Friday, July 31, 2009

The post where I have a seizure and scare my friends rigid

Monday night unrolled much like any other night in New Jersey’s version of Stepford. Y & I pottered about in the kitchen: Y making a fabulous version of Julia Child’s Fondue de Poulet a la Creme, me poisoning myself with evil killer chili peppers, as I attempted to throw together a salad, and Finchley frolicking about at our feet, hoping for freefall snacks.

As we sat down for supper in the dining room, I noticed my empty water glass &, in a reflex action, I grabbed an icy can of Coke Zero from the bottom drawer of the fridge. It was only the second fizzy drink or soda in a can I’ve drunk in years. (I’m not a sweet drink person (unless it’s a raspberry martini) and on the very rare occasion I pick up a soda it’s in a bottle so I can finish it later.)

I poured it into my glass and gulped the carbonated liquid down. I’d forgotten that really fizzy drinks always make me burp – a lot. Charming. It was hot & steamy and I was dehydrated. I took another enormous swig. I knew it was a mistake immediately, as I felt a huge bubble trap in my throat.

Oof airlock! I exclaimed. Christ it hurt. I started to feel woozy. Grabbing each side of the table I clung on tight as my head swirled, my vision blurred and I started to black out.

The boys tell me I was out for 30 seconds. Apparently, my eyes rolled back in my head as I keeled to the left. Y &J raced around the table and stopped me falling. Y tried to stop me swallowing my tongue, but I bit his finger as my teeth were clamping. (I’m so, so sorry Y).

I came back to consciousness slowly, watching Pucci-esque colours merge in front of me with a sensation of being many miles removed. I was searching for a conversational thread I was part of & could not quite grasp - and then my vision cleared and I was staring at the boys asking what had just happened.

Interweb diagnosis points to a vaso-vagal syncope: the air bubble irritated the esophagus and over stimulated the vagus nerve. As I discovered so dramatically, vagus nerve stimulation causes both heart rate & blood pressure to drop: it is the most common cause of fainting, the above named vaso -vagal syncope. Some faints apparently are quite complex, and do give the impression of a seizure.

I have fainted three times before in similar situations many years ago. The first was on my first day of work as a banqueting waitress at a Moat House Hotel (the glamour!) aged 18. Not realising that they were boiling hot, I nicked a mushroom off a flat of catering food I was hefting through the kitchen.

It obviously obstructed my esophagus, and I fainted, fell over backwards, pouring boiling champignons a la crème everywhere and knocking myself stone cold on the kitchen floor. I woke up in hospital with a very nasty case of concussion.

The two other times were just straight faints, on my own in the kitchen whilst eating hot food. But I never got myself checked out as it was obvious what the problem was. I just never knew why. Until this week. Bless the lovely internets.

Poor boys: they didn't sign on for paramedic duty when I came to stay. I felt a bit wobbly like a weeble the next morning, but I think that was just low blood sugar as a result of not feeling like eating the rest of my supper the night before.

With reflection it is quite obvious that I was being punished for first time ever attempt at drinking hideous fizzy drink with supper. Quite right. Will stick with wine with supper in future like a proper civilised person should.