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.

From death and funerals to stem cell research and abortion

Cross country season picked back up again. On Monday morning I was awakened by a song coming out of my iHome speaker at 7:30 (which is much too early to meet my approval, I’ll let you know). I got up, showered, grabbed some Cinnamon Toast Crunch and put it in my bag, and then was out the door and on my bike, heading for the high school.

We started running. That’s what you do in cross country, if you didn’t know. We ran up prison hill. Some were encouraged to go on and run around the entire prison (the prison that Lindsay Lohan’s dad was kept, oddly enough), and I was one of those encouraged. I felt great. I had started out in the way back with a couple of my fellow teammates on the girls’ team, but little by little I had inched all the way up to the people that had fallen behind from the leading pack. I passed two newly instated runners and then fell into pace with the smartest kid in our entire school. My plan was to catch up to the leading pack which consisted of my best friend, my boyfriend, and another friend, but instead, he (being the smartest kid) and I started talking. We started talking about stuff that really mattered. Important issues, problems, and beliefs. It was nice to have an intelligent conversation, and it distracted me so much that I didn’t even notice when we passed another kid that had fallen behind from that same leading pack.

Our discussions ranged from death and funerals to stem cell research and abortion. It was like we went through the entire endless cycle of life during that one discussion we had during our run. I told him about the funeral I had had to go to recently and the unfortunate situation it had to be under, and then he shared how once when he was younger he had two funerals in one day to go to. We discussed how we both are not sure if there is a God up there and the hypocritical actions that are associated with members of the Church.

Then came the abortion topic, which then lead to a conversation chock-full of stem cell research. I had heard about it, but wasn’t exactly sure what it was all about. He informed me of everything about it (seeing as how it had been the topic he’d chosen for the recent research paper he’d had to do). What I don’t understand is why people are against it. And, it ties in with the abortion thing. I think that women should be allowed to make the decision of whether or not they want to abort their pregnancy. Let people frown upon a mother’s decision to abort her pregnancy, but if that mother is not ready to be a mother, then why not? If that girl is carrying the baby as the result of a rape she doesn’t want to be reminded of, why not let her make the decision to rid her body of that growing embryo? And, if every woman or girl that decides to have an abortion also donates the stem cells within them, that could initially save lives. You go from “killing” something that doesn’t quite exist yet to saving someone whose liver is failing or is in vital need of a heart transplant and just needs a donor.

Let stem cell research carry on! Let it save lives despite the many frowns of disgust it is receiving! We were put on this earth somehow and are now being plagued by disease left and right. If we’ve discovered a way we can cure, why not carry on and finish it? It means having one less child to feed, sure, but it also means one less person hanging out in an isolation room in the hospital just waiting for that heart or liver or lung or whatever to come. I say that science makes more sense than God. Science can save lives when God obviously can’t.