Tag Archives: Blood Pressure

Karate And Me – Part Two – Slow Progress

KARATE AND ME

PART 2 – SLOW PROGRESS

My slow progress continued, I still wasn’t very good, I was still shy and would still break out into tears every now and again, if I couldn’t get something right or I thought I was being shouted at!  But I kept going, my next grading to yellow belt followed the same pattern again, I still wasn’t good enough for the full grade that I was going for, once more I received a temporary grade, I was just that sort of student, improving, but was still behind those others in his group.  There were only a few kids that were higher than me back then, I was in third group of juniors, there were a few in a group a grade above me, a couple of older kids that were higher than the rest, then there was my group, we had all taken that first grading together and were going through the grades together, but none of the others had temporary grades, granted I was the youngest, I was still the only one in the club at that time that had started before the age of seven, it would over the coming years become popular practice over the country, with kids as young as four joining the club in time, but as the youngest, the smallest and definitely the shyest, I was the runt of the litter, the one that was struggling along, I was trying my hardest, after that short break from training as a 9th Kyu, I hardly missed a session, even at just seven years old attended the odd adult class during school holidays, I’m not sure why I was allowed, maybe because I was a trier, because even if I didn’t get it right, I gave my all.

If I look back over my karate training, I see where there were periods were improvement was slight or gradual, this first year of training had been like that, after just over one year of training, I had taken that first grade, been given a temporary grade and then carried that through the next two gradings, it had been progress, but steady to say the least, as I say, it was not because of lack of trying, it was because I wasn’t that good, I wasn’t a natural, it came hard to me, it may not look that way now, but trust me it did, it’s hard to get that across to my students these days, it’s hard to tell them how I struggled and get them to believe it, they do or at least I think they do, but I can safely say I wasn’t a natural and I struggled alone making steady progress.

At the end of each year we would have a competition on the last day of the training before Christmas, in my first year I didn’t take part, I was only a white belt then and although there was a group for white belts only, I didn’t want to do it, I was of course too shy to take part, my natural shyness held me back and I just sat and watched.  The next year as a yellow belt I took part, in the basics, kata and kumite (fighting), I wasn’t that good, the trophies went to some of the guys who were higher than me, some of my group of grades and a couple of those below us, I was still nowhere near their standard and my shyness made me struggle more when it came to gradings and competing.  This was my first competition and it was only in front of the guys I trained with week in week out, the judges were the guys that took our classes each week, I knew everyone, yet still I found it hard to get up and compete, it took time and years to overcome that, not completely, even now thirty odd years on, I still struggle with nerves, not so much the shyness now, but it does manifest itself as nerves still, even now.

Then every now and again I made big steps, I would make big improvements in a short time, but then as things became more advance I would struggle again and fall back into that steady improvement.  This happened at the next grading, when I took my green belt grading I passed with a full 7th Kyu from the grading before and this time a full green belt too.  This was the only kyu grading that I took that wasn’t at my own club, this one was at Southwell and as my Dad was working, it was the only kyu grading he never came too, but this time I really remember feeling strong for the first time, like I was getting it, not just going through the motions, trying, but not feeling it, this was the first time I felt like I really went for it, not just tried, but went for it.

Finally I had got rid of that temporary grade and thankfully I never picked up another, I was finally on a par with my piers, even though I still didn’t think I was as good as the others in my group the same grade as me.  I distinctly remember though, as a green belt being in the class when we just us green belts were up and the rest of the class were sat down watching us go through our new kata, none of us really knew it, we were just learning and it obviously wasn’t going very well.  It is a big jump in level from the previous kata for yellow belt to green belt, it’s technical jump and requires a lot of technical detail, not seen in the previous katas, so we were obviously struggling and our instructor was losing a little patience.  I remember us going over a certain bit over and over again, it wasn’t going well and in the end Alan shouted at the lot of us, I instantly broke out into tears, I don’t remember if I was getting it wrong or not, but I remember what happened next, we were all stood there, about six of us and I was the one crying, the only one, obviously Alan saw this, I remember him saying we weren’t trying hard enough, continuing to say that only one of us was trying to get it right and he’s the one in tears because he can’t get it.  Whether I was the only one getting it, or the only one who was really trying hard, to this day I don’t know.  I just know that at times Alan could be hard, but he had a soft side too, he knew me well by now, I trained more than anyone and even though I wasn’t as good as the others, I was becoming a bit of a favourite of his, he knew how to pull me back if I got emotional, it didn’t happen that much by then, but every now and again it did and on this day, he knew how to handle me.

Over the next couple of grades, it was more of the same, steady progress, I was passing the grades, but not really pulling up any trees, I was trying, I was improving, but it was once again steady progress, the grades got harder each time, the katas harder and more technical, I would still say I wasn’t as good as the rest in my group, but having said that, as the months went by, our group was getting smaller.

At the end of 1982, I had got to 4th Kyu, purple and white belt, that years Regional Championships was being held in Wolverhampton and Alan had hired a mini bus to take a handful of us to compete.  There weren’t many of us, about eight if I remember rightly.  It was the first time I had travelled so far, as a youngster I had trouble with travel sickness, I couldn’t go far without stopping the car to be sick, but even though this place seemed so far away and we were travelling forever, I made it through without being sick.

It was my first competition and because of age, I was only entered into kata, at the Regionals you had to be twelve to fight and I was still just eight, so it would be a few more years until I got that chance.  I remember getting called up for my first round, as with most competitions i’ve entered it’s done on a flag system, two competitors get up alongside each other and perform the same kata at the same time, the judges around the ring raise a red or a white flag depending on who they saw as better, the one with the majority of flags go through, odd times there is a draw, the two competitors just do different kata until a winner is found.  So I was called up, I walked to my mark and waited, then I was called onto the area and received a bye, I didn’t really understand what a bye was at the time, but I was through to the next round.  Byes happen every now and again, with the knockout system there has to be a certain number of competitors to fill the draw sheets, ie sixty four, if there are say only sixty competitors then four byes are put into the draw and four people go through to the next round.  Sometimes though your opponents don’t turn up for whatever reason, I can’t remember why I got a bye, but I was in the second round and well, that was it, I was called up for the next round and was soundly beaten.

It was my first competition and even though I got nowhere, I enjoyed the experience, seeing how these things were organised and credit to the guys that organised the Regional Championships over the years, they always did a great job, I may not of won, even a round, but to actually go out and compete was victory in itself, to overcome nerves and my natural shyness, was a minor victory.

Over the years of competition Alan pushed us hard to be our best and try to win, but win or lose, it didn’t matter to him, he would tell us that in order for someone to win, someone had to lose, one day it will be our day.  He would also tell us that just to compete was winning enough, there were so many that could compete, students that were better than me, but never tried, never gave it ago, if you don’t try, don’t compete, you will never win, so just by having ago, we were winners enough, the experience of being there and trying was as he always stated, invaluable.

A month or so after that, just before my ninth birthday, we went to an open competition in Derby, this time a few more of our club came along.  This was a different competition, at the Regionals all the competitors were from our parent organisation and performed Shotokan under the KUGB, this competition was a mix of styles from all over the Midlands, I had never seen any other style, it was an eye opener to say the least.  This time to compete it was different to the Regionals, you performed on your own, you chose the kata and performed it alone in front of the judges and they gave you a score, the four highest scorers went through to the final and somehow in my category for age and grade I made the final!  It was my second competition proper, if you discount the club competition and I had made the final, I didn’t do very well in the final, I finished last in the final, but four overall and still received a small wooden plaque type trophy, it was my first one and I was well happy with it.  I seem to remember I tried the fighting at this competition, but didn’t make it through a round, it was an experience in many ways and I was pleased with a trophy, albeit fourth place.

At the end of the year it was club competition time again, it was only my second club competitor and in some ways the competition there was more fierce than the open I had done earlier that month, we were all of similar level and although friends, we wanted to beat each other.  In the basics and kata, I once again came nowhere, I was miles behind my class mates in that area, there were some good students coming through, far better than me.  In fighting though, we were split into height categories and I was in with the smaller guys.  This time I made it through to the final, I had a bit of help from the instructors, not that they favoured me in their decisions, but they told me who I was fighting next and what moves they favoured so I could watch out for them, which of course I did.  But in the final I face a lad called Kevin Handley, he was a grade higher than me and soundly beat me, he was probably the best in the club at everything, kata and kumite, after he won our final, he then faced the winner of the taller guys, he won that fight as well, that how good he was.

That wasn’t a bad return for my first forays into competition, I had entered three competitions in the space of three months and won trophies in two.  If I look back now, I was proud of those first two trophies, we had some shelves at the back of the living room, they were placed on there, unfortunately it would be another two years until I added to their number, but competition is a bit like that, sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t, the catagories were packed in those days, there were hundreds of kids in each group, over the years you get to know kids from all over the country, we competed at the same competitions for years, it’s sad to say that there is probably only me still going from those old competitions, not only from my club, but all those over guys I competed against in those early days, apart from me I don’t think anyone else is still training, let alone competing.

THIS COULD BE THE YEAR by RYAN STAR
This could be the year
This could be the moment
You’ve been waiting your whole life
To show the world the cards you’re holding – now
It’s one life
One dream
One spark

It’s one chance
One move
One shot

It’s on you
Be cool
Believe

This could be the year
This could be the moment
You’ve been waiting your whole life
To show the world the cards you’re holding – now
It’s one life
One dream
One spark

It’s one life
One wish
One fire

It’s one choice
One voice
Sing it higher

This could be the year
This could be the moment
You’ve been waiting your whole life
To show the world that you are ready
Hold your head up high
and touch the sky
Cause you know this is everything, everything
So take your shot it’s all you got to be

This could be the year
This could be the moment
This could be the year

Creature Of Habit

I have to say I really am one of those people who are a creature of habit, I like those little daily routines, I’m not obsessive or anything like that I don’t have OCD, but I do like routine and of course those little habits.

Which means on days where I’m not in a routine things tend to fall apart a little.  Like all those days and weeks in the years where I wasn’t in full time work, in that time everything fell apart and quickly, obviously at that time I substituted healthy daily habits for the unhealthy and things spiralled out of control for me.

I still at odd times struggle on those lazy days, like the odd Saturday when I’m not working or days off, on those days I can be lazy, let’s face most people do take the opportunity to have a lazy day, we all need one every now and again, but these days throw me out still and very often on my days off I forget to take my medication.

If I live like this too many days I get completely out of the habit and before I know it I can go months without taking my tablets.  But I have to say in the last few months, since I visited the Doctor in September and found my blood pressure had reduced greatly even after a period with no medication, I have been taking them almost every day and then since I started with the anti-depressants I haven’t missed a single day, I forgotten and taken them later in the day, but I haven’t missed any.

The other day though, I realised something, a habit I’ve formed in taking my medication, I don’t remember starting it on purpose, but I now do it without even noticing, I don’t know why.

I now take two tablets for my blood pressure, well actually one for blood pressure and the other to control my cholesterol and also now I take the anti-depressant.  I keep them all in same kitchen cupboard, but the anti-depressants I keep on the opposite side of the cupboard.  Then when I actually take them, I put the two blood pressure ones down on the left side of the glass of water and the other down on the right, I take the two blood pressure tablets together and then after a brief pause, I take the other, never together, always separate.

As I say I can’t remember consciously doing this at any time when I first started taking them, now I do it on autopilot and if by accident I do it any differently, I immediately rectify it, still I’m not sure why!

Maybe I see the anti-depressant as an outsider, after all, hopefully I won’t be on them for too long, the others have been with me for years, this new one doesn’t belong somehow.

Having said that, I’m so glad I have been taking the anti-depressant, in an ideal world I really wouldn’t want to be on them, in the early days I really wasn’t happy about it, even though I chose to, I guess I attached a stigma to it, but nonetheless it’s helped me get through a tough time, it’s seen me through Christmas and now into the what will be the new year in just a few hours time.  I may be on them for a while longer, but if each day keeps getting a little better as it goes by, then that’s fine by me, anything is better than where I was six weeks ago.

I plan to start tomorrow morning with a long walk, I haven’t been out since back in September, that was just before everything started to fall apart, maybe that hasn’t helped things at all, I always thought my days were far better balanced after a good long walk each morning, but come tomorrow morning that’s one habit I fully intend to fall into once again.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105

NEVER GIVE UP by LUMINATE
I’m sick of hearing the same things
Sick of all this heartache ‘cause it’s everywhere I turn
We’re fighting the good fight
But we’re tired on the inside
Beaten down by all this hurt
It’d be so much easier to run away

But we’ll never give up, no, we’ll never give up
When the fear rolls in and the lights go out
We’ll never give up, no we’ll never give up
When it all falls down, it all falls down
You reign, You are everything, Your love is enough
So we’ll never give up, no, we’ll never give up
When it all falls down, it all falls down
No way, no way, no way

There are times that I trust You
There are times that I blame You
‘Cause the pain’s so hard to take
But I’m not gonna try to figure out how You move
‘Cause Your promises don’t change, no

We’ll never give up, no, we’ll never give up
When the fear rolls in and the lights go out
We’ll never give up, no we’ll never give up
When it all falls down, it all falls down
You reign, You are everything, Your love is enough
So we’ll never give up, no, we’ll never give up
When it all falls down, it all falls down
No way, no way, no way

So bring on the fire, bring on whatever
‘Cause there’s no disaster that You can’t handle

We’ll never give up, no, we’ll never give up
When the fear rolls in and the lights go out
We’ll never give up, no we’ll never give up
When it all falls down, it all falls down
You reign, You are everything, Your love is enough
So we’ll never give up, no, we’ll never give up
When it all falls down, it all falls down
No way, no way, no way

Verses In A Bottle

So last night’s episode didn’t really end there, I woke this morning in similar state if panic, I woke and just lay there getting more and more agitated as the minutes passed. At 6.15am I got up to go in the shower and quite honestly my legs felt like jelly, given that I was due for a blood pressure check up in just over an hour, this was something I really didn’t need. So I put on “Running To You” by Newsboys and got ready, I re read a Twitter message from Lynwen, one of our Church Pastors and my mood changed, I hatched a plan in my head and set off to the Doctors.

Before I left I prayed and as I walked I prayed, I sat in the waiting room and prayed again. It worked as my blood pressure was down again, last time it was 152 over 88, today it was 136 over 86, so an improvement, all despite the fact that this morning I felt like my heart was actually going to burst from my chest.

THE PLAN

This goes back a couple of months when I was searching in the cellar, I not only came across the box I packed my old life into, but I also found a couple of bags containing empty wine and cider bottles!

They’re the last remnants of what used to be many, I would get through so many in a week there wouldn’t be enough room in the bin for them all, so eventually Victoria would bag them and put them out of the way. Every now and again I would take a batch to the recycle bins in town, but only when it was almost impossible to avoid.

I had it in mind to get rid of them soon, they have been down there probably two years, I nearly did it a couple of weeks ago, but never actually got around to it.

So last night after posting, I was reminded of those bottles which were immediately below where I was actually sat, I came to thinking that dealing with them was now a must. So receiving Lynwen’s message and the bible verse gave me an idea.

So this morning, when I came back from the Doctors, I started searching for bible verses regarding addiction. I went down and fetched the empty bottles, there were twelve of them! So I made a list of twelve verses and wrote each one out on a piece of coloured paper.

“No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.” (James 1:12-15)

“And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
(1 Peter 5:10)

“So if the son sets you free, you will be really free.” (John 8:36)

“And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Ephesians 5:15-20)

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

“So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:24-25)

“But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.”
(Isaiah 40:31)

“I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

“We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:6)

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,” (Colossians 3:12)

12 Verses For 12 Bottles

12 Verses For 12 Bottles

I placed one verse into each bottle and put the bottles back into the two bags.

The Message In The Bottle

The Message In The Bottle

So I set off with the two bags in hand, walked into to town and threw each one into the bottle bank.

The Last One

The Last One

There was a definite sense of relief when that last one had disappeared, a real feeling that this chapter was closed.

All this morning’s and yesterday evening’s panic has gone, it’s been lifted. Last night seems so silly now, but I’m sure this won’t be the last test I face.

I’ve been wanting to use this song for sometime, but there was no video on YouTube, never mind a lyric video, so because I had this song on while I was preparing the bottles earlier, I set to making a video for it this afternoon, settling for a simple black on white look.

GOD & KING by CHASEN
Desperately I seek you
Desperately I long for Your face
Desperately I seek You
Come now with Your comforting warm embrace

The mountains are rising
The oceans are churning
Your people are singing
And we are awaiting
For Your glorious return

Holy, holy are You
Who lives in this place
Holy, holy are You
The Truth and the Way
Holy, holy is He
Who lives in me
Holy, holy are You
Our God and King

Desperately I seek you
Desperately I long for Your face
Desperately I seek You
Come now with Your comforting warm embrace

The mountains are rising
The oceans are churning
Your people are singing
And now we are waiting
For Your glorious return

Holy, holy are You
Who lives in this place
Holy, holy are You
The Truth and the Way
Holy, holy is He
Who lives in me
Holy, holy are You
Our God and King

For You are holy

The mountains are rising
The oceans are churning
Your people are singing
And now we are waiting
For Your glorious return

Holy, holy are You
Who lives in this place
Holy, holy are You
The Truth and the Way
Holy, holy is He
Who lives in me
Holy, holy are You our God and King
Holy, holy is the Lord Almighty
Holy, holy our God and King

Getting Stressed

I know this is supposed to be a week I’ve booked off work, but as with almost everything in my life, it’s not that simple, it never quite is!

I do have a number of things I need to do this week and a couple of them I’m not really looking forward to.

I did agree to do some work for the Architect this morning, so after a lazy day yesterday (apart from an 11 mile walk that is), I got up and out the house this morning at 5.30am, hoping to walk into a great sunrise, but if yesterday’s was smothered by mist, today it was just cloud, cloud everywhere, although the sun broke through as I came back close to home, there wasn’t a lot to see or photograph, even the spiders and their webs were hidden today. So after just over three hours and 13.5 miles completed, I returned home.

Finally The Sun

Finally The Sun

After a shower and a bite to eat I set off for a few hours work and also to go through the details for tomorrow, the thing I’m really not looking forward to!

I got most of the work done, I have some to finish in my own time later this week, but as the morning rolled on it became clear, there really was no getting out of tomorrow.

Basically I’m due in Lincoln County Court tomorrow, as a witness for the Architect. It’s only a case involving unpaid fees, but it seems to be getting ugly, as well as a professional element, there is also a domestic side to it which is in all honesty causing the situation to get ugly.

It’s clear from the messages and e-mails, I’ve read this morning, they aren’t going to let it drop and have no intention of paying up, despite them not really having a case. Which means I will have to attend, sit in the hearing and face what is definitely not going to be a civilised meeting.

I have prayed this morning and indeed over the last few days, hoping that this would be settled before the Court date, but I really can’t see it happening now. I really don’t want to be part of it, all I can do is be honest and say what I have to say.

I really hope it isn’t stressful, but I think it will be, the thing is Thursday morning I’m back at the Doctor’s to check my blood pressure is still okay and hasn’t risen, after tomorrow it probably will. I really want to keep this medication down to two tablets, I was over the moon when I was told we could try lowering the medication, I want to keep it that way.

I’m still hoping and praying I’ll get a message saying it’s all settled, but knowing the other side, I really just can’t see it, so I’ll just have to do my best to stay calm.

BREATHE by CHARLIE HALL
Come illuminate the face that brings the healing
Come illuminate the truth that brings the freeing
Oh, Holy ghost, come breathe on us

Come and heal the hearts, brokenness and weeping
We stand beneath the cross, thankful for the washing
Oh, Holy ghost, come breathe on us

Consume the atmosphere, here

Shine a light, shine a light
Through the open life
Let our hearts and the hearts of the King collide
Oh, Holy God, come breathe on us

Breathe, breathe on us

Fear, Faith & Healing

The more I look back to where I was at back in March last year and that visit to the Doctor’s, I’m more convince now than ever before, that I wouldn’t have made it through to the end of the year intact.

I was a heart attack waiting to happen, I had been taking my tablets, three a day together with an anti-histamine tablet, everything was wrong and more than that my drinking was slowly killing me, I didn’t need that blasted knife, I was taking a slow drawn out suicide route, a route that many take and sadly many never survive.

My blood pressure had been diagnosed as high even when I was in my teens, then at 26 it was found to be chronically high and I was sent to a specialist, but he found no other cause other than my family on both sides had a history of heart disease, my Mum has high blood pressure, my Dad does also together with mild angina, his brother suffered a heart attack in his early forties and my Grandad died following complications from a heart attack in his fifties, sadly his health had been effected by his experiences at the hands of the Germans in Warsaw during the Second World War.  The Heart Specialist sent me away with three tablets to take for the rest of my life, if I took the tablets daily I would hopefully never have to see him again.

Over the years allergies and in particular hay fever set in also, it got to the point that I couldn’t clean my teeth without being ill, I would end up retching and bringing up phlegm, never a great start to the day, then it got so I couldn’t even eat sometimes as the same thing would happen.  But I found that if I took an anti-histamine each morning then it would be ok, I could clean my teeth and eat without any problems.

Then obviously everything kicked off, I found myself in a real mess, I had really stuffed up my life and I didn’t know where to turn.  So in desperation I turned to Gareth, he answered my call and plea for help, he came to talk with me and helped me make sense of where I should be heading with my life.  A week followed and I made the decision to go to the Doctor’s, to be honest and to see where I was with things, I never expected bad results, slightly high from the stress, when you take into account I was taking my tablets, but never as high as they were, I was absolutely devastated, it was a real low point in what had been a positive week at the time.

So just two days later I made that decision to quit drinking, but over the next few weeks I still had blood pressure tests and blood tests to be carried out, I dreaded each and every appointment, it was a slow process, my liver results came back with complications, so there were more tests and over a couple of months I was back and forward to the Doctor or Nurses every two weeks, but slowly and surely as the SoberDays increased and my with it my new found faith, my blood pressure began to return to a high normal and my liver healed itself.

So then we come around to over a year later and the end of July when my tablets ran out and I became so busy I didn’t have time to get myself to the Doctor’s for a prescription renewal, so when my tablets ran out I stopped taking everything, at the time I had two tablets for my blood pressure, one tablet for cholesterol, an anti-histamine and also a vitamin tablet, that was the last thing I would do before leaving for work, make my way through a line of tablets.

So after a stressful month of work and also my low points here at home over the last few weeks, our finances taking a hit and everything else, I knew I had to get to the Doctor’s get checked out and I expected it to be another case of high blood pressure, I thought I had took myself right back to square one once again, it stressed my out a little and I feared my results.  So when I got the results, I was so surprised that it was lower than the levels I had recorded at home, I had expected it to keep rising, but it hadn’t and then to be told that I could drop one of my tablets for blood pressure and the stronger of the two I take, was incredible.

But I’ve realised that not only that but I don’t need the anti-histamine either, I haven’t been taking that and I haven’t noticed any difference, so now I’ve dropped it and also the vitamin, so I only take the two tablets now, so I don’t rattle as badly now when I walk to work.

The big thing for me here is how badly my drinking I affected my health, heart attacks aside and I am more than ever convinced that I would have suffered a heart attack by then end of 2012 had I continued on that spiral of destruction I was creating.  I always put my allergies down to side effects from my tablets, I never thought it would be down to my drinking, how could an alcoholic be allergic to alcohol anyway.

But I now realise that since I quit drinking I no longer need to take an anti-histamine, not only in the last few weeks, but at not time over the last year has my allergies flared up, in past summers even with the tablets hay fever got to me, but this year nothing, it’s all changed, I’ve changed and I keep growing in health and in faith.

So this evening I reach the magical 75 weeks of sobriety, I love these anniversaries, whether they are every fifty/hundred days or the weeks as they pass, each one is special and I love to have my own little celebration, so today is no different, although there is only myself and my son Ben in the room with me, when the clock ticks over to 10.30pm, I remember and quietly celebrate that moment when I put down that pint glass, the final time I tasted any alcohol and the moment my life really began to change and boy has it changed.

Every time I pray I always start with thanks for the changes in my life, it doesn’t really matter what it is I’m struggling with, that never come first when I pray, no matter how hard my struggles maybe, they will never be anywhere near the depths to which I had sunk previously.  I stand because of God’s grace and love for me, he has guided me out of the dark and rebuilt me, hopefully my health and my life will continue to improve, so each and everyday I can give thanks for everything God does for me.

 HEALING IN YOUR ARMS by LUMINATE
If it’s been one time, it’s been a million
Try to be perfect, but it’s tearing me apart
The fear of failing is so familiar
But You’re breaking down the fences in my heart
I’ll slow down breathing in, breathing out

I’m waking up, I’m breaking out
I’m leaving behind the fear and doubt
I’m letting go, I’ll trust and fall
Cause I know there’s healing in Your arms

So I’ve been striving, running in circles
Through the fight, I’ve forgotten who I am
God I am longing to break the cycle
The lose myself, so I can start again
Slow down, breathing in breathing out

It’s time to give it away, gotta give it away
(Give it away) Let Your love take over
Love is why you came, You gave it all away
(Gave it away) Now love is taking me over
Oh, yes I know there’s healing in Your arms
There’s healing, healing in Your arms

New Beginnings

Thirteen years ago at the age of only 26 I was diagnosed with Chronic Hypertension, my blood pressure was extremely high, close to 200 over 112, further tests found evidence of a heart strain, I was shattered by the diagnosis and then referred to a heart specialist for further diagnosis and treatment.  I was started on a series of different tablets before it the combination of tablets was settled upon, I was to take three a day for the rest of my life, if I missed my tablets for a more than a few weeks the blood pressure would rise back to where it was, I was on these for life and that was that.

Then back in March last year I returned to my Doctor and just days before I quit drinking I found my blood pressure was back to where it was way back in 2000, even though I was on my tablets and hadn’t missed any for more that the odd day every now and again, it was dangerously high, I admitted my problem with alcohol and as the weeks passed and I ceased drinking and looked to be getting back on track the blood pressure returned to satisfactory levels, not perfect but an acceptable level.

But my last lot of tablets ran out before the end of July and I’ve gone over five weeks without any, I tested my blood pressure a few weeks ago and it was creeping back up.  I’ve been so busy with work, I just hadn’t had time to go to the Doctor to have my prescription renewed and the weeks were passing and I wasn’t getting on top of things.

Then last week I wrote about it on this blog, I did that purposely because I knew I couldn’t keep hiding any more, the next day I got on the phone and made an appointment for this morning.

After I wrote my journal last night it dawned on me about my appointment this morning and I could immediately feel the pressure rising, I became nervous and worried about what I was going to hear, I was dreading the results.  I prayed and felt an almost instance relaxation, I was calmed and fell asleep quite quickly.

But then I woke this morning at 4.30, I was wide awake staring at the ceiling, the worry was returning.  So I got up and got out walking, I have to say it was the most amazing walk I’ve had in a long time, it wasn’t hard to forget about the worry when the sunrise was so spectacular, so amazingly beautiful that my attention was taken by my surroundings, I almost forgot about my appointment.

As I got ready to set off for my appointment I could feel the tension return, so I took myself to my quiet place and prayed, again I felt calm and set off for my 7.30am appointment.

It was an understatement to say I was expecting the worst, I was sure my blood pressure would be returning to where it was back in March last year or back in 2000, I was ready for a dressing down and I deserved it.

I explained my situation and the Doctor took my blood pressure, but then came something that I just wasn’t expecting, yes my blood pressure was high, but not as high as expected, in fact it was lower than when I tested it myself a few weeks ago.

The thing was my Doctor wasn’t concerned by that, he was actually pleased at the level considering I had missed an amount of tablets, so pleased that he decided that we could try reducing my medication!

So after thirteen years of taking three tablets a day, I am now on two tablets a day, the strongest of the two tablets I take for my blood pressure has been removed, it’s a trial for the next month to see how it goes, but it’s an improvement and something that in my wildest dreams I never ever thought would happen, I expected my medication to increase over time not decrease.

To say I was over the moon was another understatement, this morning as I walked from the Doctor’s Surgery to work I felt like I was on top of the world, my prayers had been answered and I’m getting my life back.

As I approach 75 weeks of sobriety this coming Thursday, I have to say this is the best present I could ever wish to receive, God has come through for me and I feel so blessed by what He has been done in my life since that day back in March 2012 when I just wanted to make it all stop.

HEALING OIL by KIM WALKER-SMITH
I can feel Your healing oil
Running down my brow
I wouldn’t trade another lifetime
For how I feel right now

Excuses

Okay, so while I’m being honest, there is one thing I’ve been avoiding for a while, partially because I’ve been so busy and partly because I’ve just been avoiding it.

It something I know I can’t keep leaving, even if I’ve been so busy I can’t just put it aside, I’ve done that before and it doesn’t help at all.

One of my earlier posts “My Broken Heart” detailed my health problems that predated my drinking and certainly weren’t helped by it.  I have suffered from my late teens with an hereditary high blood pressure problem, as a teenager I was told it was high than normal, but following a chest problem in early 2000, a check up showed that my blood pressure was extremely high, somewhere around  180 over 118, after many check ups over the following weeks and months, then an ECG that highlighted a heart strain, the Doctor referred me to a Heart Specialist, I was 26, i remember the Doctor saying, if I was 56 this would be fairly normal and he would simply treat it, but as I was 26 and there was no obvious course (I wasn’t drinking heavy then, at that point I was a casual drinker), I was devastated.

But the Specialist could shed no further light on it, I came do simply to a generic issue in my family I had to live with, the experimented with different medications until a combination of tablets brought it back down to a high normal average and he referred back to my Doctor.  Since then at least once a year I have to go back for a series of tests, I’m actually supposed to go back every six months, but in reality I go once a year.

Over the years as my drinking slowly increased, I lied about how much I was drinking, I never told the truth, I would tell them something just very slightly over the considered normal amounts for an adult to drink, but never the real amount.

When I quit drinking last year, I had been on my tablets, I had hardly missed a day in months, but my blood pressure was sky high again, almost back to those recordings of twelve years earlier, on top of that my liver results were abnormal as well.  I spent three months go backwards and forwards to the Doctors every few weeks for different tests.  Over those months my blood pressure came back down to a high normal and my liver results righted themselves.  So over a year ago I was told to come back in six months, I didn’t, I got a letter a few months ago requesting I attend, I haven’t.  Then over a month ago my tablets ran out and without seeing the Doctor my prescription can’t be renewed.  My pharmacists are quite good, they will issue me tablets until I can get a renewal, but I’ve not had chance to go and request that.  So for the best part of months I’ve not taken my Blood Pressure medication and having checked it myself, it is rising again.

One problem is my Doctor’s have a very restrictive booking system, getting an appointment is not easy, having been so busy at work I’ve just not been able to a) find time to make a call, if you not on the phone to them as soon as they open you’ve no chance and that’s our busiest time at work, and b) you can only book for that day or exactly a week in advance, most of the days bookings are gone anyway and getting time off the same day is not easy either. So I’ve just left it, but I know I need to do something about it and soon.

I guess I’m posting this so I actually then have to do something about it, again if I hide it, I could go on without anyone else knowing, until it’s too late, so in a way I’m issuing myself a challenge here.

EXCUSES by DEAS VAIL
Bring yourself and no one else
You come alone or don’t come at all
This is your chance to believe in
Something more than walls and ceilings
Your saving face to be on your way

Come on, come on,
don’t wait until the damage is done
It’s gone when it’s gone—
Don’t you want to know
What we could become?
On and on we run and we run from life
It’s time we chased the smoke of our guns
and made this right

Save yourself, now don’t be scared
I’ll do my part and be right there
I will probably come out running,
With exploding buildings right behind me.

Come on, come on,
don’t wait until the damage is done
It’s gone when it’s gone—
Don’t you want to know
What we could become?
On and on we run and we run from life
It’s time we chased the smoke of our guns
and made this right

Shattered Optimism

Last year as I tried to move from my meeting with Gareth following the collapse of my life, through finding strength in prayer and leading on to the forthcoming anniversaries of my SoberYear and my entering Church, this day appeared.

On this Tuesday last year, I finally returned to the Doctors for a prescription renewal, usually just a formality. Check my Blood Pressure, high normal, any other problems? No, fine, see you in six months or so.

My six months were never six months, they were always over a year, I got the letters, but stringed them along as long as I could, I guess a part of me was actually frightened of attending for fear of having this addiction revealed, I always made sure I was well up to date with my tablets before going, I had habit of not taking them, as I would usually take them just before I left the house for work, as you can imagine, all those years where I didn’t leave the house, sometimes days, even weeks, I missed many tablets, so I would make sure I was without any gaps for a few weeks before I would finally go in.

So I had letters, then labels on my prescription, warning me there would be no more unless I went in, so I finally bit the bullet, through all the pandemonium that was going on in my life I went in, well you can read for yourself my thoughts about that meeting with Dr Cusack.

Tuesday 27th March 2012

Wow, this has to be my lowest day of the past few weeks, a dawn of realisation has come over me, I may not have been strong enough to take a blade to my wrist, instead I went for a slow methodical method of suicide, DRINK MYSELF TO DEATH!

I had a wake up call twelve years ago, chronic high blood pressure and heart strain, three tablets a day for the rest of your life and look after yourself, right, I’ve done that haven’t I!!!!! I’ve lied to the Doctors. I’ve always liked a drink, but always understated what I actually drunk, but the last two years it has spiralled out of control, plus when I’m not up in the morning to go to work, I tend not to take my tablets, even in these days of drink and missing tablets, I’ve still managed to keep the blood pressure to a reasonable level, but today my good work of the past week was shattered, I expected it to be higher than normal, but 160 over 108, that is almost where it was back at the start, twelve years ago, I’ve slowly tried to DRINK MYSELF TO DEATH!

Before Dr Cusack took my Blood Pressure, I explained that I thought it would be high and explained why, about the relationship problems, but above all the drink, I expected it to be high, but not that high, now I know it’s another sign, a change must come and I am working towards that, but most of all today I realise how close I have come to total self destruction.

Maybe Victoria’s tough love approach has been the complete kick in the ass I need to finally sort myself out. Is it too late for us, I don’t know, that will be answered in due course either way, but I need to get well, I realise now alcoholism is an illness, I know I am not the worse case scenario, but a person with my illness is effectively committing suicide living the life I was.

I did tell Victoria about my results and the Blood Pressure being high, I’m not sure what I expected, she seemed to brush it of in an “I told you so’ attitude, I may have hoped for her to throw an arm around me and tell me it will all be okay, but her blank response left me even lower, I am so confused at the moment, I know the relationship is not there, but some moral support would lift me, I can’t help feeling down now in so many ways.

Well, time for bed, my song, a prayer, then sleep, I’ll get up in the morning and follow my new regime, but tomorrow I will walk with my head up, I found that hard today, I just wanted to look down, not forward, I tried to lift my head, but struggled today, the weight of this realisation dragged me down to a real low, I guess it can’t get any worse, so tomorrow head up, let’s move on, I NEED TO GET WELL!!!!

After reading my journal about those few weeks and the optimism I felt after meeting with Gareth, this day seemed to shatter my confidence and motivation, if only for a while, I remember feeling pretty low and being very quiet throughout the day, I seem to remember Alex texting me to see how I was, I texted him back with how it had gone and how low I was feeling, he was very supportive and encouraging.

Obviously this episode accelerated my will to quit drinking for good, this would happened just two nights later, then once I was clear of that chain, I walked into Church, not sure really what I was looking for, not sure what I would find, but one year later and after the turmoil and pandemonium of the last month, I’m so glad I did, the good people I have met there have stayed by my side throughout it all, for that I will be forever thankful.

There are ways that I’ve been falling
There are times that I’ve been so weak
There are moments I hear redemption calling
But I’m too far down to speak
Come sweet fire of mercy
Cover up my skin
Warm me like the sun
Won’t you let me in
To come, come undone
(Come Undone by Jackson Waters)