By Coleen Hensey
I was recently advised by my GP to keep an eye on my blood pressure as we worked together to find the causes of some health issues that had arisen.
After attending a specialist appointment one lovely, warm day, I took myself for a rainforest walk and then walked my gorgeous labradoodle to the local dog park. We were both thirsty from our walks so I shared my water with my dog, who was most appreciative. I was feeling lovely – connected with nature and purposeful in having started to attend to these matters of personal health.
I felt so good that I decided to pop into the local pharmacy before going home and have my blood pressure measured, so that I would have a reference for ‘feeling lovely.’
My friendly pharmacist welcomed me warmly, as always, and we attached the sleeve to my arm to measure my current blood pressure. As the sleeve deflated and the reading appeared on the screen, I observed how the pharmacist had started to mask a sense of alarm: the diastolic reading (the bottom number) was registering a reading of hypertensive crisis – 124. (1) My usual reading is around 75-80. The systolic pressure was also higher than usual for me, but not alarmingly so.
The pharmacist asked me, with genuine care, if I had drunk any water recently and also if I needed to go the loo. I replied that I was a bit thirsty as I had shared my water with the dog and that, yes, I did need to visit the loo but wasn’t aware of there being a toilet in the immediate area. Solicitously, she directed me to a ‘shop’ toilet and then brought me three glasses of water in succession.
We waited for five minutes and then took a second blood pressure reading.
The diastolic reading was 85: it had dropped 40 points from a point of crisis to super normal after I went to the loo and then drank some water.
This was a very humbling moment. As I stared at the machine, I was both relieved to be back to normal but also aghast that, even feeling as lovely as I did on that day, the simple acts of not attending fully to my body’s needs to pee and to rehydrate completely had placed my body into a state of intense stress and me into a position of danger. My stubbornness in overriding these needs by pushing on to the pharmacy, rather than going home and attending to them, was completely exposed in that moment – necessarily so.
I began to reflect on how many times in my life I had overridden the needs to drink water and go to the toilet, as well as many other bodily needs, deferring all these needs to a time that was ‘more convenient’ – a time when I wasn’t busy or engaged in other activities.
Moreover, I also work in a profession where, oftentimes, it is seen as a mark of a child’s maturity that they can control their bladder for the duration of a teaching/learning session of up to two hours. This applies to we teachers, too, and we are the role models of bladder and thirst control.
I could not but marvel at my body’s exquisite sensitivity – how ignoring my bladder and the need for water affected my whole body adversely. I felt a deep appreciation for how instantly my body responded and returned to equilibrium directly once its needs were met. And I decided that, henceforth, any bodily need, no matter how insignificant or basic it may appear to be, will be addressed by me immediately… in line with my body’s communication of it. I reflected how a true rhythm excludes nothing – it is in the flow of all life. So I will never again be ‘too busy’ to attend to these basic bodily needs because I am engaged in ‘more important’ stuff… not even for a minute! My body is now an equal player in my life, no more a 2nd class citizen: we are now a democracy.
Inspired by Serge Benhayon who has long presented the need for us to care deeply for, and about, our bodies, as well as role modelling an absolute integrity in attending to the minute details of such self-care.