The following is (as usual) completely unedited, completely unplanned, and a complete stream of consciousness. It also mentions fainting and throwing up. Just saying.
I have almost a perfect record of having a vasovagal syncope (i.e. fainting) during any type of medical procedure. Procedure isn’t even the right word, I have (thankfully) not had that many procedures. More like: TB tests, blood draws, chiropractor appointments, gynecology appointments….you name it, I have probably fainted or thrown up during it.
So when I went to the doctor’s office today for an examination that involved a scope up my nose and into my sinuses, I knew the odds were not in my favor. As the doctor explained to me about the lidocaine and the scope, I already felt my body start to struggle. I told the doctor about my history and she very nicely said that it would be no problem, that she would have ice packs ready and she would recline my seat a bit. So I did okay at first, she was reminding me to breathe, and I was, but there’s just a stupid something that gets to me as soon as my brain registers “Holy crap there is something inside of me/going on with my body and I can’t control it and it’s gross/weird/not cool” and I felt that all-too familiar tingling of my hands and my toes and kind of at the back of my throat. I tried to breathe through it but the thoughts of “Oh my god what if this happens what if I pass out what if I throw up will I make it to the bathroom and oh my god this is making it worse I’m going to go down what do I do” kept coming, so for the first time IN MY LIFE, rather than trying to fight it on my own (because, you’d think after 987123987 times of this happening, I would know that it’s the anxiety about it happening that makes it even worse, and when I try to make it stop happening, it only makes it happen sooner), I was honest.
My eyes still closed, I calmly said, “I am going to throw up.” The doctor put a trash can next to me and very calmly replied, “Okay, go ahead right to your right.” She then reclined my seat even farther back so my head was deep below my heart, and she got me ice packs for my wrists and a cold cloth for my head. And there I was, allowing myself to be as vulnerable as possible, lying in the chair with my eyes scrunched shut, trying to breathe, cold packs all over me…..and I accepted it. I accepted that this is where I was, and I accepted that my vision was going dark and I knew I was safe and I knew that if/when I threw up or fully fainted, it would be okay, because I didn’t have to be in charge. I didn’t have to fight it.
I’ve never done that before. I’ve always fought it off, then desperately announced that I needed a bathroom, barely making it to the bathroom before my stomach empties and I pass out, then having to get myself to the sink, clammy and sweaty and exhausted.
I don’t know why this time was different. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the very first time in my life that I was able to stop it mid-way, before I fully went into darkness, was when I was proactive, and honest, asked for help and told it like it was.
And ten minutes later, I sat back up. And I drove home. And I was tired, and drained, but I was okay. It was so empowering to be able to stop it mid-way for the first time. And so empowering to be so vulnerable and have it be so……okay.