I had an interesting, if uncomfortable, experience last night.

GoddessJ has been a member of a local gym for several years, and this year she got me to join — I go to help keep her motivated. A few weeks ago, while using the weight machines, I started feeling extremely nauseous and had to stop. We went home, and after an hour or so I felt fine. GoddessJ said that it had happened to her before, and that I’d just pushed myself too hard.

It happened again last night, but with a new twist. I started feeling mildly nauseous on the tenth machine (of fourteen I usually use), so I rested for a while. It didn’t go away, so I did a set on the eleventh machine and moved to the twelfth, planning to rest there a little longer before I continued. But I just kept feeling more and more nauseous, maybe a little dizzy, and found myself sweating like crazy. Then the really weird thing: everything started sounding very odd and far away, and my sight started fading until all I could see were very pale shadows on a gray background. The only reason I knew that I was still able to see anything at all was that GoddessJ walked up to me, and I could see the shadow that was her moving. It was so strange that it almost distracted me from how lousy I was feeling.

Over a few minutes my sight slowly returned, though things still sounded far away and echoey for several minutes more, as if I were hearing them through a six-foot cardboard tube. After a while longer I was able to walk out to the car, with only a several-minute stop halfway there. (We normally walk to the gym, since it’s only a few minutes away from our house, but it was raining cats and dogs last night. It’s a good thing, I don’t know how long it would have taken me to get home under my own power.) After laying down for maybe forty-five minutes, I still felt weak but the nausea had vanished and I was very hungry, with a craving for carbohydrates.

I’m pretty sure the whole episode was simply hypoglycemia, caused by using up my available blood sugar and not being able to replace it quickly enough. When that happens with no provocation, it’s often an early sign of diabetes, but I was just checked for that a few months ago and came up clean, so it had to be solely from the workout. I haven’t been able to find a description of the visual symptom that matches mine, but the rest is apparently pretty standard fare.

As interesting as the experience was, I’d rather not repeat it. From now on, when I start feeling nauseous I’m going to call it quits on the exercise, no matter how much or how little I’ve got left.


  1. I wouldn’t take chances if I were you, I’d see a doctor just in case it’s something serious that needs immediate attention or next time your vision goes out like that you may not get it back.

  2. I’ll ask my doctor the next time I see him (which won’t be too long from now, I’ve already got an appointment), but I don’t intend for there ever to be a “next time.” I know the symptoms that lead up to that now, and I plan to pay close attention to them.

  3. Wow, that’s scary. I know when I was running, I used small snacks to fend off hypoglycemia. Perhaps if you brought some juice, or some of those Halloween-sized candy bars to the gym with you and have some in the middle of your routine, it’d help keep your blood-sugar levels up. But I think it’s a good idea not to use that equipment when you’re feeling nauseous.

  4. GoddessJ suggested granola bars too, but I’m thinking just stopping when I start to feel it coming on will be sufficient.

  5. Maybe it’s because you don’t have vision problems that you don’t take it seriously. Me? That would scare me enough to seek medical advise ASAP. I’d be afraid that next time just stopping when the nausea starts may not be enough. But it’s your life…and your choice….

  6. Did you ever see the movie Ghost Rider? (Most reviewers hated it, but I liked it.) The main character had a philosophy that he repeated several times throughout the movie: you can’t live in fear.

    After spending the first twenty-odd years of my life living in fear of essentially everything, I came to the same conclusion long before that movie was made. Fear is useful for avoiding physical harm; when applied to anything else, it almost always causes more problems than it prevents. If you don’t do things that make you a little apprehensive on a regular basis, you’ll end up afraid to set foot outside your door, and autistics are even more prone to that than the general population.

    You’re a gamer. Have you ever tried playing a game timidly, trying to always be safe? Try it sometime on something like Starcraft or one of the Age of Empires games, it’s very instructive. Beyond a certain minimal point, it simply doesn’t work, you get eaten alive by players who are willing to suffer losses in order to win. “Fortune favors the bold” is very accurate.

    As I said, I have an unrelated doctor’s appointment already, and I’ll ask him about it then. But I’m not going to fear it, and unless it happens without provocation, I see no need to go running to the doctor about it.

    • Two (perhaps) unrelated quotes.

      “It is necessary to cross a very narrow bridge, the key principle is to not be afraid at all.” – Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.


      “The angel of death has a very busy job, so he hired assistants, he calls them doctors.” – Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.

      I happen to be a Breslover Chasid. 🙂

      • Of course, another piece of Jewish medical advice is that if someone is having serious vision problems during one of the fast days, it is a sign that he or she is allowed to break the fast, like any other serious life-threatening health reason.

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