The Lesson I Learned From Magic School Bus

 Before you begin reading: I use humor to make a bad time a little more manageable. Having said that, I am aware of how real and debilitating hypochondria can be, and in no way am I mocking it. The only humor used here will be specifically at my own situation. If this may bother you, please skip this post, as I would still like to be friends! Also, it contains a spoiler for the Magic School Bus show “Works Out”, so if you wanted to be surprised…


I have an admission to make: I am a hypochondriac. Ever heard something like “I googled it, and I’m pretty sure I have cancer.”? That’s me. I generally prefer not to talk about it, since I’m socially inept as it is, and more than a little awkward. This would be the (pardon the terrible pun) proverbial nail in my coffin. I made an exception today because I got shown up by the Magic School Bus, and it’s so outrageous to me that I simply have to share it. Also, I’m slightly horrified that a kids show knows better than I do (for all my research).

It’s actually a little more complex than that. See, I’m my own worst critic, and since I’ve done more than my fair share of investigation, I am also aware that my symptoms are almost entirely in my head, and brought about by my own anxiety issues. Logically, I can work out that my arm freckles don’t mean I’m dying from sun exposure, and that cough I developed yesterday isn’t incurable pneumonia, it’s the dusting I was doing. That twinge in my wrist is from my poor typing habits, not the start of a heart attack, and my headache is from sewing with too little light, not an aneurism. I’m also capable of putting it aside before I actually go to the doctor, and I find it extremely embarrassing. However, it will not get out of my head. I’ve tried kicking it out. I’ve tried talking it out. I may possible have begged on my mental knees, followed by threatening it with all of the information I found, but alas, it’s so far been in vain. Although I may have locked it in a cupboard for now, it only comes up every now and again, instead of all the time.

Keeping all that in mind, I need to make a detour.

Detour 1: I have extremely mild asthma. I also have dust and seasonal allergies, and have since I was a kid. I’ve been living in a house almost entirely hardwood until recently, and forgot about both, since my asthma doesn’t generally present itself unless my allergies are acting up. These are both doctor confirmed, not in my head, I promise.

Detour 2: When I was pregnant with the boys, I got heart palpitations as a rule if I was dehydrated. It scared the crap out of me. Those have gone away for the most part once I was done being pregnant. Also doctor confirmed.

Detour 3: I am on a prescribed stimulant. I’d say doctor confirmed too, but since it was prescribed, it seems self explanatory.

Back to business.

For the last 4 months, my heart rate has randomly increased. Not significantly, just enough to notice, and it’s usually when I’m falling asleep. Ration though I might (“I just laid down”, “my body’s adjusting”, “I’m starting a panic attack”, “it’s just anxiety”, “the only reason I am noticing it is because I am concentrating on it”, “it probably does that all the time, I’ve just stopped long enough to notice”, the list goes on), I haven’t yet found a way to stop freaking out.


Biggest and I were watching the Magic School Bus show “Works Out”. Ms. Frizzle and Mr. Sinew are in the “teacher-athalon”, and they go inside Ms. Frizzle’s circulatory system to find out why air is so important to conditioning, because clearly, Mr. Sinew should win based on muscle alone. I’m pretty sure they drew him with muscles on his muscles. They find out that air contains oxygen, so when Ms. Frizzle starts racing, the heart pumps faster to get oxygen to her muscles in time. It’s all about teamwork.

I gave that show zero thought, and went on with my day, panicking as usual when I went to bed.

Until yesterday. The only thing I’m more ashamed of than having a lesson taught by a kids show is not learning the lesson until two days later.

Please remember those detours I took. Please also remember that Ms. Frizzle taught us that lungs and heart go together… This is it people! I had a beautiful sleep last night because I realized…. (now this feels like a Poirot reveal!)

I have asthma. I haven’t had to deal with it in 2 years. We used to live in a house with hardwood, where allergies are easily contained. We moved to a place with mostly carpet. Carpet collects dust. I am allergic to dust. Vacuuming gets rid of dust, as does washing sheets. Since my bedroom is last on both those lists, it collects the most dust. Dust aggravates my lungs, causing my asthma symptoms to increase. If my asthma acts up, I can’t breathe as efficiently. If I can’t breathe as efficiently, my lungs will need to acquire air more often. If they have to acquire air more often, my heart rate will have to increase as well. I fall asleep in my bedroom. Since that is the only time I notice the increase…

It’s entirely related to my asthma. I haven’t contracted anything! Yay! It also means I have to vacuum my bedroom more often.

Boy do I feel stupid.

And that’s the lesson the Magic School Bus taught me.

If you’re still here and haven’t fallen over, took me out of your circles, deleted me off your bookmark list, unfriended me, unliked me, or stopped followed me from sheer “Oh my gosh, is she for real?”, I thank you from the bottom of my fast-beating-asthma-irritated-self-conscious heart.

The Handler.


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