The other day I was on a stationary bike at the gym — part of the noontime spin crowd, all of us sweating it out. The guy next to me was really bearing down. He inspired me to give the tension knob another half-turn. By the end I was knackered.
I got off the bike, patted down with a towel, put on my glasses and took a few steps.
Whoa. This did not feel right.
The room was pitching and heaving. I had trouble getting my bearings. I thought: something’s seriously wrong. A stroke? If you can put your arms overhead — all I could remember from the checklist of red flags — you can rule out a stroke, and I could put my arms overhead. My perception was wonky, so maybe a brain injury. Possibly a tumour on the visual cortex. If that’s what it was, it occurred to me, then at my age the prognosis is not that good.
Then I realized:
I had put on the glasses of the guy on the next bike.
We got it straightened out before he put on mine. (Although it would have been interesting to see if he lapsed into the same desperate Woody Allen routine.)
Two takeaways from this:
Number one: Don’t reach for a complicated explanation when there might be a simpler one.
Number two: Don’t catastrophize. It only creates anxiety and there’s absolutely no upside, because if turns out you’re wrong, you’ve been tormenting yourself needlessly, and if it turns out you’re right, you’ve been extending the suffering unnecessarily.
Feels good to be back from the brink. Near-sighted, absent-minded, but still among the quick.