My name is Alvin Parham and I am 45 years old. My story starts as an unbelievable experience. I never frequented going to the doctor’s office for annual check-ups because I always felt I was in excellent health. I never had an ailment; not as much as a cold besides an occasional headache due to sinus; so I thought. I had the mentality that many black men have about doctors, which is they are not to be trusted. I guess this mentality dates all the way back to the Tuskegee experiment, which involved black men being guinea pigs for the syphilis virus. They were not told by doctors that they had this virus and never was treated for it, therefore the virus spread to their partners and many died.
My dilemma started with neck pain. I thought I was having this pain from the strain of my job because my position required a lot of movement. I tried to alleviate this pain with over the counter aspirin and a heating pad, which provided short-term relief. I retired to bed and then all of a sudden I was jolted with a dizzy spell and could not catch my balance. I thought I was about to pass out. The days to follow I was feeling weak, dizzy, and had a loss of appetite. It got to the point where I could not walk unless I held on to the walls or my wife. My wife rushed me to the ER and that is when I found out I had high blood pressure and hydrocephalus. When I arrived in ER, my blood pressure was 220/110. I was threatening a stroke. I was admitted to Detroit Receiving Hospital, where I stayed for a month and a half. I almost lost my life and through the Grace of God, I am still living.
My blood pressure is under control, but this ailment left me with End Stage Renal Disease. I go to dialysis 3 days a week and is awaiting a kidney transplant. My mother had high blood pressure that lead to a stroke and ended her life. The doctors suspect it is hereditary. This disease has greatly affected myself and family. This have been a life changing experience. I had to get in the habit of taking daily medications. In addition, my diet had to totally change. I and my family had to adjust to a change in my work status because I am no longer employed and am not planning on returning to work any time soon. Furthermore, my wife and I had to make some life style changes. We both quit smoking after many years.
High blood pressure can happen to anyone. It does not matter of race, age, or gender. I was diagnosed at age 44 and the doctors said for my kidneys to be damaged as bad as they are, I had this disease for years and didn’t even know it. My advice to anyone is to get yearly exams or at least check your blood pressure at regular intervals. If you don’t have a blood pressure cuff, you can go to any Rite Aid store and check your pressure for free. High blood pressure is a silent killer. You do not feel any symptoms until this disease has progressed out of control. By that time it could be too late. I was one of the lucky ones.
Antioch Get Healthy now Road Trip is a schedule of blood pressure check four Saturday in a row starting June 1, 2013 at Mo-Cuts 10:00am-12:00 noon on S. Cedar June 8, 2013 at Robert’s Barbershop on W. Saginaw 10:00 am- 12:00 noon June 15th 10-12 noon BW's on Holmes Rd. MI State Afl-CIO Parking Lot 419 S. Washington Square 10-12 noon.
This was printed in the June 2, 2013 - June 15, 2013 Edition