“Just hurry!” I told him.
He rushed in the door and saw me sitting at the edge of the living room floor in a puddle of blood. He ran to me and asked me what happened. “I fainted again.”
LIKE ANY OTHER DAY
The morning started out just like any other morning. Scott got up at 5:00 AM for work and I sleepily rolled over and told him it was ok to turn on the bedroom light – he usually turns on the closet light, so he doesn’t wake me.
When he was ready to leave, he kissed me goodbye, leaving the light on so I would hopefully stay awake. My depression had set in just a month earlier and we were both doing everything we knew how to do to pull me out of it. He made sure I was staying compliant with my medication, kept my therapy and med management appointments. I was meditating, praying, using lavender essential oil, coloring, using my CALM app. Taking naps. Lots of naps.
This morning was no different. It didn’t feel different. That doesn’t mean it was good. It just means it wasn’t any different.
I got up. Ate breakfast. Moved to the couch. Turned on TV. Drank my water. That’s one thing I didn’t lose through the depression. I still drank lots of water.
I stood up and walked down the tile hallway to use the bathroom. The very next thing I remember is that I was lying on the floor. No memory of how I got there. I tried to stand up. The next thing I remember is lying on the floor again. No memory of how I got there. Four times that happened.
I WAS SOAKING WET
I was finally able to pull myself up to my feet and steadily walk back to the living room where I plopped myself onto the couch. I sat there dazed for several minutes. Contemplating what had just happened. What do I do next? I decided it was best that I call Scott.
He works on the road. Sometimes he’s in town. Sometimes he's in the next town. Sometimes he’s hours away. Luckily, he was at the office – less than 5 minutes away. He said he’d be right home.
I had a history of orthostatic hypotension, and have had problems before, but the medication my providers thought was causing it – Prazosin, was reduced from 10mg to 5mg, and eventually to the 1mg that I was currently taking. So, why was I fainting?
I drink a lot of water. I mean a lot. I had to use the bathroom. I had to pee. I hung up the phone, got up, and walked down the hallway again to the guest bathroom. The next thing I remember is Autumn licking me. She’s what brought me back to consciousness. I told her I was ok. Then, she put herself in an “across” and I was able to use her to brace myself – something she’s trained to do, and I brought myself to my knees.
By this time standing up was overrated. I wasn’t going to risk fainting again and if I did faint at least I didn’t have as far to go to hit the floor.
I was wet. Soaking wet, as I crawled to the living room. I didn’t know where the wetness was coming from. Then I got a glance at my hands and they were red – covered in blood, but I didn’t know where the blood was coming from. Nothing hurt. I think I was in shock.
THE EMERGENCY ROOM
My phone was on the couch. I called Scott and asked him where he was. He said that he had just pulled into the driveway and asked me what was wrong. “Just hurry!” I hung up the phone.
He rushed in and saw me covered in blood.
“I fainted again.”
“In the five minutes it took me to get home?”
He quickly looked me over and dialed his phone. He called my primary care provider’s office and told the nurse that I fainted multiple times. She told him if I had only fainted once that the doctor would see me but fainting so many times in such a short period of time was an emergency and he needed to take me to the ER or call 911.
I was still in my pajamas, so he brought me some loose clothing and helped me get dressed. I told him I was ready to go. He told me, “No, one more thing.” And, he brought me a hot washcloth for my face. I sat on the floor washing my face, realizing the blood was coming from my lip and how my lip was now starting to throb and sting. The washcloth was covered in blood. I couldn’t believe how much blood. I washed my arms and my hands. Scott got Autumn dressed and ready to go. He’d clean up the blood on the floor when we got home.
The hospital is a hop, skip, and a jump, away. We were there in minutes. Scott found a wheelchair to put me in and pushed me up to the registration desk. We told the lady at the desk that I fainted multiple times within a 30-minute period, but I didn’t know how long I’d been unconscious each time. She put a bracelet on me, and nurse came out to get me right away. There was no waiting period. None.
I was given fluids. I had a CT scan. It came back normal. I had an EKG. It came back normal. I had 4 stitches in my lower lip (inside and outside) because I bit a hole right through it, but the doctor had to flush out pieces of tooth first, because I had chipped the two front teeth and pieces were lodged in my lip. And, those two teeth were loose.
Then, I called the dentist and made an emergency appointment about my teeth. I still have to get the chipped teeth fixed, but I was mostly concerned with whether they were going to fall out due to the trauma.
AND THEN I FAINTED AGAIN
Scott didn’t leave me alone for two days. And, I was afraid to drive. Afraid that I’d faint while behind the wheel. A month went by and I didn’t faint again.
Then, one Friday evening I got up, and walked into the kitchen. I remember getting some pretzels, but I was having a hard time grasping them. They kept falling out of my hands. That’s what clued Scott that something was wrong – the pretzels falling on the floor.
The next thing I remember is he was stroking my hair…talking to me softly.
I was unhurt this time. And, my PCP is opened on Saturdays, so we decided to wait until morning to call. He saw me first thing in the morning. He ordered an ultrasound of my carotid arteries. And, a 30-day event monitor. The ultrasound came back normal. So did the event monitor.
Since blocked carotids and abnormal heart rhythm are ruled out – orthostatic hypotension is once again the working diagnosis. What no one understands, the doctors included, is why, on 10mg of Prazosin I felt lightheaded and fatigued, but never fainted, but on 1mg I started having fainting episodes. Because of this, I still need an EEG to check for seizures.
I thank God for an amazing and attentive husband and although Autumn did not become my service dog, she did her job that day and for that I’m grateful.
VENUS WILL CALL 911
Interestingly, I haven’t fainted again, but I know it could happen at any time without any notice. I have Venus now as my service dog, and I know she’ll do her job if I do faint. In fact, we’re researching specialized phones that will allow her to call 911 and alert a dispatcher if I become unresponsive for 30 seconds. The dispatcher will know that a service dog is on the other end. And then, Venus will open the door for paramedics. It means we need to make changes to the house – a new door for example, but since my fainting spells are cause for concern and we never know when they'll happen we may have her tested to see if she can also detect my low blood pressure and train her to alert me, too.