It’s funny how people react when you have a black eye. Or dare I say, it’s funny how people can judge you when you have a black eye. (Warning, some of the pics might not be too nice).
This all kind of got missed from being posted on my blog due to other bits of life (and death) taking over, but on Saturday I fainted and hit my head in the gym. Oops. The bump before the storm at the start of the week.
I put a few pictures on Facebook, and mostly there was concern and well wishes – with the odd – ‘you were over doing it’comment or ‘told you so’ type comments. Some people don’t say anything at all, but just look and smile (or even laugh a little). And it’s funny in shops – people are REALLY nice to you. I could get used to it. ;-)
Now that people are seeing my black eye and are finding out I did it in the gym, a standard question in reply is – ‘Were you over doing it?’, ‘Had you eaten breakfast?’ I don’t mind that too much, a question, which allows me to answer them.
However a few people are simply making a statement back instead, telling me ‘You were overdoing it.’ Or ‘You weren’t eating enough.’ Or ‘it’s about time you started listening to your body‘. Without really knowing me or much about what happened. They’ve just assumed and are trying to tell me off.
I listen to my body and I know my body, hence the reason I knew what my BP usually is, and I knew it was lower than normal after I fainted.
Someone even said that they’d heard someone saying they thought I might be anorexic…. mmmm.
Anyone that knows me well, knows there’s absolutely no chance of me being anorexic – I eat to fuel myself and I eat A LOT. :-)
Here’s what actually happened – Saturday morning:
Breakfast 730am – banana and water (which usually sustains me for an hour workout comfortably).
Hydration – 250mls water before workout + 500mls water during workout
I was off coffee, and had been for two weeks – as a caffeine fast before the Southside 6 event on the 2nd November(idea being, you come off caffeine for a few weeks, then take it on the day of the event and you fly – I’ve done it before and it works well).
Workout 8am – an hour in the gym
Warm up Row – 5 minutes / 1000m / level 5
Weights 40 minutes / 4 supersets 8-10 reps with Barbells:
Squats 20kg / Shoulder Press 15kg
Bench Press 20kg / Bent Over Row 25kg
Deadlift 35kg / Lunges (no weight)
KB swings / KB side moves
I felt ok after the weights, I took it easy with lighter weights than normal, and the next few days I was hardly sore.
Bike intervals – then I went to the bike an decided I’d finish with a short intense workout on the Watt bike – it consisted of just over 12 minutes in total:
5 min warm up – level 5
10 x 20:10 secs intervals – 100+ rpm on the efforts
2 min cool down
The intervals started to feel tough, but not too tough, after the 9th one, which was just right, and I knew then that I was finished my workout.
My heart rate peaked at 85% or 158, so it wasn’t as if I was going all out. I was going to cool down for 5 minutes, but felt a little odd, so stopped pedalling and took some time to recover. (See my HR graph above, my HR dropped to 60 after dropping to the ground).
Maybe the workout was a little of what I’m not used to, and I’ll remember that next time. And remember to build things gradually. But I honestly felt fine, right up to the last few minutes on the bike.
I recovered firstly sitting on the bike, then after a minute or so, I got off the bike to stand up. I remember looking at my water bottle thinking I could do with some water to make me feel better – then I woke up on my side. All of the staff who were spare in the gym (that I teach swimming at, so they all know me), were there, giving me first aid and making sure I was ok.
I couldn’t hear anything at first, but I could see the leisure centre manager crouched in front of me, and then my hearing slowly came back through a muffle, then fully. I realised I’d fainted, felt a rather large bump on my head, and then relaxed – knowing that all I needed to do now was lie down until I felt better. I knew I was in good hands.
I’d fainted before and I knew it would be ok, but I’d also had a bump to the head like that before too – and I had a feeling I’d be sporting a pretty impressive black eye soon too. Just what I needed for the funeral on Monday! Aw man.
Stars in my eyes, for about 10 minutes… it felt worse than it had ever felt before. After a bit the staff looking after me asked me to try to get up slowly, I tried, but I still felt bad, so an ambulance was called. One of the Leisure Attendants (LAs) Kevin was good with me, and stayed with me the whole time. Lying on the hard floor, looking after me, cracking jokes and making me laugh.
The stars went on for quite a bit, and I started to get upset, a little worried that I’d really hurt myself. I lay back down again, and my feet were elevated on a chair to coax the blood back into my head. Kevin the LA pleaded with me not to get upset, so I composed myself and lay back down, waiting for gravity to do its thing.
When the ambulance came, they measured my blood pressure at 90/60 (where 120/80 is meant to be normal). I knew what my blood pressure usually is – and it’s usually somewhere around 100/70 or 110/70, so I knew there was something not quite right.
I was checked over and all seemed ok, I managed to stand up in the end. Shaken and dazed, I let them put me in a wheelchair and wheel me out to the ambulance for more checks. They suggested I get checked over at the hospital, and I still didn’t feel quite right, so went along with them to get checked out. We got to the hospital and just as we did, I felt really unwell and was sick. Now I was concerned.
Lying there in the hospital, still a little dazed and confused, all of my vitals were checked again, and my blood pressure was coming up slightly (95/68). They did a CT scan just to be sure, and once that was confirmed as ok (they’d even found a brain in there too!), they let me go home. Luckily A&E was pretty quiet on that Saturday morning, so I was out by around half 12.
Back home for a sleep and later a pizza, ice cream and coke… I felt better by Sunday and had things to do. I felt betteron Sunday morning and wanted to plan for the funeral and make sure my Aunt was remembered well, and I felt well enough to go to swimming teaching in the afternoon, so did.
Anyone that knows me well, knows that I actually eat a lot, drink plenty water and I’m careful about how hard I train. I put a lot of emphasis on rest and know how important rest is. The week before I’d just done 1 easy run and a swim, and plenty of rest – so I wasn’t overtraining.
I also monitor lots of measures includingheart rate, blood pressure, resting heart rate, weight, body fat… and the reason I do this is because I’m careful about being healthy and being the best I can be. I even know what my iron levels are usually ok, as I note it down each time I go to give blood (and it’s always above 12.5).
Those who know me well, didn’t question me, tell me I didn’t eat enough, or tell me I was over doing it – and one good friend gave me a good bit of advice, backed up by her medical knowledge as a nurse and her experience herself of having low blood pressure. She suggested – ‘Try some arnica to reduce the bruising, and get back on the caffeine to help raise your blood pressure.’
That was it… that was why my blood pressure was lower than normal (plus maybe being a little dehydrated perhaps… but I did have 500mls of water during my workout). I sensibly pulled out of the Southside 6 the following weekend, and I started to check my BP to see if it was ok. Drinking plenty of water, eating lots (as usual), getting plenty of sleep and simply taking care.
My Dad (retired GP) said a rather straight forward description of what happened too:
‘You have low blood pressure. Most of your blood was in your muscles. You stood up and the blood didn’t get to your brain. So you fainted and fell over, and the unfortunate part is – you bumped your head on the way down. You’re fit, and fit people have low blood pressure and low heart rates. There’s not a lot else you could or should have done.’
(then he told me a story I’ve heard a hundred times before about how he has to hold on sometimes when he stands up as he gets dizzy).
My understanding of the situation:
1. My blood pressure was lower than normal, possibly due to not having caffeine for 2 weeks.
2. I could have maybe been more hydrated perhaps.
3. I’d not been training as regularly as possible so what I thought was an ok workout (intervals on the bike), might have been a more of a challenge than normal – (but I was checking my HR and it wasn’t going too high).
So what’s next?
1. Get back on caffeine – yay!
2. Be careful about drinking lots of water, staying hydrated and eat plenty.
3. Monitor blood pressure and resting heart rate to see if it goes up.
4. Get a check over at the GP just to make sure (but some say it’ll be a waste of time, best to be safe).
5. Create a simple progressive training plan to take me up to Christmas with mostly easy workouts, building strength and distance up to 6-8 miles.
6. Get plenty sleep, and rest included in the training plan.
Anyway, my eye is changing colour day by day – and it won’t be gone by Halloween, so I might just go out trick or treating. ;-)
I do appreciate the concern, and understand why people would think I’m overdoing it, or not eating enough. But I am eating, and I’m not overdoing it. I promise.
Those who are very close to me know that too, and have confirmed with me that I’m not in denial, and I am doing everything ok.
Taking care and being healthy is one of my top priorities. I like to be healthy and I workout and eat well to be healthy.
It’s not healthy to faint, so I’ll do everything I can to prevent it. I am going to get checked out at the Drs, and I am going to do all I can to try to raise my blood pressure, so that I can be healthy enough to train, work and live.
It’s as simple as that. :-) No anorexia, no over doing it… just good health and continuing to take care of my body and well being.
Maybe those who are telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing, should try it too, instead of telling me why I fainted?! :-O
On a brighter note, look what greeted me in the sky as soon as I left the hospital: