Tuesday, March 8, 2011


It was a long week last week. I had the stomach bug for all week, and husband left town with the High School Robotics club for a competition in New Hampshire last Thursday through Saturday.

Thursday night I woke in the middle of the night feeling really disoriented, dialed my sister in Oregon, who told me I was freaking her out and to call 911, and she'd call my parents across the river to come over to watch the kids.

I wasn't scared, but I was nervous and by the time the paramedics came my hands and feet were numb, and my body was tingling. Did I go to the hospital? No, I was hyperventilating - breathing rapidly -  and just needed to breath slowly.
{these hands and feet are VERY numb!}
I'm writing this post in case you come across someone who's hyperventilating and hands and feet are feeling funny.  The paramedics had me hold my breath for a second and then breath slowly in and out counting to five in my head for each cycle.

I had to Google hyperventilation afterward and the numbness I felt was not not from a lack of oxygen (what you might think!), but from a lack of carbon dioxide in my blood.

from wikipedia: "Counterintuitively, such effects are not precipitated by the sufferer's lack of oxygen or air. Rather, the hyperventilation itself reduces the carbon dioxide concentration of the blood to below its normal level because one is expiring more carbon dioxide than being produced in the body, thereby raising the blood's pH value (making it more alkaline), initiating constriction of the blood vessels which supply the brain, and preventing the transport of oxygen and other molecules necessary for the function of the nervous system.[2]"

I had hyperventilated once before in my life, and it was so different then what I felt that Thursday night that I didn't recognize it. I was a teenager and had just joined my high school track team, and the team was running sprint triages in the parking lot. I was completely out of shape and all of a sudden I was just gulping and wheezing rapidly. It felt like I couldn't get any air into my lungs. Back to wikipedia, this is what I think happened then:

"Hyperventilation can also occur when someone exercises over their VO2 max, when they're unable to transform oxygen into energy beyond a certain level but hyperventilates in an effort to do so."

Ugh. I so admire people who know medical stuff, which is not me! I am feeling great today and getting to the huge pile of to-do stuff that has backed up all week. Ugh again!



  1. Oh man, so glad to hear you are okay!!!! That must have been scary...I have little panic attacks sometimes and call my brother at 3 in the morning, he usually tells me to relax and then says something like "if I don't hear from you in the morning, I will guess you didn't make it." Nice huh? Well I got your box of goodies...lovely stuff. Haven't had a chance to try anything on, but love the shoes and clothes are darling. Will call when time frees up! Thanks again and a HUGE THANKS for the gorgeous surprise earrings...so so so thoughtful! Can't wait to do a post on it all! xx Danielle

  2. Hey, I heard about that robotic competition up here in Manchester, how fun! But not fun for you, how scary for you and your husband was gone. I didn’t know you could get numbness from hyperventilating so I’ll file it in my head just in case. Glad to hear you’re feeling much better!

  3. I'm so glad you are doing better. I can't even imagine how scary that would be.

  4. How scary!! I am glad you are feeling better!!!

  5. oh my...that makes for an adventurus night! So glad you didn't have to go to the hospital... though a night alone doesn't sound that bad...hmmm... Glad you are better! -Ann

  6. Happy to know you feel better and thank God you are okay.

  7. How scary is that? Good to hear you're feeling better. Love the hands & feet pic!

  8. Oh poor you, that was so frightening. That is really scary and I'm hoping you feel better now and you have some help so you can take a rest! I do like your wee illustration.


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