I went to the college gym to do a workout yesterday. I was expecting it to be a little tough, since I hadn't gotten up to the gym for the previous week and a half or so, but I figured it wouldn't be anything I could handle. I had my water bottle and was hydrating frequently; I had eaten breakfast and a snack. So when my heart rate was a little bit higher than usual after the elliptical, and stayed up for a little longer than expected, I didn't worry. When the first few dumbell lifts were a little tough, I thought, okay, this is something I can power through. Then I started to feel some acid reflux. Then I started to feel a little nauseous. Then I decided I should probably lie down. Laying down on the bench in the men's locker room didn't seem to help, so I went to ask a trainer if there were a first aid station or something. At some point, I decided it probably would be a good idea to call a nurse. I was perfectly capable of walking over to the nurse's office, I just didn't feel like walking out in the heat with no shade was such a good idea. The nurse came in, but accompanied by a police guy. This is not, mind you, campus cops, but an actual PD officer — there is a training academy on campus. He gave me a very condescending lecture about how I wasn't really ill, I was just overdoing it and not hydrating. I wanted to tell him to shut the fuck up, I'm a teacher here, not some freshman wannabe bro-dude, but I couldn't muster the energy. The nurse, fortunately, was much nicer as she lectured me about hydration and not overdoing it, and how rice crispies are not a sufficient breakfast when I'm planning to work out. My pulse was high and my blood sugar was low — "fasting level" she said, which doesn't sound so good. I got some juice and a granola bar, but thought it would be a good idea to go to the nurse's office so I could actually lie down for a bit. I let them know I would not need the chair they had brought in, but the Nurse is smarter than the PhD in many cases. She asked if I was dizzy when I stood up, and I admitted — because I am incapable of lying in situations like this — that I was, a little. This meant the chair for me. As I was rolled out of the gym past the people I check in with every time I come in to work out, I was just mortified.
This is where you come in, GT. Once I gave this feeling some thought, I realized something: that's a really ableist view of things, isn't it? Being in a wheelchair isn't embarrassing. It's not a cause for shame, nor is it shameful to be weak and need assistance. The feelings of shame were generated by my able-bodied assumptions, filtered through my generally low self-esteem and paranoia about others' judgments. And why did I think about this? Because as it was happening, I was imagining writing this up on Groupthink, and then thinking about how people would react. A year ago, I probably wouldn't have thought it through that well. So thank you, GT: you've enlightened me. And I guess I need to start looking for some higher protein breakfast options.