If you didn't read the first installment of this story, the following will make no sense. You can read Part 1 here.
Looking back on last Saturday’s events, I keep asking myself, “Scott, why didn’t you get yourself the heck out of that packed room? Why on earth did you stay?”
The truth is I waited too long for that to be possible. Had I been more proactive after the first onslaught of vertigo, I might have been able to walk gingerly to the door—find help, or a private place to lie down.
But there I was, completely struck down, in front of half the mothers in the neighborhood.
In the last post, I used the word “collapsed.” But I should clarify. I never actually came crashing down on the floor like a sack of potatoes. It was more of an incremental collapse—like the last scene in Terminator, where the cyborg is systematically dismembered down to a torso that will not die. I went from bending over with my hands on my knees, to squatting, to kneeling, to sitting, to lying down—all while the sea of barbells continued to go up and down all around me.
My eyesight came and went, as did the audibility of the music. I kept lifting my water bottle to my mouth, but the thought of drinking made my nausea worse. I had the reflexes of a wet vegetable, and was trying to give the appearance of a prize fighter.
As I lay there on my back with my knees bent, a woman broke into my tiny tunnel vision. I think she had shoulder-length curly brown hair and was wearing a purple polo.
“Hi, I’m one of the wellness workers in the class today. Here, put this on the back of your neck.” She handed me a white gym towel that felt like it had been steeping in a bucket of ice water all night. “And you really should not be lying down. You need to sit up. I’ll be back with a chair for you.”
Oh, fabulous. A chair.
I think she thought I was overheated, but I was actually overcome by the spinning ceiling over my head. I knew that lying down was best. But like a good patient, I went ahead and took her advice. She came back with the chair, plopped it in my tiny 6 ft. square, and helped me up into it.
Sitting. Did. Not. Help.
As I sat in the chair with that icy towel over my head (in the middle of the front row of a workout room full of people), my ears started ringing like a 747 was in the room. My field of vision shrunk to pinhole size. I wanted a trash can to throw up in. All I could do was moan. And I really moaned, loudly. The driving bass music was so loud that it drowned out my moaning (thank goodness).
After about 5 minutes of feeling like I was going to die in that chair, the instructor turned on some kind of new age dreamy music for the 5-minute cool down. “Oh crap,” I thought. “This is going to put me completely out.”
I remember leaning forward, and kind of sideways, in the chair. I came SO close to falling out of it. I must have looked like a complete stooge with a white towel over my head, all hunched over. But I never fell out of it.
The class ended, and the room cleared of all those poor people whose routines were probably ruined by my whole ordeal. Joy, along with the instructor and the "wellness" worker (who had not made me well), came over to me with concerned looks.
The wellness worker started violently beating 2 ice packs on the wood floor to activate them. She put one on the back of my neck and one on my forehead. I’m telling you, the ice did not help at all.
They all helped lower me back down onto the floor (what a relief) and elevated my feet on my riser. This was good. They took my pulse. 57. They took my blood pressure. 90s over 60s. That was low for me.
Then the wellness ice pack princess said, “Normally, the recovery time doesn’t take this long. Since it’s taking you a while to come out of this, we’re going to go ahead and call the squad and have them check you out. They’ll want to take you to the hospital. Is that OK?”
In what seemed like a couple hundred seconds, two men in midnight blue clothes, and a couple of firemen wearing grimy yellow coats with glow-in-the-dark stripes and huge boots came lumbering across the fitness room floor with a gurney in tow. They took my blood pressure again, which by then was more like 100 over 60s, up a little. They listened to my heart. They pricked my finger; my sugar was 101.
I think all self-respecting ambulance drivers feel a strong obligation to transport the afflicted, even if they check out OK. So in my weakened condition, I decided not to fight them. They helped me onto the gurney and wheeled me out of the fitness room.
It was raining for the first time in weeks, as I rode out on that gurney for the first time in my life.
I lay still in the ambulance, staring at the ceiling and feeling better with each mile. I thought about all of those for whom that ceiling—the oxygen ports, the handles and the gauges—might have been the last thing they ever saw. I thanked God that on my first ride in an ambulance, I was neither in pain nor bleeding. He had been so gracious. This was going to be OK.
They wheeled me to Room 9, where I stayed for 2 or 3 hours while doctors gave me IV fluids, examined me and performed several tests—all of which came back completely normal. I had fallen into the 30% category of unexplainable syncope (pun intended).
At about 1pm, I signed my discharge papers, got up and walked out of the ER with Joy. The rain had stopped, and the sun was shining again. I was thankful to be alive after that syncope, that Saturday.
So if anyone ever tries to persuade you to go to Body Pump, don’t feel bad about saying no. Just tell them you’d rather not wind up in the hospital like someone you know.