Dear ________ ,
So here it is, the first blog post. Breaking new ground. Breaking face on new ground. Seriously. Here’s the story:
Most people are aware that to travel in Africa, vaccines are pretty much standard pre-departure protocol. Meningitis, Hepatitis, Yellow Fever, Cholera, Polio, Typhoid, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Tuberculosis, Malaria… these are all illnesses we can vaccinate or medicate against thank-goodness. But the price can be high, or as I learned, come from up high landing squarely on the floor.
A few weeks ago I was in for my second round of shots. I don’t have a phobia or anything but I’ll admit I generally don’t appreciate being stabbed multiple times, despite keeping straight-faced and affable. Though after the final Yellow Fever jab, my straight face got a bit bent out of shape.
Powering through the light-headed queasy feeling I get after shots, I continued small-talking while still perched high atop the ‘toilet paper covered mattress-table’ every medical room has you sit upon. The last thing I remember is mentioning how much a cold O.J. would hit the spot. Too little too late, because the only spot that was hit was the ground from about 8 feet.
I guess it’s called a parasympathetic response, so I hope you’re sympathetic. What happens is that the body thinks, “Oh…I’ve been pricked quite a few times now…that must mean I’ve sustained gaping wounds. Quite a bit of my precious blood must be escaping. Oh, I know, I’ll dilate the the blood vessels and drastically drop the blood pressure so that minimal fluids are lost. I like blood, I think I’ll keep it.” Thanks body. The irony is that in attempting to minimize blood loss, my body’s reaction created open wounds that bled.
This vasovagal episode means that gravity does its thing, and oxygen-rich blood in the brain suddenly isn’t there anymore. Lights out. The cool thing is that you don’t notice the lights going out. They just suddenly come back on and abracadabra – there you are on your back transported someplace else, brain coming back online trying to make sense of sensory input after being turned off and knocked unconscious by the subsequent violent bang.
Frazzled nurses holding my nose suddenly came into focus and proper exposure. The alarming sounds of “get more gauze” lurched out of distortion and finally (after a short delay) the memory of who these people were, and the body my brain was supposed have control over were reestablished for the first time since one of those rough weeks from last autumn.
I’ll also mention that for some reason I drove over a meridian earlier that morning; a decision that would cost me over 1000 bucks. So when all was said and done and I was sipping my orange juice awkwardly with the receptionist holding my bleeding swollen nose; the nurse looking for a doctor (he had the day off), the realization that I had to now pay these people hundreds of dollars for voodoo-dolling me up left a wry smile on my face. Which made it bleed more. “I’m going to warn you,” the nurse blurted while realigning the hanging skin around the biggest cut, “there’s allot of blood.” Good work body.
Until next time.
(Bruises formed over the next few days. As did my courageous rescue tales).