When I have the stroke, please let me go

Last week, I found out my potassium level was low. It was 3.1 (normal range, 3.5-4.5 mEq/L). I guess I didn’t realize how much this was affecting me—I’ve been extremely tired, even with 10 hours sleep every night, lots of pain/cramping in both legs, and jarring palpitations, noticed mainly when I’m trying to fall asleep. This has happened before, this same constellation of symptoms, the same lab value, but somehow, I didn’t make the connection. Also, my blood pressure has been running high. I made an appointment to see my new PCP because of the blood pressure. I didn’t even mention the other symptoms. I don’t know why.  My potassium is probably low because I am taking a diuretic, one of three medications I take for my blood pressure. Correction: now, after seeing the doctor, I’m taking 4 medications.  She suggested adding yet another drug.

What I don’t understand is how I can feel so bad without doing something about it. Without even seeming to know that perhaps there is something I could do to feel better. I know that I haven’t been walking or going to yoga, it’s been all I can do to drag myself to work and drag myself home to bed, or stay at home on my days off, reading. My body is tired, I interpret that I am lazy. I assume that this is normal, I call myself an old lady.

So I’m increasing the dose of my potassium supplement. I hope I feel better. But when I was leaving the doctor, who doesn’t know me at all, I said, wryly (I suppose), I know how this is going to go. I’d like to be more hopeful, but gosh, how can a person taking 4 medications for high blood pressure think otherwise. I told her that I have an advanced directive, that when I have a stroke, I really don’t want to struggle to recover, just let me go. Please.

She wished me a happy new year. And I in turn wish the same for you.

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3 Responses to When I have the stroke, please let me go

  1. chella courington says:

    i was quite taken by this piece. the accepting, passed-youth-into-not just-middle age-but-older voice. i know that voice and that worry about the body. i am reminded of virginia woolf. she said that we don’t write enough about illness. mrs. dalloway is a novel shaped by illness & aging with cameos of clarissa’s vision of her older self in windows and on corners. this piece has that lyricism and self-reflective depth of woolf. thank you.

  2. Thank you Chella, I have been trying to start a new blog here for many months, without a clear idea of what I want to blog about. Illness and death is what I know about. You’ve given me great encouragement to plod on …

  3. aileen says:

    So, this is where you are. This piece is terrific. I am still doing what you taught me to do, still in the Bronx, but at North Central Bronx, a city hospital. I am also older, not too sure about the wiser. I have, however, been sitting zazen, a type of Buddhism, that involves silently sitting facing the wall for the past 20 years, which gives some understanding about the workings of the mind. Isn’t it amazing that even with all of our “knowledge” and “experience” we get caught by side effects, untoward effects, illness, aging, and inattentive medical professionals…if we can’t manage, how do our pts do it?

    It is good to know you are still practicing, both as a nurse practitioner and a writer. I still have your gyn book.

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