I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but I have high blood pressure. I've had it since I was 26. Here's the story:
I was living in Los Angeles at the time, and went to my eye doctor for my yearly eye exam so I could get a year's worth of new contacts. The eye doctor, to this day, is the only doctor I make it a point to see on a yearly basis, because without him/her, I have to wear my glasses, which doesn't work for me. For some reason, this eye doctor checked my blood pressure. I've never had an eye doctor do it before or since, but he did, and he told me my blood pressure was high, and it was strange, and I should see a doctor. At the time, I weighed about 130, and at 5'6", there were no outwardly reasons why my blood pressure should be reading high. I didn't have a doctor at the time, because I never went to the doctor, so I found one, and went to her. She ran every test imaginable on me to determine why my blood pressure was high. All tests came back that I was perfectly healthy. In the end, she determined it must just be genetic. My dad had outragouesly high blood pressure -- his upper number was regularly in the 200s. Mine, unregulated goes around 140/100, to this day. Obviously quitting smoking would help, but none of my doctors that I've seen attribute it solely to my smoking. They want me to quit, but they don't blame it on that. I just have high blood pressure. Thanks, dad.
Since then, I've been on 20mg of Lotensin a day. It works and brings me to the normal 120/80. I check my blood pressure daily -- in the morning, after work, at varying times. The Lotensin works. Also, it gave me no side effects.
So, obviously, like an idiot, I didn't go see my doctor for a long time. It's hard to make a yearly physical appointment when you are feeling fine, even when your doctor tells you to do so because you have high blood pressure and they want to monitor your situation. Also, in 2009 I got the highest (smoker) health rating in my physical for my life insurance. So, I thought I was all good. The last time I saw my doctor was in March 2008. I extended my one year Lotensin prescription for over a year without going in, but ultimately, I was told they would not extend it until I went in. So, I stopped taking it.
This was a bad idea. It wasn't apparent to me at first, but over the past few months I've been feeling sluggish, tightening in my chest, inability to concentrate, inability to remember things I just read, and a lot of other physical things that were frightening me. So, I went to see her this week, got my Lotensin back, and within 24 hours, I felt like myself again. I was sharp. I was me again. Thank God. People say high blood pressure is a "silent killer," but I can tell when my blood pressure is high, and I can tell when I'm not operating, and I attribute it to the high blood pressure. It affects your brain. And my high blood pressure isn't even that outrageously high! It does affect you.
What I've learned from this is that I will never go without my Lotensin again, and I will always see my doctor for my yearly checkup. And also, everyone should have their blood pressure checked. It's no big deal to take pill each day to keep your heart in check.