Mama Writer

Confessions of a Fainter

*This is not medical advice. If you’re fainty, see a doctor. If your doctors are like mine, and shrug in confusion, let’s get tea sometime and swap stories.*

Almost five years ago-

“You can’t talk too much with this one, honey. She’s only got a good 3 minutes in her.”

Wise words from the nurse who remembered me from my first pregnancy. I had been woozy during the blood draws then, too, but that nurse saw me through.

This new one, though…

She talked about her car trouble, while she put that rubber thing on the top of my arm.

She leisurely switched to how much she liked my maternity shirt, while slowly swabbing my arm with a wet-wipe.

I don’t know what she was chatting about when the actual needle finally went in, since I had started murmuring my favorite parts of Alice in Wonderland in Latin.

(What’s she doing?

Is she alright?

Leave her alone, honey.)

We all have our coping mechanisms.

She managed to finally fill the tiny vial and bandage me up, but by the time I was allowed to stand, the big black dots of doom had already started forming at the corners of my vision.

I made it two blind steps, trying to form the words “I’m about to crash” with my immobile, uncooperative mouth, when I landed on the floor.

 Thankfully, me and my big baby belly were fine. My previous nurse took care of everything, calming me down. My husband helped lift me off the ground (did I mention the big baby belly?).

From then on, I had a special note in my file labeling me a fainter. All of the following blood draws took place with me reclining, since they knew I was going to end up that way anyway.  

I’ve always been a fainter. The most common reason I crash is a blood sugar drop, but I’ve also passed out due to being too close to loud speakers at a concert, as well as having to withstand any amount of blood drawing, blood pressure measuring, pulse-taking, or generally existing with an IV.

I had amnesia once, and I was continually asking the same questions over and over, unable to calm down. The doctors thought it was due to a shock I’d been through- but my loop finally stopped when they took out my IV.

Not a coincidence in my book.

I thought I’d share some of the needy and funny bits of being a fainter.

During a middle school chorus concert:

My family, trying to aim their cameras: Where’s Stephanie?

(Should’ve looked down.)

In biology class, back in high school:

Teacher: Then you just put the cuff here, to measure the blood pressure. You’ll be able to hear all the action… where’s Steph?

(My classmates eventually remembered to look down. There was Steph.)

At an outdoor concert with my siblings:

Me: I can’t believe we’re next to the stage!

(Saw black dots, crashed into a crowd of strangers, banged up my glasses, and ended up in the care of my little sister faaaaarrrr away from the stage.)

At the movies with a friend (It was his turn to choose, and he picked something super horrible with lots of gore):

Me: I’ll be right back.

(Passed out in the theater restroom, right in front of the sink. I’m told I was lucky I didn’t hit it on the way down. When I get woozy, I always think I either need to splash my face with water, or be where I can hold my own hair back. Instead, I pass out in bathrooms. Even though I know this, I still run to the bathroom every. single. time.)

Having a normal (for me) blood sugar crash:

Me: Honey, I need food immediately.

Husband: Alright. I’m on it… so, do you want like Italian, Mexican, a burger…?

Me: What are you talking about? I’m crashing- just calories, any calories!

Husband: Okay. Got it.

(Hands me food)

Me: …Really? That?

(Every time. A freaky side effect of a low blood sugar crash is you find the thought of food unappetizing. Poor husband.)

I’m super grateful to all of the people who have helped me when I’ve crashed. Once the process starts, and I see those dots, it really matters who I’m with. I’ve been incredibly lucky so far.

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