My father would have been turning 70 today, had his liver not given up on him 15 years ago!
I was thinking about my late dad last Saturday noon on Moi Avenue, as I watched a horde of Gor Mahia fans dancing around the statue of Tom Mboya for blessings, prior to a game.
Not because my late Pa was a Gor fan, heck no. He was a man who loved Shabana – and because we grew up in the shadow of Nyayo Stadium, literally, many a Saturday afternoon was spent in the stadium.
But he did love Tom Mboya (assassinated in 1969), and JM Kariuki (killed in 1975) and Dr Robert Ouko (murdered in 1991); perhaps because he saw, in these three men, very brilliant leaders who never quite lived up to their full potential, or saw their vision for Kenya realised.
On the other hand, my old man despised the coup plotter of ’82, Hezekiah Ochuka!
"I’m glad the government hang that bloodthirsty little idiot," he often said vehemently. "The man would have been another sergeant Doe of Liberia, shed blood, ruined the country, completely, and left us a banana republic, below zero."
My Dad died a year after retirement – but he would have been 70 today. With thoughts of mortality on my mind, I wandered into the Bliss Clinic on Moi Avenue, a large, spread out facility that I had never quite noticed before – and asked for a quick medical check up.
This was a first for me, because previously, I have only ever gone to a hospital when not feeling well, which luckily for me, is very rare. In fact the only time I have ever stayed overnight at a hospital is when I got shot, sometime back.
Anyway, so the first test I did was the BMI (Body Mass Index) which is the most basic.
Basically, your body mass index ought to be between 20 and 25.
Below 18.5 is quite underweight, 25 to 30 overweight, and above that lie the realms of obesity.
I am 170cm in height, 69kg in weight, and my BMI ended up at 23, which is close to optimal.
But to my surprise, when I took the BP test, I discovered I have high blood pressure!
Normal BP should be 130/85 tops, but mine was clocking at 140/90.
I am a very low stress individual, with a sunny approach to life, and a philosophical approach to sadness.
So having HBP was enough to get me seeing a doctor right there in the clinic.
And I will share what the wonderful Dr Amil Rashid, a young lady of great learning, told me; so that other wo/men with HBP can benefit, and those without do these 10 things to live bila pressure in future.
(i) Lose weight and watch that waistline. The bigger the belly, the more likely that your blood pressure is high.
(ii) Do 30 minutes of exercise every day – whether that is walking, jogging, road running, swimming or even dance class.
(iii) Eat a healthy diet of grains, fruits and veggies, and make do with low-fat dairy.
(iv) Reduce your SALT (sodium) intake at once. I knew this would be my hardest challenge, because I love salt on everything, especially nyama choma!
(v) Limit alcohol. Ironically, two bottles of beer a day for men, or a glass of red wine for women, works well for pressure.
(vi) Quit smoking! Or if like me you do NOT smoke, please do not start.
(vii) Cut back on the caffeine.
(viii) Reduce your chronic stress levels.
Work, family, finances or illness may be the cause of your high blood pressure.
Change jobs, speak to kids, break up with toxic spouses, manage your money, and accept your health situation.
Dr Rashid further said folks with HBP should manage ambitions, lower expectations, avoid stress triggers like traffic, get a hobby, do yoga or charity, and just chill out.
(ix) Have a strong support system, whether in family, friends or church/chamaa.
(x) Buy a blood pressure kit to monitor your BP, she finished, and of course visit clinic for check-up.