Yesterday, I had an allergic reaction to a wheelbarrow.
It all started when I decided to go to this 8am workout up the street from my house. Jeff (the boyfriend) joined the gym about a month ago and has been telling me about these insanely hard workouts the owner puts his classes through; classes which are made up of mostly college girls and forty something stay-at-home moms. For over a month I have been making excuses why I can’t go try the class. But yesterday (and twice last week) I decided to give the place a try. And Jeff was right, the workouts are INSANE. But I need that. I need someone to point to the ground and say “50 pushups, right now.” Or I won’t do it at. No. When left on my own to make decisions about exercising I will gladly choose cleaning up vomit (anyone’s actually, I don’t even have to know the vomiter) over an intense workout. Plus I have a lot of shows to catch up on my DVR, ya know.
Also with this trainer, he wants to know stuff. Like what you eat and HOW MUCH YOU WEIGH AND YOUR BODY FAT. I quickly informed him that while I appreciate his need to want to be in all my body business, there was no way in hell I was participating in that part of the program. I was there to simply workout so I could eat what I wanted without feeling (too) guilty. He was, however, able to talk me into writing in a food journal and then letting him critique my food intake. The first day I showed him my journal he took a red Sharpie marker and wrote all over the page. It said, “You are doing it all wrong.”
I knew then he was serious about this whole working out thing. But it really hit home when last week, after attending my very first class, he pointed me out in front of eight women I had never seen in my life before and said, “Are you able to come to any 5pm classes?” I laughed and shook my head. “No, that would cut into my wine drinking time.” An audible, almost ear piercing, gasp fell over the room. “There’s no alcohol of any kind to be had on a weekday. Read the book.” He was not pleased with me.
Great. I was already in trouble. It was like the time I got called to the principal’s office when I was a senior in high school for telling my cheerleading sponsor (for which she beelined straight to him to rat me out) that if it were up to Mr. Kret (the principal), there wouldn’t even be cheerleaders at the school.
Anyway, I’ve slowly been trying to adhere to the “rules” of the gym. And wouldn’t you know it the first day I followed his meal plan I lost three pounds.
And then there was yesterday. Because the gym is less than a mile from my house, I decided to jog up there. I would be warmed up and ready to go. Before I left I had a small cup of instant oatmeal and half an apple. I wrote it in my journal and put a smiley face next to it. Surely trainer man would approve of this breakfast choice. Especially since it’s on his meal plan.
When I got there I noticed wheelbarrows parked on the sidewalk in front of the place. In each wheelbarrow lay weights. Heavy weights. I knew this was not a good sign. And sure enough, five minutes later he had us running the wheelbarrow up and down the block. One way was downhill (this isn’t so bad) and the other was uphill (holy shit I’m going to die). We did that five times. But that only took up the first fifteen minutes. What followed were more nearly impossible exercises. But nothing as hard as that stupid weighted-down wheelbarrow.
Finally when he let us go I called Jeff to come pick me up. I told him I’d be waiting outside on the curb. I had already decided there was no way I could manage walking (and you could forget jogging!) home. Plus I was starting to feel weird. My palms were super itchy and my ears felt like they were on fire. I looked down at my arms. They were red and splotchy and my hands began to swell up so much that my fingers were beginning to resemble sausages. Sausage fingers!
Something was happening and I knew exactly what it was. This very thing happened when I was 17 years old. I was having a full-blown allergic reaction to something. I checked to see if I could breathe. Yep. For the time being I was breathing ok. Jeff pulled up just then and when I climbed in the passenger seat he took one look at me and yelled, “OH MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?”
I flipped open the mirror and stared at the hideous creature staring back at me. You know who I looked like? Eric Stoltz from the movie Mask. I’m not even exaggerating.
We rushed home and I guzzled about a half a bottle of Benadryl. It seemed like I was getting worse because now my tongue was thick and I kept feeling like I needed to clear my throat. MY THROAT WAS CLOSING UP! I WAS GOING TO DIE!
Jeff was sitting at the kitchen table, checking his email (ARE YOU SERIOUS?!) while I was pacing back and forth trying to decide if I should change clothes before making him drive me to the hospital. I was sweaty and smelly and oh who gives a shit, I was in need of medical attention right away!
“Jeff, we got-a go. The met-cin it not wookin.” Great. Now my thick tongue was making it impossible for me to speak.
We jumped in his truck and headed for the emergency room. I noticed that he was observing every speed limit sign and stopping at yellow lights. Clearly, he did not see the urgency of my predicament. I turned to him and said, “You gotta go faster. Or you’re going to have to explain why there’s a really cute dead girl in your front seat.” (I’ll spare you how it really sounded coming from my thick-tongued mouth.)
Finally, we arrived. I jumped out of the truck while he was still moving and darted in the emergency room. Inside, I waved my arms like a crazy person and shouted, “Anaphylaxis! Anaphylaxis! I’m having an allergic reaction!”
The doors opened and a triage nurse whisked me back to a room. Instead of grabbing a syringe filled with life saving medicine out of her nurse’s jacket pocket, she took out a pen and began asking me questions. “So…you say you’re having an allergic reaction?”
You know, I’ve never actually punched another human being in the face before. Sure, I have lots of times in my mind. I wondered what it would feel like in real life. I might should try it on this lady.
Before I had a chance to point to my face and my throat and my sausage fingers, another nurse (a man nurse) came to my rescue. “I’ll take over from here.” And then he yelled out behind the curtain. “Doctor Calabar, we have an allergic reaction in four.”
Dr Calabar pulled the curtain back seconds later and observed the horror before him. “My goodness, you are having one significant allergic episode, aren’t you dear.” He had me open my mouth wide and then he said, “There’s some congestion there, but your airway seems to be clear. We’ll get you fixed up and feeling better in no time.”
And like that he was gone. Soon after the male nurse was back with a cart loaded down with medicine and a bag a saline. Minutes later I was hooked up to an IV and receiving viles of Decadron (a steriod), Pepcid, and a dose of Benadryl the size of your fist.
I turned to Jeff then and said, “Quick, take a picture of how I look before it goes away.”
He made a face–you know–the one people make when they bite into a lemon?–and said, “No way. I don’t want to remember you ever looking like this again. It’s already mentally etched in my brain. And why is it your first thought in every situation you get yourself into to document it with photo evidence?”
Before I had a chance to answer the Benadryl hit me. And I remember my eyes rolling back in my head and then…nothing.
I don’t know how long I was asleep. And when I woke up Jeff was staring at me. And I thought about how sweet it was that he was sitting there, watching me sleep. “Hey.” I said.
“You have been snoring AND DROOLING for the last half hour.”
God he’s romantic.
The doctor came back to check on me and sign my release papers. “So what did you do differently this morning that may have caused this reaction?”
“Well, nothing. I had some oatmeal and half an apple. And then I went to the gym.”
“Oatmeal and an apple? That’s an odd combination to cause a reaction like this. Are you sure it wasn’t peanuts or a bee sting?” He heartily laughed at his own joke.
Minutes later we were back in the truck and headed home. The Benadryl was working overtime in my system and I barely made it in the door and onto the bed before I fell asleep for most of the day.
When I woke up I made a startling revelation. It was clear the cause of my reaction. Something different about my morning routine, the doctor had asked. Well the only thing different was that godforsaken wheelbarrow I pushed up and down five city blocks.
I probably should have gotten a doctor’s note excusing me from ever doing that again. DAMMIT!