On Friday, I will be passing out.  A little back story…

I pass out.  But to assume this means a clean and simple faint would be folly.  I pass out slowly and gross.  It feels like it takes forever.  I get sweaty.  I’ve been told I turn white and/or greenish.  I moan and groan, which is usually me trying to vocalize things like “get this blanket off me”, “cold wet cloth, please”, or “I think I’m going to puke/poop”, or really just that visceral “unnnnngg!” that loosely translates into “make it better please, oh god please”.

It is ugly.  Once it starts, it doesn’t stop easily – usually it ends with me unconscious and jerking (so I’ve been told) and/or going stiff.  “I practically had to break your legs to get you off the toilet” ex-husband doctor told me after I passed out on the can.  He had a lovely bedside manner (he was an ER doctor – not to malign the lot of them.  I’ve known some lovely, kind ER doctors.  Like, two ;p)

Now this shit all started when I was 8.  Or I at least remember passing out when I was 8.  Then again two more times in grade school.

  • Once at home when I was ill and looking for food.  I had stood up on the pantry counter and was rummaging around in the back of the shelf for where I was sure there was a cup o’soup and I came to on the floor on top of the toaster and a fork.
  • On a historical site field trip in 6th grade.  I was feeling unwell and told a teacher that I thought I needed to eat lunch.  I was told that we’d be eating soon and that if they let me eat lunch, then everyone will want to eat lunch now.  So I passed out in Paul Revere’s house.  I woke up on Paul Revere’s bed.  I have since learned that it’s not his bed or his house, but a reconstructed house on the site of Paul Revere’s actual house.  It sounds so much funnier to say I passed out and woke up in Paul Revere’s bed.

Then high school.  Lots of passing out:

  • At a restaurant with friends.  The staff brought me food at my friends’ request, salad with french dressing.  Then they threw us out because they thought I was on drugs.
  • Strapped upright into a seat on an airplane as we were landing in Europe after a transatlantic flight – the retching and groaning started and my mortified little brother tossed the barf bag at me.
  • At lunch.
  • After a bad IV stick for an upper endoscopy.
  • After a blood draw for mono.

College (9 year period):

  • At my boyfriend’s parents’ house after dinner.
  • At a subway station after a dinner out with friends.  A female friend was helping me walk to catch the train (last one, then we’d be stranded in the city) and some guys coming out of a nearby sport venue surrounded us and called us “dykes”.
  • In my dorm room after an awful lot of pelvic pain.  I was later told it was an ovarian cyst.  The student emergency response team kept asking me what I’d had to drink.
  • At work as a campus safety escort walker, later told it was “mittleschmertz” or somesuch bullshit.
  • Out at dinner with a nurse friend (“Jeez, why did you call 911?” I asked the nurse friend later.  “Because you were out for a long time and when I pulled your head up off the table, your eyes were rolled all the way back in your head.  And you’ve got BIG eyes!”).
  • On the can, Dr. Husband helped with that one – aside from the gruff manner, it was honestly the best response to my passing out.  Got me (a) out of the upright position I was stuck in and (b) onto the bed with my legs up (c) without  hurting me and (d) didn’t freak out and call 911.

Grad school (9 year period):

  • Dinner with my sister.
  • New Year’s party at a friend’s house, horrible – I was with my boyfriend, who was a type 1 diabetic.  He checked my blood sugar “It was below 50” was all he’d tell me later about it.  He got me the HARDEST piece of chocolate I’ve ever put in my mouth to “bring my sugar up”.
  • At my apartment after I’d been up late working at the computer.  Had to pee, but also was feeling gross.  Stood up, and thought “fuck, if I go lay down, I’m going to wet myself.  I’ll pee first”.  You know what?  BAD idea.  That one got me a concussion and a super cranky ER nurse who kept asking me what I’d had to drink that night.
  • At home after dinner x 3.

This year:

  • At home after dinner in August.
  • At the dentist’s office – a very near “near faint”.  I had medicated in advance and I was whisked down to a flat position and given O2.

The high school stuff  happened in front of medical staff twice so I was worked up for seizures.  I couldn’t drive because they were so frequent that every time I would get close to going the required amount of time without a “seizure”, another one would happen.  Mind you, my EEGs were normal.  But they called ’em seizures because I had gone stiff and had a few jerks, and so I was stuck.

I’ve spent a good deal of time trying NOT to pass out.  Part of why I don’t go out and do much socializing these days is that I feel so fatigued and shaky so routinely, I’m about this close (hold finger and thumb together) to a faint.  The feeling is terrible.  And people are terrible at dealing with it.  No, really, they are.  The diabetic (who had passed out plenty of times himself) with the super hard chocolate was the same guy I was with the night of  “pee or pass out”.  After I staggered into the bedroom and fell (hitting my head off a large chest of drawers, the door, and a wall on my way down), he pulled me up by my stiff arms and onto the bed.  I was Soooooo sore.  I complained bitterly that my arms were inexplicably sore many times before he told me what he’d done.  Anyhow, so there’s that.  My basic distrust of people and them working hard to earn it.  And there’s the whole food thing.  I’m more likely to pass out if I haven’t eaten, but conversely, I am also likely to pass out after a big meal.  When, what, and how you eat can be more readily controlled in your home, or at least when you don’t have to do things by committee.  Like with inlaws.  If I’m having a blood draw or an IV placed, I warn them. I lay down.  And I take a lomotil before I go because it’s got atropine.  Yum.  I’m not sure how legit this use is, but the neurologist who tapped my spine in 2002 (lyme) gave me some pre-procedure and hey, I didn’t pass out.  I nearly did, a nurse had to hold my legs up on her shoulders for quite a while, but I didn’t pass out even though I had a needle in my spine and it wasn’t a very easy tap.

And so, I have spent a lot of time and energy since high school trying to find ways NOT to pass out, or at least not to pass out in public (outside my house counts as “in public”).  I got the call today that the tilt table test my nPCP ordered is for Friday.  This Friday.  I was thinking maybe next week, or the week after.  Plenty of time to psych myself up for it.  But blam, it’s in three days.  Three days or the week after July 4th, when my inlaws are coming up.  So it’s in three days.

Ok.  I can do this.  I’ll be all hooked up to a monitor.  And strapped in.  And they’ll put me down when I pass out.  It’s still hard to think about intentionally passing out though.  Wish me luck.

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  1. R. G. Maines

     /  June 16, 2010

    Wow, that’s a bit disconcerting. I have only passed out once in my life, as a result of being very ill, but that helpless feeling is something I don’t think I could cope with if it happened on a regular basis.

    I learn something every time I visit your blog and I gain some introspection into my own disability and daily living challenges.


    wishing the rest of your week is positive!

  2. queenofoptimism

     /  June 18, 2010

    I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes with my hand cupped over my mouth. Holy puke/poop!

    So, the tilt table test will explain the passing out? When do you get results? I’m so glad nPCP ordered it quickly.


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