Not Even Faintly Sympathetic

, , , , , , | | Related | May 16, 2019

I have the fun combination of vasovagal syncope and orthostatic hypotension. In layman’s terms, I faint. A lot. I’ve gotten fairly good at knowing and avoiding my triggers, or at least being able to recognize the onset of an episode early enough to mitigate it. That said, I do still actually faint at least once or twice a year, and it’s gotten to the point where it’s honestly more annoying than distressing.

Understandably, though, the people around me are less nonchalant about it. It probably doesn’t help that according to witnesses, my eyes don’t close when I faint.

My favorite example of this is the time I went to the optometrist after many years without seeing one. He used what is apparently either an outdated or just very intense test for glaucoma, because everyone I’ve ever described it to says they’ve never had anything of the sort done. It involved placing my chin on a rest inside this terrifying-looking contraption while he very slowly pressed a little rubber stopper against the surface of my eye. As it turned out, this was a trigger that I did not previously know about — because I don’t make a habit of pressing objects into my eyeballs for minutes at a time — and I passed right out.

When I woke up, I was on the floor with a very flustered nurse keeping watch over me. This was where it got funny, as often when I faint there will be people who simply will not accept my insistence that if they just leave me alone for a few minutes, I’ll bounce right back. The nurse was one of these sorts, and she insisted that she should get me some water, or an ice pack, or anything. I consented to a glass of water more for her sake than mine, but she wasn’t placated. She insisted that she should get my dad from the waiting room. Now, my family is just as used to my little spells as I am, so I warned the nurse that he was not going to be as comforting as she thought, but if she really wanted to, she could go get him.

She came back minutes later, and as soon as my dad saw me lying on the floor in a dark exam room — because the nurse also insisted on turning out the lights for some reason — he just gave a long-suffering sigh and informed me, and I quote, “You’re such a wuss.”

I cracked up laughing. The nurse was horrified.

I got up and walked out under my own power five minutes later. I now warn my optometrists before any and all glaucoma tests, but sometimes they don’t listen and I get to relive the whole situation over, though unfortunately without my dad’s commentary.

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