On top of having Asperger Syndrome, I also have something called Vasovagal. Health Central explains it like this:
“Vasovagal syncope is the common faint that may be experienced by normal persons with no evidence of heart disease.
The vagus nerve is the nerve of the muscle in the throat and the larynx, and is the nerve that slows the rate of the heartbeat and supplies the parasympathetic nerves to the lungs, the stomach, the esophagus, and other abdominal organs.
Arasympathetic means the nerves pertaining to the autonomic nervous system; the system which is concerned with control of involuntary bodily functions.
Stimulating the parasympathetic nerves generally produces vasodilation of the part supplied; in general, it slows the heart rate, decreases the blood pressure; contracts the pupils; causes copious secretion of the saliva; and increases gastrointestinal activity.
Stimulation of the vagus causes slowing of the heart rate and, if sufficient, can cause fainting or even cardiac arrest. Usually, when this happens, the heart’s ventricles start beating on their own despite continued vagal stimulation.
In the moment-to-moment regulation of heart rate at rest, the vagal influence is dominant and, particularly in athletes with low resting heart rates, this ‘vagal tone’ can be considerable.
Vasovagal syncope is frequently recurrent and tends to take place during emotional stress (especially in a warm, crowded room), after an injurious, shocking accident, and during pain. Mild blood loss, poor physical condition, prolonged bed rest, anemia, fever, organic heart disease, and fasting are other factors which increase the possibility of fainting in susceptible individuals.” *
In other words, I faint. Whether it’s cause by stress, heat, blood, needles, spiders, etc. I faint. I’ve lived with it long enough to know the warning signs when I see them and to prevent a fainting incident from happening. Sometimes, however, I can’t prevent it.
It started when I was five. I had just gotten my Kindergarten shots, and I was standing next to my mom while she was doing paperwork or something. The next moment, I just fell flat on the floor. I woke up, and I was fine a few minutes later. It was the first time I had fainted.
When I was ten. I had just moved from Washington to California, and it stressed me out. Added onto that, I was trying to change my earings in my first piercing. I asked my grandpa for help and fainted into his plate of eggs. I couldn’t see anything. Everything was black. I felt my dad pick me up and hold me in his arms while he sat down on the couch. I heard the voices of my family faintly. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. I woke up, and I was fine a few minutes later.
When I was fourteen, I had just finished being inspected for NJROTC during zero-period. I was stressing about what kind of score I got. Was my uniform good enough? Had I answered their questions correctly? I started feeling lightheaded, so I asked permission to adjust. I shook my arms and legs to hopefully get my blood flowing back to my head. After I did that, it was back at ease. And I fainted. I woke up and people were around me, asking me where I was and what day it was. I answered their questions and sat down for a while before calling my mom, crying. I stayed home from school that day. It’s scary to faint.
When I was eighteen, I got my third ear piercing. The piercing on my right ear was a little high, so it had to be re-pierced. I saw the earing being taken out, and I think that’s what did it for me. As the piercing gun was prepared, I lay my head in my lap to rest it. I fainted while I was there, but didn’t notice until people were talking to me, asking me if I was alright. I said that I was fine, and my ear was pierced again. After that, I fainted again, this time leaning forward and into the arms of my little sister. I woke up, drank a little coffee, explained why I had fainted to the semi-freaked out people around me, and I was fine.
This morning, at the age of twenty, I fainted again. Granted, I do have a lot on my mind and a lot going on, but nothing big enough to trigger fainting. I was in the shower. I thought about how hungry I was. I was really hungry. I thought about how hot the shower was. It was pretty hot. I was going to hurry up and get out and get dressed. Just as I was about to rinse the shampoo out of my hair, I started feeling lightheaded. I held onto the rail that holds the shower curtain, and rinsed the shampoo out. I was just finished with that and about to sit down right then and there to wait for the lightheaded feeling to go away when I fainted. I fell half out of the shower, and hit my face on the floor. I woke up with my nose bleeding, so I grabbed some toilet paper and started cleaning up the blood quickly. My roommate yelled through the door, asking if I was ok. I said that I was fine. I just sat there, toilet paper to my nose, leaning over the side of the tub, and waiting until it was safe to get up. I fainted again while I was half laying/half sitting there. Then I woke up again. I cleaned up all the blood, sat on the side of the tub as I dried myself off, and then walked to my bed and got dressed. By the time I was about to head to the cafeteria for breakfast, I was fine. I did end up with a scratch on my nose, and my face hurts. But I’m fine.
To anyone else, something like this might be extremely concerning, but I’m more used to fainting than most people. I’m actually surprised that it didn’t happen sooner, like maybe closer to the time that I moved to San Jose. Admittedly, I’m still a little freaked out by it. Fainting isn’t fun, but I’m fine.
I view my Vasovagal sort of like I do my Asperger Syndrome. It’s something that I live with. It’s something that I’ll live with for the rest of my life. And I need to make adjustments in my life to lessen the effects it has, but it’s not something that’s going to control my life. When I feel it coming on, when I feel I am going to faint, I have to sit down and wait until the feeling goes away. When I feel a meltdown coming on, I have to separate myself and self-stim and calm myself down until the feeling goes away. Adjustments have to be made, but it’s not impossible to live without incidents. I hope it’s a long time before I faint again. I hope it’s a long time before I have another meltdown.