Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Monday, May 13, 2013

What Happens in Vegas...

     About six years ago, I got heat exhaustion.  I was dog training, helping another trainer judge her Canine Good Citizen class on a really hot June evening.  I forgot to drink water, the class was moving so fast, and I really hadn't eaten anything either.  At the end of class, after helping to clean up the class site, I went to join the others in the business office and that's when it happened.  Someone had cranked the air conditioner down into the sixties at least and, when my over extended body hit that cold air, my blood pressure dropped and I almost did, too. I remember grabbing on to one of the interns as the floor was rushing up to meet me.  It was sincerely terrifying. I shouldn't have done it, but I got in my car to drive home telling everyone I was fine.  My eyes were really sensitive to light as I tried to drive home against the flow of headlights coming from the other direction and I almost pulled into two hospitals on my way home.  I made it into my driveway and Eric came out with Kobi, our dog, to greet me.  I have never been so happy to see them in my life. I tried to eat, but there was no saliva in my mouth to help process the food. A few days later I finally did end up in the hospital after experiencing extreme vertigo.  My body quickly drank in two bags of IV fluid after the dehydration diagnoses was given.

     A month later my biological mother died of congestive heart failure...and my doctor gave me a prescription for twenty Xanax and said, "Use them wisely..."

     ...I still have them...they probably aren't any good anymore...

     My job even gave me a day off.  Since I was estranged from my mother, I indicated that that wasn't necessary, but my supervisor said, "Dana; you are going to eventually freak out. I don't want you here when that happens."  That was said with love and concern, really it was, but what she didn't realize was that the freak out process would be a little more inward and a little more slow growing.

     ...Looking back, maybe, with everything that had been going on, I should have taken that Xanax.  I am just so anti-drug.  I'm a "feeler." I don't want to do anything that keeps me from being who I am and feeling everything I am going through. I'm a creative person; for me it's part of the process. Although now I'm thinking the Xanax may have helped keep some things in perspective instead of developing full blown phobias.

     After my Mother's death, I wouldn't eat anything with fat in it.  I lost 30 pounds. I was so worried about my heart, but it manifested in such an odd way. I didn't increase my exercise, or anything at all like that.  I just stopped eating fat. Then because of the heat exhaustion I wouldn't go outside if the temperature was above 85 degrees.  If I had to, I'd break into hysterics. Often.

     So, here we are, six years later. The years have helped lessen the fears a bit.  I am still overly concerned about my heart and will start to experience an uncomfortable and quiet panic when outdoors for very long when the temperatures are over 85 degrees.  I'm better than I was though. There aren't as many hysterics...

     ....but there are panic attacks.  I've been prone to them since I was about 24 year sold or so.  I remember having one the day of a show and having to pull over because I couldn't drive.  They aren't that bad anymore, but they creep up slowly and can get a bit debilitating if I let them come in all the way.

     As you can imagine, I'm having a bit of an issue with my spine from the fall where I broke my wrist.  I've been dizzy, had migraines, etc, and some days, I don't want to move, much less, go on vacation...

     ...That being said, for me, Las Vegas is the happiest place on earth, forget Disney World! We had had the trip planned for months and hadn't been in years, so I didn't want to miss it due to the recent bone break. Or, you know, so I thought....

     I had a couple of rough "gravitational pull" moments on the trip out there but seemed to be doing better by the end of the first night. Any sickness I had experienced earlier in the day gave way to just plain exhaustion as we struggled to stay awake. Not really thinking, we had gotten tickets to see Ron White at 10:00, which was midnight in the "real world" as Eric started calling central standard time. We couldn't wait to collapse into bed after the show and I didn't give another thought to my wrist or my bad dizzy spells. The next morning we decided to walk the strip. It was unusually hot for April in Vegas with highs around 95. It was already in the low 80's by the time we went really hot... I could feel myself get that certain "uncomfortableness" that rises up in me. I mean, I didn't even have any water on me. definitely wasn't prepared. Uncomfortableness usually gives way to feeling line a caged animal. A pacing of sorts goes on in my brain and I can't find any escape - oh, wait, what? You're hot, too? Okay, we'll go back to the hotel and check out the pool and a frozen drink....I was so relieved at that moment that Eric wanted go back.

     Still really hot outside, but hours later we had to walk over to The Venetian where Rock of Ages was playing. I had gotten us tickets; I was so excited! Always had wanted to see it and thought it was just a short walk across the street from where we were staying at The Mirage. Yeah, short 98 degrees...and I had been getting more dizzy as the day went on as well. Oh well; had to go! Couldn't take a cab across the street, right? Thought I would just put on my brave front....which didn't last long.

     We started off walking down the long sidewalk from The Mirage that would take us to the Strip then across the street to The Venetian. The sidewalk itself slopes down and I found on the trip out that downward slopes made me more dizzy than anything else. It was hot, I was feeling that familiar feeling of the ground rushing up to meet me and just when I said, "I can't do this!" I heard, "Dana! Just breathe!"

    I don't know whether it was the startle of Eric's voice or the breath, but I immediately calmed down and was able to take the rest of the walk across the street without incident.  In fact, I pretty much spent the rest of the evening without incident.  Any time I felt dizzy and that I might panic, I made myself stop and breathe. It sounds so simple, but it was something I have never been able to fully make myself do before.  You always hear about it right?  "Just take a deep breath..."  Never before had a realized how fully cleansing and stabilizing that could be and how desperately I needed to add it to my everyday life. 

    I've become much better physically over the last few weeks.  The dizziness is nearly gone, my wrist is healing, and, well, I've been outside a lot more.  They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.  I hope not...well, at least for this, because the lesson I learned there has translated well to my life back in the "real world..."  

   ....However...when I think about it...there is some video of me dancing that I wish Eric had left there...

Happy Fishing!