Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Things I learned the hard way #4

...when I'm gonna pass out, I'll do it anywhere.

I've always been a bit of a drama queen. So much so that when something is actually wrong, I often get ignored or it's assumed I'm just exaggerating.

However, there is one thing people just need to fucking believe me on. And that it: When I say I am going to pass out, I'm gunnafucking pass out.

This all started when I was a kid, I guess. I don't know if I really believe my mom when she says I have been passing out since I was three. The first time I remember passing out I was about ten. I was doing the dishes, and my siblings were doing whatever they used to do in the living room. Dad and Dennis were out in the garage. I cut myself with a knife. We are talking a microscopic cut. And the next thing I remember, I woke up on the kitchen floor, in a pile of sweat. I never told anyone about it cause I thought I would get in trouble for not being more careful.

I passed out a few more times during my teenage years - once when I hit my funny bone, once when I swallowed wrong (seriously), once during 8th grade Outdoor Ed day when a mock car accident proved to be a little too real for my sensitive stomach. In high school, for some reason I have yet to understand, we were watching a war movie in my English class, and I promptly went out to the hallway and passed out. It was March 17, 1997. I will never forget, because the librarian was dressed as a leprechaun and that's what I woke up to.

That pass out started the beginning of the "what's really wrong with Jen" saga. I went to a doctor, who decided I was borderline diabetic. A year later, when I went back to that same doctor, I asked how my diabetes were and he said he had no idea what I was talking about. So I guess that wasn't the right diagnosis.

I passed out a couple more billion times - at work orientation, when the safety video got to me...in a movie theatre watching Joy Ride, when a fence gets lodged through some guys leg....when I shaved my legs and cut the crap out of myself.

Then a real doozy happened, and I passed out on an airplane. I still am not really sure why - I think I was overheated, and crowded, and fat and uncomfortable. I knew I was going to go down. Emily was sitting next to me, and Missy and Alby were a few rows up. I asked the stewardess (flight attendant? waitress? airplane mistress?) for a cup of ice, but she didn't get it to me on time and I went down. Apparently the flight attendant started smacking the shit out of me and screaming for a doctor. Missy was yelling "she does this all the time!" from her seat. I think someone was trying to pour water on me. I came to and went to the bathroom and puked. It's bad enough to pass out and have to get back to being level headed on level ground. On an airplane it's impossible. When I got back to my seat, the guy in front of me turned around and gave me his business card. Heart doctor. He suggested I make an appointment with him when we were back in Omaha.

When the flight landed, I got to get off the plane first. That was awesome. Everyone stared, of course. A medic was waiting for me at the gate, and he pricked my finger and ran some tests, or something. I'm not really sure what was going on. He said I was fine, but I needed to get approval to fly again from someone who would be there in a minute.

"Umm what if he says I can't fly?"
"Well then you're stuck here," he answered.
"But I'm fine!" There was literally nothing that was going to keep me from making it to Hollywood that day.
"Well, if you run off right now there is nothing I can do to stop you," he replied, and I tore off like the wind.

When I got back to Omaha, I did go to that heart doctor. He told me I have vasovagal syncope. What is that exactly? It's a disease that means I pass out a lot. What is the cure? Don't do things that make me pass out.

I went trucking along in my life, passing out every so often...a doctors appointment here, a gross movie there, swallowing wrong here, cutting myself there. I have been curled up in the fetal position in so many places - the floor of my eye doctor, the movie theatre bathroom, under my desk at work. During the vampire birth scene in Breaking Dawn I felt like I was going to go down, so I went outside...in November...at midnight...and got locked out of the movie theatre. That was hot. Nope, it was cold. Then the worst pass out ever came - right after my tumor surgery, I passed out on my best friend's mom's back porch. Everyone went into straight up panic mode, and I wound up back in the hospital. After that, UNMC was determined to figure out my problem.

I went through every single test ever known to man on the face of the earth. Seriously. I had my brain, heart, everything looked at. I even had to be strapped to a bed, where they tested my limits - I lasted maybe 15 minutes in that test and went down. After that, the doctor told me...you guessed it, I have vasovagal syncope, and I need to avoid situations that make me pass out. That doctor gave me a little more advice, such as drink a TON of water every day and up my sodium intake.

I haven't passed out since then, so I feel like I'm cured.

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