Are you a fainter?


When I go to the doctor to have an injection or a blood test, I warn them prior to the procedure that I’m a fainter to ensure precautionary measures are taken.

Recently after golf I was caught unawares. Perched on a stool at Candied Bakery in Spotswood I devour an egg and bacon roll. That is, until a short wave of nausea wove through my body. I put the food aside and rest my head on my hands for support. Sheepishly I say to Neil, ‘I feel a little faint’.

When I regain consciousness I’m in recovery position on the concrete floor near the entrance to the bakery. Patrons stop and stare then walk to the queue to order their food.  Neil is at my side and a male voice behind talks on the phone.  My recall is scant.  I vaguely remember Neil reaching out to put his arm around me as I collapse and the next 10-15 seconds feel like a blissful eternity.

The male voice behind me is of comfort. He seems to have taken control of the situation as he confides: ‘I have rung an ambulance’. Whilst being reassured, I am instructed to remain on the floor and given a sip of juice. I’m still in my golf clothes and feel uncomfortable stretched out with a blanket under my head.

Ben, the voice introduces himself which prompts me to ask: ‘Are you a medico?’

‘No,’ he says, ‘I’m a psychologist’.  I laugh and can’t help but say: ‘I don’t think that’s what I need right now, but I could have used one on the golf course!’  

At least ten minutes pass before I return to the stool and muse over my petit-mal with Neil and question the necessity of an ambulance. I’m ready to go home but Ben and his mate are outside to flag the vehicle down.

When it arrives I’m examined by a sympathetic female first responder, who encourages me into the vehicle for heart tests as ‘I’m the age of women who disregard symptoms’.

Everything appears regular, however I’m urged to go with them to the nearest hospital to rule out any medical nasties such as heart problems or diabetes.  I feel uneasy by my unexpected faint spell and agree.

At the Footscray Hospital’s Emergency Department I observe far sicker folk on trolleys on this sunny, autumnal Sunday afternoon. As I’m wheeled to cubicle No 6, a strong stench comes out of the room opposite and I watch as medico’s don gowns and gloves to enter. I feel like an imposter and a voyeur but am wired up to machines and need to wait for tests to be analysed to reconfirm that I’m fit and well.

A charming young nurse with eyelashes that adorn her eyes like a veranda, is excited when she reads my heart rate.  ‘Oh wow’ she says: ‘you’ve got a textbook reading of 120/80 which is the ideal level we’re taught when we do our training.’  That’s reaffirming,’ I quip and ask the obvious question again: ‘When can I go home’? I wait for a further four hours before being discharged.

I’m interested to know, if you are a fainter, does it run in your family like mine, and have your faint spells extended beyond injections and seeing blood?    ‘

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