So this post is a little off-kilter (and more of a short story than a blog post) but apparently that’s my life and if you handle that as seemingly-well-but-actually-terribly as I seem to then maybe just enjoy this picture I found the other day and I’ll see you next time:
Still here? Ok, but these are minutes you will never get back.
PS. Thanks. You’re my kind of people.
Short version: Basically, the number of times I’ve damaged myself doing some kind of physical activity wholly suggests I should just call it a day and give in to becoming the whale I’m consistently threatening to be.
I’m really surprised the people upstairs let me get away with that whole cycling to Paris thing unscathed. Seriously.
Really long version: It all started very innocently. I got up, got on my bike, pootled to the gym in my neon (NB. It was REALLY dark. What happened, summer? I thought you were on our side) and felt really good (read: smug) for not turning the alarm off. I then de-neoned and started my regular Tuesday morning form of torture thinly veiled by the fitness Powers That Be as ‘Body Attack’ and felt good:smug for bouncing around like a moron at 7am.
Then, between a set of jump lunges and some sort of pulse squat, my heart just started beating really fast. Yes, I know that’s what’s supposed to happen in an exercise class but this was the speed at which I imagine it would beat if those lottery numbers did all in fact match one day. Or, you know, when you get a free chocolate bar out of the machine.
AKA palpitations, which I’ve had a few times before for a couple of minutes at a time and thus wasn’t as scary as it might have been.
I begrudgingly (read: angrily. The 6am alarm, people. I want rewards for that shit) took myself to the side and gave myself a couple of minutes for my angry little heart to sort itself out.
So I took myself out of the class, mortified at the inevitable assumption from my Lycra-clad buddies that I wasn’t up to the 7am jump lunges after all.
I scurried upstairs, all panting and embarrassed, heart still beating faster than the speed of sound and sat myself on a bench, resigned to the fact that I should just get myself showered and changed and the hell out of the windowless, sweat-filled air-lock and somewhere a bit calmer ASAP.
Cue cool shower, which made me feel slightly better despite my heart insisting on keeping up the acrobatics, until I stepped out of the shower into CHANGING ROOMAGEDDON.
Imagine a space the size of your kitchen. Now imagine it full of 40 or so London-paced spritely young women, armed with straighteners and suitcases worth of beauty products, and matching underwear adorning their size 8 frames as they stand and preen every last millimetre of their hair/face/body while trying to drink that all important protein shake and make it to the office with enough time to spare to grab an organic decaf chai latte on the way in.
Yes, I’m bitter. None of my underwear matches.
There are damp limbs everywhere, all trying to climb over each other, and you’re pretty likely to get knocked by a rogue bum, or at the very least slapped in the face by a mop of wet hair that’s hurriedly making its way back to its locker. You’ve absolutely no chance of cooling down as you hop about trying to entice your damp legs into your tights without ripping thanks to the four hairdryers in that tiny room, all of which will remain on for a good hour solid while the chaos of Changing Room Rush Hour ensues. And so you emerge, bright red and grumbling, with your legs twisted into your tights and at least eight hairs that don’t belong to you stuck to your person, having been assaulted by 12 unassigned naked body parts, three damp towels, a suspect rogue dirty tissue, two hairdryers and a defunct locker door that swung shut just a little too quickly for you to move your fingers out of the way in time.
Anyway, amongst all this I had managed to turn a shade of green that is generally reserved for kale smoothies at such an hour. And for reasons as yet unknown, I couldn’t lift my arms properly, so trying to ram the contents of my life back into my backpack in the single possible order that means I can actually get the thing closed, while fighting amongst the Ladypack for a space the size of a tea towel to get dressed in, was causing me some anxiety. I gave up doing my hair and sacked off the make up completely, figuring at this point I was lucky to still be conscious, having somehow NOT collapsed in the middle of the throng wearing only a towel. You may think I’m using artistic licence here but this has 100% happened to a very good friend of mine and is further evidence to support the do-not-exercise-it-will-result-in-public-humiliation case.
I pretty much fell down the stairs shaking, sweating, and cursing my god-damn heart which just wouldn’t call it a day and get back to normal.
By this point a few have you may have sussed this is what’s called an SVT. I’m told this is fairly common, especially in *ahem* young and healthy people (doffs cap) but Christ if that’s the case why don’t they tell you about these things before the event? SVTs also usually last about five minutes. I just had to be different.
So I literally fall into the poor receptionist and drop my bag as I wheeze for a first aider and tell her I can’t really breathe, convinced that my time is up as I also can’t really see, wondering if this is a full blown heart attack, but also aware that I’ve allowed myself to panic a bit now that I’ve completed the changing room assault course and I’m wearing clothes.
She quietly has a panic attack of her own.
I fall down onto a piece of gym equipment because it’s the closest thing and I don’t know what the hell else to do. And I calm down a bit, probably through the relief that comes with waving the white flag and admitting you’re not ok.
Hey, poor receptionist and unassuming gym staff? I’m your problem now. I’m just going to lie here and pass out for a while; you’ve got this, right?
I start to crack jokes about trademarking the ‘Body Attack Heart Attack’, with only a slight hint of resentment because at this point I’m blaming the gym, society’s pressures on being healthy, every piece of chocolate I’ve ever eaten and mostly myself for not being ok with being fat and if I’d just accepted a BMI of obese in the first place I wouldn’t be in this position, crying and sweating with my fully-clothed legs swinging in the air of a central London gym at 8am on a Tuesday morning.
The gym folk kindly call my doctor’s surgery who are precisely no help whatsoever. I check my blood sugar and eat my overnight muesli in a really dignified manner on the smelly gym floor in case my heart is just in fact having a bit of a panic because I haven’t eaten in a while and I know food and my heart are in a pretty close relationship these days. They also call Ian, and then I feel bad for panicking him unnecessarily so I take the phone and tell him I’m absolutely fine, despite also wondering if this is going to be our last ever conversation (editor’s note: this is embellishment. I didn’t think this). We decide to move to the Costa next door so that I can get phone signal for a return phone call from the GP that eventually comes at 3pm. Everyone’s a bit confused, a bit flummoxed and a little bit worried about what exactly to do next.
I’m willing my heart to pull itself together and calm the hell down. We’re a good 90 minutes into the drumming chest situation, and I’m finding it quite difficult to talk, and everything keeps going black, so we decide to call 111. A lovely paramedic on a bicycle arrives in a couple of minutes, and people are now looking up from their morning lattes to observe the girl lying awkwardly on a sofa in Costa looking a bit peaky. My main concern is that we haven’t yet bought anything from said coffee shop but coffee quite clearly is the last thing I need, so any minute now they’re going to kick us out and I’m going to have renounce the last remaining bit of dignity I have, lie down on the pavement and give in because I’m quite sure my heart is literally about to burst out of my chest, make a break for freedom and sprint off down the street. I tell Rhiannon (the lovely, concerned lady from the gym who I toppled onto and subsequently didn’t leave my side) that we definitely need to capture that moment because it’s sure to be a medical spectacular and my dying wish is to prevent anyone else from this kind of Costa-audienced fate.
She looks worried again.
The lovely bicycled paramedic tells me we need to capture my heart rate on an ECG so she’s calling the big guns, aka the actual ambulance. OH CHRIST. The pavement’s suddenly starting to have more appeal.
Along comes the ambulance in a matter of minutes – and it is here I take a moment to ponder whether I’m in some sort of Truman Show episode and ‘they’ were actually planning for this to happen all along and had the ambulance very conveniently lurking around the corner, just off set, because it’s rush hour in Central London and I just don’t get it.
To the Costa customers’ bemusement and my absolute HORROR, I get lifted into a wheelchair, complete with ‘dignity blanket’ and wheeled into the van. This crew are in immense spirits, which makes me feel less like the heart explosion is about to occur, and they record a ‘cracking’ ECG that clocks it beating at a whopping 190bpm. I think I sit somewhere around 65 on any given Tuesday morning, so the sweet relief of justification for all this horror sweeps over me and I just close my eyes and lie down on an actual bed this time, and surrender.
Something’s going on and they’re going to fix it. Thank God because I’m exhausted and all I’ve done is lie down in various abnormal resting spots in front of strangers for the past 90 minutes. But then they ask me to blow into a plastic syringe in a bid to reset my heart and I feel like that sounds like a lot of effort for someone so tired, but I do it anyway and even manage to push the syringe back, but my heart is apparently a stubborn bastard and just carries on racing away like it makes no odds to anyone’s morning.
I’ve gone through the next ‘I feel ok and let’s cover up my embarrassment with humour’ phase, and hit the ‘I can’t really breathe, or talk, or make any actual movements’ phase. Let this be a lesson: trying to be funny is tiring. Luckily for you I requested this delightful proof of the incident in one of the more ‘oh isn’t this funny, what am I like?’ phases…
The blue lights go on and off we speed through the streets of London to the nearest A&E, where more hilarity ensues as a workman tries to tell a FLASHING AMBULANCE that they cannot park in the emergency bay. I mean, I know I’m not dying, the paramedics know I’m not dying, but the man supervising the guys laying concrete DOES NOT KNOW I’M NOT MOMENTS FROM DEATH.
He gets vetoed, and I get wheeled in to probably the nicest doctor I’ve ever met, who gives me oxygen which does make me think I may in fact be dying, and proceeds to poke every part of my upper body in a VAIN attempt to find a VEIN for a cannula. Thanks to my heart having being wholly inefficient at its job of supplying my body with blood for the past two hours, this is a struggle because my blood pressure has massively dropped. It’s also, logically, why I was also having trouble lifting my limbs, which at this point have also gone oh-so-slightly numb as the nurse undresses me with a struggle and adorns me with the hospital gown I’ve always dreamed of wearing.
The lovely doctor tells me he is called DR MISTRY and if I wasn’t already on the verge of having a heart attack I’d have another one through sheer joy at this name, and I feel so happy that I’m just allowed to close my eyes and let him take care of everything. There’s a rather flustered boss-doctor who keeps shouting something about a paper she’s just read and that he really should be raising my knees to 45 degrees for the injection and I just think she needs to calm down because she’s stressing us all out and maybe go and give that paper a second read, just to make sure, so that the guy in the next cubicle who is bleeding quite profusely can do so in peace.
It’s at this point I mentally dial into M, because I am in fact James Bond in Casino Royale when he has a heart attack in the car and has to give himself some form of cardioversion to prevent sudden death. Thankfully Vespa aka Dr Mistry has it all in hand and there’s no need for such dramatics, Jen.
He does get a vein OF COURSE, because he’s Dr Mistry, and proceeds to whack the biggest cannula I’ve ever seen into my arm and tells me he’s going to inject something called adenosine into my body to reset my heart to normal which sounds pretty James Bond-esque to me. I feel like this is no bother until he starts to do what can only be described as very official sounding pre-flight checks and I wonder what exactly this drug is going to do to me besides reset my heart, and I get ready for the possibility of sprouting another head as a side effect.
My heart really IS a stubborn bastard because the first dose does absolutely nothing. The second dose, however, makes my chest feel like it’s being completely crushed and I think this is a joke and my beloved Mistry is in fact poisoning me when suddenly he says ‘Welcome back, Jenny’, when what he obviously meant to say there was ‘Ah, Mr Bond. I’ve been expecting you’. I realise that my heart is beating normally and that I had forgotten what that felt like and I should probably get myself dressed and out of this Aston Martin DBS V12 so that I can go back in and finish that really important poker game I was in the middle of playing.
Then, I vomit my muesli into a paper bowl.
And that was Tuesday.