Over the past 5 years I’ve had some bouts with dizzy spells. The first time I passed out was at JC Penny. It was hot (August in Houston has a way of being that way) and I was crouched down looking for jeans. When I stood up and walked towards the fitting room everything started going black. I ended up with tunnel vision, sweating my butt off in the dressing room. I felt sick and looked as white as a ghost. I figured I just stood up too quickly.
Fast forward 5 years and about 50 different doctor’s appointments. There were spinning sensations that occurred pretty frequently but these seemed different. Over this time-frame, I had 3 more episodes of this “blacking out” for lack of a better term. Once while I was walking the dog, once while I was working.
As it turns out the “daily spins” as I call them are typical positional vertigo. Nothing too exciting there, but the ENT specialist who diagnosed that sent me in for a number of other tests. What I was describing didn’t fit vertigo symptoms. The ENT lead to the Neurologist who lead to the Cardiologist. The Cardiologist listened to the symptoms and said, “Have you ever looked up Vasovagal Syncope?”
Well, no sir I have not. This is my first time hearing those words. Sounds scary. My cardiologist said it was like I had read his medical books and listed the symptoms to him. Essentially, the way he explained it to me, the nerve connecting your brain and heart trips out and your brain sends a signal that your blood pressure is too high. The heart, in turn, drops the blood pressure. The only problem is your blood pressure was normal at first. Quick drop in BP = blacking out. Easy as that.
There isn’t a cure for Vasovagal Syncope and since it isn’t happening super frequently we’ve decided against medication. For severe cases they can put a pacemaker in. The thing that is a pain is everyone’s triggers are different. Mine seem to be stress and heat. All 4 episodes have been in Summer. So I work in the mental health field (Stress – Check) and live in Houston (Heat – Check). Neither of those things are changing so it’s pretty much just a maintenance management thing from here on out. If I feel an episode coming on, sit, cool down, chill out.
There is something comforting about having a diagnosis. Like somehow knowing you aren’t completely out of your mind and there is a reason things are happening is satisfying. It isn’t something that I would recommend, but as one of the greatest people once said, “It is what it is”. The moral of the story is getting older is no fun.