“Charlie. Charlie. Can you hear me?” I heard Kathy yell from way far away.
“Should I call 911?” I heard her ask.
That’s when I opened my eyes.
The first thing I saw, one inch from my nose, was our bathroom rug. Then I heard Kathy, who was kneeling over me, “Should I call 911?”
“No. Don’t call 911. Give me a minute. Did I pass out?” I asked.
She said she heard me kind of yelp, and then I hit the floor. When I finally came to, she asked, “What happened?”
I got up really slowly and crawled to the toilet, which was only two feet away. The whole time she was telling me to stay on the floor.
It took about 10 minutes with my head down to start feeling normal again. She helped me to the bed where I finished the recovery.
This wasn’t my first time.
I once passed out in a doctor’s office after a simple procedure. My most memorable pass out was in the bathroom of the Mirage Las Vegas casino in 1988. When I woke up, I had an EMS guy trying to start an IV in my arm. I was on my back in the middle of a huge casino bathroom. That ended with my first ambulance trip to the ER.
When you pass out, you get hurt.
Unless someone is there to catch you when you pass out, you will sustain an injury. Some minor, like my currently bruised rib. Some serious, like a concussion or neck injury, which I’ve had happen. I had a friend who almost lost an eye when he passed out and hit his face on a piece of furniture in his bedroom.
Here’s my advice on how to avoid passing out and getting hurt.
I put this together to remind myself of what happens just before I pass out. I know it can happen again, and I want to avoid injury. Maybe what I learned will help you, too.
1. Know when you are susceptible.
I discussed this with people who have passed out. The common cause is trauma to the body. This may be because of an invasive medical procedure like I just experienced. But it may also be brought on by a punishing or unusual physical activity.
One friend had this happen to him after a very competitive tennis match in hot weather. Over a beer after the match, he started to not feel like himself. He went into the men’s room and sat on a toilet to collect himself. He woke up to the EMS guys trying to find a vein in his arm. Another friend passed out just before bedtime after roofing his second home all day in the hot sun.
2. You will begin to feel disoriented, not like yourself.
This is the hardest feeling for me to describe. When it happens, I know I am not feeling like myself. It is as if panic is closing in on me. I begin to think thoughts like, What’s happening to me? Suffice it to say, you are not thinking clearly or feeling anything like yourself. A cold sweat may begin to appear.
3. You’ll feel strange, and you will want to seek relief.
This will include moving from wherever you are to somewhere else. You are looking for relief. You just want the feeling to go away. It’s the disorientation which makes you want to go somewhere, to escape. You don’t want to feel the way you feel. You may even think you are dying.
4. Stay where you are, and put your head below your heart.
Fight the feeling of wanting to escape the awful disoriented feeling. Don’t move. If you must move, either lay your head on the table or better yet, lie down on the floor right where you are. Screw what people might think. Protect yourself and do it.
5. Wait for the feeling to pass.
Breathe. It may feel like it is taking an eternity to get back to feeling normal, but that’s your disorientation self-talk. Wait. Breathe some more. You will eventually start feeling better. More like yourself.
If you don’t follow this advice, you will find yourself on the floor. You’ll have no idea how you got there. And you may just scare someone enough that they call 911. Welcome to the ER.
I hope this helps you. I hope it helps me.