Health · Lifestyle

Fighting Off Heat Stroke at ‘The Bates Motel’

Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

The notorious motel in Psycho.

I spent this Saturday as part of the family support for our competitor in the Pennsylvania Blue Mountain Spartan race.  These types of events, held during July, are bad for the competitors and the thousands of family and friends who are present to support the athletes. There are only a few tents where the spectators could sit, and none of these had any air conditioning.  There were no posters advising people of the dangers of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.  

I had my first experience with heat exhaustion on Friday night, 10 hours prior to the Saturday competition.  Temperatures in Allentown, Pennsylvania, were in the 90s that day. The Athlete and The Husband left early on Friday morning for the two-hour drive to the race venue.  There were television interviews and important hobnobbing to be undertaken on the day before the actual race.

I was to meet them at our “hotel,” which turned out to be a vile motel in Allentown known as the Quality Inn. I was running late, so I brought my dinner from Eli’s and dined in the car on the way.  The Husband assured me that he and our Spartan champion would meet me at the inn soon after their early dinner was over.  

My comrade in many adventures, Gus, drove me from New York while I worked on charts. We arrived at the Quality Inn and I knew immediately that this summer weekend experience was not off to a good start.  The Inn was as bleak as the motel in Psycho. There was no bellhop. There were motorcycles and trucks in the parking lot.  Gus helped me carry my bags inside, and then offered to sit with me on one of the two plastic chairs that were available in the lobby in front of the front desk until The Husband arrived.  He also suggested that I return home and drive back the next morning.  I thanked him but assured him that I would be safe waiting in the lobby. I am a New Yorker, after all.

Next I began a series of texts to The Husband that were not answered.

  1. I am here.  You are not.
  2. You must have made a mistake and given me the name of the wrong lodging.
  3.  I’m not checking in.
  4.  I will wait on one of the two plastic chairs that make up the lobby seating area.
  5. Three men, clearly on illegal steroids, with full beards and covered in tattoos, just checked in.  
  6. I am still here.  You must be afraid to text me.
  7. Women, clearly on steroids and sweating, without noticeable beards but with tattoos, have just checked in, wearing biker gear on top and booty shorts on very large bottoms with motorcycle boots.  Did I mention they were sweating?
  8. It is hot hot hot in this lobby.

Thirty minutes late, The Husband and The Competitor arrived looking cheerful and pumped up about the big Saturday race and the day’s hobnobbing.  They were surprised to see me and my luggage still in the lobby, where I had been working on charts when not texting.  “It should have been clear to you why I am here, since I described everything to you in my texts,” I explained.  AH!  No cell phone present on The Husband’s person; charging in our room “upstairs” on the second floor. 

Now the dilemma.  The Athlete needs peace, and I know that.  So I chose to deal with the matter of where I would sleep upstairs in the room, behind closed doors.  I was gracious.  I made decent small talk and we made it to our separate rooms—The Athlete across the hall from our room, 209.  We passed Room 211 on the way; half a broken mirror was sticking out of a trashcan, along with cartons that had contained carryout food.  A lovely sight. I said nothing. I assumed res ipsa loquitur.

RELATED: Spartan-Racing in Velvet Shoes

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  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. August 28, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    I could write tomes about the unbelievable adventures we had with
    wild landscaping. Remember the time “The Husband” went to Asia and
    returned to find 40 14 feet tall Arbor Vitae protecting my backyard view from some hideous new-build in Darien Ct? He walked out the back door, exhausted, heading for a quick swim and thought he was suffering from delusions!!! Then there was the time he came home earlier than expected to find large earth moving machines on the property…That was a scene that left scars on both of our psyches. But mostly our adventures in gardening and friendship were successful with only the kinds of secrets every woman should keep from The Husband.

    Dr. Pat

  • andrew grossman August 28, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    No-one tells a story like you do. Hilarious as always!
    The doctor is in…..rare form.

  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. July 26, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    I love having conversations with such smart interesting and witty women here at Thank you all.

    Dr. Pat

  • Barbara Thornbrough July 26, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    This is just the funniest article imaginable. You really outdid yourself on this one. My husband and I were screaming with laughter. We began thinking of our worst motel nightmare. It was at a soccer tournament for the kids in Montreal. The motel room floor had a horrible frightening purple shag rug and I am sure there were spiders breeding in it. The bathtub had large black spiders in it. All in all I did not sleep for one second and I had to have the lights on as I am very afraid of spiders.
    Dr A you are such a slip of a woman it is definitely possible you were done to a turn in that hot car. At least, you still have a great sense of humor. See you soon. Barbara Thornbrough

  • Andrea July 19, 2016 at 11:32 am

    A wonderful Doctor,writer AND comedian !!!! Hysterical and still trying to picture you curled up in the back of your car. Sweating!!!! Wonderful to support the Spartan -next year we will think of some excuse for you so you don’t have to go back!!

  • hillsmom July 18, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Dear Dr. Pat, Congratulations on surviving the night! Sorry I can’t type more because I’m convulsed with laughter. 😎
    Oh, think about the poor furry dogs in the heat with their acute sense of smell. No wonder they were howling.

  • Elizabeth Turner July 18, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Philip and I are still laughing!

  • Shirley July 18, 2016 at 8:49 am

    I hope your husband appreciates your sacrifice. No more hardship duty to show your support.

  • Pam July 18, 2016 at 8:41 am

    After spending more than 10 years traveling all over the country for summer lacrosse–I feel your pain!! The fine motels, fine dining at Applebee’s, Chili’s and the Olive Garden–if we were lucky!!! But now that it’s over, they were some of the best memories our family has shared and we still “cry” laughing about some of the finer moments with our sons!! (I remain the family expert at bed bug checks!!?)

  • Polly July 18, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Hilarious! I hope you begged off the next year…we don’t have to be there for every single trophy.

  • Abigail congdon July 18, 2016 at 7:23 am

    I only wish I had been a fly on the wall observing all this! Congratulations for not only caring for yourself but being functional enough the next morning to fly the family flag!