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Very strange identity crisis... [Jun. 7th, 2012|05:55 pm]
So... because of my exercise weirdness - I exercise hard, I feel *fine* while exercising, but then feel like crap the rest of the day - I'm on a blood pressure medication (a beta blocker) to slow down my heart a bit.

Beta blockers caused me some confusion about blood pressure. See, according to the doctor, blood pressure is *not* caused by how hard your heart beats. Blood pressure is how hard your heart *must* beat, according to all your body's feedback systems.

Here's what I asked her: is the blood pressure how hard/how fast your heart tries to lift the weight? Or is it the amount of weight the heart is trying to lift? And she was clear - she said that it was definitely how much weight.

Blood pressure is *how hard the heart has to work*. It's not *caused* by the heart beating heavy; it's caused by your body demanding more oxygen and nutrients, and your heart beating harder in response.

Now, she could be wrong - or this could be a point of debate, or it could be one of those "well, we're really not sure, entirely, but the best model says, it's how hard the heart is forced to work."

But as near as I could get it, the heart is the battery, and blood pressure is the resistance, and a high blood pressure means more energy being used to keep voltage constant.

(Um. Boy, do I hope I am remembering my Freshman Physics right. Someone please let me know if I flubbed that.)

So, stuff that reduces blood pressure might help me.

Now, salt hurts *some* people's blood pressure. Not everyone's. Really, it's sodium versus potassium - if those are in balance, cutting salt won't help. And I already use a "lite" salt, a sodium-potassium blend, and try not to oversalt foods. Plus, I'm eating so few processed foods, I'm probably not getting as much salt as a lot of folks get. (Cheese is probably my worst offender!)

The other big lifestyle change is caffeine. Caffeine can raise blood pressure. So I've stopped it for now.

And I realized how weird it feels.

I've learned to make espresso - not perfectly, but okay. I've learned to roast coffee. I bought a fancy, fast coffee maker. I've developed a love for a good Irish breakfast tea, with milk and honey, made from actual tea leaves.

Am I willing to give that up? Like, forever?

And the answer is, of course, I don't know.

There aren't any good answers at first. The first few weeks of caffeine reduction are about losing the addiction and building new habits. I'm not even two weeks out, yet.

But I do wonder.

Do I want to be "that guy who doesn't drink coffee (but can tell you some of the finer points about it)?" (I've had to give up tea for now - milk and honey aren't that good for my blood sugar at the moment, and cream and stevia is fine in coffee - but stevia is a bit sickly for tea.) Or do I want to do it just for now, until I (hopefully) build up my heart and then let myself fall back into caffeine control again?

(Because, alas, it is true - caffeine does own you after a few weeks drinking it daily.)

It's something to ponder.

On the plus side, the meds are helping - I worked out today, and my brain isn't so tired I can't ponder :-).

[User Picture]From: ftemery
2012-06-08 03:33 am (UTC)
How confusing and frankly, doctors only seem to make it worse. So I guess we try things and see how they work. I'm assuming my beta blockers are lowering my energy and mood, the bp numbers and pulse and respirations indicate, or is it 'coincidence'? I want to get off it and see. All I know is my pulse which ran anywhere from 74 to 102 normally, is now between 72 and 58. do not like. I have 3/4 of the energy I had before them and 50% more depression.

There are plenty of people who don't do caffeine or coffee, don't worry about standing out for that. Or at least call it an experiment. You have to find your own balance of course.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2012-06-08 03:49 am (UTC)
Well, remember, I'm a weird case :-).

I get tired after exercising; I think it's that my heart overworks itself. So, I'm on a super-low dose of beta blockers - the hope is that my heart won't overwork itself as much, and I'll feel better after exercising. The hope is that the dose is too low to cause any substantial side effects (or, if it does, I hope that I can strengthen my heart enough to overcome it). And, today, I overdid it a bit, but I'm not so tired that I can't think and write and such. So they seem to be helping.

In your case, if you're on beta blockers to slow down your heart and decrease your blood pressure, there *is* some level of energy loss expected. It's hoped that it will be temporary, and you'll adjust to it, and feel fine afterward. But it might not be, and it might be time to try another medication from the same family, or from a different one.

I'm not worried about standing out so much - it's just a bit weird that I found myself wondering what I *want*. There was a time I was kinda-sorta being "the guy who wanted his coffee just so" and now I'm "the guy who doesn't drink it" and it's just a bit weird. Similarly, I used to love role playing games; I haven't gamed in several years now. That's a weird self-image thing, too.
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[User Picture]From: 98
2012-06-08 05:20 pm (UTC)
"that guy who doesn't drink coffee (but can tell you some of the finer points about it)?"

This makes me chuckle. I used to hang out with home brewers of beer and still recall much about the different styles and the making thereof. At my best I could identify the varieties of hops used in a brew by the smell. And yet I have never, ever, ever developed a taste for the stuff.

I lie slightly. I eventually came to like some Belgian lambics but, as I am fond of saying, those are beer the way a platypus is a mammal.
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[User Picture]From: barbarakitten_t
2012-06-08 08:07 pm (UTC)
I am highly suspicious of the beta blockers. No good reason, but I am. Why are you quitting caffeine? I should know, but I can't keep up...work is screwing with my virtual life...and since that's where most of my friends live...

...in any case, I want both John's to be healthy. NOW. (that's you and John Barnstead, of course)
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2012-06-08 10:29 pm (UTC)
Heh. I'm quitting caffeine (as I said in the post) because it can increase blood pressure.

Since blood pressure is "how hard the heart has to work", reducing my blood pressure should take some strain off my heart. Since I think my problems are caused by my heart being tired, any stress I can take off of it is good.
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[User Picture]From: 64tbird
2012-06-09 03:49 am (UTC)


The longer you roast coffee, the more caffeine you roast out. So espresso roast, a dark roast, already has very little caffeine. Also French and Vienna roast. I used to know the order of darkness, but that was a long time ago.)

Just FYI.
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[User Picture]From: 98
2012-06-10 05:39 pm (UTC)

Re: Coffee

Vienna is the not so dark roast. French, Italian, and city roast are all pretty damned dark but I do not know how they are distinct from each other. They are all perilously close to the charcoal limit.
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