If you know me well, I like to make situations more exciting by occasionally passing out in dramatic fashion for a variety of reasons.
First example: Shots
Up until 2011, I had consistently fainted every time I had gotten a shot. I am not afraid of shots but for whatever reason my body doesn’t like to be poked. There was no fighting it, I knew my fate when I went in to the doctor’s for any type of shot.
My first experience NOT fainting was my vaccinations for this year of travel. I owe that solely to my favorite nurse at Northwestern Travel Medicine in Chicago. She was amazing!
Another example: Josh’s Shoulder Surgery
Josh had shoulder surgery 8 years ago. I went to the hospital after he was finished and we were in a very small room while the doctor explained what the surgery entailed. It was arthroscopic, so there was not really mention of cutting or blood or anything of the sort.
For whatever reason in the middle of the explanation, I fainted… (Josh’s dad managed to catch me…) and I was wheeled out next to Josh in a wheelchair. (I always try to steal his thunder.)
The ultimate example: My Wedding
In my defense, my dress was tied up entirely too tight (thank you bestest friend for making sure it didn’t fall off me!) and it was insanely hot in June to have an outdoor wedding. Everyone was crazy sweating that day!
We were standing there, Josh, our pastor, and I all watching the sweat drip off each other’s noses, and I started repeatedly squeezing Josh’s hand. I could tell I was going to faint, but not with enough time to say anything. He turned and saw that I wasn’t right and put his arms around me right as my knees went out from under me. I fell into a billowy cloud of white wedding dress. Luckily, Josh was able to break my fall. (Those Eaton men just like to catch me!)
After I came to, and we tried to start the ceremony again, just as I was putting the ring on Josh’s finger, I fainted. Again. That’s right. I fainted twice, at my own wedding. Thank you to all of my guy friends who insisted, “That was the most exciting wedding I have ever been to!” Glad to bring my A-game! It’s definitely a good story to calm down the brides I’ve worked with at BubblyBride.
So back to Ecuador and their buses…and why I fainted.
We took an 8 hour bus trip from Cuenca to Baños. We had woken up late and rushed through breakfast and then quickly grabbed the front two seats on a full bus through the mountains.
Possibility #1: The bus was REALLY hot
I have been on many bus trips that have broken down and fully understand why the air con can’t be on while you are hauling up and down mountainous hills. The inside of the bus was hot and sweaty, even though it was fairly cool outside and we didn’t realize until too late that we could open the windows.
Possibility #2: Dehydration
Whenever we get on long bus rides I am always hesitant to drink a lot of water. I typically drink 3+ liters a day, but in fear of having to pee in the middle of the mountains I hardly drank anything. It didn’t help that NO ONE ELSE ON THE BUS EVER WENT TO THE BATHROOM! There were no bathroom stops, and I still have no idea how everyone else did it. My body doesn’t like me when I deprive it of water so this could be another reason.
Possibility #3: We were listening to This American Life
Usually This American Life doesn’t make me faint. This time it was a detailed story about a young girl getting violently attacked by a shark and what was happening to her body hours later. (I’m not sure how it ended, I fainted in the middle and haven’t finished it yet.)
Remember my past history with anything medical related?
So at this point I asked Josh if we could turn off the podcast (he was pretty queasy at this point too) and mentioned I think I might faint. I closed my eyes for a few seconds, and when I opened them, Josh, the bus drivers and everyone around us was looking at me. What happened?
I obviously don’t remember much so here’s Josh’s recap of the story:
I was also kind of grossed out by what we were listening to, and it didn’t help that I was hot and uncomfortable on the bus. Care asked to turn off the podcast, saying she might faint. I reached to give her some water, and just like that, she was gone. Her eyes were flittering (just like they did at our wedding) and she stopped responding. It was like she had gone to sleep, but I couldn’t wake her up.
At this point, I was just shy of ABSOLUTELY F$#%^&* TERRIFIED. Yes, she has done this many times in the past but it’s always been A) surrounded by friends and family or B) in a doctor’s office. Probably the two best places to pass out! She’s never passed out on a crappy bus in the middle of nowhere Ecuador, 2 hours into an 8 hour trip, surrounded by locals who only hablan español.
We were already really paranoid, as we hadn’t heard the safest things about Ecuadorian buses, and spent the whole trip with our bags on our laps, not talking to anyone around us. Now my wife is passed out in the seat next to me, while we’re speeding uphill. I try to wake her, and nothing works.
I start to freak out.
I knock on the door to the driver’s area, and try my best to explain what’s happening. I figure if I can’t wake her on my own we should stop the bus. I rack my pre-school spanish brain for something useful to say. “Está enferma!” and point to Care. (She’s sick) Then I try my best to mime what it looks like passing out. I stare right at one of the drivers, and then drop my head and arms to try to appear passed out. (yes, I looked as ridiculous as it sounds)
I tried twice, and they didn’t really get it. I said “¿Puede parada el bus?” which I know isn’t correct, but was my way of asking can you stop the bus? (We stopped every five minutes anyways, so who cares if we stop again)
The bus stopped, and the driver gestured for us to get out. I think he thought I was trying to say that she was going to be sick, and was going to throw up. I tried again to get her to wake up, and no dice. The ladies around us noticed and were trying to help, but I could’t understand what they were saying. Something about frío (cold) and another lady offered us some peanut brittle type candy.
I tried again to wake her up, and she slowly started to come to. When her eyes finally focused, she looked at me, and then around, and asked why the bus was stopped. I told her what happened, and gave her the candy (which she said was disgusting) and some water. The bus driver is still motioning for us to get off, while Care groggily wakes up and says she’s OK.
I turn to the driver and, forgetting everything else possible to say, just motion forward and say “continuar!” (to continue) and they shut the door, and drive off like nothing happened. I still think that they thought she was going to throw up and that I stopped the bus for nothing, but I was just relieved she was back.
As for how it happened, my guess is that it was a combination of possibilities 1, 2 and 3. A perfect storm of conditions for my wife. I got her to drink as much water as she would agree to, and we bought ice cream (for fun) and chocolate (for sugar) from one of the many vendors who would hop on the bus at every 5 minute stop. Besides a killer headache the rest of the day, she was fine, and we made it to Baños without any other medical emergencies. As you can probably imagine, there’s never a dull moment being married to Caroline!