I had a 10 mile hike planned with our Boy Scout Troop as we are working (my son says forcing) on the Hiking Merit Badge. The boys chose this hike which is a beautiful hike, but it is all up hill. We chose to hike 5 miles up and then do the return five miles down.
About a mile into the hike, I couldn't breathe. This is prime allergy season for me, so I had already used my asthma inhaler as a preventative measure. I have walked this trail numerous times without any problems. The boys are way faster hikers than I am, but I finally had to stop and take a break. My pack felt like it had 100 pounds in it. I felt dizzy, nauseous, heartburn, and was sweating profusely. Sitting down felt better than standing up.
Because we had several other parents on this hike, I was able to be honest with myself and decide that I did not need to push myself farther up the mountain. I thought I was experiencing Altitude Sickness and the cure for that is to get back to lower levels. It did cross my mind that I really wasn't all that high up to be experiencing altitude sickness, but that is what the symptoms said to me. I didn't see myself at risk for a heart attack.
My daughter stayed back with me. We sat there on the trail for a while as I rested, then we hiked back down to the trail head. The hike down was fine and I did feel better.
At the shuttle stop while we waited for our bus to pick up us and drive us to the parking lot, we had a snack and water. Again, I was feeling better than I had on the trail. I noticed I was rubbing both of my eyes a lot and dug through my pack to find my allergy eye drops. I doused my eyes with the drops and waited. There is that brief time period where eye drops burn like crazy before they soothe. I was still rubbing my eyes after we got on the shuttle.
I dug back through my pack and found my large stash of Benadryl pills. This is the number one item I always have and always have to share with those around me while hiking.
People underestimate their allergic reaction to things that happen while miles away from a pharmacy. While sitting in the car for a while I posted my photos of my triumphant disappointment of a morning. I had been looking forward to this hike. It was going to be an ass kicker, but the views make it worth the pain.
Feeling like I had handled this little emergency of a morning, we headed home.
Once home, the adrenaline rush of worry about how bad I had felt on the trail was wearing off and the Bendaryl was kicking in so I took a nap. When I woke up an hour later, I had a FB email from a friend who is a local Fire Fighter. He said that the symptoms I had described were very in line with heart attack symptoms for women.
Theresa had texted to see how I was feeling, so I told her about the message. She asked if I wanted her to come get me and take me to the ER? "No," I replied. I felt fine now. Then I saw another message from a friend asking me how my "vascular" health was and my blood pressure. You know you are getting old when people as asking health questions on Facebook!
I have no clue what my vascular health is? I smoked for 22 years and didn't start taking care of my body until about 8 years ago. I called Theresa back and told her I had changed my mind and that I would really appreciate it if she would come get me and take me to the ER. I decided that if this was all just allergy related and they had to give me a shot of epinephrine, that I would be happy someone else was driving my shaky ass home.
It is always weird to show up at an Emergency Room. I told them that I wanted to be checked for maybe having heart attack symptoms. 44 year old female carrying 35 extra pounds around her mid section was whisked in and the first EKG was done. Moved from the triage room to another more permanent room. More sticky pads and blood work drawn. Each new person and new question made it clear that I had made the correct choice to come in to get checked out.
Yes I smoked for 22 years, pack and a half a day.
Yes, I am carrying some extra weight.
Yes, I have had a lot of stress this week. I got fired on Tuesday.
Yes, I have been slightly stressed out for weeks, awful work place.
Yes, I my body loves to yell at me via eczema, allergies, irritable bowel, headaches, inability to sleep and cystic colitis.
Yes, I have neck and shoulder pain. So much so that I started getting acupuncture and now I have a massage therapist who twist and contorts my body into various pretzel shapes while digging her elbows and strong pointy fingers into my muscles.
No, I don't sleep well consistently.
No, I don't exercise regularly. I haven't even been able to walk for the past two months due to my heel now hurting.
No, I don't have an outlet for my stress.
Yes, I know I should be breathing.
While I had a very nice long visit (5 hours) with my girl friend, while we waited for the two hours to pass before they would take more blood and compare it to the first test, I would have preferred to have my girl time pool side with sun warming my skin.
Finally the Doctor came back in and announced that I had not had a heart attack. My x-rays of my heart look great. The numbers that would have spiked a few hours after having a heart attack were non-existent. I was going to be released with a pamphlet about stress and needing to relax.
Stress, lack of sleep, and allergies took me down yesterday.
I was released and brought home.
Now, what do I do with this lesson? This is the tricky part. I am fine. It could be months or years before my body screams at me like this again.
I don't know how to make the changes in my life I need to. I am not sure how to hold myself accountable for the changes I need to make and the effort I need to put into my own life, every single day. Even after having a Doctor tell me two years ago to manage my diet, my stress and my sleep or I could lose my intestines I slipped back into not taking care of myself. I have had enough health scares that should have been big enough events to force me to make the changes that bring my body back to healthy and neutral, but I haven't made any lasting positive changes to my life.
I am grateful to have woken up to another beautiful day full of promise, even with a still slightly swollen eyelid.
How do I commit to living my best life? This is a wake-up call for both my physical body and needing to lose this weight and a call for me to put my emotional and spiritual health at the top of my list every day.
How have you made the changes you needed to in your own life? What tips can you give me? What tools have helped you out the best? How have you committed to making yourself your number one priority? What do you do every day to take care of yourself?