Fight or Flight

I suppose it had been too long since I last fainted. Big thanks to my nervous system for always doing its job. Probably a little too effectively, I’d say.

I didn’t faint when I got my first dose. I figured I’d be in the clear. Everyone mentioning the second dose said it was worse than the first, but only in terms of side effects, not in terms of losing-consciousness-in-the-car-and-thank-goodness-I-wasn’t-the-one-driving-or-I-would-have-murdered-a-bunch-of-people-and-maybe-myself-but-hey-they-would-at-least-have-had-a-chance-because-we-were-relatively-close-to-the-hospital-to-get-the-care-they-required-to-make-it-out-alive.

Yup. I’m a fainter.

Do you have a History of Fainting?

Last time I talked about it live, someone in the audience also fainted, so content warning, I guess?

I do it a lot. The most critical time it happened was on an airplane. Shortly after, the sensations I get when I know I’m about to pass out decided to lend themselves out to general life situations that were a little higher stress than everyday life. Like that time I had to get scalped tickets for a Coldplay concert, and was afraid to get found out by the French police. (As if they give a shit, they’re way too busy being generally racist.) Or that time I was on the island making my way back from Osheaga and it took forever to get onto the metro back to the apartment where we were staying in Montreal. Wait. Why do so many of these panicked situations happen at / around rock concerts? I also fainted at a QOTSA concert. Wait. I’m sensing a pattern.

But hey. Vaccines are no rock concert.

Basically, when I finally had my anxiety disorder labeled, the symptoms matched up with the responses I feel when I’m about to faint. In my late twenties, they began to appear much more often than they should. When I was riding my bike, or sitting on a bus, or riding in a friend’s car or… yeah, you guessed it, at a dang music festival.

I went to a doctor and was officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and prescribed medication. They’ve helped tremendously. I’m still an anxious person, but at least I don’t feel like I’m going to faint when I’m driving my vehicle anymore. (That was a scary time to be on a 400-series highway.)

Unfortunately the drugs apparently still can’t seem to calm my nervous system down when I get a fucking needle.

Second Verse, Not the Same as the First

What happened? Why was #2 so much worse than the first?

The first time, a nurse gave my my shot. She asked me if I ever fainted. I said yes. She said not to worry because we were surrounded by paramedics, firefighters, nurses and doctors. This put my mind at ease, I sat in the waiting area and went along my merry way afterwards. I felt a bit of anxiety, because I’m still not a huge fan of needles, (understatement.)

The second time, a doctor gave me my shot. He didn’t ask if I had a tendency to faint. He made some weird comment that when couples come up to him to get their shots, the wife always goes first, and why is that? Maybe it was an attempt at humour to put my mind at ease. Or maybe it was an offhand sexist remark. Anyway, the shot went in, quick and easy just like the first time. I went to sit down in the waiting area once again, and nothing. I felt fine. We left after the allocated waiting period, and I thought I was home free.

My husband and I checked in on each other. How were we feeling? I said just a bit anxious, like last time. He mentioned this time it felt like if he’d smoked a big cigar last night. (Whatever that means.) We were driving with the windows down and it was quite hot and muggy out.

And then it hit me.

I did NOT feel well. I asked Dan to turn the air conditioning on because it felt like there was no air circulation. He turned the air on, and I was like: NOT ENOUGH and pumped the AC to max. Still I was seating like a madman. I told him I was going to faint. I can feel it coming after thirty some odd years. He said I wouldn’t faint. And even if it did, it didn’t matter because I was laying down in the truck so it’s not like I’d hurt myself. Ever cool in a stressful situation, he is.

Then I went. I was gone. I never know for how long. It’s usually a few seconds. Oddly enough, it’s long enough to dream.

I came to and could hear how high the air conditioning was blowing, Dan had begun driving back towards the arena to get help. (I thought you said I’d be fine, Dan!) (He later told me if I hadn’t woken, he was going to head to the entrance of the arena and honk his horn until people came out to his truck to help. I’m not sure how effective that strategy would have been, but I do like knowing he’s a man of action.)

Apparently when I was unconscious, I shot my arms up in the air. I think maybe I was unconsciously trying to shoot the vaccine back out of my body via my fingers.

It didn’t work.

Everything ached, my muscles were all clenched. Slowly they relaxed, sometime on the way back home.

After that, it was just the normal side effects everybody else shared who got their second dose. Muscle and joint aches, drowsiness, and the sigh of relief that thank goodness I didn’t drive myself and end up engulfed in flames in a ditch somewhere in the back roads of Niagara.

TDLR: Get the fucking vaccine.

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