially since John had a heart attack a few years ago. Low-fat, low-salt, fresh veggies, fish, and vegetarian meals are our go-to. That low salt thing probably isn’t doing me any favors, however, so recently, I’ve started salting my own food again. It feels strange, but I really don’t want to be caught napping on top of the boots and shoes again!
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