So then I fainted…

I’ve been feeling sick since Saturday, and I got worse on Sunday. My throat and nose were sore and burning. By Monday, I thought perhaps it was a reaction to the smog. The burning sensation is uncharacteristic of a cold or flu.

Mountains near Rancho Cucamonga
Mountains near Rancho Cucamonga

During the day Monday, I debated what to do: should I see a doctor or just get some rest and wait to see if I would get better.

After talking with Rosa, I decided to see a doctor. I had to call my (business) travel insurance provider. They sent me to a care facility in the city. I went and the doctor looked me over, listened with his stethoscope and prescribed some antibiotics and cough syrup.

Two hours later, I went out to supper with two co-workers, Roddric and Theirry. I ordered a pound of snow crab legs. I normally would not order them because of the mess and cost, but I thought I should treat myself – the company would cover the meal. I love crab.

I was still not feeling well though. I started to eat but had only eaten a single leg before I started feeling much, much worse.

I stopped eating for a moment but I was still getting worse. I was feeling light-headed. I waited for it to clear, but it just got worse. I knew that something was very wrong, and told my co-workers that I was feeling light-headed. As I was seated on the inside of the both, I could not sit down to get my head between my knees, so I slid down in my chair to lower my head.

So then I fainted…

When I came to, Roddric had already called an ambulance. I was immediately coherent and I told everyone the current date and that I knew were I was and that I had passed out. My face streaming with sweat for some reason, even though I did not feel hot.

The ambulance and a firetruck arrived in less than 5 minutes. The paramedics asked me what happened and looked me over. They checked my blood sugar. They hooked me to a portable EKG machine I think. They offered to take me to a hospital and after thinking about it, I agreed. I hoped that my travel insurance would cover the costs, but decided that my health was important and that if they did not, it was still the right decision. The paramedics would not allow me to walk to the ambulance in case I passed out again and hit my head. They strapped me to a stretcher and pushed me outside through the crowded restaurant. I hated that. I was embarrassed.

The ambulance trip took about 10 minutes. I was wheeled into the emergency room.

The doctor came to speak with me after I had been checked-in. He told me that they would run some tests. Everyone asked me if I had a seafood allergy, which I do not. I was hooked up to an IV drip, had my blood taken, and a more extensive EKG taken. A chest X-ray was also taken.

The tests confirmed that I did not have a heart attack or stroke, and did not have low blood sugar. But the doctor was not able to determine the root cause for me fainting. We doubted that I had had a reaction to the antibiotics either.

The doctor explained that the fainting was caused by vascular dilation, meaning that all my blood vessels dilated open. This very rapidly decreased my blood pressure and drained blood from the brain. I felt the process starting when I felt lightheaded. He said that this was the body’s way of ensuring that the person lay down, and it is a involuntary reaction.

He also thought that I had a virus inflection, so the antibiotics would not be effective. Unfortunately, there are no medications for viral inflections. I just have to wait it out.

I was supposed to go to work at the customer switch for the maintenance window starting at midnight. My co-workers called my manager and director back in Ottawa. The director said that I was not to go into the switch, and that someone had to stay with me in case I had another problem. I made a compromise that I would connect from my hotel room and that one co-worker with a backup room key was just down the hall in case I needed something.

I was able to talk with Rosa from the hospital for about 15 seconds before the batteries in the cell phone died. I told her that I was fine. I was so worried that she would be worried about me when I was already feeling much better.

It was an interesting experience. I’ve never fainted before. I remember the sensations as I started to pass out, and I’m glad I had enough sense to say something and attempt to lower my head before I blacked out.

I still have to deal with getting over my illness, which is not really diagnosed. I just need lots of sleep. I’ll keep up with the antibiotics though, as they should not do any harm.

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