Hit the Floor!

1 out coldIt’s fainting weather again.  

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.”



Bump in the Night

cave paintingDarkened with bruising even these seven days later, my back looks like a map drawn by a caveman.  That’s why I haven’t written here for a while.

It wasn’t because because of the end-of-year party we put on in the organization so close to my heart, or because of the graduation ceremonies the following day. It wasn’t because because I have had nightly visitors in the form of alums of that same organization who are so much fun to be around I could practically sell tickets to strangers to come hang out with them. And it wasn’t because I gave an hour-long talk last Friday at the local high school, or because of the DMV trip I made with my favorite new driver, or because of the potluck supper I went to, bringing crab cakes on a bed of greens, as promised.

It was only because last Tuesday night I once again got a 10-on-a-scale-of-10 leg cramp, causing me to shoot out of bed with pain that felt as if the character the Mountain from Game of Thrones was twisting my leg off.

I ran into the bathroom for hot water – I find my leg cramps are eased by hot water.

“Fill the tub!” I thought, but that would take too long and the pain was too excruciating.  “Hoist the foot into the sink like when you’re shaving your legs and run hot water on your calf that way!” – only how could I do that, stand storklike on one leg when my knees were knocking so?

“Wait, why are my knees knocking?” asked myself.  And why am I light in the head?”

“Ah, Terry,” came the answer from some wiser, more inner voice.  “Do you never learn? You are light in the head because any minute now you are going…



I tried to sit down so I wouldn’t hit my head, like I did that time ten years ago when they made me wear a Holter monitor around for a week because they didn’t believe it was just a faint brought on by a leg cramp.

And did sit down – I think. All I really remember is that there was a sharp crack! – then a brief blank period – and then I woke, halfway into doing a sudden sit-up. Thirty seconds later I was back in the bed.

“What was all THAT? said David who has grown used to loud noises when to comes to his wife.

“Oh nothing,” I said. “I fainted.” And I really did think it was nothing.

The next day though, when I went to the Y for Pilates and found I couldn’t sit. I guess I’m a little slow. “Really?” was what I thought.  “You can have arthritis in your sitz bones?” Then, an hour later, the class over, I reached for the car door and felt pain in my arm. “Really?” I thought again. “That shot I got at my annual exam is STILL hurting after all this time?”

It wasn’t until two days after when toweling off after a shower in our bathroom with the mirrored wall just opposite the tri-fold mirrors over the sink that I saw: I was – and still am – black and blue everywhere, on the delt of one arm, on my whole back, and, as I just saw this morning while in fact shaving my legs with one foot in the sink, on my left sitz bone, where the black and blue I got there a full week ago is still a lurid purple. 

I can’t picture any of it but I’m guessing I lost consciousness halfway through the-gettingdown-so-I-wouldn’t-fall-down motion, landed hard on my bottom, had my torso slam back onto the tiles, even as I unconsciously kept my head upright, thus effecting that sudden sit-up I woke to find myself doing.

I’m darkened with bruising even these seven days later, it’s like I say: my whole dorsal side looks like a map drawn by a caveman, and all I can do is to wonder: 

How DID I clatter down to the floor really?

And what would it take to get a nanny-cam installed in the bathroom, for the next time, because I mean really,  who doesn’t love forensics? 🙂