If you’re an old fainter like I am, you’ll TRY blaming the weather when you faint anyway, even knowing perfectly well that there are other factors leading to your smackdowns.
If you’re a fainter, you know that you can faint under all kinds of conditions: You faint if you get too hungry. You faint in religious settings, whether it’s the airlessness in the place or the staying in one position that turns the world so suddenly black. If you’ve been fainting since childhood, you will remember how quickly you became a small rumpled pile of clothing under the pews, and how large male hands would haul you out by your armpits and make for the door as your little feet dragged on the floor behind you.
It gets embarrassing if you’re still fainting well after childhood of course, and the memory of this embarrassment is so vivid that each time you start to feel even a wee bit odd in a public place, you’re sure you’re about to go down like the Titanic.
You also faint when you get scared. That’s what made me faint at 14 when a mystified old-time doc, believing he knew how to remove my two very small warts, drew a small blowtorch from his bag and came at me with it. He burned twin holes on my forearm whose scars I have to this day. Plus, it hurt like crazy, so add that: You faint when you’re in pain. You faint at bad news.
And you really do faint when the weather gets muggy, as I did in a department store at age 19, only to wake and see that all new male strangers had dragged me away by the armpits – because you can’t have insensate young women interfering with commerce.
There’s a predictable physiology to the faint, naturally: You faint due to a reflex caused by one of the above-mentioned triggers. Then the blood vessels in your lower extremities dilate, and blood pools in your legs. Then your heart rate slows, your blood pressure drops and – boom! – you have left the premises, or your consciousness has anyway. it seems that this vasovagal syncope as such fainting is called, only happens when you’re standing or sitting upright. It never happens when you’re lying down.
I read all this on the web just last month in a posting that said how useless it is for people to try holding you up, even IF they add in the additional treatment of yelling in your ears or slapping you. It also said that trying to fight off the faint “by forcing yourself to remain upright, willing yourself not to pass out almost never works out very well.”
Get down before you fall down, in other words. And so I’ve been doing that, and also elevating my legs once I’m down there, which is also helpful evidently.
I get leg cramps at night, see. So now instead of leaping up and making desperate pogo-stick-like hops around the room, I plop down on the floor and put my legs up on the bed.
Last weekend, when I did this for the first time, my bedmate woke and saw the soles of my upturned feet by his ribcage. He peered over the bed’s edge at me. “What on earth are you doing now?” he said in his mild way.
A good long time we are married but still: he will never truly comprehend the swoon. So I just smile dup at him and said, ‘Oh nothing. It’s fainting weather is all.”