14 May 2023

Had a bit of a scare while running today

Last time this happened to me, the paramedics from the fire engine building had come over to help me.

I started my run a little late today – slightly after 11am. I was thinking of putting in 3 miles. Started a Youtube video on my airpods – Bertrand Russell’s original paradox of Set Theory and headed out merrily. It was a bit warm but the trail was mostly shaded.

Around the three quarter mile point, I suddenly felt very dizzy. Instinctively, I pulled my feet apart to not lose balance. After, what seemed like eternity – but, in reality it could not have been more than 3 seconds since I must have taken no more than 5 steps further, I realized that it was not a passing thing. I often get dizzy for a second when I get up suddenly or sometimes during a run if I lift my head up very quickly. This was not one of them.

At that point, I took all evasive actions to not fall down and if I did fall down, not on my back. Bent forward as I tried to walk out of the trail and then lowered myself down on all fours. I stayed that way for about a few minutes. Spotting a bench nearby, I slowly walked up there while keeping a low profile.

Got up after a few more minutes. First thought was to walk back. But I realized that if I did so, I would not know why it was happening. Coming from programming background, I had to recreate the problem to understand what was going on. So, decided to continue with the run and stay in the popular parts of the trail such that if I needed help somebody would be nearby. Also, decided to abort and go back if the problem came back soon.

All the time, I started isolating the variables in my mind. It was 80 degrees. Not that hot. My heartbeat was at 158bpm. For somebody 56 years old, that is well within the exhaustion limits. I had a lot of water the whole morning. I had only a fruit and two cups of tea like every morning but I was not feeling that hungry. Besides, I had the problem within 7-8 minutes of running. I was not feeling hungry or thirsty. But of course I did not know my sugar level.

At about the 2 mile marker, I felt it again. It seemed like I was getting dizzy. Without thinking twice, I sat down in the shade immediately and ran thru the few checks I was prepared for. Heartbeat was still under 160. And it dropped by 25 within the first minute. So, all was seemingly good on the heart front. Vo2 max was at 33.6 which is above average.

Now my worries went to whether this might be something bigger going on inside my body. Including internal bleeding. I could not see any discoloration of skin anywhere that I could visually inspect. Of course, years of hospice volunteering started scaring me about Parkinson’s and worse.

Convinced that I need to separate out more likely variables before jumping to bigger conclusions, I tried the systematic approach again. I noticed that when I took the hat off, it was dripping. My scalp was very warm. Well, my scalp felt the palms were very cold. This is a new hat. Maybe they were not wicking hats? That would heat up my head quickly.

Started the next segment of the run without the hat on. This time, I turned around and commenced towards the starting point. It was a miserable run. Without the hat, the sweat was dripping all over my face and eyes. And lo and behold! I had another attack. It was milder. But sure, I felt dizzy.

Did the next round of tests. Stood one one foot for 30 seconds with either foot. No issues. This is one of the tests my doctor had done when I had an attack of BPPV three years back. This rules out any major underlying neurological issues.

One more bout of run to the starting point.

Then I had another idea : Could it be my sunglasses? Well, it is a polarized clip on that I use on top of my prescription glasses. And this is a new one. Those polarized glasses (prescription or clip on) messes up peripheral vision for most people and for people like me, it can cause issues like dizziness.

In a bit of sheer lunacy, I went for yet another mile – no sunglass, no hat. The whole mile felt good. But there was this mild sense of not everything was alright. I was afraid to make quick shifts of the neck. Just kept looking straight ahead and ran. Not sure whether it was just fear or a real feeling of instability at that point of time.

Unless there is something major going on with my body, I suspect I either had a mild heatstroke OR my old BPPV problem has come back. (It is fairly benign and will go away with time). I will not know till I go out and run again tomorrow early in the morning in cooler temperatures.

Meanwhile, tonight I am going to load up on carbs!!

Posted May 14, 2023 by Rajib Roy in category "Running

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