I live in Manitoba which is known for its cold and long winters and over the last several weeks, I’ve had several people ask me if I was looking forward to summer – to the warmer weather. I often answered with the response I knew they were expecting or gave a somewhat vague answer. But truthfully, I was not looking forward to summer.
For a really long time, I’ve been aware that I don’t handle heat well. And that was how I worded it when I would talk to people about it.
When temperatures rise too much, I feel like my energy is being sucked out of me. I get lightheaded and have more trouble breathing. I’ve had to stop exercising, cleaning, and other things because I would get too hot and lightheaded – even in winter.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had episodes of blackening vision when getting up, especially in the morning. They were mild enough that I could keep walking or stop for a few seconds for them to pass. In the past several years, they had gotten worse in that I noticed my muscles started spasming when it got bad enough and I had to try to hold myself within a doorway waiting for it to pass and trying not to fall. They seemingly came at sporadic times and sometimes came during colder months. I had always assumed it came from my low blood pressure but the few times I mentioned it to doctors they didn’t do anything about it because my blood pressure appeared normal while I was in their office.
The episode that scared me
Blood pressure readings the two days after fainting
Last summer, I ended up on the floor in my apartment not remembering how I got there. I had badly sprained my ankle a month and a half before and as I became conscious, I was in immense pain from my muscles spasming in my ankle. Even though I was painfully aware of it, I couldn’t do anything to stop the spasming. My vision eventually cleared and the spasming stopped.
My mind at first brushed it off as another one of my dizzy moments due to my blood pressure. But as the situation and what might have happened dawned on me, I became very concerned and somewhat scared. I didn’t remember anything beforehand. I didn’t remember feeling dizzy after getting up. I didn’t remember if I had tried grabbing onto something before collapsing. What if I had hit my head on the corner of the counter. Did I have a seizure?
Being the anxious person I am, I searched up if it was possible to have a seizure from low blood pressure and found out it was possible but rare.
I ended up telling my doctor about it and even though it seemed like she didn’t think much of it, she offered to send me to a neurologist to get it checked out.
Even though I didn’t think it had to do with my brain, I said yes and the neurologist took some tests. The tests all appeared normal and from the blood pressure measurements, he got me to take in the mornings before I got out of bed and after I stood up, he told me it was related to my blood pressure and recommended wearing compression socks and staying hydrated.
Trying to figure out a way to regulate my blood pressure
I bought a few compression socks from a pharmacy but the compression level wasn’t enough to do much.
I’ve been dreading the summer this year because I hadn’t gotten to the point where I felt comfortable with knowing how to manage my blood pressure. Heat always makes my blood pressure worse and the last few weeks, I had been feeling the light-headedness often already and the heat wasn’t too bad yet.
Almost three weeks ago, I was seeing my doctor for a different issue and I asked her if I could get a prescription for compression stockings so I could get coverage with my insurance and get the proper amount (compression stockings aren’t cheap). With my prescription in hand, I went to a medical store and got measured and had them ordered in. I picked them up last Friday and have been wearing them for not quite a week.
And it’s been the best part of my week. They work! On the weekend, I didn’t notice much difference because I was fairly sedentary but at work on Monday, I was shifting books and had to do a lot of crouching down and getting up. Before I would have to stop after only doing a few shelves because I would have to pause to wait for the light-headedness pass and I just couldn’t handle doing too much. But on Monday, after doing more than twice as much as I could handle the week before, I realized I hadn’t felt lightheaded once. The compression stockings were doing what I had hoped they would do.
They do make my legs and feet warmer than they normally would be but I’ll take it over feeling lightheaded.
For the first time in a long time, I am not completely dreading the heat. I won’t say I love the heat now, because I still don’t, but because of my compression stockings I’ll be able to tolerate it a little more.