I fainted two months ago, right in the doctor’s office. No better place for it, I suppose. There I was, for something completely benign, like smelly feet or excessive sweating, and then I got really dizzy.
I feel very uncomfortable hearing medicals details, or specifics of drug experiences gone awry, and the good doctor was talking about meningitis shots and flu vaccinations, but I felt myself start to detach, trying to rise above the conversation as a strong sense of unease crawled up my back and tickled my brain intrusively.
I stood up, saying loudly, “I feel very uncomfortable.” I moved from the regular armchair by the desk to the examining table covered in white paper.
I started to explain to the doctor that this actually happens to me sometimes, how I feel faint and woozy when medical things are mentioned in elaborate detail. I started telling him about one time when a friend of mine got up to close a window in the room and it broke from the force it took him to shut it. A shard of glass cut his hand and blood started pouring out…
Then I woke up on the floor, in the doctor’s office. Mid-story, too. Apparently I just keeled over and took a little closer look at the linoleum tiles. My cheek was in pain when I woke up. I heard voices, saw faces looking down at me and I realized something wasn’t right. A cold sweat covered me suddenly, and the pain in my cheek intensified.
The door was open. One nurse stood in the doorway, the other was kneeling next to me. The doctor was talking about an ambulance, and the noises blurred. Then I regained a sense of perspective, ironically, looking up at the tall people who were standing. Someone put a pillow under my head, asked me if I could move my toes. I tried not to think about the implications of the question. My toes wiggled fine.
The doctor was talking about possible injuries (concussion, paralysis, etc.), and I interrupted him and told him bluntly to shut up, he was making it worse. And he was. The more I thought about the effects of falling and the more I tried to reorient myself, the dizzier I became, falling back into that deep well.
They asked if I want to go to the hospital. An ambulance was on its way. Do I want water? Juice? How about some juice, honey, would you like that?
I thought about it. “No.” It was Sukkos. But I agreed to go to the hospital. My shoulder felt strange. I didn’t want to risk moving, and they were telling me not to. The RN assistants helping were named Deb and Jen, the latter being a common name among nurses, I later learned. I asked them if they were both from Minnesota, and Jen said that she was from Texas.
The ambulance people came in then, one with his reflective yellow fireman jacket. At that point I couldn’t stop talking. I complimented him on his jacket. “Sorry about mine. I forgot it was Bring-Your-Neon-to-Work Day.”
A woman paramedic named Jackie asked what happened. “I hallucinated a swimming pool and took a dive.” She looked at me funny.
The doctor, who had betrayed no emotion during the actual appointment, and certainly none when I had fallen, took his leave at that point.
“Who programmed C3PO?” I asked Deb. There was a second’s pause, then she laughed. “The doctor?” I would’ve nodded, but I wasn’t moving my neck. Jackie asked me to stand up, but I wasn’t excited about the idea. Maybe it was a trick question?
The paramedics told me they were going to count to three before lifting. “I apologize for eating a doughnut last night,” I said contritely. They kept it professional though. On the third count they rolled me onto the stretcher. I was carried to an ambulance, wondering at the squares of drop ceiling, babbling away.
In the ambulance I suggested that they pimp out the vehicle. “You know, like those party buses.” One of the paramedics, named Jackie, told me that she had wanted to be something completely different, but somehow, being both a paramedic and a firewoman appealed to her. The other paramedic showed me digital illustrations his nephew made in college.
I was having a grand time, mostly because I wouldn’t shut up. In the hospital, I messed with the nurse who registered me – also named Jen. The doctor, let’s say her name is Dr. B., prodded my collarbone to see if it was broken (gosh, that’s how they check?) and it wasn’t, according to her. Hey, I trusted her; she’s a doctor.
There was a stenographer in the room who I couldn’t see from my position on the stretcher. Her name was Jillisa (I think that’s how it’s spelled), and she didn’t say a word. The doctor spoke for her. “This is Jillisa, and she’ll be taking notes.” And two seconds later I was saying loudly, “Hi, Jillisa. How’s your day going? Wait! Don’t put that on the record.”
A little later on, after the professional collarbone poke, I asked Dr. B. if Jillisa was still in the room. “She’s here,” she confirmed.
“Oh. I thought she was on a lunch break.”
“She doesn’t take lunch breaks,” Dr. B. joked.
“No,” I agreed, “When she’s hungry, she writes about eating. ‘Dear Diary, today I thought about having a hamburger with a tomato and romaine lettuce and ketchup, no mustard, thank you…’ ”
This is when Dr. B. looked as if putting me under observation in the psych ward might be prudent.
And then they left me while they attended to real people. For the first time since I fell, I was alone. I had nobody to talk to. And it started to dawn on me why I was talking so much. I didn’t want to think about what would have happened if I’d landed on my neck. I remembered the way they asked if I could wiggle my toes. It could’ve been bad, but it wasn’t. I was in a hospital only because I was nervous about my back and neck. But now that I had taken that extra precaution, I was in a building that had actual sick people in it. People who were really suffering.
Then a male medical technician person came in and administered an EKG. I was fine. No X-ray. I was fine. Just a little shaky. My neck still hurt. My cheek was numb from the ice. I was fine.
I went home and started writing this up right away. Sometimes, writing helps me decompress. Writing helps me get objective, especially when I’m feeling powerful subjective emotions. But that day it was different. I started writing about the whole thing, and of course when I got up to the part when the actual fainting happened, I got a bit dizzy. I felt myself go cold. I had to lay down for a few minutes. It was just the thought of the thought of shots that did —
Oh no. I have to go. Everything’s pur