The Ordeal

Now, I've mentioned it a time or two here on the old blog, but I have a heart condition that causes me to faint more than the average person. Generally, it isn't a big deal. I can tell when I am going to faint and I just get horizontal as quickly as possible. This is normally done by laying on the floor. Yes, I look stupid but my body is only making me faint because I am not getting enough blood to my brain and once my heart and brain are level with each other, I'm good. The biggest danger of this condition is that I will hurt myself while falling if I faint without warning. So typically, it's not a big party but it's not horrible either. And I've heard that you can outgrow it so I have been pretty pleased that I hadn't fainted for a couple years now. Until yesterday, and this last time was nothing like those.

The plan was simply enough, I had to run by the hospital first thing in the morning but I was planning to be at work by 9:00. But with me, simply and hospitals don't really go together. But they only needed a couple vials of blood for a routine panel of tests, how hard could that be?

So when I get to the lab, I tell the lab lady that I tend to faint and ask if I could do this laying down. She looks around then says that she will just talk to me to distract me. Uhm...okay. At this point, I really should have known better and insisted that she find a place for me to lay down but I just wanted to get it over with and I always feel bad for making it a big thing so I relented. So she starts her "very simply procedure" and I am fine for about 45 seconds until she has to take the next vial of blood. The switched caused some tugging and that was it. Out I go. Except this chair has a weird front arm thing (like a old school booster seat would have) that prevents me from even putting between my legs let alone lay down. It wasn't down when I first started the procedure but she must have rushed to put it down once I started turning white, I don't really recall because when I fainted, I didn't totally lose consciousness but I did lose my vision. And I could kinda hear her far in the background asking if I was okay, but I couldn't respond, then my hearing would completely go away. It was quite painful, but in a weird way, I can't really describe the pain at all other than - bad. I really thought I was going to die. Except I didn't see my life flash before my eyes, my brain was too busy, it was in survival mode. All I could think was breath and try to get down and don't die. This lasted for about 5 minutes. For those of you who have never experienced a semi-conscious faint, that is about 5 minutes of that "head rush" feeling.

I kept kinda coming around ( I could tell because my hearing would return then go away again) but still couldn't totally snap out of it because I was stuck upright. Finally, on one of my few seconds of feeling good, I managed to push myself forward and lay my head on the bar. I guess that made my head level enough with my heart that I started to get better. When I finally woke up enough to fully realize what had happened, I saw that I was now in a pool of sweat. The lady handed me a wet washcloth but then I realized I had no feeling in either arm. My face felt funny too but I couldn't really tell if that was because of my hand or my face itself.

After about 5 more minutes of sitting there, listening to her say how awful I looked before and how she was so afraid I was going to fall, I convinced her I would be better of laying down and she found me a bed so I got to lay down for 20 minutes. Once I was horizontal, my extremities started regaining their feeling. After feeling my face with my now working arms, it was indeed numb. A few more minutes and that wore off too. This part is normally the worse part of fainting. The blood rushes back into your arms and feels like needles, the blood rushes back into my stomach and I feel nauseous and the blood rushes back into my head and gives me an awful headache. This time was the most painful it has ever been but I was so exhausted I didn't even care that much. I spent another 30 minutes sitting in the adults only waiting room (which I have to say, I am a big fan of) before I could convince them to let drive myself home. Normally after I faint, I feel fine again within 10-15 minutes but I needed all day yesterday to recover.

Once I got home and laid down , the whole experience kinda hit me. At first I was just upset at myself for my stupid body but then I kinda got mad at that lady. I mean, she was very nice and I'm sure the distraction technique in which she relates her experiences as a dry cleaner owner is typically very effective, but she is also a medical professional. She noticed I was sweating so she got me a wet washcloth and water (I only know she gave me a drink of water because there was an empty cup next to me when I woke up and water all down my shirt). She also obviously noticed (and commented on) the fact that I was turned whiter than she had ever seen anyone - shouldn't she have realized I was not getting adequate blood flow to my brain? I think so. She mentioned she was worried about moving me but honestly, we were in a hospital. There were doctors and nurses all over the place, couldn't you have asked for help? I realize my perception of time might be slightly skewed but I know I was sitting there semi-unconscious for quite a while because before I fainted I was the only patient in the lab area. After I woke up, there was a pregnant lady sitting next to me taking her last sip of yucky blood sugar drink. She has been there long enough to get checked in, be given her drink and finish it. And who checked her in, the lab lady. While I sat dying next to her. When I woke up, the lab lady seemed upset at how sick I had been and worried about me going home, I just wish she has been worried enough while it was happening to do something about it. Ah! Thinking of all this made me more upset and mad. So I did what any reasonable person would do. I called my mom. Then I felt better.

After that I slept on and off the rest of the day while watching random daytime television shows. I only got up two times, both to eat. I made myself a green smoothie full of spinach to help with my iron levels but apparently my body didn't get the memo as I was really craving a hamburger all afternoon. That could have also been the result of sleeping with the food network in the background but I don't normally get cravings for things other than chocolate so Craig was nice and bought me a burger. Then I slept some more. I'm feeling much better now but I have to say, those were probably the worst 5 minutes of my entire life.


  1. I'm actually pretty mad at that lady, too.

  2. Oh, this pisses me off. Why is this woman in the medical field at all? You made your medical history known to her. If someone says "I FAINT. CAN I LAY DOWN?" You don't assume that you know better and it's all in their needle/blood phobic head and talking to them will somehow make more blood magically rush to their head.

    Did she even go get help from anyone else when you fainted or just pour water down your shirt?

    I would at least speak to someone on management staff at the hospital. I don't want her head or anything but you were put through quite an ordeal because of her and someone should give her a talking to, IMO.

    Grr... I guess I have had one to many people assume that they know my body much better than I do and so this behavior pushes all the wrong buttons in me.

    I'm totally sorry you went through that. I have fainted a time or two in my life and it is NO fun.

  3. How awful! And I thought I hated having blood work done.

    I got so tired of puking / blacking out when I had blood drawn, I convinced the nurses at my hospital to let me sit on the floor and hold a wet washcloth in my other hand. They look at me funny, sure, but it's a small price to pay. However, that is nothing like your ordeal. I just can't imagine.