Monday, February 18, 2008

Cautionary Tale

Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.” - Buddha

After a very busy week at work, coupled with an intense second week in a three week block leading up to my first race of the year, I had an incident on Sunday that I'm sharing in the hopes that we all can learn something from it: I became severely dehydrated, had a fainting episode (in public, at a Kinko's in downtown Durham, no less)and ended up taking an ambulance ride to Duke's emergency department where I spent several hours.

Two IVs of fluid, a chest x-ray (all clear), an EKG (normal), and a pregnancy test (negative) later, I returned back home safe and sound and am now fine - just really tired. The docs think I got really dehydrated and didn't eat enough yesterday (and probably all of last week). As long as it doesn't happen again any time soon and I don't develop signs of an infection, I'm a-o.k.

I'm thankful for the good outcome, but the event was very scary for me -- and for my dear husband who arrived at Kinko's as his wife was having an oxygen mask placed on her face and IV started in public. I went from being o.k. to very not o.k. in about 90 seconds. My pulse was about 40 beats lower than it normally is and the EMTs could not get a blood pressure reading when they first arrived on the scene.

So, what lessons am I taking from this?

1. Even though I think I'm drinking and eating enough, given the amount of calories I'm burning every week and the occassional very busy week at work when I get distracted and don't follow my normal consumption plans-- I probably need to be eating and drinking more (while paying attention to my electrolyte levels) --especially after tough workouts and even on rest days (which Sunday was). Nutrition and hydration need to be a top priority - every day.

2. I really have increased my physical activity significantly over the last two years -- and I should probably let my primary care provider know that. I often hesitate to bring up the fact that I exercise 8-13 hours per week, because I think "oh, that's not that much" or "oh,it's not like I'm a professional athlete," or "oh, I don't want her totell me to stop or look at me like I'm crazy." The reality is that despite who I hang out with, a lot of people don't do this. I need to let my health care provider know that I might little different than who she sees every day - so that she can help keep me in check.

3. I felt REALLY crappy after my long run on Saturday, abnormally crappy. Now I know that my body was trying to communicate with me and let me know that all systems were not go. Then, I simply chugged a little gatorade, gave myself a pep talk, and got on my bike for another hour. Probably best to listen to my body's whisper instead of waiting for the lesson to hit me over the head like it did on Sunday.

I'm taking an extra rest day today and will be playing the rest of the week by ear. We'll see how it goes.

Be safe and drink up!