Welp, that was a first, or a Visit to the Med Tent

No worries, I’m fine. After I stopped moving — and got my medal — I couldn’t inhale deeply without my “emphysemic seal” cough. The medical volunteers were awesome.

A man saw me and asked if I was okay. “I can’t breathe,” I said. He flags down someone else for a wheelchair, gets me in and starts toward the tent. On the way he makes sure I have a Gatorade and chocolate milk from the Finisher Zone. Another volunteer takes my bib number amd notes the time on a log sheet at the entrance. Someone else hands me a hyperventivation/barf bag to breathe into. A nurse sits me on a cot and gets a wireless pulse/oxygen reader onto my finger, and takes my blood pressure. She asks for my name, and will want other information. I pull my ID out from where I stashed it on my fuel belt and hand it to her. She begins writing on her log/patient information sheet.

There are voices from more new people coming from over my shoulder. They talk about what brought me in. I hear “shortness of breath” and “trouble breathing” and I’m asked (again, maybe?) if I have my inhaler. I nod, or give a thumbs up — I don’t remember because I’m busy breathing into a plastic ringed blue bag.

Someone, a new person, or not, I don’t know, asks if I have ever had a breathing treatment (no) and if I’d like one. I nod that I do.

I am moved to a different cot farther back because that’s where the oxygen is, getting a hand up from the nurse, and my daughter, who’s with me grabs what I can’t hold. I am asked more questions about asthma, and do I have my inhaler, and how many times did I use it, and when was the last time. Four or five, I signal with my fingers. I had to ask my daughter when I used it last. We think around mile 10. By now I have a nebulizer on hand and the “smoke” of each exhale is coming out the end. “Look honey. I have an even bigger bong,” I quip to my girl. I use a spacer tube with my steroid inhaler which the whole family jokes is my bong. Yup, that’s me, using the hard stuff right at the kitchen sink.

A handsome fella sits opposite me bringing with him a case of some sort. He introduces himself, “Hi, I’m _____. I’m an EMT, and we’d like to get an EKG of your heart.” I nod my consent. He calls a couple guys over and has them hold some bed sheets up as a makeshift screen so I “don’t have to flash anybody” while the sticky pads get placed. I had my shirt lifted and pulled away from my chest before the pad was ready. “You’ve done this before.” More nodding, and in my head I’m explaining it was necessary for the kidney donation, and when I had a tall bladder attack so bad I thought it was my heart, and … I keep quiet and inhale from the nebulizer bong some more. The nurse says, “O, she’s done this before,” as I lift my calves within reach so the last of pads can get placed. I’m nodding again, and thinking it’s making me dizzy, all this nodding.

My heart is fine according to the EKG, but my pulse is still holding around 100 bpm. My blood pressure is 136/107 — definitely elevated for me. The PA-C is concerned something else could be going on because he didn’t hear any wheezing when he listened to my chest. He asks if I might consider going to the the Emergency at a hospital. I decline. I agree I should sit a little while longer to see if my heart rate would come back down.

Meanwhile my girl has snapped a picture of me in my hyperventilating glorious state sitting with a generous man-spread on a Mylar sheet on a foldable military style cot in a giant tent. I tell her she can’t post it to social media (yet) and she needs to send it to me. I didn’t want someone to see it before my hubs could and I could explain that I was indeed okay. No reason to cause him to panic in the middle of the night. I looked at my watch. It was late, nearly 10.30 in Las Vegas, so almost 1.30A at home.

Fatigue hits me hard now, and I start to shiver, along with full-body quiver-twitches the albuterol treatment gave me. I have chugged my Gatorade and ask for something for the headache I expect to come. The flavor changed and my girl and I both make a face that mixed Hmmm with Eww. I put my arm warmers back on and the nurse says I’ll warm up after I get moving again.

She takes my pulse/Ox reading again. I’m still holding about 98bpm; better but hardly stellar. My O2 saturation is at 98% so that’s good. I would like to go. The PA-C asks again if I wouldn’t want to go to the ER. No. I’ll be fine. Yes, I can walk. Yes, I promise to go to a hospital if I feel any worse. (And I mean that, too.)

As we’re walking out the volunteer at the front table takes down my bib number and notes the time on her log sheet again. We make our way back through the finisher’s chute. My teeth are chattering so loudly now I think everyone can hear, and I regret not taking a mylar blanket. We see cases of snack size Pringles. I grab two, and decide to skip the protein bars. I’m not even hungry, but eventually eat them for the salt. The sacrifices we make to keep electrolytes balanced, I tell ya. My girl grabs her free beer, and I keep going. Then it hits me: free beer! I say to her, “Do you want mine? I don’t want to drink it.” Then it dawns on her too: mom’s free beer, and I get an enthusiastic yes. I turn around to grab it. The guy passing them out doesn’t even ask to see my wristband/ID. I brag for a second because hers got checked.

We make our way through the rest of the crowds and head back toward the hotel.

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