Monthly Archives: January 2019

Hypertension by Anni Dahms

In panic, I call my son five minutes to midnight on a Sunday evening. Luckily, he isn’t far away. With terror in my voice I tell him that I can’t breathe and that he must call an ambulance.

He quickly calls 112 and explains the situation, all whilst my breathing is getting worse and worse. He calls again, and they calm him and inform him that they will arrive shortly.

Ten minutes after the first call, three large paramedics arrive, who quickly assess how severe the situation is. One of them starts to give me oxygen, whilst the others move the furniture out of the way, so they can move me into the ambulance. I was told all of this later, my only focus at the time was to continue breathing.

My son was instructed, in the ambulance, that he could follow them in his car, as long as he drove in a proper manner. Somewhat jokingly they said they didn’t want anymore accidents.

In the ambulance I’m given the most wonderful oxygen, which is the only thing I perceive. I hear the driver ask if they should speed up, but the guy who is next to me says “no – put on some music”.

The whole process was very calming and professional. I wish I knew the names of the three men, so I could bring them a box of chocolate and a bottle of wine. I sadly don’t know how to reach them. If any of them should happen to read this, they should know that they are more than welcome to visit the store in Los Boliches, as I would love to thank my three heroes.

I’m expected when I arrive at the hospital Costa del Sol, everything is ready for me. I’m transferred from the stretcher into the bed, with the help of moving mattresses, which I hardly notice. The treatment is completely professional here as well. An IV drip is administered, I’m given different injections, and X-rays are taken. The oxygen mask is also changed and becomes permanent.

The diagnosis is, that my heart, due to some conduction disturbances and an elevated blood pressure level, had filled my lungs with water, therefore I couldn’t breathe.

When the first aid was completed, I was taken to intensive care and my shocked son had in the meantime informed the entire family, who were permitted to come in.

I laid in intensive care for around a day, and was attended by a cardiologist and another doctor. I demanded to be sent home, whilst wearing my oxygen mask and being hooked up to all kinds of IV drips! I suddenly felt that it was unbearable to lie in the hospital. The treatment was again very professional. One of the doctors told me, that my health was very poor, but if I insisted, then would always treat me if I returned. My son and I discussed it, and we both thought that the doctors were very skillful, so I decided to stay for further tests. Afterwards I was taken to the cardiology department.

Hypertension

Hypertension is one of the most common illnesses in the western world and it brings along a severe risk of heart attack, kidney disease, eye disease and strokes. Hypertension is the most common cause of strokes and blood clots in the brain. It is the blood pressure that decides how hard the heart needs to work, and pump the blood around in the body. The blood pressure is measured with many different devices, as the systolic and the diastolic, meaning when the heart is resting and when it’s working. The condition of the heart is approximated from these measurements. There are often no symptoms of hypertension but in some cases, may occur a slight headache and/or a flickering before the eyes. So, it might be a good idea to have your blood pressure measured on a regular basis. The heart can handle the increasing work for many years, but with time it will eventually fail. 

The diet

I now have a huge wish that, the food and drink would be prioritized substantially higher in the hospital. While I laid in intensive care, I received plenty of oxygen, so my mouth and throat were completely dry. I also got sores in my throat. I was fasting in case something might happen, which made perfect sense to me. As a former nurse I would like to offer an hours’ worth of free education in nursing, on how to handle patients with permanent oxygen masks. The loveliest nurse came, after my request, with a pack of wet gauze. It was like the most wonderful champagne. When I succeeded in drawing the attention of the nurses, by shouting, which by the way was quite difficult, they only brought a syringe of water, which hardly made the gauze wet.

During my young days as a nurse, we were always allowed to give the patient a small ice cube they could suck on.

When my fast was over, I was finally permitted to eat again, before leaving intensive care. I opened the two bowls, filled with joyful expectation. One of them was a gooey overcooked fish, and the other was a large bowl of curry rice without a single piece of meat. Even though I was hungry I just couldn’t eat anything. With dry humor, I convinced myself that it would probably be healthier to continue the fast. As a trained nutritionist I freely make myself available to whomever is in charge of the food budget. In my understanding, the food should provide you with nutrition to better your overall health. I assume hospitals exits to better people’s health, not to worsen it.

The manager of the section, a beautiful and empathic man, made sure that I was given a bed as quickly as possible.

I was transferred to a two-bed room. My neighbour was an amazingly friendly Andalusian woman, around the same age as me. Despite our large cultural differences, we quickly connected. There were no communication difficulties, because of the steady supply of oxygen, which I had available until shortly before I was released, my brain was working at maximum capacity, and I could remember all the Spanish verbs and words I hadn’t used in years.

I will never forget her. She was very concerned about my poor appetite. She thought the food was wonderful and proudly ate all of it. Happy and in a pleasant mood the whole time.

I had to get my coronary arteries examined and had to sign an agreement, stating that I was fully aware of the risks involved. My neighbour overheard it and quickly crocheted a bracelet for me, shaped like a rosary. Love without limits.

Recommendable diet

If you suffer from hypertension, then eat your food without adding additional salt. Many people pour salt on their food without even tasting it first. If you’re a coffee drinker, don’t make it too strong and reduce the number of daily cups.

Avoid foods with white sugar and sodas, even the artificial ones.

You will benefit from eating garlic and onions every day, they reduce the risk of heart attack and strokes.

Only consume small amounts of alcohol. You should consume a maximum of 1 – 2 glasses of wine and remember to drink plenty of water in between.

Vegetables are filled with antihypertensive dietary fibers, so eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Let nuts become a part of your daily diet.

Ease up on the dairy products and choose the low-fat ones.

Eat fish and cold fish cuts. Eat potatoes, wholegrain rice, and wholegrain pasta.

Quench your thirst with water and herbal teas.

Medication

Luckily the examination of my coronary arteries, showed that they were surprisingly healthy. Hence my doctor saw no reason to conduct further tests on my heart and blood pressure. I was administered quite a bit of medication, which I take with the utmost gratitude, even though I normally don’t consume any medications. I get a diuretic medication, betablockers that aids the heart’s work, and of course antihypertensive medication. I intend to take them, at least until my next control and then we will see what the cardiologist has to say.

I feel fine on the medication and I also take my normal daily dietary supplements.

Dietary supplements

  • It’s great to take certain herbal remedies in tea form, such as linden tree flowers, which expands the blood vessels and thereby lowers the blood pressure.
  • Dandelion works as a diuretic and lowers the amount of liquid in circulation, which in turn lowers your blood pressure.
  • Eat ginger daily.
  • Consume stevia, but it should be the entire plant, which also has blood pressure lowering qualities.
  • Take a vitamin-B supplement, which has all the different vitamin-Bs.
  • Make sure to get an extra magnesium supplement.
  • Supplement with quality omega-3 oils.
  • Get lecithin, possibly as a sunflower extract.
  • A Q10 of high quality must not be forgotten.
  • Garlic also lowers your blood pressure.
  • Hawthorn is one of my absolute favourites. I love the liquid hawthorn called Craetagisan. After the above-mentioned experience it has earned a new permanent spot on my night stand. It has been of great help to me earlier, when my heart was causing me trouble. It is an excellent remedy against weak heart muscles and hypertension. It’s completely safe.

I only have a slight idea of what might have caused my heart attack. It has been a teachable moment for me, and I will never again take life for granted. I have no private health insurance, but I’ve learned that the Spanish public healthcare system, functions amazingly in emergency situations. I have nothing but admiration for how the entire medical system worked.

The nurses were wonderfully compassionate and exact. You could trust their timing and medication.

The three days of bedrests, with catheter and plastic linen, were unfortunately enough for me to develop bedsores on my bum. I was bed bathed every day, which was very lovely, but a tiny bit of massage on my bottom, could’ve kept me from developing the sores. The girls seemed more interested in applying plenty of perfume on me. I’m a natural redhead, which means that my skin is quite delicate. Given that I’ve been a nurse, I would love to give them a small lesson on preventing decubitus ulcers (bedsores).

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