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Out of sync08:46 PM -- Fri July 6, 2007

Not much work got done around here yesterday... because I was in the emergency room! It all started innocently enough:

Night before last, I got heartburn. So I spent the night sleeping in a chair, which I am wont to do when heartburned - keeps me vertical. But sleeping in a chair is not good for your back. When I woke up, I transferred to the bed for a few more hours of sleep, but it wasn't our regular bed, no sir. You see, the night before that, I woke up to find that I was frantically itching the back of my head. I couldn't stand it and got up. There were big swollen places on the back of my head. It turns out, our ant invasion had turned to the bedroom, and they had been crawling on us and biting our heads during the night. Sol got a few little flecks of red on her skin from them. Me, I got a giant golf-ball lump - I tend to react to bug bites. So, because of that, we had been sleeping in our guest room, where the bed is quite soft. So, going from the back-destroying chair to the back-destroying soft bed wasn't so great.

So I woke up and had my day. My neck was a little stiff and didn't want to turn too far to the right, but that's not so odd from such a night. But around noon, it got much worse and my whole shoulder started really hurting badly. I'm familiar with this, been there before, and just did a bunch of laying down. This was real bad though, worse than I can recall. But finally I was tired of laying down and wanted to go have a snack. So I got up, with assistance, and went to the kitchen. Things started getting really fuzzy there. The pain was making me light-headed. I sat down on a stool, and all the sound in the room started to fade away behind a constant buzz. Then it got weird.

You know that logo on movies that are licensed by Marvel Comics (Spiderman and such)? It's this rapid flipping of comic book pages which kind of fades out into the red word "Marvel". That's what happened. Only the comic book pages were all the different things I have been thinking about lately - Titan Tunnels ideas, the website update, WoW, the latest attempt at fencing our dogs, the book I'm reading, and tons more. Just flicking through them in instants, faster and faster. Then those flickering thoughts and images faded out behind a solid constant reality. I was now laying sideways on the floor, and the sound of my wife on the phone with 911 faded in. I was immediately able to move and talk, so she was very relieved. I got my first ambulance ride, dozens of sticky pads all over my body (heart monitoring things), a tasty IV (and a very dry mouth), some incredibly intense pain as it jostled my back, and then a lot of heavy drugs in the ER.

That's what they call a "syncopal episode", which is just a very fancy way to say "fainting". In the end, the diagnosis was that I had just plain fainted from the pain. I would've been fine if I hadn't been upright, as the faint is caused by your blood vessels dilating, thus blood pressure lowering too much to keep your brain oxygenated. Laying down, that wouldn't be an issue. Things I was told later about what had happened were that my lips had turned completely blue and I wasn't breathing (hence the urgent 911 call - I don't think a nice normal passing out with breathing would've warranted such action), and that as I was waking up, I had some kind of little seizure where I was twitching all over. I'm pretty sure that was when my mind was flickering through all those thoughts out of control. The doctor told us about how your brain needs to reset itself after events like this, and that is a really apt way to describe what I saw. I watched my brain's boot-up sequence live.

It was scary, but honestly, it makes me feel more secure about myself in a way. I mean, on the one hand, it's really scary that my brain can just switch off in a matter of seconds. I am definitely going to be very cautious any time I ever get light-headed from now on. I don't like that part. But on the other hand, the idea that my brain can stop functioning, and then will restore itself to plerzfect working order with no eRROR ERROR is quite nice, guv'nor beanpole. I don't think it's damaged any (I only lacked oxygen for a few seconds), and I didn't even lose any noticeable amount of memory. Still, it's so strange to have a discontinuous memory - in one instant, I was on the chair, my next memory is sideways on the floor. And by the way, my wife caught me and put me down there, I didn't fall and get thwacked.

Our brains really are computers. As an added bonus, they can self-repair to an extent. The only thing computers have over them is that you can shut off a computer for as long as you like, and it will work when you turn it on again. It's a shame that brains die when left off. Remember to always just put your brain in sleep mode rather than a full shutdown. Oh, plus there are no good games available for brains.

So this has been an incredibly strange and pretty scary experience that I'll never forget as long as my brain remains functioning. I certainly won't forget the little spying I got into how much Solee really loves me, in the moments before she knew I was awake. That's another nice thing to take away from it. And best of all, it got me some nice muscle relaxants and Vicodin for the back. I'm not taking the Vicodin though - the pain's not so bad now that I am willing to risk nausea, my least favorite sensation. Although I just had such a big lunch I'm experiencing it anyway. Urk.
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