Passed out in the ER tonight... and got summer job

Well, since I’m getting into the habit of making daily posts about my life–here’s the latest!
I fainted in the ER while I was volunteering tonight. I do NOT know how this happened! I was watching the nurse practitioner suture up a patient, and before that I got to help her get the surgical kit ready. Pretty cool!
So I was standing there watching, and it was really hot, and the lights were very bright, and I was trying to be really still and just pay attention–and then suddenly I started getting really light headed, and the next thing I knew, the same nurse was holding me up out in the hallway, and about two other people were helping me get onto a bed–one of the beds I had just made, of course, since that’s my main job there.
I’m not even squeamish. It didn’t SEEM like it had anything to do with watching the suturing, although everyone in the ER told me that this happens to everyone. Does it really? Boy was I embarrassed though.
The other news is that I got a summer chemistry research job I applied for awhile back. I’m pretty glad about that!
Tomorrow’s just going to be MCAT studying–I promise, no day to day updates on that.

Andrea, by any chance were you standing really straight, with your knees locked? According to my son in NROTC, they are warned that when standing at parade rest, they should have a little flex in the knees because locking them can cause you to faint. I asked anatomy and physiology profs if they knew why this would happen and no one has been able to come up with a satisfactory explanation but it DOES happen nonetheless.
The other thing would be those hot bright lights. They take some getting used to. And when had you last eaten a good solid meal with protein that would keep your blood sugar steady for some hours after eating?
It happens to LOTS of people so don’t fret. It probably won’t happen to you again.
Good luck on your MCAT studying! And way to go with the summer job - that sounds terrific.

Wow, so sorry to hear what happened to you. That sounds so awful. Well, they will remember you among all the countless volunteers they have.
I will agree with Mary. I was a rifle girl in high school. I passed out a few times for that very reason. Sometimes you don’t realize that your knees are very straight. Try to shift from foot to foot and try change positions of your legs when you are standing.
It also could be the fact that although you were thinking you were fine with the procedure, in fact you weren’t fine and it was affecting you without you even realizing it.
Good luck next time.

You know, maybe I did lock my knees? It’s totally possible. Next time I will pay attention to that. Thanks for the advice.
It wasn’t a bad experience–everyone around was nice to me and we just laughed about it afterwards. I just hope I don’t start fainting all over the place!
I hadn’t eaten much either, and I wasn’t feeling too great that night to begin with. So I’m not convinced it was just watching the procedure. But there’s NO WAY anyone in the ER will ever believe me on that Nope.

I am glad you are ok!


You know, maybe I did lock my knees?

“Did you lock your knees?” would have been the first question I would have asked you. It’s a common way to make yourself faint. The mechanisms by which this works were explained to me years ago and I do not remember all the specifics. However, I rarely let things like inadequate information or unsubstantiated sources stop me from posting.
On a website that I can’t remember, I found information from an unknown source that said: “the venous pressure in the feet of someone walking is of the order of 25 mmHg (3.3kPa), whereas in the feet of an individual standing absolutely still it is of the order of 90 mmHg (12kPa).”
The much higher pressure in the feet of the standing person indicates a shift in blood volume to the legs. This shift in blood volume in turn causes a decrease in thoracic venous pressure, which leads to a fall in right ventricular pressure, which leads to . . . and then, and then a decline in left stroke volume. Incidentally, cardiac output has decreased and your brain, getting less blood than necessary, is starved for oxygen. Knowing that you’re storing all the blood in your feet, your brain shuts down just long enough to knock you horizontal. Being horizontal, there is little hydrostatic pressure difference between your heart and your feet. A couple of heart beats later, your brain, having plundered those distal blood stores, wakes you, but makes you really wary about standing up right again.

So now I’m thinking…‘Hmm, what an interesting way to get yourself known around the hospital.’ Your fellow ER peeps will now have a funny, memorable story to retell about you. Glad you are okay and congrats on the job.
– Rachel