I almost pass out a lot. Like, a lot. Probably once a month, and it’s different every time.
Once a month may not sound like a “very often” thing… until it’s happening to you, and all you can think is “Not again, not again.”
I don’t know why it happens. I haven’t been able to find any medical explanation for it. I thought I was diabetic for the longest time, because it would mostly happen mid-afternoon when I needed a snack. When I was younger and it would happen, I would scarf down a candy bar and a Diet Coke. Now, it doesn’t seem to matter if I’ve monitored my blood sugar; it still happens.
I remember every time it has happened like it was yesterday, and it actually did happen yesterday. It’s a little bit emotional for me, because I refuse to let it dictate my life. When I feel it happening, I have to talk myself out of it happening. At this point, I’m certain it’s a mental thing and not physical.
Close your eyes, take deep breaths. You’re okay. You’re going to get through this.
That’s my mantra. When I start to see things swimming in my vision, when I get clammy and my hands go cold, when I start to feel numb, that’s what I tell myself. I can tell you one thing very proudly: I’ve never actually passed out from these episodes. I’ve always been able to calm myself down, but I dread the day I can’t talk myself out of it. I dread the day it takes control and I lose it.
It has happened in church. That was actually the first time it happened, and I had a good explanation then. I was young, probably not even thirteen yet. I was at church with one of my best friends, her mom, and her sister. I didn’t know what was happening or how to monitor it yet. I remember standing and sitting and standing and sitting and getting too hot and starting to feel fuzzy, and then I was sitting in a different room with my friend’s sister who kept asking if I was okay. My mom said I had gotten over heated, that was all. But it kept happening.
It has happened at the nail salon. I was really into acrylic nails, for some reason, for a really long time. I’m actually still into them, but I cut too deep once time trying to remove them myself, and I haven’t had them since. They were using that little spinning filing tool, and they must have hit a tender spot. I felt a pinch, something that wouldn’t normally be a big deal, and all of a sudden I was losing it. I never say anything or act on it when this happens, I just pray I can stay conscious until I get through it. While I turned completely white, started sweating, and started seeing spots, I sat completely still. I pretended like nothing was happening, like I always do. I still don’t know if this is the best way to handle it.
It has happened in class. In high school accounting class. I was sitting next to my very best friend, and we were just working on that day’s assignment. This time, it happened so fast I barely had time to react. Like always, when it started, I pretended like nothing was wrong. I tried to continue working on my assignment, but my friend looked at me and said “You are so pale right now. Are you okay?” At that point, I got up and ran to the bathroom. I remembered my mom telling me, after the nail salon incident, that when this happens, I should sit on the floor and put my head between my knees. That’s what I did, in the 2nd floor bathroom at West Central Valley High School. I hope someone would have come to check on me if I didn’t return to class soon. Eventually, the episode passed and I went back to class.
It has happened at work, countless times. Late in the afternoon, when it’s almost time to go home and I’m desperately in need of some fruit or a NutriGrain bar. People make fun of me for packing so many snacks in my lunchbox, but you don’t really get it until it happens to you. It’s not just a matter of being hungry, at that point.
It has happened while donating plasma. I don’t know. I grew up watching CSI. I was never uneasy around blood. I got weekly allergy shots for years when I was younger. I have like 16 tattoos. I’ve never been scared of needles. But it never fails, if I so much as acknowledge that needle in my arm, it happens.
It has happened at home, on my own couch.
It has happened while I’ve been driving in the car.
It has happened at the state fair.
It doesn’t matter where I am, what I have done to prevent it, or how nourished I am that day: it controls my life. It completely consumes me the moment it starts happening, and it drains me for the rest of the day. The horrible part about the whole thing is that I don’t know why it happens. I have tried to stop it in every way I know how. Doctors tell me to eat a yogurt every afternoon to keep my blood sugar up, but people without blood sugar problems don’t have to monitor their blood sugar. Our bodies are supposed to do that, so how can nothing be wrong with mine?