Why I Tri: I Thought I was Going to Die

I was convinced my heart was going to rip its way through my chest and fall in front of my stationary bike in spin class, then run away with the legs it grew while it was hulking out inside of me. holyshitamIhavingaheartattack? The incredible stabbing and electrifying shocks that’d strike my chest as I breathed in out in out in out should have thrown me off the bike. Ican’tbreathewhat’swrongwithmyheart My head felt like a balloon and was just bobbing there as my heart jerked the string to which it was tied. what’sgoingonwhat’swrongwithme?

I realized I was still pumping my legs while we stood out of the saddle in a sprint.  My legs were moving, but I couldn’t feel them. Whyaremylegsnumb?Dismounting the bike meant falling into the puddle of sweat below me. My jersey was soaked, but my forehead was completely dry. My hands… where the hell were my hands?

I slowly lowered back down, hoping the others out of the saddle wouldn’t notice. Don’tlookatmeDon’taskifI’mokay My chest still ripping open. I hear Allyson, our spin instructor: “How is everyone feeling? Don’t push yourself too hard or you may pass out.” I ripped off my heart rate monitor blaming it for my pain. Breathing in out in out in out. Pain. Searing. Ripping. Electrifying. My chest felt like I stuck it in a socket. Doheartattackshurtthisbad? AmItooyoungforaheartattack? My body was a buoy bobbing aimlessly in a sea of humidity and sweat. I’mnotpassingoutinspinclass.

Scrounging through my brain, trying to remember to BREATHE. In. Nose. Out. Mouth. In. Nose. Out. Mouth.

Fumbling for my water bottle.. maybe the Nuun will help. I’msothirstywhere’sthefuckingwater

And then it slowly faded away. What felt like an hour of holyshitI’mgoingtopassout was just about five minutes of IthinkI’mhavingaheartattack.

Class ended and I wanted to go home. My buddy, Joe and I started talking and Allyson joined us. I could feel my body  heating up again. Using the bike next to me, leaning against it, my only support. Trying to think my way out of this light-headed, droopy legs, angry heart, sweaty body & dry forehead experience. I just needed air. Cold, fresh, 24 Hour Fitness parking lot air.

Slowly, casually, I walked out the doors and took my first breath. I’mnotgoingtodie. Then a headache rushed into my skull and wouldn’t leave.

I then went to the Googles (as we all do) and searched my symptoms. I learned that heart attacks are more of a tightness in your chest, not necessarily the clutching-of-the-chest, electric shock pain we see most of the times. Also, women typically feel a shortness of breath (although I was exercising, so I can’t really say this was a heart attack symptom for me), back pain, jaw pain, and nausea. I’m also only 27, active, and healthy.

I think I just got overheated and was about to pass out. In other words, I was experiencing vasovagal syncope: My skin was pale (when I watched myself walk by the gym mirror), I was lightheaded, I totally had tunnel vision, I was warm, sweaty, and then recovered fairly quickly.

When it comes to things like this, you never know when or how it’s going to happen. I never really listen to my body because I’m of the belief: Mind Over Matter. Well, I learned quickly in spin class that my body matters as does my mind. I need to listen to both, take care of both, and be kind to both.


I talk to myself out loud.

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