My pulse is racing and I feel the floor beneath my bare feet become colder, harder.
Have you ever fainted before? It’s scary.
I’ve become kind of a pro at passing out, mainly because I have had a lot of close calls, rather than eating the floor on a regular basis. Ever since I got sick with POTS three-and-a-half years ago I’ve learned what it’s like to faint.
My heart can’t stop. It keeps speeding up and feels like I’m going downhill in a car and my brakes just failed. Instead of being able to pull an emergency brake or slow the car’s roll, it speeds up at a terrifyingly alarming speed.
Shit. I crouch to the ground as soon as my brain catches up to the rest of my body and realizes that I am going down, whether I want to or not.
This is what I’ve trained for.
My body has been trained for fainting. I have done it so many times that I know how to respond. Everything always happens so fast. Racing. Dizzy. Blackout. Nausea. Sweating. Falling. Ground — always in that order.
As soon as I am down on the ground I feel the cold tile behind me. I’m cold and wet, but don’t really notice until my hand slips. The bath was a bad idea. It helps with the pain, but my heart can’t handle the heat. I feel around behind me, blind, just to be sure my head won’t hit the hard floor when I lie down in my postural position. I close my eyes and brace myself. There’s no change in my vision yet, but I hope it comes back soon, as my spatial awareness isn’t so great. This can pose for a dangerous problem when I’m on hard ground. Usually I black out on the plush carpet when I get out of bed too fast, but sometimes it happens in places that are a lot scarier than that.
My hands slide slowly behind my body as I sit on the floor and ease the rest of myself to the ground. I close my eyes, praying I won’t vomit and reminding myself to take deep breaths until it’s all over. I don’t know if one ever really throws up when they’re about to faint, as it’s never happened to me, but it always feels like I will.
Ten seconds go by. Twenty. An hour?
It feels like my time on the ground before my vision finally starts turning slightly colorful and blurry again is lasting a lifetime, though I know it couldn’t be more than thirty seconds. First it’s as if I’m wearing high prescription glasses that my 20/20 vision isn’t used to. Then everything gradually comes in to focus. I can finally see again and the blood rushes back to my brain.
Stupid, stupid, I think to myself as I realize what I had done. The water in the bathtub was too warm for a POTS patient, and I stood up way too quickly when I made my move to get a razor. I had hurt myself on accident by taking a high risk for a minimal reward. I hate not being able to shave my legs in the shower (because of the postural change that occurs when I do), and all I wanted was to have a smooth finish after my bath. I should have known better than to stand up quickly from a warm bath, but I want so badly to be normal again and not to think about every little move I make and how it’s going to affect me for the rest of the week.
Any time I have a close call with my heart acting up it makes me incredibly tired.
As soon as I gather the right amount of energy to safely stand up, I shut my eyes tightly and push lightly with my hands to lift the rest of my body up. I throw on a robe — not bothering to dry off — and walk with a blank mind and body into my bedroom and ease into my warm, soft bed.
Soon I am out again, but this time the darkness isn’t scary — it’s peaceful. My brain feels like it can’t function again because it needs rest, but that’s okay. I’m finally safe; I’m in the least likely place for my body to attack itself again.