Yesterday mum went to get her blood pressure checked and her doctor produced something that looked like a 1950s bicycle pump and started puffing away as if he was blowing up a life raft (evidently digital equipment hasn’t made it to the British health services yet). He is a kindly young man, eager to find a solution to mum’s problem; her blood pressure is now sky-high (the systolic is over 200 and has been for several months). During her triple bypass surgery in september 2013, the anesthetic and drugs needed for the operation taxed her kidneys so badly they pushed her into acute kidney failure, which in turn drove her habitual high blood pressure even higher.
12 years ago I thought she was at death’s doorstep. She was blue in the face, too weak to talk or walk and her blood pressure was sky high. I came back from the US for 6 weeks to see if I could help and in desperation tried the Julian Whitaker Reversing Hypertension diet. It worked so quickly and so well that within 6 weeks the hypertension specialist thought he must have made a mistake in his diagnosis. For years afterwards mum’s blood pressure stayed in the safe level. She went to the gym, played golf, traveled abroad. But gradually she got back to eating her favorite foods (the white carbs – bread, pasta, potatoes, white rice, jam, cake) sprinkled in amongst a largely healthy fish, chicken, lamb, fruit and vegetables diet, and her blood pressure crept back up. She tried hypertension drugs, but reacted badly to all of them (muscle pains, nightmares, edema, extreme fatigue) and so from time to time I would pop home and we would do the diet again. But like Laura, my mum has a passion for sugary things, so staying on any diet that excludes sugar is hard.
We are all hoping that once more the diet will work (it may be trickier now her kidneys are functioning so poorly). But in back up we have the nifty little Resperate machine, which is approved by the US and UK governments (and by the Mayo clinic) to reduce blood pressure more than any of the usual drugs simply by entraining breathing. Mum tried it 2 years ago and consistently got her blood pressure down to 120/75. Alternative cures require constant effort. Not everyone is cut out for it. But I will do what I can. The rest is up to mum. Fortunately before I embark on another medical adventure, I am going to sit in the sun for two weeks and rest. My parents, my sister’s family and I are headed off to Puglia in Italy tomorrow. And not a moment too soon.