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January 28, 2010

Here’s my confession: I’m squeamish. Seriously squeamish. Ever see some comedy about medical students where part-way through the first operation someone faints? That’s me. Actually, my condition is worse than that. So, as a sign of solidarity for other squeams, here’s today’s story of shame. (And for you skeptics, it’s perfectly natural – just look at these inbred goats.)

If you’re taking part in an official competitive sporting event in France, you have to get a medical certificate signed by your doctor to say that you’re fit to participate. While the certificate required for the Paris Marathon isn’t anything dreadfully probing, it does require a doctor to give you the once over and satisfy themselves that you’re not the ‘one in 10,000’ with some kind of heart problem.

Now, before I go too far into today’s tale of woe, I should perhaps explain my affliction. For some reason, I’ve always had an overactive subconscious reaction to more or less anything medical. At school I would often need to lie on the floor after routine inoculations. I went on to take A-level biology, which was fine until we came to the human biology elements – most of which I spent lying on the floor or standing outside, looking rather pallid.

And so it was, with a dreadful inevitability, that I felt my head start to go all fuzzy as the doctor started pumping air into the strap around my arm to take my blood pressure. For no explicable reason, I’ve always had this reaction to having my blood pressure tested. A couple of years ago I joined a gym in Oxford. At my induction the gym instructor tried taking my blood pressure, which promptly brought about an attack of the squeam. Not quite knowing what to do he asked me ‘Are you sure you’re not bleeding internally?’ I was referred to a doctor, who promptly confirmed that I was fine if absurdly over-sensitive with my squeam.

Feeling the room close in around me, I felt it best to warn the doctor about my condition. ‘I must warn you that I am really very squeamish about this sort of thing’ I slurred as I slumped over into a faint.

I woke up thinking ‘thank goodness that’s over’ only to find that I was still in the doctor’s surgery. Only I was feeling very rough and was being propped up on the seat by the doctor. While he updated his records, I was left to lie down and try to recover. Once I was up and about again, I was trotted off for a quick ECG scan. The doctor explained to the ECG nurse what had happened and that since my pulse had dropped to 38 during my faint, he thought it was probably a good idea that I got checked out.

As I was being wired up, the nurse shared her story of the only time she’d ever fainted. Apparently it was after a bit of sun stroke and a jug of sangria and having tried to throw up in the aforementioned cocktail jug in a restaurant. Anyway, the upshot of being plugged into a machine is that I’m fine, with my only problem being squeam. The medical certificate was signed, and the only barrier yet to overcome (obviously aside from a whole lot of running) is to get the Eurostar tickets.

It has to be said, the doctor did a very good job of managing my condition and was very sympathetic. In complete contrast to my partner, who could only cackle in hilarity. So, if you suffer from the squeam, I hope my plight can give you some comfort in solidarity.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Wazza permalink
    January 29, 2010 1:38 pm

    Love your whimsical post, but no squeams here Lewis!. My doctor was pretty much “tick and flick” as he’s often seen me huffing and puffing past his office as he’s leaving for the day and therefore well aware of what I am doing in training. I arranged a Swine Flu injection at the same time and I’ve noticed my certficate has been received and accepted by the marathon organisers.

    Training is going OK – however I am being very careful about legs and planning to run more on dirt trains after three successive hard runs on concrete/ ashphelt?? bike paths (59 kms in all) got me worried about shin splints. Found, and now tested, a great “Aussie” design singlet I will run in and also starting to break in the shoes I think I’ll rotate and wear. I’ve also entered 4 lead up races building up from about 4 – 18 kms through Feb and March. Still regularly uploading my Garmin details to Garmin Connect but there’s a couple against my ID where my son has used it which are a bit quick for my pace. Got a tough session totaling about 25 kms on Sunday so I’ll start at 7.30 am to get it in before it gets too hot (37 degrees C forecast but we’ll be finished well before it hits 30).

    • January 29, 2010 8:54 pm


      Sounds like your training is coming along really well. Good idea about altering the surface you’re running on. I’ve just come back from a fair pounding on the streets of Abingdon and I can feel the surface I ran on in my feet.

      I still need to make some decisions about my gear for Paris. I bought some shoes a few weeks ago with the intention of wearing them in for the big race. However, they’re a bit harder on my feet than my older shoes. I need to decide which pair I’ll race in, but at the moment it’s looking like the older-but-more-cushioned shoes might be my preference.

      As I’m running for The Stroke Association, I’ve got a charity top to run in. I do, however, need to check how it feels to run in it. I’d hate to get a short distance into the marathon only to find that it chafes terribly!

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