Not for the Faint-Hearted

I’m reading a book series where the characters sometimes swoon, generally from the loss of blood due to an 18th century battle injury via musket ball or broadsword. It’s very swashbuckling.

Do people faint in real life, or only in books?

My sister Kate passed out in front of an elevator after giving blood once. She woke up sitting on the ground, staring at some people who were staring back at her. Hey staring people, why don’t you stop being awkward and help the doe-eyed redhead off the floor, mkay? Just an idea.

The only time I’ve ever fainted was in the temple. The cause was too much kneeling. I started feeling waves of death-nausea crash over me as I frantically wondered when the officiator was going to wrap it up. Turns out, I compelled a speedy wrapping-up by blacking out.

Dutch caught me, because he is nothing if not an ubër gentleman who is genetically programmed to rescue ye olde swooning wife. I awoke to men peering over me with a glorious, yet tasteful crystal chandelier winking behind their heads.

Have you ever lain on the floor in the temple? Because it’s weird. You’re not supposed to be lying on the velvety white carpet staring at the chandelier while men in white delicately attend to you. I glanced over at the settee where my friend Shilo was looking at me with a concerned smile and felt like the biggest idiot ever.

About that time, a temple-ready paramedic of sorts came whooshing into the room in an all-white ensemble, down to his white tennies. He was out of breath from running up several flights of stairs from the bowels of the temple where he apparently paces, nobly waiting for the call to help fainting women.

I was assured that too much kneeling has resulted in many a fainting person. Okay, terrific. No wonder this guy is always on standby.

I was asked repeatedly if I was pregnant. Nope. Just nope. This was when Charlie was a toddler and long before Truman was even a twinkle in my eye. Did I sense disappointment that it wasn’t an early pregnancy-induced swoon? Sorry to disappoint everybody, guys. My uterus was vacant.

I was offered orange juice and assisted to the couch. When I still couldn’t feel my feet or hands twenty minutes later, the EMT in the gleaming white kicks produced a wheelchair and wheeled me into an elevator. We exited in the basement where we passed a pallet of toilet paper roughly the size of our first home, a bungalow in Sugarhouse.

A kindly sister manning the first-aid room went to retrieve my things from the locker room and left me staring at the two cots which were covered in hand-crocheted white blankets upon which rested official signs reading, “Cots are sterile. Please do not sit or lie on them.” I assumed they were referring to weary temple workers in search of a nap and not me, but I felt like I should avoid them anyway, leaving them sterile for a real emergency. You know, like somebody in diabetic shock or an actual pregnant woman going into labor.

Dutch pulled the car to a loading dock where I was bundled into our car like laundry.

And that’s my story of passing out at the temple.

If I were writing my life as a novel, though, that’s not where I would put the swooning. There are two real-life moments in my life when I should have passed out, wanted to pass out and lose consciousness for even a minute. But I didn’t.

If I were writing my life as fiction, the two fainting scenes would be:

1. When the pediatrician stood at the far end of my hospital room an hour or so after I delivered Truman prematurely and told me my baby couldn’t breathe and was being transported to a bigger NICU who could properly care for him. Everything went dim and the room spun around slowly and crookedly, yet I remained sitting, eyes blinking, in my hospital bed where I would remain for several days, across town from my baby.

2. When I sat in the university’s behavioral health clinic two years after Truman’s fancy ride to the Big NICU and heard that a second child of mine had a bevy of disabilities. Half of my children suddenly had special needs. The floor opened up like a sprung trapdoor, and I was falling through the dark.

But I did not swoon.

I asked reasonable-sounding questions. I appeared fine. No one offered me orange juice or a wheelchair ride to my car. No one caught me that time.

Dutch did, however, talk me down off the precipice as I drove home after that appointment. He was solid and accepting of it, just minutes after the diagnosis. “We already knew this,” he said gently on the phone. “Now it’s just official. We are getting Charlie the help he needs.”

My neighbor Brittany brought me a raspberry chipotle chicken salad.

My neighbor Chris brought me a key-lime tart.

My friend Terra texted me from her island in the Pacific, and said all the right things.

I guess I sort of did swoon, and people did catch me.

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