I passed out last week. For the first time in my life, I did the dizzy-spots-in-front-of-my-eyes-everything-went-black thing. I was out for a few seconds, and apparently I was quite graceful going down (from what I’ve been told by the people in the room). I went to my knees and slumped to my side, and strained the ligaments in one of my feet on the way down. It’s a few days later now, and my foot still hurts and I have some lovely purple bruises on the injured appendage, but that’s it. No lasting damage.
Unless you count that it’s making me admit that I’m not always as “okay” as I think I am. I have a weird blind spot when it comes to my own emotions. Other people’s trouble? I’m the girl you want to go to (I do empathy and tough love equally well). My own heart? I should suck it up and get on with it already.
Instead, I passed out. I was at work, escorting a photographer into an OR, I was in my own clothes and scrubs and I had that freakin’ mask on my face and was getting all hot. This is not the first surgery I’ve seen for work and I’ve always been completely fine. And I was fine this time too. Until some of the prep work with the patient made me think of Mark and how horribly uncomfortable he was in the hospital. And how sick he was. And how a few days from now will be 4 years since he died. I tried to stop myself from crying, because I’m a professional, damn it.
Instead, I passed out. I know that being pregnant (and anemic), getting hot, standing for a while, and a million other reasons could have made me faint. But I know that the real reason was that wall of emotion that hit me. I couldn’t breathe. So I didn’t.
And I felt like an idiot. Everyone was so worried (thank goodness they hadn’t started the procedure, I would have felt horrible if I’d interrupted.) As it was, they ushered me out, and I hung out in an office until the photographer was done. I couldn’t really explain to anyone what had happened. I had eaten breakfast, I was careful not to lock my knees while I was standing, I’ve never had trouble with blood (not that there was any yet). What was I supposed to say? “Oh, don’t worry about me. I’m just reliving my dead husband’s last few weeks through my sense of smell and hearing and touch! I’ll be fine in a bit!”
I hate that I feel like I’m blaming Mark’s death for making me pass out, it’s so ridiculous sounding, even to me. But, despite the logical excuses, I know that it’s the real one.
At least when I passed out, I did it gracefully and in an OR. I’m sure in the version of the story I tell later, the OR will be filled with blood and drama, and I will pass out in a more dramatic way. But I don’t think I’ll be telling anyone that the pain I feel when I think of Mark in a hospital bed, dying, made me fall to my knees and lose awareness. I don’t think I’m strong enough to admit that even 4 years later, the week of his death can hurt so much, it makes the world fall away, if only for a few seconds.