go boom

Generally, my commute is really easy. I work from 11–8, and when I get on the train around 10:20 every morning, I get a seat, and I read all the way downtown, and I am off the train and walking up through the Chinatown gate, and everything is easy-peasy, even though sometimes I am 15 minutes late despite the fact that I get on the train at the exact same time every morning. My guess is some kind of rotating time warp in the tunnels or something.

On Tuesdays, though, I work 9–6, which is a pleasant change, because it is nice to get out of work at a time when other people are getting out of work, and in that way, it is easier to meet up with friends and or get home at a decent hour to really slack off in a quality way on all the chores and responsibilities I should be taking care of, rather than the brief hour-long slacking I get in on regular work days.

The problem lies in the fact that I am also going into work at a time
when other people are going into work, and that means a jam-packed
train full of people with elbows who put them in your face, and the
train gets hot and lurches and you fall into more elbows and the train
gets hotter and you’re surrounded by backs and you can’t hold on and
you start to feel overheated and dizzy and things go white and
suddenly, you’re sliding down one of those backs and sitting on the
floor and you’re not sure you remember how you got there, except
someone’s hauling you out by your armpits to dump you on the train
platform and asking anxiously if they should call the station manager.
Or maybe that’s just me.

It doesn’t happen every time—if it did, I would assume I have some kind
of syndrome, rather than just what is clearly adult-onset
claustrophobia. But this is the second time it’s happened this year,
and it was scary and I am fine. I felt better after sitting on the
platform for 20 minutes with my head between my knees, waiting out
the nausea; I waited for an uncrowded train to take me the rest of the
way, and once I got into the air, I felt a lot less thin, in my head,
and strange. I made it to work without pitching into a gutter.

But here at my desk, I’m still feeling a little out of it, a little
worried that I have a brain tumor, pretty sure I should go get
something to eat but kind of  afraid to get back up and maneuver myself
through the streets again because what if my head explodes? Something
might explode or fizzle or leak, and that would be embarrassing. I am
already intensely embarrassed.

Of course I am thinking this has something to do with weight-loss
surgery. The problem with getting weight-loss surgery is that suddenly,
everything in your life goes back to it. There’s a weird tick in my
knee; is it because of WLS? Sometimes, I get a pain behind my
breastbone—it must be the surgery. I’ve developed a cowlick and I
really enjoy cheese…I think it is because of the surgery. The
difficult thing is that so many things really are related to not just
the surgery, but the weight loss. Both things have added an X factor to
my health, and both things have side-effects, both good and bad, and
blame is difficult to assign, but paranoia is plenty on the ground. I
have always been a bit of a hypochondriac. This is not a good choice to
make, weight-loss surgery, when you’re a hypochondriac.

It was hot, I do not like being crowded. There’s a reason. I might not
be eating enough, and what if I have a vitamin deficiency? There’s a
scary reason. I am smart enough to go get checked out, of course—I’ve
got my one-year appointment coming up, and lots of blood work to be
checked out, so the cause will be narrowed down and pinpointed and the
effects will be eliminated with the proper application of whatever it
is needs to be done. Unless this is, in fact, a brain tumor, which
would explain why I spend so much time smelling burnt toast.

7 Replies to “go boom”

  1. Ha ha ha! A few days ago I’ve been getting this weird little cramp in my side and my first thought was “Oh no, I need to call my WLS doctor!” I’m pretty sure my electrolytes are a little off since I’ve been drinking sooo much water lately, but any time I feel sick or weird I attribute it to my WLS, too.

    Also, maybe it’s possible that you had an anxiety attack? I’ve had them before in super-crowded rooms and felt woozy and weird.

  2. That’s more than a wee bit scary, to have happened twice. I’m glad you’re going to get yourself checked out for your own peace of mind, if nothing else. My wild guess is that it’s not related to the WLS at all but what do I know? I’m a librarian, not a doctor, and I tend to avoid overcrowded trains if at all possible my ownself.

  3. That happens to me about once a year. Never been a tumor yet, I promise. You’re not eating enough, probably, or not eating the right stuff. Get it checked out to make yourself feel better — but don’t panic.

  4. This happened to me twice in July. Never happened prior to my DS a year ago. The only thing in common with both occurrences was that I had been standing for 20-30 minutes. My lovely doc ordered a CT scan, carotid ultrasound, and a 24-hour heart monitor. All my results came back clean.

    Her verdict? The near-syncope (fainting) was happening because the weight loss made me more sensitive to changes in my blood pressure. (Fainting is nature’s way of getting you to lie down so more blood can get to your heart.) Prolonged standing with little change in position is a notorious cause. Being dehydrated, anemic or fatigued can exacerbate it.

    The obvious fix: sit. Or occasionally do a deep knee bend or leg lift. Make sure you don’t lock your knees when standing. Drink lots, stay nourished, verify you don’t have blood sugar issues.

    The not-so-obvious fix (and I swear, doc’s orders): tighten and relax your anal sphincter. When you’re tense, you unconsciously tighten up that ring of muscle. Stay like that long enough and your blood pressure will drop. Relax your sphincter like you’re preparing for a bowel movement, and your pressure elevates.

    God, I sound like a crazy lady sharing TMI. But after experiencing the uncommon claustrophobia, the sudden heat and dizziness, hearing everything sound like it’s far away, and having everything you see turn whiter and whiter even while the edges of your peripheral vision start to turn black (my last coherent thought at the July 4 cookout before putting my head between my knees was “Well, at least I can fit on an ambulance gurney now”)…it sucks. It’s scary. The potential embarrassment of falling in front of strangers is surprisingly the furthest thing from your mind.

    My doctor tested me to the gills, looked for a tumor or blockage, ruled out the worst, and told me to occasionally flex my number two private area. I’ve not had any repeat episodes. So now, I share this with you, and hope it helps.

  5. How scary! I can relate though because I have claustrophobia and anxiety in crowded spaced (I freaked out at the grocery store the other night with the huge crowds of T-day shoppers). This was adult-onset for me too.

    I wonder if it is related to the heightened awareness we have about our bodies now and if that plays in to the increased anxiety/claustrophobia?

  6. It could totally be a post-WLS thing. For me it is: anemia and hypoglycemia. Every day that I eat breakfast, I nearly pass out at about that time of day, due to a reactive hypo. It’s wicked fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *