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health + well-being

I Went To My First Spin Class and Ended Up in the Hospital

April 15, 2016
Last month, I made a new commitment to my physical health. This is a detailed account of my first encounter with spinning class AKA the absolute worst experience of my entire life.
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Photos by Sophia Baboolal

 

Last month, I made a new commitment to my physical health, think of it like a New Year’s Resolution except four months late – not that self-improvement needs a calendar. Anyway, I’ve always been unapologetically sloth-like, but this time I actually felt bad about it.

 

I planned on eating as clean as I could (deep fried potatoes of any variety are my ultimate weakness), cutting my alcohol intake in half (which is still way too much but hey, progress is progress no matter how small), drinking an optimal amount of water, and participating in some form of physical activity (aside from walking to the fridge and back 12 times a day). Furthermore I promised myself to take this seriously; in the past, I put my physical health on the back burner in favour of stimulating my mental, emotional, and spiritual, although I understand the importance of balancing all four.

 

That being said, I dusted off my active wear (kidding! I use them often but only for aesthetic purposes lol), grabbed my favourite fitness buddy, Yazmin, and scheduled the most appealing workout class we could find. This is a detailed account of my spin class AKA the absolute worst experience of my entire life.

 

Yazmin and I waltzed into the super sophisticated spin studio; it was sleek and chic (I would never say this phrase but it’s the only one that describes it), complete with neon wall art, high end apothecary, and a band of motivated, endorphin-filled employees. “I’ve never taken a spin class before. The last time I was on an exercise bike I vomited on my boyfriend. He’s not my boyfriend anymore,” I said anxiously to the lady at the concierge desk. “I think you’ll love it!” she replied, knowing absolutely nothing about me or what I am capable of doing.

 

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Anyway, Yazmin and I hoisted ourselves onto a pair of bikes right at the front of the class. Literally next to the instructor, there was no way to slack without everybody noticing. I thought this might be a perfect way to push my limits, and if I blew chunks then everyone would experience the horror along with me!

 

The class went along as spinning classes do — the instructor squawking mildly aggressive phrases, speakers pounding obnoxious EDM, sweat dripping down everyone’s butt cracks. I wanted to slow down many, many times but there was a cute boy across from me and Yaz has the most inspiring ass ever; I just couldn’t let myself down like that, you feel me?

 

When class was over I stretched and I felt like I was going to pass out. Yaz and I walked home and my legs were so weak, I almost blew away in the wind. “Damn, I’m gonna be sore tomorrow,” I said, “but I love that feeling!!!”

 

I was half right. I was sore. I was damn sore but I definitely didn’t love that feeling. “My legs are uncharacteristically painful,” I texted my body builder of a brother, “Please, help me.” His reply was just like that of the other dozen humans I complained to: “Stop being a baby. Get the f out of bed, have some protein, hydrate, and stretch those suckers out. This is normal for somebody who hasn’t worked out in a while.”

 

I took their advice and went about my day as I normally would, except slower and with a lot more whining. I went to my favourite cafe for tea and spent half an hour on a bathroom break (I had to go down an entire floor, plop myself on the toilet, and somehow get myself back upstairs). I walked my wild foster dog by sitting in the grass and having him pee around me. I took enough Tylenol to make a ball pit out of them (for a Barbie doll, not a human). Nobody should take that much of anything.

 

I laid myself to rest that night with a hopeful twinkle in my eye. “The next day is always better!” I reassure myself as I tossed and turned from the severe pain I couldn’t escape. Optimism is my best friend!

 

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The next day was worse. So. Much. Worse. If I had slept, I would’ve woken up screaming. I couldn’t move. Like, at all. The sentence, “This is normal for somebody who hasn’t worked out in a while” echoed in my brain between bouts of “YOU CAN DO THIS, YOU’RE A HARD MOTHER FUCKER!”

 

I spent the entire day in bed massaging my sore limbs only to discover the pain was spreading throughout my body. I tried to distract myself with Anime (I don’t even like Anime) but shit went sideways when I started peeing blood. I called my best friend Caroline:

 

“This is not normal. I don’t think this is normal. Something is very wrong here.”
“Call Telehealth Ontario to get medical advice. They’ll tell you how serious this is.”

 

I did as she said. The nurse on the line urged me to call 9-1-1 immediately.

“Oh dear”, I thought, “am I finna die?”

 

My brother drove me to the Emergency Room and sat next to me as my doctor recounted a case of Rhabdomyolysis he’d dealt with in the past. It’s a syndrome where muscle tissue breaks down and releases way too many enzymes like creatine kinase into the bloodstream, poisoning you from the inside. It’s common in extreme physical traumas like being crushed by an entire building and can cause permanent damage to your kidneys. Real casual.

 

“It’s very rare but that could be what’s happening here. We’ll take a blood and urine test. We’ll either have to send you home with some painkillers or hook you to an IV for a few hours to flush out your bloodstream. We’ll see what the tests say.”

 

A nurse came by and gave me Percocets and Hydromorphone, neither of which helped. I used to think the most intense pain I’d ever felt were from my nipple piercings, but this felt like my entire body was made of many nipples, each being ruthlessly pierced and re-pierced. A couple of hours later the doctor called me from the waiting room.

 

“You need to stay overnight.”

“What?”

“This is the most extreme case of Rhabdomyolysis I’ve ever seen or heard of. Your creatine kinase level is 800% more than normal. How did you manage this?! I’m surprised you haven’t passed out from the pain.”

“I did one spin class,” I said flatly to my doctor although I meant to say, “I knew it! I’m a hard mother fucker.”

 

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Overnight turned to two nights, two nights turned to three, then I was finally admitted to a room in the wards because I would, be there for an extended period of time, the nurses told me with a sweet smile. In the beginning my spirits stayed high because I found it hilarious that my attempt at health landed me in a worse state than I could’ve ever imagined, but eventually the soul-sucking sadness of a hospital began to weigh on me.

 

Day after day I woke up to a nurse drawing copious amounts of blood for testing. I flowed in and out of consciousness from the morphine in my IV. I heard horrible wailing from patients in other rooms. I cried for days when I found out my foster dog was given to somebody else because I couldn’t take care of him in my state. I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

 

However, I did meet a wonderful 50-year-old woman named Leanne who was told she had until 19 to live. Her undefeatable optimism and powerful aura are the very qualities I work so hard to emanate in myself. The conversations we had in the few hours we spent in the same room inspired and will continue to inspire me for the rest of my life. In my experience nothing is as humbling as meeting somebody who’s further down the path you’re taking.

 

My bloodstream took an entire week to flush out. I was finally discharged although I’m told to take it easy since I can easily relapse. The doctors don’t know for sure what the hell I did to induce such a serious case of Rhabdomyolysis, but they said my “horrendous alcohol intake” and dehydration were huge factors.

 

Overall, my week in the hospital gave me a new perspective on life. I’m visiting my foster dog this weekend to say whaddup dawg. Leanne and I are having tea some time next week. I’m happy to say I’m limiting myself to one bottle of red wine a week, and absolutely no evil vodka here. Plus, I’m sticking to the lower intensity workouts I’m used to, like Pilates and Yoga. I guess I needed this little kick to really take my health seriously. I hope those of you reading this will reflect on your own well-being; a healthy body is like a well-oiled machine. My advice? Know your limits and listen to your body. You know it the best!

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Take care of yourself! Your body is a temple!