“Cristal? Sweetie, wake up. You alright? Come back. Can you hear me?” Muffled yet distinct voices settle into my ears as I try to regain consciousness. My eyes have opened but my vision is terribly poor; faces around me appear fuzzy and the room is hazy. Everything feels so surreal. Why does this keep happening to me? How did I allow my tucked away anxiety to attack me and declare itself winner of my body? As if I had no sense of self control.
The first time it happened was when I was about five years old. School was starting and I needed my immunization shots. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how painful the shots would be, or if it would make me cry. I was scared. The doctor, along with my mom, quickly assured me it would only sting a little. Like a bite. A prick. Nothing more. They told me to close my eyes and envision myself somewhere, someplace else I would rather be. Chuck E. Cheese's was the first thing that thrilled my imagination. Me, running about in the playground area close by the dining area where hot sizzling pepperoni pizza awaits me. A strong odor of rubbing alcohol fills my nostrils and abruptly disturbs the pretend world in my head. You know the saying, “curiosity killed the cat”? Well, that was me except I didn’t die (damn near). I opened my eyes and immediately focused my attention towards the lengthy razor-sharp tip needle that proceeded to sink itself into my skin. They were right. It did sting.
Inside of a Chuck E. Cheese
It was then where I suddenly found myself in a slightly different reality. I vividly remember having roller skates on my feet and the only source of light came from dancing neon lit bulbs surrounding the dark and vacant roller dome I appeared to be in. My intermediate family were unnaturally thrown into my dream where they too, had on roller skates and appeared to be in unison skating around the rink. I joined them happily (ironic since I don’t know how to skate in real life, not then and not now) and danced along to the uneasy combination of strange off beat music. Intuitively, the sense of imminent danger arose within me as the music playing took on a climactic tune. I fell to my feet embarrassingly and couldn’t seem to help myself up. When I looked up, all eyes were on me. Fingers were pointed at me, and laughter filled my ears. My family circled around me and were humored by the fact I had fallen. I laid there helpless as my family continued to mock me. Suddenly, my head felt hot and a troubling transition of my perception of reality occurred.
Neon lit Roller dome that resembles the one in my dream.
I awoke from my strange dream to the overwhelmingly concerned faces of my mother and doctor. “What happened?” I weakly asked. Shortly after receiving my shot, I unintentionally fainted. My mother depicted an alarming account of witnessing the episode. She traumatically recounts that my eyes had rolled to the back of my head as if I were possessed, my body jolted involuntarily as if I were having a seizure, and my lips snow white. The duration of it had lasted maybe two or three minutes but felt like an eternity according to my mother.
This would later become a re-occurring phenomenon in my life. On the rare occasions I would see a doctor for immunizations, I fainted every time. The last time I fainted was actually back in November, not too long ago. It had been years since I fainted before then, so when I needed to go to the doctor for blood work, I figured that if I maintained a positive mindset, I could prevent myself from passing out. Confidently, I went in and plopped myself down on a chair where two nurses attended to me. I mentioned to them that I had a history of fainting, a heads up in case I did faint. Wiser than five-year-old me, not once did I allow myself to see the infamous needle. That intimidating yet health benefiting needle. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop the awful rubbing alcohol triggering my senses. I felt the needle seep into my skin and thirty seconds in, I felt okay. Thirty seconds in, however, was when it hit me. Lightheaded, my hearing began to fade, the nurse’s voices became distorted, and I began to black out violently. I fought hard in an effort to maintain control of my body but I failed miserably. I underwent what seemed like another out of body experience when I had fainted because when I awoke, I had forgotten I was still at the doctor’s. Realizing what had happened, I apologized for my lack of self-control. For it wasn't fear that I was fighting, it was my own body. The nurses consoled me and assured me that I was not the only one who faints when it comes to situations like this. One of the nurses suggested that there was a possibility I wasn’t at fault here. Everyone’s nervous systems are different and react differently. She concluded that maybe this is just my nervous systems way of reacting to needles and/or physical trauma.
There is nothing more terrifying than losing control of your body. Once the symptoms appear, there is nothing I can do to stop it. The first thing that occurs is my loss of hearing. There's ringing in my ears and all voices fade as if I'm a train moving further and further away from a crowded train station. When all sounds fade, it's as if I'm deaf. I become delirious as I suffer a head rush which results in me feeling very light headed. I lose my sense of touch and reality becomes hard to grasp. Tunnel vision syndrome strikes me, damaging my sight. My heart rapidly beats as if I'm about to go under cardiac arrest. Within a matter of seconds, it's as if my soul leaves my body. I can never pin point to when I exactly pass out, because when I wake up, I never have memory of it. For me, fainting chillingly feels like a near death experience. Though there are ways to prevent fainting like laying down or raising your knees to your chest, I don't know if I'll ever have authority over my nervous system.