Have you ever been so afraid or nervous that you fainted? I have. I’m not proud of it – after all, when it comes to the “Fight or Flight” instinct, I’d like to think I’m a strong fighter or at least fast enough to run to safety. But in this case, I didn’t fight or take flight. I just dropped.
I’d come close to fainting twice before. It’s a bit morbid (fitting for Halloween I suppose), but my first close call was in the cadaver lab in college. I must have thought too much about the man whose soul once occupied the lifeless body in front of me. While thinking about his life and his family, I started sweating and feeling light-headed. Luckily I snapped out of it by reminding myself that I was here to study and learn.
Fast forward a couple years. I was observing a neuro-stimulator being implanted into a patient’s spine. I thought, How can they operate in such a complex and delicate area of the human body? They have to be so precise, because with one slip of the surgeon’s hand… ugh. 🙁 I was making myself paranoid! As nervous thoughts raced through my head, again I felt sweaty and light-headed so I sat down. Thankfully, I held it together and stayed conscious.
But then I found myself in the operating room in a hospital in San Francisco, in the final stages of an interview process to become a medical sales rep. I really wanted this job. The surgery was an ACL reconstruction, which I could personally relate to. Again, I must have become too emotionally involved, partly because of my own experience and trauma. It pushed my brain over the edge. I felt sorry for the patient, and I noticed the surgeon’s hands seemed shaky and nervous. Does this doctor know what he’s doing? Maybe he’s new and inexperienced? I started feeling hot and short of breath. My vision was quickly going black around the edges. Very quickly, my tunnel of vision shrunk smaller and smaller until there was complete blackness – peacefulness, stillness, quiet – like the best, deepest, most pleasant sleep I’d ever had in my life.
Then, (cue music) like a damsel in distress, I was rescued by a strong, brave, handsome man. He swiftly lifted me up and said
“This woman needs a doctor!”
Oh but wait, I was already with the doctor!?!
Here’s what really happened: …Within a few moments, my blissful beauty sleep was interrupted by urgent, loud voices:
“Get her to the ER!”
“Check her for a concussion!”
“She’s going to need stitches!”
Reality swept in. I slowly came to and realized I had fainted during this surgery/interview. 🙁 I was mortified. I figured I could kiss this medical sales rep job goodbye. My first words were,
“I’m so sorry, doctor.”
And the man who was standing next to me when I fainted said,
“I’m sorry! I usually catch people before they fall!”
At least I knew I wasn’t the only one.
To add to the chaos and my embarrassment, while falling to the floor, I’d clobbered my head against the IV Stand and slashed my forehead open. I was bleeding profusely. It took 3 layers of stitches from a plastic surgeon to repair, so I walked around like Lady Frankenstein for several weeks. No need for a costume. But I was fine, and I was very relieved when the stitches came out and the scar slowly healed into a super fine line. Great work by that plastic surgeon. Now my fainting episode makes for an intriguing, funny, character-building story! And hopefully, great blog material! Please comment if you think so. 😉
To me, the most interesting thing about all of this is how powerful my brain was over my body. It was like an emergency shut-off switch. The information it was gathering from my senses and my emotions correlated to danger. Skipping breakfast that morning – and likely having a low blood sugar level – probably contributed too. My brain resorted to a kind of defense mechanism – granted, fainting was not the most ideal solution. 🙁 Thankfully, it hasn’t happened again since then. For a quick and quirky explanation of this kind of fainting, check out this video.
The brain – and my episode of fainting – is still a big awesome mystery to me. While putting this blog together, I discovered an amazing National Geographic documentary called Brain Games hosted by Jason Silva. I watched several episodes, and I highly recommend it. Here is a quick glimpse of the episode on Fear:
My advice to you, especially in this Halloween season, is
- Don’t be afraid! Please don’t ever psyche yourself out and faint, like I did!
- Always eat breakfast and take care of your brain – it is your body’s control center.
- Only “drop it to the floor” when you’re dancing or doing Zumba to Pitbull! You just might hear that catchy song when you come to an upcoming Boomin Body class! In that case, I say go for it!