Apr 29, 2007

Bikram, Blood Pressure and the ER

I went to a Bikram yoga class today. Bikram is 26 yoga poses in a room heated to 105 degrees, for 90 minutes. I’ve done Bikram a lot … I recently went five times in a week, one of those “All you can sweat out of your pores for week for only 20 bucks!”

I went today because I had been up at a cabin for a week, working on my book enjoying the silence and high desert beauty in between writing sessions. Larry came up on Friday and we drove back this afternoon. It was great. But I was ready to come home.

Nothing gets back into to your old routine, like doing your old routine. Like sweating your hiney off for 90 minutes.

A lot of the poses are designed to cut off circulation to a certain area, then when you release, the blood flows in, muscles and ligaments are envigorated, they release the toxins stored in the muscle mass and they relax. My friend Tom had terrible arthritis, to the point he could not make a fist. He’s been doing Bikram for a couple years and his arthritis symptoms are gone. Some students get dizzy, especially the first few classes. the teachers say, “that’s common, it’s your body detoxifying. Just take it easy.”

Well I've been doing yoga for a while, doing Bikram most recently and I never got dizzy. Until today. About 25 minutes into the class , after one particular pretzel maneuver, I stood up and felt weird. I took it easy alright. I laid down and curled into child's pose on my mat while they went on with a few moves.

I sat up, an I felt okay. Stood up, did not feel okay. I laid down again. What should I do? Just sit here until they get to the floor poses and I don't look like an idiot? No. So I sat up, felt ... okay. Stood up. No did not feel OK. The room looked blotchy. I get light headed all the time, my blood pressure is low. but I knew this was not going to resolve. The class had moved on to a second or third pose, so I figured I needed to leave. the bathroom door was closer than the front door. And it was normal temperature in there.

So I shuffled over to the bathroom, but the bathroom door was locked. How could it be locked? No one had gone in there during class. This made no sense. What I didn't realize was that I was trying to open the supply closet. The bathroom was to the left. I had lost my peripheral vision and didn't even know there was a door.

You know when you have a dream, there could be a rapid succession of images or impulses, but then one image is clear and still. Well, I had a dream with one clear image. The yoga teacher staring up at me when I regained consciousness.

Yeah, fainted. Fainted clear away. The teacher called the paramedics, and so came the fire department, paramedics and a police car. They ran my vitals, probably dehydrated.

Ma'am, do you have a history of fainting or low blood pressure?"
"yeah, both. I fainted in Times Square once. And yes, I've got a naturally low blood pressure and pulse."
What I didn't tell him was that the ambulance sent me to some crappy midtown hospital where I lay in a hospital bed for 12 hours. The staff never pinpointed anything except that, "you fainted."
"Yes, I am aware of that. Any uh, suggestions?"
"Go home and drink some Gatorade."

I did NOT want to go to no ER today.
Sir, my blood pressure is always low.

"Ma'am, your blood pressure is 82 over 52. We're taking you to the hospital.
Can’t I just sit here for a while and drink some electrolytes?

We got an IV for that. Come on girl, you getting in the van.

Once in the van and away from the studio, they started in on me. Asking bout yoga, what kind I did, what studios I liked the best. And how insane it was that the room was 105 degrees
One guy laughed, Girl moved away from New York to get away from that weather. What you doing paying for it?"

My fiancé does Bikram, she tried to get me to take it. I’m calling her right now telling her about you.

Actually they made me laugh and I felt okay. Until we got to the ER. The paramedics had already started me on an IV and my vitals were almost normal. I didn't want a 12 hour redux of that crappy Hells Kitchen hospital off times Square.

I left my wallet and my phone in the car's glove box. The yoga studio said they’d call my husband. Hoped they did. Because I didn’t want to be tied to a stretcher and dumped somewhere in downtown LA when we were done.

It must have been a slow night, because I was fortunately only there for about an hour and a half. The other patients I saw were mostly middle aged obese men. One guy had to have the paddles. When they say ashen, that’s really what they mean. His skin was the color of gray ash, or dirty mop water. It was sobering. The other patients consisted of a few frail old ladies and some transients. One of my paramedic buddies saw a transient in the aisle and said, “hey Randy, Remember me? I picked you up off Figueroa on Tuesday. You back again?”

I was put into a semi private room. In that there were only two beds instead of eight. I didn’t see the patient when they wheeled me in, just the person sitting by the bedside. A young Asian guy. Maybe the patient was his mother? But when the patient spoke, the voice was gravelly and low. The more it spoke, the more pained and whiney and cantankerous and melodramatic the voice became.

Judging by the conversation, the patient and friend went to the same church. Tell everyone to pray for me. I mean, I don’t have any secrets you know that. But I don’t like to talk about my pancreatitis. I’ve had it before. Last night I just felt like I had really bad gas. Yeah, that really horrible bad gas where you feel like your intestines are going to explode. AAAH, there it comes!

Finally my valiant husband showed up. By then he knew I was OK, but it still had rattled him. He sat and waited with me, and almost immediately he too was curious about the voice. We decided it had to be a man. But the more he talked, the more he sounded like an overweight young man with some gender confusion issues.

The friend had been sent away to collect items from the invalid’s apartment: things for his stay at the hospital: several pairs of clean underwear and a bible. Then a pastor arrived, a young buffed out Asian guy who, judging by the look on his face as he went in, it had been a long day at church today, or he’d had a long history of dealing with Pancreas Boy.

The paramedic came back to give me some paperwork to sign. He said something to cheer me up, and we laughed. Pancreatitis Boy screamed “SSSSHHHHHHHHH!” and went back to retelling his story to the pastor, from previous bouts to the recent feeling of intestine wrenching gas, to today and his upcoming venture into in-patient living.

Nurse, Nurse! He yelld toward the nurse assigned to me. I need something for the pain! When am I going to be admitted? When are they coing to move me? My nurse went to try to answer his questions, the nurse didn’t know or have any control over it. Nurse made the mistake of trying to explain: it had to do with how many beds there were, it might take time to clean them up, etc etc. This only made Pancreas boy more agitated. The nurse returned with morphine to make the patient feel more comfortable. And maybe to get him to shut the FFFF up.

I was as I suspected, fine. Low blood pressure and loss of fluids make for fainting. Go home, he said. What, I gotta unhook myself?
Yeah, we’re a self serve operation.

When we got home I got a little scared about the whole thing. just had to hug Larry. I mean, every time he walked by me or I walked by him. I just had to stop and hug the guy.

Well one, he's so huggable and yummy. And two, I can no longer do my life without him. When I was still single, I'd have those morbid thoughts, "If we break up, I'll survive. I survived all these years with out him, I've gone through bad breakups before. I'll get through it."

Well no. Not any more. Larry is too much a part of my life. I depend on him, not in any needy codependent way. But in the way that where I used to have to do everything on my own, like grow spiritually or try to write a book or get home from the ER. I used to do all that myself. I had great moments and horrible ones, alone. It was just me, doing all of it alone.

Well now I have the best possible person ever as my husband: my champion and friend and lover and inspiration and confidence. My safety. Home. Larry feels like home. So when I walked by his desk, or he brushed by me, I just had to grab and hold him. Thank you God, that I am OK, that Larry is OK. That we are OK. Thank you thank you.

Larry pointed out that twice today, I had near misses in the car. Driving home from the cabin, an old geezer in an LTD sedan came around a bend right at me in my lane. I honked and braked, he braked and swerved. I looked in the mirror to make sure Larry wasn't freaking out. The LTD went back to using the whole road.

Then on the way back from the hospital, A guy ran a stop sign and could have hit me. He corrected himself and I was fine. but it was just kind of weird. Two near misses with drivers, and a trip to the hospital. Hmmm.

Lord, thank you for protecting me from whatever's going on.
Keep both Larry and me SAFE.


Madley said...

So glad to hear you are well, and am inspired by your new, healthy "dependence" (of course, that's the fear of an old single gal like me).

Ah, Love! :)

Stephanie said...

Home is the sailor, home from sea:

Her far-borne canvas furled

The ship pours shining on the quay

The plunder of the world.

Home is the hunter from the hill:

Fast in the boundless snare

All flesh lies taken at his will

And every fowl of air.

'Tis evening on the moorland free,

The starlit wave is still:

Home is the sailor from the sea,

The hunter from the hill.

A.E. Housman

Debs said...

Like I told Lar, I'm "kind of" mad at you for not telling me you fainted. I would have been the first person to start praying for you. It's obvious the enemy is upset with the impact the book will have on many people, not just believers. I would just like to state for the record....When we were at my house I prophesied that you would become famous! Now don't make me a false prophet!!! hee hee

Debbie said...

As I told Lar,..."I'm Kinda" mad at you guys for not telling me you fainted. Hmmm???? We are prayer partners. To think that you guys went through all that makes me said. You obviously don't play the victim mentality. I am SO glad you are OK. I love you guys!

Lisa Milton said...

Glad to hear you are ok. I've been considering bikram, but I am a little scared now.

Drink your juice and take care now.

Anonymous said...

It's Doug Perkins, I'm having trouble and can't log in here for now - uuuhhhhh....I'm pretty shocked that I found out about this by randomly going to a blog as well, I thought I was one of Larry's best friends and a prayer partner of you guys as well! Well, the point is that you're OK, but next time tell Larry not to act like his dialing finger was stuck in the ER as well - he sends me an email asking how my date was but doesn't mention this? Who cares about the date?

Sorry this happened to you, I hate ERs. The last time I was in the hospital, I as laying on a gurney with my drug drip to knock me out just starting, and a hispanic nurse came up to me to check my wrist band and said "your name....?" Never one to let a straight line go by, I had to take this one - I answered back in a Hispanic accent I first heard on the Ed Sullivan show so long ago: "My name - Jose - Juimanez" ;-)

Paul Burgess said...

Does training at 105F count as Bikram? Maybe not. I used to be a member of a gym where the a/c was never working.
I like running when it's very hot. There are British bases on Cyprus and they put out all these warnings in the summer in case the lads get heat stroke. Nothing like an hour on the road utterly transcending such warning and like the yoga I think it does take me to a new level of consciousness ;-) Drink plenty of water before trying this at home.

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