It took a lot of convincing to get Anh* to leave behind the old house and move in with his son. As an immigrant to the U.S., he’d faced more than his share of challenges, and he prided himself on his ability to handle whatever came his way.
He’d always seen himself as the reliable one in his family, the strong one, and moving in with Hung felt like admitting he couldn’t take care of himself anymore.
But Anh’s health had become impossible to ignore. Facing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and seven different prescriptions, he knew his son’s support would be invaluable.
He was getting old, he told himself. It was inevitable, and he just needed to accept it.
All in all, though, Anh felt like he was managing things pretty well. He tried to maintain a healthy diet, followed his prescriptions to a T and made sure to check his blood pressure at least once every morning and evening. His Wellness Coach, Sarah, would also call regularly to check in on him and discuss his progress.
His numbers were pretty steady, but every so often Sarah would get an alert that Anh’s blood pressure had dropped below 90/60. She called to ask how he felt, whether he ever experienced some of the symptoms of low blood pressure — like fatigue, blurry vision, nausea and dizziness.
“Oh no, I’m fine,” Anh said, every time. Even if Sarah pressed him gently — “Are you sure?” — he’d answer: “I’m fine. I’m normal.”
In truth, the dizziness was always there. Mild or severe, it never quite left him.
Anh told himself he’d get used to it, that he could find ways to make do, to deal with it on his own. Walking from the car to the front door, carrying laundry from one end of the house to the other, even just standing up too fast made him lightheaded, so he did his best not to over-exert himself, to take his time.
The nights were harder. As he’d grown older, he’d gotten used to a more broken sleep, to getting up to use the bathroom two or three times a night. But lately the dizziness made it hard for him to find his way there and back. When he stood, he’d get a head rush that nearly knocked him over. Even with the lamp on, he’d have to move cautiously, a hand outstretched, hoping for the best.
Then one night, as he got up, a wave of dizziness sent him spinning. He stumbled from the bed, reaching for something, anything to catch him.
He was on the floor before he knew what had happened. The lamp lay on its side, the nightstand askew. His brow throbbed, and when ran his fingers over it he felt the torn, damp skin.
The cut wasn’t deep, and he took care of the disinfectant and bandaid himself. But after, in bed, he struggled to fall back to sleep. He lay awake, wondering: Was this really what it would be like from now on? Was this his new normal?
When his son asked, Anh laughed off the injury. “Oh, I just rolled out of bed,” he said. “I’m fine.”
But on their next video check-in, Sarah noticed the bandage.
“I was checking the time and must have fallen out of the bed,” Anh explained, assuring her once more that he was “fine.”
An experienced nurse, Sarah knew better. To her, this fall sounded like it could have been caused by the dizziness that can come with a drop in blood pressure. She reminded Anh that low blood pressure was a serious condition and could even be life-threatening.
It didn’t need to be this way, though. With some modifications to his care plan or prescriptions, Sarah said, Anh might be able to address the dizziness and start to enjoy a better quality of life.
After some back and forth, Anh agreed that the dizziness had indeed become a burden. Sarah advised him to take a break from his low blood pressure medication in the mornings: He could skip the pill but maintain his morning routine, measuring his blood pressure with the monitor myNurse had sent him. Then, later in the morning, he could check his numbers again. If his blood pressure had increased since the first measurement or was otherwise running high, then he could take his medication.
In the meantime, with his permission, Sarah reached out to Anh’s doctor to inform him of the recent fall. Concerned and wanting to get to the bottom of Anh’s symptoms, Anh’s doctor followed up to schedule a virtual appointment that same day.
After the appointment, the doctor adjusted Anh’s prescription, reducing the dosage of his high blood pressure medication and swapping out his blood thinner.
Since these adjustments, Anh’s blood pressure numbers have consistently landed in a healthy range, and he hasn’t had any major dips. With time, Anh is realizing that this, too, could be his new normal.
* Member stories are inspired by real interactions between our members and Wellness Coaches, but member names and other details have been changed to protect privacy