Hyperventilation and heart palpitations

“No one passes you on that hill, Emily.” I heard that in my head. On repeat.

I rounded the second-to-last flag and, dog-tired,  glanced up at the gully I had to climb.

“Show me the same guts you showed me last year.” 

Oh, he wanted guts? I’d give him guts. What have I got to lose? I thought.

I looked down at my feet and powered up the incline. Faster, faster, faster. I passed every girl who had been in my sight the entire race. With the speed came the whimpering. And the pain.

“I’m sorry … I’m being … so annoying … I don’t …. usually whimper!” I said to a competitor. She gave me a sort-of smile and I passed her before reaching the flag at the top.

My last step. [Photo courtesy of Dr. Denny.]
The usual man-made chute awaited before the finish line. The time flashed near the 20-minute mark. Oh shit. I tried to power up my tired legs, but they wouldn’t move. Wouldn’t move.

Someone grabbed my arm and someone else yelled “DON’T TOUCH HER!”

I collapsed.

I tried to get back up.

My legs still wouldn’t work.

I panicked (and I distinctly remember yelling out “I’m not usually this dramatic!” to the onlookers).

Next thing I knew, a mess of faces stood over me in the sun’s unbearable heat. I could hear Robby, my dad, Dr. Denny, Coach and the two trainers from the university. All babbling at once. All trying to calm me down.

Nothing could stop me from breathing heavily. My panicked state, plus the heat and a roaring heart rate combined to create 90 minutes of hyperventilation.

Finally, vomiting seemed to calm me down.

My team placed second. We were looking to win that particular meet this year.

I couldn’t keep any food down for the rest of the day. Robby, saint that he is, tied my hair back while I vomited in my dorm room. He even dumped the bucket. (“I’d hold onto him if I were you,” Dr. Denny told me, when we talked about the whole ordeal later that day.)

I let the team down. I let myself down. Eight years of running and nothing of the like had ever happened to me.

We ran at Notre Dame two weeks later. I had exhausted myself with worries of a recurring incident.

It happened again.

I managed to finish the race (20:07 – not a time to sneer at considering the way I felt), but could feel it coming on again in the last 100 meters.

I basically have not run since. I visited my doctor. She gave me orders to see a cardiologist and not to run for awhile. The cardiologist can’t figure out what my problem is. I’m experiencing abnormal heart palpitations at night along with my running problem. They’re going to send me a heart monitor this week.

My coach told me that he doesn’t want the stress of races to interfere with my health. Last week he had goals of getting me to run in the championship race. Now those are demolished.

My season is basically over, but my goal is to run on Nov. 9 in the last race of the season.

I feel shitty in general because I don’t know what’s going on. And I know part of my problem is my mentality since the first race. I’ve never been one to have pressing health issues, or any health issues, for that matter, and now I feel like a faker. I feel like this isn’t even real. I have to convince myself that my symptoms are real. I have to keep convincing myself that I’m not missing the season for no good reason.

What makes me feel the worst is that I am letting my team down.

I wish I could make it up to them.

He has shown me how

Normally when Spring rolls around, I open my window, freshen up my room, enjoy the sound of birds singing and sit on the front porch to soak it all in. It’s been years since I have actually gone outside to play and run around and get some exercise. I have gotten back on track with my life.

I started eating breakfast again. Every morning, I dig out the Rice Krispies, pour myself a bowl along with a glass of OJ and then settle down with one of my daily vitamins that I need to up the iron level in my body. I’m a girl, you see, and girls need more iron than boys do. I have established a rather strict routine to keep up with everything. I don’t scramble to get homework done anymore; I get it done right after it’s assigned and then I don’t have to worry. It’s fun not having any worries. Hakuna Matata!

Last Sunday, I was sick, which is odd for me. I’m NEVER sick. The last time I missed school was when I had pink eye – that doesn’t qualify as the queasiness I’m speaking of now. I get plenty of Vitamin C, take cough syrup when I feel a cold coming on and suck it up when I have a tiny stomachache. But, on this day, I woke up, felt awful, vomited a couple times and then took to the couch for the rest of the day, with only my pillow, a blanket, a heating pad and the drone of a television to keep me company. That one day was the first day in well over a month that I was completely miserable. Part of it has to do with the fact that I felt like I was going to die. The other part was the fact that it was the first day in a streak of nineteen that I hadn’t spent the day with Robby. Yeah, you read correctly. We are inseparable. When I told this to some people in my English class the Monday after that dreadful Sunday, one girl (who was astounded, I might add) asked me, “how do you get all of your schoolwork done?” because, well, Robby is over at my house or I’m over at his every school night. I replied with “well, while you guys are all talking during the free time we have in Chemistry, I sit down and get all of my homework done.” This relates back to the routine I now have down pat. I get all of my homework done and then I don’t have to worry about it, and plus, I get to see Robby. Which yeah, I could get my homework done after he leaves, but that’s generally around 10 o’clock and lately I’ve been getting to bed around 10:30, which is very, very early for me. But hey, it’s all a part of wanting to live a healthier lifestyle.

Now, back to the part about Spring. Normally, I watch it happen. This year, I’ve been a part of it. Robby has shown me how. If it’s nice out, you’d better believe we’re outside doing something. We spent March 21st jumping from cliffs into pits of sand. I definitely lived that day. It felt good to live. Since then, we’ve taken countless walks, gazed at the stars, swung on the swings behind his house, jumped on the trampoline, played catch, ridden our bikes and sat out on the porch with smoothies that I surprised him with. I saw him three different times today, much like I did yesterday. He surprised me by stopping by this morning on his bike before heading out to practice. After practice, he rode right back, and I welcomed him with a strawberry banana smoothie I’d made up for him in my hand. Then, back he came for the real plans that we had made for today. My feet get covered with dirt everyday, and it’s such a great feeling.

I feel healthy. I feel free. I feel fun. I’ve felt the sun on countless occasions already, and Spring has hardly even started. I have a good feeling about everything, and I hope this never stops. I’m the old me with a new twist, and there are so many people out there that are happy to see that I’ve returned to my happy, bubbly self. I’m back.

This shows how observant I am

I honestly am not a very observant person. I don’t recognize details (unless they’re important to me), and I almost never notice anything. Maybe this explains why I made a blunder today.

We had our first “real” Track meet of the 2009 season today. I got up in the morning with almost everything ready, but I needed to grab my cross-country hoodie from the dryer. I wrote a note to myself and stuck it onto my mirror so I would remember to grab said hoodie from the dryer.

Okay, so I remembered just fine without the sticky note, and I went downstairs and pulled my hoodie from the dryer. I put it on over what I was wearing and went along my merry way. I got to school, wore the hoodie for a little while, then put it in my locker before heading off to Health.

For our Track meet, I put on my uniform, my sweats and the hoodie. The opposing team we were to run against arrived just as I was stretching my hamstrings on the steeple. I figured they would see my name on the back of my hoodie and try to swallow their fear. You see, most teams see me as a threat. I fought back a laugh as I pictured the reactions upon seeing my name. Then, I went along with the meet.

The 4X8 went rather well, if I do say so myself. I got a rather decent split time (2:33), and got our team the lead we needed. We won that one.

It was after the 1500 and before the 3000 that I got a clue to my blunder. The 200m races were going on, and all of the people on the infield were to be crouching down so the officials could see one another from across the way. I didn’t think I had to crouch down – I thought I was out of the way. The officials yelled out to me, and then yelled “Hey, JEEVES!” and then when that didn’t work, “GOWANDA!” and, believe me, I crouched. The thing is, I didn’t catch the “JEEVES!” comment at the time.

After the 4X4, I pulled my hoodie back over my head. Suddenly I noticed that there was a rip near a hood, and it made me really sad. The hoodie had taken me through years of running seasons, and there it was, falling apart. I had also noticed earlier that it seemed more stretched out than I remembered, but I figured I must have lost a little weight. (Haha…)

My friend dropped me off at the baseball field to join my parents, and I walked up to them and said: “after years of hanging in there, this hoodie is finally falling apart.” Then my dad sort of looked at me funny and said: “you do know that you’ve been wearing your brother’s cross-country hoodie this whole time, right?”

Suddenly, it hit me. Everything made sense.

His hoodie says “Jeeves” on the back, and I realized that that was what the official had yelled at me earlier. It was obviously stretched out because he’s a little bit bigger than I am, and lastly, I did remember that his hoodie had sort of been tearing near the neckline. I blushed, said: “that explains a lot!” and then flushed with more embarrassment because of my cocky thoughts about how my opponents must have been “swallowing their fear.” What a joke!

If I had taken one quick glance at the name on the back of the hoodie, I could have saved myself from this little “incident.” I bet my friends were all wondering why I was wearing my brother’s hoodie, but they never said a word. I guess this just goes to show how observant I really am.