Down and Out

Today was stressful for me. I had a procedure done early in the morning that caused a vasovagal syncope, or a vagal response for short. The operation shocked my system and caused a sudden drop in heart rate. After getting off the table, I made it to the hallway before I fainted. Luckily, both the doctor who worked on me and my mother was there to make sure I didn’t hit the ground too hard.

The vagal response was a combination of a muscle relaxant, a morphine-like painkiller, a sedative, and a stressful visit to the doctors. When all was said and done, I was sore and tired. I fell asleep as soon as I got home and have been in and out of consciousness all day. My boyfriend had to message my supervisor for me to apologize for not picking up my phone. The sedative made it almost impossible for me to text or talk without extreme focus. Now that the effects are wearing off, I can finally sit down to write this blog.

I don’t like sitting around and doing nothing. I find it boring and unproductive. Many people find a lot of pleasure in slouching into their couch and watching TV all day, but it makes me anxious. Today, however, was different. The operation and subsequent fainting spell left me exhausted and a little spooked. I used to faint after giving blood which has made it difficult to do so now. The vagal response is symptomized by nausea, clamminess, and sudden loss of color in the face. Every time I’ve fainted, I’ve experienced each of these.

Resting is necessary at times. I’ve already written about the need for recovery and downtime. Life cannot be a constant cycle of work, stress, and success or failure. There has to be guaranteed or likely fun and enjoyment to sustain mental function. This procedure did me much more good than bad and I have a good feeling I will not regret having it done. As I move on to my adult life and continue to reach for my independence, I have to weigh the risks and benefits of experiences such as this. My health has been a priority of mine for a long time, now it is becoming a responsibility.


Wake Up Calls

Early is a relative term, but 6:30am is early for me. 6:30am also happens to be the time I woke up this morning. I schedule an 8am private lesson and a 10am appointment that were both 45 minutes away from my house.

Sometimes I do this. I schedule things early to get myself out of bed and reinforce a sleeping pattern. This summer, my sleeping habits weren’t horrible, but I know I’m going to need to shift into school mode soon.

Today was a wake-up call, as it took me twice my normal amount of coffee to be functioning. I worry that I am simultaneously becoming dependent on caffeine and developing bad resting habits.

Either way, I’ll be getting a little more sleep tonight.


How to Breathe

My asthma developed when I was pretty young, maybe around two or three. When I started seeing a pulmonologist to get my lungs in shape, I remember them always saying “We have to teach you how to breathe.” Even as a kid, that idea struck me. Breathing was intuitive, it was the first action I had ever taken and the last I ever would. The idea that I didn’t know how to breathe was unfathomable. When my lungs gained strength, I realized that I had in fact been breathing all wrong.

I’m very connected to my lungs. Living at altitude but constantly traveling to sea level has given me a good sense of what it feels like when my lungs are strong and when they are not. Breathing, however, has still been a struggle for me. I associate breath with many parts of my being, most notably my mind. My breath represents the rate at which my thoughts are running through my head. In a nutshell, my lungs give me the strength the breathe, but my breath is much more complex.

I’m still learning how to breathe. It’s a long and difficult process that may never come to an end. The good news is, I will always be working towards something.