Fainting is No Fun

11 08 2011

On Monday I fainted…twice! It wasn’t fun. In fact, it was quite embarrassing, as it usually is.  I have a history of vasovegal syncope, also known as fainting spells, which often are coupled with paleness, lightheadedness, tunnel vision, nausea, feeling of warmth and a cold clammy sweat. Some of the triggers for these spells are standing still for too long, the sight of blood or having blood drawn, extreme heat and fear of bodily injury. As long as the fainting spells are not associated with other medical problems (I met with a cardiologist when I was young to rule out any outside medical issues), the biggest concerns are hurting yourself while fainting and not allowing your body to properly recover post fainting spell, which would ultimately lead to more spells. It is important for those who struggle with vasovegal syncope to understand when and why the spells could hit in order to prevent injury from fainting. There are some techniques to prevent fainting, such as lying down on a table, however I have found that if I am going to faint, there is not much that I can do to prevent it.

Chris and I are taking a trip to Brazil in September, and as a result have to get a number of immunizations, including Yellow Fever. We made an appointment earlier this week to go together and have our shots. Given my history of fainting, I should have told the nurse at the doctor’s office about my history and laid down while having the shot, but given that I hadn’t fainted in over 2 years, and the fact that last week I had blood taken for my annual doctor’s appointment and was fine, I chose not to disclose the information. The last time that I fainted was getting cortisone shots in my shoulders due to overuse and injury from swimming in college. I have also fainted at the vets office, while giving blood, after a hard morning practice in the dining hall in college, and in many other public locations.

Of course, since I had assumed that I would be perfectly fine, about 2 minutes after getting my teeny tiny yellow fever shot, my vision started to blur, I started to feel week, and quickly announced out loud to the waiting room that I was about to faint. Luckily Chris was in a nearby chair, so I stumbled into the chair next to him, told him that I was about to faint and passed out. The oddest part about fainting is the deep sleep that you quickly fall into. Every single time that I have ever fainted, I have had extremely vivid dreams, which I then forget about 30 seconds after waking from the spell. Waking from such a deep sleep to realize that you have fainted is probably the worst feeling that I have experienced throughout my life. I woke up surrounded by doctors, sweating like a pig, shaking and feeling as though I was about to puke. It was only a matter of minutes before I started to feel another fainting spell coming on. Apparently I fainted and then Chris and some of the doctors moved me to the floor. After the second spell, which lasted about 30 seconds, I woke up on the floor of the waiting room, with ice under my neck, a wet cloth on my forehead, a blood pressure band on my arm, and still sweating like a pig. I was a site to see… I am sorry that I did not have my camera set up for Chris to take pictures of me while sprawled on the waiting room floor, but he did a great job of documenting my recovery.

This picture was taken about 30 minutes after my second spell. The doctors told me that they wanted to insert an IV into me because they thought that dehydration was playing into my low blood pressure, but the thought of more needles did not exactly float my boat, so I opted for ANY other option. They told me that if I drank a huge bottle of orange juice and could get my blood pressure back to normal, they wouldn’t insert an IV. I definitely got my dose of vitamin C that day!

The trip to the doctors did not exactly turn out as expected, but I was glad that a) Chris was there with me and b) that it happened in a doctors office. Unfortunately the ugly fainting monster comes in and out of my life and there is nothing that I can do to prevent it. It took me an entire day to regain my strength but was pretty much back to myself about 24 hours later. And 48 hours later, I was completely back to my normal routine and finished up my weekly workout challenge on Wednesday night with my second Pilates class of the week!

Question of the day: Have you ever fainted? or do you have a fainting story of someone who you saw faint?

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19 responses

11 08 2011
Katie

Glad to hear you’re OK babe! I have also passed out/blacked out when I get dehydrated, or if it’s super hot outside and my blood pressure slows down. It’s no fun. But at least you’ll be safe from Yellow Fever, right? Silver lining?

11 08 2011
Victoria (District Chocoholic)

UGH I’m so sorry to hear about this. I also faint all the time, especially with needles around. Stupid low blood pressure.

I have an embarrassing fainting stories that may or may not make you feel better. On a date, I passed out on Connecticut Ave. Reasoned that at least nobody else saw. The next day, one of my coworkers asked if I was feeling better. I looked at him puzzled. Turned out he had walked right past the whole thing.

11 08 2011
321delish

wow that is an amazing story haha

11 08 2011
Lauren

I saw my dad faint after one of my diving meets in college and I had never been so scared in my entire life. I thought he dropped dead. I think I almost fainted during last weeks long bike ride- I had tunnel vision but as soon as i got off my bike and sat down on the ground it went away. scary stuff, missy!

11 08 2011
amy

This is crazy! Glad you’re ok. The only time I’ve ever fainted was at the onset of a serious stomach flu. I was at a performance at the Shakespeare Theater on the hill, sitting practically on stage. I felt myself getting hot and dizzy, so I excused myself (which is embarrassing in itself because, did I mention, the seats were on stage) and made it into the lobby before totally collapsing into a chair. I was sick for 3 days after that. Terrible.

11 08 2011
Courtney

I get light headed around blood. I am a nursing student. First time I realized this I was shadowing a doctor and he was helping a bloody nose. I fainted on the patient’s mother. They had to wake me up with smelling salts.

One time I was inserting an IV (my fifth or sixth time ever) and right when i got the needle in place the patient passed out. I felt bad mainly because the IV pulled out so we had to insert another one for fluids and for his upcoming procedure. :-/

11 08 2011
karen @ working it out...

interesting… that happens to me from time to time too, did not know there was a name for it. Glad you are OK!

11 08 2011
Nancy Gibson

Hi Chloe, I’m Steph’s mom. I have a fainting story for you. It was at my sister’s wedding. My brother was one of the guys in the wedding party and was standing up front of the church. He fainted before our sister (the bride) got up front. Well, next our father had just given the bride (our sister) to her future husband when she told him she felt faint. (They were still in the aisle) Our future brother in law just scooped up our sister and put her on the front pew. The minister said that sometimes this can cause a chain reaction and if anyone else felt faint to put their heads down. I was a bridesmaid and because my knees felt shakey, I sat down. I wore a velvet dress and I left fingerprints in my dress from trying to hold my legs down. Several people told our mom afterward that they felt faint also. The bridal party was standing right in front of the heaters which were pouring out heat and being nervous and not eating properly did us in.

11 08 2011
321delish

WOW! That is quite a story!

11 08 2011
sarah

Wow I am glad you are ok!

I almost fainted after crashing my bike pretty badly last year. The cops thought I hit my head because I was so out of it, but I knew I was about to pass out. Luckily I had gatorade with me that prevented me from doing so.

11 08 2011
Emily

This is me! I passed out when I got my ears pierced, every time I’ve tried to give blood and any time I got a shot when I was younger. Then I wised up (so did my dad, who’s a cardiologist) and now I lay down whenever a needle is involved.

The first time I tried to give blood was at a school drive. I passed out in the chair in front of everyone and then two more times throughout the day. A lot of people witnessed this insanity. My mom finally came to pick me up so I wouldn’t keep scaring everyone around me.

11 08 2011
321delish

it is scary for other people! I was told that I was moaning and that you can really see your eyes roll back in your head…not fun.

11 08 2011
Delia

This happens to me too! I also ALWAYS announce that I am truly about to faint; I just know! It’s freaky. I have def. experienced passing out a few times after falling off my bike; I didn’t really even hurt myself but the idea/threat that I could have been more injured caused me to pass out. Not pleasant 😦 I think it has a lot to do with your mental state when you experience a ‘trigger’ – needles, blood, heat – and how much you think about it after the event passes.

11 08 2011
Delia

I also try to do some ‘yoga breathing’ – deep, slow breaths – to get me through those situations. It has worked @ the doctor’s so far!

11 08 2011
bubblymel

Oh you poor thing! I’m glad you are feeling better! I have never fainted before so I have no idea what it would be like! At least you know when you are going to faint!

12 08 2011
Kim

A day late, but I also have a funny fainting story…

In 8th grade we went on a class trip to Washington DC. It was probably at least 95 degrees and humid one day and we had been waiting in line outside the Capitol Building for over an hour. Just as I was walking into the building and through the metal detector, I guess I just collapsed. I woke up being dragged down a back hallway by a security guard. They wanted me to go to the ER, but I actually felt much better after fainting than I had before! They still made me drink an entire 32oz gatorade before they let me go. But, I never did go through the metal detectors, so if you ever need to sneak anything into the Capitol Building…
(just kidding!)

15 08 2011
Kat @ Big Apple Little Kitchen

Oh my gosh, this happens to me too. Whenever I get suck with a needle I faint…without fail. Last time I got blood drawn I actually thought that I was doing fine, but then AFTER the nurse took the needle out I started to feel dizzy. I woke up to doctors and nurses around me, started to apologize to everyone, and then I puked on one of the nurses. It was probably THE most embarrassing thing ever. And I’m pretty sure the nurse went to cry in the bathroom. Ugh.

17 08 2011
idiosyncraticeye

Hope you’re feeling better and that your trip to Brazil is worth it all! 🙂

24 09 2014
Keith

Glad I looked into this, at least to get some ease from the instance of fainting I witnessed… I saw my teen son fall off his bike and went to his aid. While asking if he was hurt, he became glazed over – staring into nowhere; his speech almost immediately stopped and he began to lean forward and fall. Although his eyes were wide-open, he was non-responsive to the other adult and I that were trying to get him to talk. (We were with 2 dozen others who all say he didn’t hit his head when he fell). We sat him down and gave him some water and a sweet snack. And in 10 minutes, he was walking his bike, and in 15 he was riding again.

Very scary to see this occur and not know what is happening – especially when it is your own son. It turns out that the other adult is a volunteer firefighter/EMT who explained to me that this is rather common in some people when they experience a somewhat jolting fall like the one my son had.

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