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Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Today was amazing. Let me share why and how:

I've had a really solid cough the past 24 hours or so. You know the kind the rattle and vibrate like I've been smoking for 60 years?  In a meeting today I tried to talk but instead started coughing.  I left the room to get water but headed straight for the restroom because if I was going to lose a lung I was going to do it in private. 

My co-worker's mother/spidey sense kicked in and knew something wasn't right. Shortly after my exit she came into the restroom finding me struggling to breathe.  Coughing, tears rolling down my face, gasping for air. I was freaking out. I kept going in and out of one of the stalls because I was pretty sure I was going to lose my delicous lunch I just paid $10 for.

Her first question: do I call 911?
I shake my head no
Her second question:  Is it pertussis?
WHAT?! At that moment I couldn't care what it was.

I mustered the breath to squeeze out "doctor." My thought:  I work with so many doctors, the closest MD would do.  She grabbed my boss.  Because that's the condition I want my boss to see me in.  A red-face, clammy, teary mess. That's not embarassing and totally amazing.

Bosslady comes in and immediately grabbed my wrist to check my pulse, I'm still hacking up a lung and now losing color in my face. Meanwhile, an audience has gathered in the ladies room. There are now 6 of us.  That's not embarassing. She instructs an audience member to go find a paper bag to treat hyperventalation; we resort to a napkin in the meantime. 

Now you remember that I have a hyper-active parasympathetic nervous system so that when my body freaks out, I tend to faint.  No bigs. So when I couldn't breath for awhile, I could feel it coming on. This has happened enough times to me, that I know to prevent injury the best course of action is to get to the ground as fast as possible, 1.) to get your heart above your head, 2.) if you do faint you won't hurt yourself on the way down since you're already there.   So there I am a hot mess, sitting on a bathroom floor, with an audience.

Amazing. Shining moment in my professional career.

Things are starting to calm down. I'm breathing deeper and slower into a napkin. The paper bag arrives. And its not just any paper bag.  It's CB's cookie bag, a few days old with crumbs inside.  Amazing.  We were totally McGyvering the crap out of this situation.  But, I've calmed down enough where the bag is no longer necessary.

Now the conversations begin, in truest spirit of intellecual dialouge that we like to claim.  Someone asks why do you cover your mouth when you're hyperventalating?  Boss explains why (here's why; something about the exchange of oxygen and CO2). Totally fascinating. I start explaining about my hyperactive system and what happens and come to find out my boss has the same reaction and both have scars on our chins from falling down stairs because of it.  Granted hers is from doing rounds when a resident in med school which is way better story than mine. Also, when she explains what happens it sounds way more legit.  So here we are, 6 women, hanging out in the bathroom. Chatting.


We eventually disperse and I am escorted to a corner to lay down.  The nearest sofa is a floor down and I am going nowhere near stairs.  Thankyouverymuch.

I'm still not feeling great, just feeling the general instability of not being able to breathe and almost fainting.  My vision is blurry, my face is tingly, I'm exhausted. The boss and others come to check on me every 45-60 seconds.  A colleague brought me some salt infused snacks, which is also what I'm suppose to eat more of thanks to my low blood pressure.   I lay on the ground and watch the clouds zoom by.  Feeling ridiculous.

But you know that delicious lunch I mentioned?  It was pho from my favorite Vietnamese place and it was ACTUALLY amazing. 

Good day guys.


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