I passed out on the train yesterday morning (scary/embarassing things)

I was day seven into a bad cold when I passed out on the train to work yesterday morning.

Over the weekend I felt pretty good, but by monday night I was feeling lousy again. My wife and I take a commuter train to work. The trip takes about 45 minutes. The train felt stuffy on tuesday. I tried to sleep for most of the trip. As the train pulled into the station I got up to stand by the doors with my wife. As I stood there behind her waiting for the doors to open I felt nauseated. It was a sharp bite in my stomach. I felt like I was going to be sick. Then I started to feel lightheaded. I looked around for someplace to sit but the area by the door was packed with people. I put my hand on my wife’s shoulder and squeezed; my vision was diffused by a couple thousand white pinpricks of light.

My wife felt my hand on her shoulder, and the squeeze, then what felt like me pulling her backward. She turned around and saw me hunch over then stand up. She got me out on the platform and told me to grab onto a pillar. I remember hearing people telling me to sit down. I slowly slumped to the ground and was unresponsive for a good 30 seconds. Eyes open and everything just not responding to anyone.

When I came to I was on the train platform surrounded by a crowd of people. I immediately stood up and kept telling my wife I was fine. She was crying, afraid. A couple people asked me if this had happened before, if I was diabetic, telling me I needed to go to the hospital. One guy even scolded me for scaring “your girl.” I assured everyone I was ok and my wife and I left the platform. My first reaction was fear followed shortly by extreme embarrassment. We dodged the transit cops and the ambulances eventually making it to my doctor’s office.

He asked me how long I had been sick (“seven days”), what I had eaten for breakfast (“nothing”), and if I was running a fever that morning (“I didn’t know”). He ran an ECG, took blood, did a full exam. His Dx: I was dehydrated with a sinus infection and was running a low grade fever (100.6). That the long trip on a stuffy train with no food or fluids, not to mention the fever, caused a vasovagal syncope when I stood up. That I was lucky my wife was there to break my fall or I could’ve seriously injured myself.

As my biggest fears were assuaged (I didn’t have a seizure, didn’t have cancer) the embarrassment of the whole thing started rolling over me in waves. I rode the train with these people every morning. I was surrounded by strangers during one of my weakest moments. I scared the daylights out of my wife. I didn’t tell my friends of coworkers what happened. I’m mortified at the prospect of having to ride the train again.

Just wondering if anyone else out there has had a similar experience. Something that started out very scary, and ended up just being terribly embarrassing.

Glad you were okay!

Completely different situation, but also a scary “passed out” moment:

A few years ago, when my son was 7 or 8, we were at the fair and he decided to ride one of those rides where there’s a ring of seats around a tall pole and you drop at high speed with his cousin.

I was filming him, and he seemed to be having fun, but when they reached the bottom, he slumped over and was non-responsive. Scared the living shit out of me – I ran over to him to unstrap him, and he slowly woke up and was fine in a minute or so.

Something made him pass out during the drop – he wasn’t really scared, so I’m guessing just something to do with the g-forces. But for a half-minute or so I was convinced I’d just killed him by letting him going on that ride, and he’d had a heart attack, aneurysm, or something. Scariest moment I’ve had as a parent.

Same thing as what happened to Scott, neurocardiogenic syncope. Your body has a nervous response to increase blood pressure when it senses you changing position, such as rising from sitting to standing. Most of us feel it as a momentary light-headedness as our circulatory system catches up, but in some cases it doesn’t get the right message and the vagus nerve freaks out and shuts you down because something wrong is going on; Reboot!

Your son got the amusement park equivalent of the tilt table test, where you’re strapped in and slowly raised from prone to upright without any of the normal cues your body needs to trigger the response. His sudden transition to weightlessness flipped out his vagus nerve, which shut him down for a bit. I had a girlfriend once who had the same problem so I read up on it.

My own story is that when I was a child my parents were concerned that I might have some early form of cancer or some sort of massive growth; turns out it was just an enormous penis. BOOM!

howya like that JMJ?

Glad you’re okay Scott. Get some rest and take a few days off!

When I was 8 or 9 I was a groomsman at my Uncle’s wedding. During the absolutely fucking endless ceremony I started having a lower back spasm and the pain caused me to briefly pass out. Luckily I was pretty close to the pew and some people caught me and sat me down and nobody really noticed. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was scary, though. Just really painful.

Damn Scott, how are you feeling today? Any better? Glad you’re alright.

Glad your son was okay too, Denny. ;)

As for me, I dunno if this is passing out, but back east, I was driving back to PA from a job interview in CT, and was on the PA Turnpike. It was about 4 PM in the afternoon and I was about an hour away from my exit.

I swear, I blinked, and it was dark, my headlights were on, I was in a different lane, and I was an hour PAST my exit. This was maybe 100+ miles in total. There were also about 20 missed calls on my huge-ass cell phone (this was the late 90’s) from my girlfriend at the time wondering where the hell I was. I got off at the next exit and composed myself for a bit. I was freaking terrified, and to this day, I still have no idea what happened.

I laugh about it now, but at the time I was totally freaked out. I was pretty tired, and it was a fairly long drive, so I guess I went on some sort of weird auto-pilot.

Uh, I think I know where your obsession with space games came from, Brian.

You know that bit where they tell you not to exercise after you give blood? Yeah.

I got to the gymn with my wife and realized that I shouldn’t work out. So I stayed off the cardio equipment and did a bit of light lifting. …a very little bit…of very light lifting…I got up off the machines and walked over to where my wife was sat down and chatted a bit while she walked on the treadmill. I stood up and…the next thing I remember is me looking up at all these people gathered around staring down at me.

Other than a bad case of stupid, I was fine. As long as I stayed at that gymn, folks remembered. No big deal.

I had kind of a similar situation a few years back when I managed to catch H1N1. I didn’t know it at the time, of course, just that I felt really bad and had a fever. I stayed home from work one day and went to bed early. The next morning I woke up, had to go to the bathroom, and as I was standing over the toilet I apparently (I say because I have no memory of this) passed out cold. Freaked my wife out completely, she couldn’t bring me around so she called 911.

I woke up after a minute or two and told her I was fine, which of course you always do, don’t you? Still, the paramedics were on their way and when they showed up, insisted on taking my blood pressure from a lying, sitting and standing position - there’s a medical term for this, but I can’t remember now. Anyway, my lying down BP was ok, sitting a little lower, but my blood pressure dropped precipitously when I stood. They said they could not leave me in that condition so I got an ambulance ride to the ER!

Long story slightly less long, I got there and was told I likely had H1N1, they hooked up an IV saline drip and wait for me to rehydrate. Kind of funny, but they kept showing up asking me if I had to urinate, which would be the indicator that I was getting well and hydrated, but it took four bags before I had to go. I guess I must have looked like a raisin. Doctor told me I had been running a high fever for quite some time apparently, and if your fever is high enough for long enough, you can’t drink enough fluids to stay on top of dehydration.

Anyway I know what you mean, it’s scary and no fun. Stay home, man, and get some rest!

I had that happen in my early twenties. Twice in fact, after a hard night of drinking. I always wonder what would have happened if I had run out of gas (among other more serious things).

Hahahahha, yeah, that crossed my mind too.

Damn, you were drinking AND driving? :(

My story’s like Penny’s–when I was around fourteen my brother and I were the altar boys at our cousin’s wedding. It was a cool day, the radiators were on in the church, and we were wearing wool robes with shirts and ties on underneath. Sure enough, after about half an hour standing around flanking the priest, he and I got overheated and were this close to passing out. Lucky for us, somebody in the congregation caught our eye and got us to sit down before we fell over.

My other cousin (the bride’s brother) is a MD, and my mom said he was ready to leap over the altar rail and grab us if one of us started to wobble. Now that would have been a wedding story that would have had legs! Probably a good thing it didn’t happen, though.

Damn, you were drinking AND driving? :(

Actually I had been drinking and then went driving. That was over 35 years ago. I am sure it is something no other person can ever say they did. And no, I am not proud of those days.

I’m feeling pretty ok today but I’ll probably take an extra day off to finally nip this in the bud.

And honestly, I’d like to put off facing the people on the train for at least another day ; )

I went out with some friends to a strip club in San Diego when I was in the Navy. One of the WAVES from the base was stripping at this club. She was standing by our table, which was all Navy dudes from the base, and she had a great butt in a skimpy outfit. I was young and tipsy and decided I ought to discreetly touch her butt. Bad idea. She told me that was uncool, which it was. Then every dude at the table felt the need to tell me that I was a dick. I was utterly humiliated and not really sure what to do. My good friend John Shirley ordered a round of shots and that was the very last thing I remember about that night.

Next thing I knew, I saw that thousand pin pricks of white light thing Scott described above, but instead of passing out, I’m coming to, sitting on a public transit bus. All the dudes from the base were on the same bus with me and the sky was going from purple to dark blue. It was early morning, close to dawn. I tried to say something to the guy next to me, a dude from the base, and before I could say anything, he turned to me and said, “Fuck you,” and then he changed his seat. None of the other guys would look at me. For some reason, my throat hurt like a motherfucker. I couldn’t remember anything.

I found John Shirley and sat next to him. I didn’t want to tell him I couldn’t remember anything, so I casually said something like, “So. Some night, huh?” John was my good friend, so I knew I could count on him. He went, “Don’t even try it.” And I was like “Try what?”

He said we had just come from the San Diego police station. He said we’d spent the night in lock up. He said that I was loud and belligerent at the strip club. When the cops came, he said I got even louder. He said that one of the officer’s came close to drawing his weapon on me in the parking lot. I had one very brief memory that I think was from earlier that evening, but it was a confusing image because it was looking up at the policeman, like at car tire level, and the policeman was unsnapping the little strap on his weapon. And then John goes, “At one point, you were crawling around the parking lot like a crab, man.

I was like, “Ah. I see.” Fuck.

I told John about my throat hurting and he laughed. He said the cops told us they’d let us all go home as soon as I stopped yelling. John went, Dude, we could have been home hours ago.

Not sure if it was the scariest, but it has got to be the most embarrassing moment of my life. I have since read that if you’re feeling strong emotions and you drink heavily, you can have what’s called a “dissociative event.” I’ve also heard it called a blackout.

It really put me off drinking. :)

Holy CRAP. That’s…wow…

At least many of these episodes happened in public. The number one place we on the fire department find people who have vagaled out? Between the bathtub and the toilet. And that’s always not fun.

Yeah, that’s exactly where I passed out!

It’s really not anything to be super embarrassed about. Shit happens. I grayed out and went over onto my face at a military ceremony where we had to stand “at ease” for about 45 minutes in the Georgia sun…after a night of moderately hard drinking.

I mean, it’s embarrassing, but people are aware that passing out is something that can happen.

Tim, situations like that are what keep me from drinking at all. I just know with my luck something like that will happen to me.