(WJBK) - It’s a frigid Friday night. With an IV pumping fluids into my arm, I'm staring straight up at a fluorescent light from a hospital bed parked in the emergency room. My thoughts wander - I'm pretty sure I should feel happy to be alive, while at the same time, I can’t help but recognize my pride has suffered a very public, humiliating death.
The night had started with an unusual promise of romance. It’s Valentine's Day weekend. My husband Keith and I are spending the night at a local hotel while my mom stays with our three kids. For the record, we are practical people, who would normally never choose to stay in an expensive hotel when a perfectly fine bed is just 20 minutes away, but, we also know, to stay happily married for almost 20 years, you’ve got to put in some effort.
Earlier that day I had emceed the Go Red for Women heart luncheon. This is important because, during that entire luncheon we spoke about how women have a tendency to ignore health symptoms. The “Go Red” battle cry is, when your body is trying to tell you something is wrong, you need to listen! The trend is very clear. Women have aches and pains, and we typically say to ourselves and others, “I'll be fine, I just need some rest.”
That evening, at the hotel bar, I feel very adult as Keith and I enjoy “small plates” of food and a drink, with the wide-eyed realization, THIS is what grown-ups do after the kids are gone. (For the record, I had just one dirty martini, which I'm telling you now, because you’ll be wondering later.)
Next it’s hats, gloves and heavy coats and we step outside into the single temperature air to quickly scurry to the movie theater a couple blocks away. The movie we’re seeing is “Deadpool.” Not our first choice, but it's getting great reviews and a lot of buzz. It's only a movie, what's the worst that could happen? With popcorn and root beer in hand, we find our seats in a warm, crowded theater.
So here’s where is gets tricky. It doesn’t take long for me to grasp that this movie is filled with extreme violence and gore. As much as I look away and tell myself - 'this is based on a comic book' - I can’t ignore the gruesome sights and sounds.
Then it hits me like a brick. Suddenly I'm sweating and feeling nauseous. I whisper to my husband, "I’ve got to get some air. You stay here; I'll be right back.”
As I shimmy past the movie watchers I'm struggling to stand, I get to the side wall steps and stare across the theater grasping onto a bar, realizing, I won’t make it all the way across the theatre to the exit. A stranger reaches up to me, “Are you okay? Do you need help?”
I respond, in what sounds like slow motion to me. “I'm fine,” as the room spins in front of me, and the next thing I recall is my husband lifting me off the floor. I would later learn I was passed out for only 30 seconds - but that's long enough to ignite some serious chaos.
I can’t figure out where I am. As we quickly shuffle out to the lobby, I hear voices, "call 911!" "Is she having chest pains?" "Is she pregnant?”
In my mind I say, "I'm fine. I just need to lay on the floor of the movie theater lobby for a few minutes. And why is it so hot in here?”
Suddenly I hear the sirens, I lift my head and see the flashing lights on the street. Certainly, this can’t be for me?
Then they swept in like a rescue crew cast in a Hollywood movie. Police, paramedics, so handsome and so helpful, it’s then I realize I'm lying on the floor in a sweaty state of disheveled confusion.
When asked, I simply tell them, "I'm fine, isn’t there someone dying who you should be rescuing?" They insist they were there to help ME. For a second I thought, maybe I'm the one who’s dying.
My vitals were okay, but my blood pressure was too low. The recommendation was that I go to the hospital and get checked out. So. What was my response? “I'll be fine, I just need some rest.” The same words the heart survivor at the "Go Red" luncheon had said to her husband before a heart attack almost killed her.
Reluctantly, I get strapped in to the ambulance, and transported to the hospital. There are EKGs, blood tests, chest X-rays and many questions. My blood pressure is measuring very low - 80s over 40s - which is probably caused by slight dehydration.
After a couple hours, the doctors check in and tell us I check out okay. The gory movie, the dehydration the hot theater all combined to cause me to pass out. In the end, I make a promise to drink more water, get more rest, and avoid disturbing movies.
We contemplate going home, but I insist on going back to the hotel with thoughts of luxurious bedding, a marble bath and room service, all of which, I was still able to somewhat enjoy.
Now, I say sorry to the moviegoers (although in exchange for the disruption, you probably got a good story - 'a lady passed out!' ), I tell my ‘Go Red’ sisters that I did not ignore my symptoms, and I admire first responders even more, they are so tough yet so comforting.
To my valentine, my husband, you made it clear that even a valentine’s celebration spent mostly in the emergency room, void of traditional romance, can be filled with love. Thank you.
P.S. Next time, I'll pick a romantic comedy. :)