I finished my tempo run (a repeat of Day 6 for those keeping score at home) and it was taking me a while to catch my breath after several steady intervals, a little faster than my 10k race pace. I had waited for the sun to almost set, so it didn’t feel quite as warm as this same run last week, but the humidity had exponentially increased and it was a sauna. That said, I felt good about hitting my target paces and I pushed through .. mental toughness, your body can do what your mind / self-talk says it can’t, blah blah blah.
Best part of the run was during the last interval: there’s like 30 seconds left in the set and Rochelle says, “do not give up on me now!” and Kewella immediately sings “shut the fuck up”. Oh how I would have laughed if I’d had any breath left.
Felt a little dizzy while stretching, so I decided to sit on a beachfront bench until I stopped feeling woozy. Seemed longer than it was (maybe only a few minutes), but I wasn’t recovering as quickly as I thought I should. All I wanted was to walk home (literally less than 5 minutes), drink some cold water and get into the shower.
Got up to walk, felt dizzy again, so I sat down. I started wondering if it would be stupid to ask someone to walk back to the flat with me, just in case I crashed. And then I started wondering how I would say this, or at least how I would say it in Spanish (I probably have the vocab, but I’d hate to have somebody think a sweaty old man was saying, “please come back to my house with me so you can make me feel better.”)
Things started feeling a bit more normal, but as I was crossing the street another wave washed over me, so I sat down on a different bench and did some stretching and breathing there. I’m now basically catty-corner to my building, but don’t really want to risk it.
An elderly man took a seat near to me. He was sweating through the collar of his shirt. It was only in the mid-80s but the 75% humidity made it feel like it was about 95° (according to the phone, according to me it felt like a gazillion). Unpleasant at best.
After resting for a bit, I headed past the old guy offering a smile and a nod. He looked a little out of it, but nothing extraordinary. I took a seat on the steps of the building just past him, as I was still feeling a little out of it as well. I was looking at the stats on my Strava app to see if they really warranted feeling so washed out.
An old woman in a billowy housedress came up to me, with a young man in tow who seemed more-than-a-little developmentally/intellectually challenged. She began speaking to me in Spanish.
My first thought was she was going to ask for money (which I had none, having just been on a run right in my neighborhood), but she said, “My husband was driving and is now feeling very faint, can you please call 112 for me?”
112 is the Spanish equivalent of 911.
Suddenly I’m not so dizzy anymore.
Her husband was the old man who I’d noticed looking quite out of it, sitting a few yards away.
I dialed the number and gave her my phone, telling her she should talk as I don’t trust my Spanish in such a situation. (I could have done okay, but better the first responders get the news from the horse’s mouth, as it were.)
Of course, my AirPods were still connected to my phone, so she couldn’t hear anything. I ended up calling back 3 times before figuring out how to disconnect them (it’s easy once you know how) and she was able to get an ambulance. I figured at this point they’d have blocked my number for crank calling them so many times in a row, but no. We walked over towards her husband while she was explaining the situation.
The man (who I now knew was Victor, aged 73) decided he needed to lie down and almost rolled of the bench. Pobrecito. I helped him steady himself and kept my hand on his leg to make sure he knew someone was next to him. I offered to go across the street and get him some water, but she had a bottle in her bag and started washing his face and neck with it to help him cool down. He didn’t want to drink any.
While we were waiting, a local cable company guy pulled up in his truck, and jogged over to us, phone at the ready, and asking if an ambulance had been called.
I saw a police car driving by and waved to them, but they didn’t see me. Cable guy saw me waving and ran over to the police car and summoned them over. They came over, asked some questions, and called for an ambulance even though we’d said one was coming.
He had no chest pain, just felt dizzy and faint. As I still did, but now i had a bunch of post-run, quasi-crisis endolphins swimming through me, so I was fine. Ten minutes before, I’d have thought about asking if the ambulance was running a 2-4-1 special.
Victoria (Vincente’s wife) tried to force a 10€ note in my hand for my help. That would have been the world’s most expensive local call. It took several refusals for her to put the money back into her purse. She did make me take down her address and phone number. They have a bar in near Camp Nou and she told me if I ever needed anything I should come visit or give a call.
The ambulance arrived, they talked to him and got him to sit up slowly. He was able to walk to the vehicle. Victoria hugged me goodbye, kissed me on both cheeks and I headed back to the flat. I was going to be late for my appointment, but random good deeds take priority.
Earlier that day, I was reading old journal entries from about this time of year, 5 years ago. I was just beginning to think about staying in Barcelona and had been worrying about living alone, what would happen I got sick or had an accident … what would happen if Larry got sick or had an accident since he’d be living alone part of the year as well. I still worry about such things.
I got into the elevator and thought about the kindness of strangers and how randomly I got thrown into helping look after someone when I thought I was the one who might need looking after. And the relief of it all, and the beauty of people taking care of each other, an old woman trying to give me money for something that did not need compensation, a 30-year old boy with the mind of a toddler who was just happy to be out and about talking to men in uniforms, not understanding his dad was ill … I don’t know, I just welled up in the lift.
Somebody in the building must have been chopping onions.