Today, my worst nightmare happened; I collapsed in public.
After finishing my sauna, I decided to cool off in the pool. Nothing strenuous: a few stretches, moving my arms, scissor kicking a bit. From a distance, I watched the old women do their noodle float exercises in the Senior class.
"Wanna join us?" the leader yelled, pointing the whole group in my direction.
"No thanks." I said.
"C'mon," she joked, waving her yellow, styrofoam strip. "I'll even get you a noodle."
"Not today," I replied, turning my back to the audience.
For the next few minutes, I did my own thing; a series of turns, kicks, and arm movements. The water felt unusually soothing; with gratitude I moved through it --back and forth -- enjoy the resistance it provided my body.
Feeling like I had enough strength, I used the ledge versus the ladder to exit. The first couple of steps? Completely uneventful. The third step? Debilitating pain in my left knee that sent me spiraling downward.
Luckily, a white, plastic chair broke my fall; just before hitting the pavement. Unluckily, my locker/clothes/keys were still 20 feet away. Not to mention the car. That would be a whole other adventure.
So, there I am, glued to this chair -- now desperate to get home, leg unable to support me, surveying the options.
Option 1 -- Interrupt the class of 20 aerobic seniors dancing to Hey Mambo Italiano
Option 2 -- Yell to the Lifeguard on the other side of the pool for help
Option 3 -- Crawl
Option 4 -- Get up and try to make it myself
After sitting a minute, I select option 4. If I can just get to the door (seven feet away), I know I can probably use the wall for support and hopefully make it from there. Wincing, I put weight on my inflamed leg. Again, my knee buckles...feeling more like it's broken than functioning.
Desperate, I hop on one foot towards the locker room. Inside, I work to steady myself...one hand on the wall, one hand on the rail, lifting one leg, sliding the other. After moving about 12 inches, crying the whole time, a horrified stranger stops on her way to the sauna.
"Oh my God. Are you OK??!?" she panics...pulling me off the wall.
"N-n-n..No," I start bawling.
"WHAT happened??? Did you fall?" she asks, draping my arm over her shoulder.
"N-n-no . I am s-s-sick," I stammer.
"Someone...Get help. Call 9-1-1," she yells through the locker room.
"N-n-no. I'm o-o-ok," I manage to get out. "I just n-n-need to get h-h-home."
Suddenly, I am surrounded by swarms of people: the cleaning lady, the lady who rescued me, the receptionist, the dietitian on staff, a couple of Y members. One holds me up. Another slides on my pants. Another pulls my grey fitted tank top over my head.
"Is there someone we can call?" one asks.
"Are you sure she doesn't need an ambulance?" another whispers like I'm not even there.
"I h-h-have l-l-chronic illness," I cry. "It af-f-fects my joints. This h-h-happens. I just need to g-g-go home."
"Can you drive?" another asks.
Camille --a registered nurse-- followed by an entourage, carries/supports/guides me through the crowded gym.
Bystanders stare. People whisper. I hop, limp, and cry.
"How long have you been sick?" she asks.
"8 9 months." I answer.
"Do you know what you have?" she asks.
"They think it's L-l-lyme Disease." I stammer.
"They can treat for that," she says..."You can take things."
"I know," I cry. "I am."
The pain was awful, but not nearly as bad as the total feeling of helplessness.
Altered Today: Dignity, medication, appointment with a Neurologist and Cardiologist, first cane.