Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dehydration, Chronically Low BP, and Hot Tubs

So about a week ago, I decided to quit therapy. I have been going every 2 weeks, working on my food and body image issues. This amounts to about $70 a month. As I am in the process of joining a gym for $38 plus the cost of gas (as I can't force my work carpool partner to hang at the gym for 1-2 hours a day) each month, I thought it might be prudent to cut costs elsewhere. Also, I thought I was doing okay.

I have finally come to the conclusion that I'm kind of fucked up. I can deal with that. I have major body issues, and because of that, I've decided that I will never choose to be physically intimate with anyone. I have accepted that this is what my future holds, and I'm mostly okay with that. Having come to a place of acceptance in this, I've experienced a great deal of peace in general and less frustrations in my friendship with TB.

So, no more need to discuss the issues because they are what they are, and I'm pretty sure I can live with them. I can live a totally sexless existence, just me and my body issues. No more therapy. I have one date left on the books, and I was planning to break up with my therapist then.

All that changed this morning when I went to the gym.

It started out like a pretty typical day. I mixed up the hours and got to the gym with my mama and my younger brother an hour before they opened. So, we headed to the store for a bit and I sipped coffee while they ate breakfast.

I had forgotten my water bottle, but I figured since we were at the store anyway, I'd buy a coconut water and take it with me. I forgot to buy the coconut water.

When we got back to the gym and they were open, we got in and headed to the locker rooms. I was getting changed into my work out clothes, examining different parts of my body, pointing out my fat lumps to my mother, complaining about the wrinkly, sagging skin. This is what I do every day in my head when I look in the mirror.

Having dressed in work out gear, I took my mother to the weight room. "I'll be back in 45 minutes to an hour," I told her as I headed to the track.

I walked 1 mile on the track as a warm up. This particular track has 3 lanes, 1 running, 1 walking, 1 passing. The walking lane requires 14 1/2 laps to complete a mile. I had just finished my 14th lap walking and as I anticipated the start of my run, I literally giggled uncontrollably for the last 1/2 lap, I was so excited to be running.

I moved into the running lane and completed the 16 1/2 laps for 1 mile.

With a stitch in my side, I moved back to the walking lane and walked 7 1/2 laps. I thought to myself that I probably shouldn't have had 2 cups of coffee immediately before working out, as I was certain that was the reason I had a stitch in my side.

Moving smoothly back into the running lane, I completed 16 1/2 laps for my second mile, and then shifted back to the walking lane for the final 7 laps that would complete my second mile walking and effectively cool me down.

Then, I headed to the weight room. I forgot to get a drink of water.

After half an hour on the machines in the weight room I was starting to cramp a bit in my legs and I was feeling a bit nauseous. "Oh!" I thought. "I forgot to drink anything." Spying a water fountain, I immediately walked over and took a few sips. I finished with weight about forty minutes later.

"Okay," I told my mama and brother, "I'm ready to head to the pool!" I was about to throw up, so I headed to the water fountain again for a few more sips.

Once in the locker room again, as we changed into our swim suits, I once again examined my body. I explained to my mother that I often look at my abdomen and all the loose, wrinkled, lumpy skin and it reminds me of high school, back before I knew I was gluten intolerant, and I used to bake breads. "It just reminds me of bread dough. I'd like to cut it off, knead it until all smooth and elastic, shape it into loaves, and pop it in the oven," I said as I poked around at the little pockets and squishy lumps.

We showered and headed to the pool area where my brother was already doing laps. "Oh, sugar cookies!" I exclaimed. "I forgot to take out my contacts." I'm utterly terrified of losing a contact in the pool. "I'll be right back!"

I stowed my contact in their case and headed back to the pool. I did ten laps. Front crawl, breaststroke, front crawl, breaststroke, front crawl, back crawl, breaststroke, back crawl, front crawl, back stroke.

Now, having unusually bad menstrual cramps today, I decided that having cooled down sufficiently in the pool for 15 minutes, it might be nice to spend some time in the hot tub, with one of the jets massaging my lower back. So, we headed there next.

I turned on the jets and stepped in. My mama complained that it was too hot, but I thought it was perfect. My brother remarked that it was quite warm, but I still thought it was perfect.

We're all talking and having a good time. I share a little about my body issues and start to tear up. "Hey, M," my mama says, because I'm not looking at her. I look over. "You know, I love you no matter what. Testiness and all!"

"I'm only testy because I'm over training! I'm not eating enough to account for all the exercise and my body is constantly screaming, 'I'm starving! Feeeeed me!' and I'm screaming back at it 'Shut up already!'" My brother laughed at that. But seriously, body, you're not starving. If you're hungry, eat those lumpy fat stores!

After 10 minutes the jets shut off automatically. I hopped up to restart them, thinking, "The sign on the door limits it to 15 minutes, so another 5 should be fine!" I felt a bit dizzy getting out, but as I have generally low blood pressure anyway (typically 98/52), and I get dizzy nearly every time I stand up, I didn't think much of it.

Another five minutes in and we all head out.

This is when I knew I was in trouble.

This was more than dizzy. I was hot and though I'd just gotten out, my skin was almost immediately dry. I leaned against the wall and asked my mama to hand me my towel. She did, and I remember thinking, "I just need to sit for a minute." I started to bend my knees, and that's when it happened.

There were bright blinking lights and I did not know where I was. I was confused because I had no reason to be in a place with strobe lights going, and I'm not sure where I've come from, or where I am, or how I got here.

I can hear voices, distant and garbled as though I am at one end of a tunnel and they are at the other. "You need to say something so we know you're okay," I think I hear my mama say.

This is so out of the ordinary, all I can say is, "What?"

Then, I remember, we're at the gym. I didn't feel well. I wanted to sit down. But, I'm lying on the floor.... "Did I pass out?" I ask, unsuccessfully trying to open my eyes.

"Yeah," my brother says.

"Actually," my mama responds, "I think you had a seizure."

"No," I tell her, "I'm sure I just passed out. I'll be fine."

"Your eyelids were fluttering and your muscles were twitching. This was more than passing out," she says with motherly authority. Fluttering eyelids. Well, that explains the strobe light effect.

"Should we call an ambulance?" my brother asks.

"No," I tell them. "I'm sure I'll be fine. I'm just really dehydrated. Could you get me some water?" I ask my brother, finally opening my eyes and sitting up.

He runs to get me a cup and a pitcher full of water. He returns with four gym staff in tow.

I'm sure I'm blushing 100 shades of red, though I cannot feel the heat of a blush in my cheeks. I can't believe I passed out at the gym. This is so humiliating. "I'm fine," I tell them. "Really. Just a bit dehydrated. I'll be okay in a minute." I can't make them out clearly, just three men and a woman.

"Are you sure?" they ask.

"Yep. I'm just going to take a few minutes and drink some water. I'll be fine soon!"

Three of them leave, but the fourth refuses to go until he's sure I can walk out on my own. This is really embarrassing, feeling foolish for forgetting my water bottle and passing out because I got a little dehydrated.

After most of the water and about five minutes, I stand up. I take a step and then another and try for a third. The entire room is engulfed in white light. "Nope," I whisper, as I fall against the wall, the room going gray and then black as I slide to the floor. I'm not out for long. I can hear them asking if I'm okay. "Yeah," I say with my eyes closed. "I just need another minute."

I drink more water and rest for another 5 minutes. In the meantime, an older gentleman comes in and uses the hot tub. I try to stand up once more, and immediately, the room is engulfed in white light, fade to gray, I'm against the wall, black. I'm sitting there frustrated with my body.

"You need to lie flat on your back, put your feet up high against the wall, get blood to your head," the guy in the hot tub says.

"Oh, genius!" I mumble. My mama has gone to the showers to get changed, trusting my brother to care for me while I recover. We did not expect it would take very long.

"Don't let her get up for at least another five minutes," the hot tub guy says as he leaves. "You've got a bit more color," he remarks. "When you stood up before you were white as a sheet. Stay down this time!"

"Thanks," I tell him, still hugely embarrassed as he heads out.

We wait 20 minutes. After five, I still knew I wouldn't make it up. At ten, I asked for a bit more water. By 15 minutes prone, I tell the staff worker (who I am to see clearly now, and who is remarkably HOT) that he should have brought a book, because I'm sure it would be far more entertaining than "all of this" as I indicate my ridiculous position on the floor, feet against the wall.

We spend five minutes just talking. In my typical fashion I asked him questions (or interrogated him, as TB call this habit of mine).

At this point, I feel well enough (finally) to stand. Rather than feeling hot and dry, I'm starting to feel comfortable, almost cool, and I can feel the wetness in my hair and the hem of my swimsuit's skirt.

I stand up, and I'm immediately worried. Why can't I see anything clearly!? What happened!? Oh, right. I took my contacts out before jumping in the pool. Goodness, I'm a moron. I'm certainly my face would be flaming red if I were capable of blushing at this point.

Showered, dressed, mobile, we leave the gym. I grab a coconut water and protein bar at the grocery store. I am better.

When I get home I google complications from dehydration. Yep, sure enough, it was seizure. Involuntary muscle contractions and loss of consciousness. Thanks,! Thanks, mama for recognizing what was going on!

So, that's that. I've changed my mind. I knew I'd forgotten my water bottle and I knew it wasn't wise to work out without having one on hand, and I did it anyway.

I knew I wasn't feeling well. I knew that wanting to throw up was a sign that I was dehydrated, but I ignored it to push on in my work out. I pushed until I felt shaky and dizzy standing up and then only paused long enough to take a few sips. I needed so much more at that point.

I continued to push, despite the fact that my muscles were burning and cramping and I knew if I had had anything in my stomach at all, I would have thrown up, and still I didn't stop, because all I could think about was, "I just need to finish this set, this machine, this lap, and I can tend to my body after."

I continued to push, ignoring my body, telling it to shut up and do what it was told, pushing it to perform one more, ignoring it until it fell silent, until my thirst was forgotten, until I had a seizure. And I thank God that I was in the process of sitting when it happened, because otherwise, who knows how hard I would have hit my head on the wall or the floor if I'd fallen farther than I did.

After I got home, I rested for a few minutes before my next engagement today. As I headed out again, I thought about my plans to quit therapy. "I'll be fine," I said to myself.

"Oh, really?" I asked myself. "You just had a seizure. That's hardly fine."

"It happens!" I argued back. "It's totally normal. People get dehydrated. It's a common complication. I'll just be more careful next time."

"Normal? Really? Normal? There's nothing normal about having a seizure because of dehydration from over training. There's nothing normal about having a seizure at all. What's more, forgetting 'normal' as a subjective term for just a moment, there's nothing HEALTHY about having a seizure or even passing out."

I wanted to argue back. I really couldn't.

I guess therapy will have to continue.

And I'm going to put a water bottle in my gym bag as soon as I get home. If I can remember.

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