Life got a little dramatic recently. There were sirens.
The short story is that I passed out. Twice.
The longer story is that I passed out in full cartoon-character glory: on Manfriend’s birthday, at Manfriend’s gig, surrounded by people I know at a venue where I play frequently, and while talking to Manfriend’s mother. I hit my head. Came to. And passed out again while telling the paramedics I was fine.
Everyone seems worried about my heart. “But have you seen the inside of my head?” I ask. The climate in there has been jaggy ever since.
(It was jaggy to begin with.)
Regardless, I make an impression.
I tell this story partly because it’s funny. You can’t make up the details.
But I also tell this story because it’s a reminder – among a long list of reminders -- that the body is a wise and capable partner, even when it doesn’t appear to be working properly. On the barroom floor, my second descent into unconsciousness came slowly. Right before hitting the bottom, I felt: Relief.
It was a loud and profound “Oh, thank God." And then I slipped under.
I’ve been reading this book: Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection Between Human and Animal Health (Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, MD and Kathryn Bowers). Chapter Two is about fainting, that is to say: syncope.
The authors explore vasovagal syncope (“the emotionally triggered faint”) as it occurs in both the human and animal world. They relay stories about chimpanzees and screech owls dropping into a stupor when threatened or dehydrated. But where does this fit, evolutionarily speaking?
The two major fear responses are: fight or flight. Natterson-Horowitz and Bowers suggest this needs an update: Fight, flight, or faint.
Fight or flight: When faced with a threat, adrenaline and other hormones flood our bloodstreams. Hearts race. Breath quickens. Energy soars. We stand ground and fight or we run for it.
Fainting begins with the same flood of adrenaline; but instead of everything speeding up, it nosedives. The body tells the brain something has gone wrong, and the brain, in protective response, shuts the whole thing down.
Some animals (and humans) survive attack by playing dead.
But let’s back up for a minute to the 45-year-old woman talking to her manfriend’s mother in a bar… she wasn’t scared or nervous at all whatsoever. She wasn’t being attacked. She was happy to be talking to The Mother. She did not in any way wish to fall through a trap door and disappear forever. The mother was kind and lovely, and they were having a nice conversation. So, what the hell, Body?
Well... The Universe.
The Universe and The Body are intimately connected, of the same source, and vibe on the same frequency. They are in cahoots. Or so I guess.
Just as our bodies send us love notes by the hour – telling us what we should and shouldn’t be eating, Dear; when we need sleep, Sugar; who is to be trusted and who is not to be trusted, Honey – the Universe chatters. She says: slow down, pay attention, go this way, let that go, rest.
And because we are dense and preoccupied, sometimes we only get the message when it comes with a lot of flash. If we miss the message on a snowflake, The Universe sends an avalanche. Anyone can faint with dignity in the privacy of their own homes and then carry on. But what is to be done after fainting spectacularly, in public, and without a single shred of dignity?
STOP! PAY ATTENTION!
I am tired most of the time. (Who isn’t?) I am in a work assignment that requires a Type A person who likes to work after work; I am more like a Type G. It isn’t going well, frankly. I’ve not touched my writing projects in many months. I’ve gained a bizarre amount of weight. I drink too much coffee in the mornings, too much wine in the evenings, and not enough water in between. And I feel like a shitty mom too often because I am preoccupied and depleted.
Girlfriend is not living her best life.
I had an intense meditation a few days before I clunked out at the bar. In the meditation, I got pushed off a cliff. I fell and fell before landing in netting. Then the same creature that pushed me off the cliff appeared and cut away the net so I fell again. I landed in the ocean and crawled onto the shore.
I wrote “Jump or be pushed” on a sticky note and stuck it to my laptop – a reminder that sometimes when you feel like you’re being pushed off a cliff, you’re really just being told that where you are is not for you. You need to jump. “Don’t be afraid, Puddin’. There’s a net.”
I’m fine, by the way. I’ve had a few tests. They say I’m normal. I have a few more coming. I’ll look normal in those, too. I sat in the cardiologist’s office days ago and looked at him looking at me. He wants me to wear a heart monitor for 30 days. “Can I say, ‘No’?” I asked. Because it's a waste of time. I don’t think Cosmic Forces or Messages from the Divine or “Because you’re not writing” are going to show up on the readout.
I’ve pulled out an old draft of a novel I’d really wanted to finish. I think I'm supposed to do that.
All of this to tell you things over here imploded. I’ve got confetti in my head (and I don’t mean a concussion), and while I sort it into some semblance of a picture, music will be seeing the back shelf. The timing is interesting. Even the new record had to pause. Renee, on drums, hurt (like really really hurt) her wrist. Steph, on bass, had a baby. Jenny, on guitar, took a job with a crazy schedule. The next available date in the studio is February. The Universe is conspiring. Even the weather says “Shush, Child.”
I trust it.