Syncope (via Vasovagal Response). That is medical terminology for fainting, passing out. I learned the term at a doctor’s office because it happened to me recently. I was brushing my teeth Monday morning and became suddenly very dizzy, waited for the spinning to subside and instead blacked out and fell over into the bathtub. Screamed for my life, naturally, and my son and significant other came running. Syncope also means that the loss of consciousness is immediately followed by the regaining of consciousness, which happened also. I was on top of the fallen shower curtain and rod with my knees bent over the edge of the tub and my feet dangling out on to the floor as if I had just sat in there for an abrupt bath. An extraordinarily tall woman in a small bathroom did not have far to go. S.O. brought a sheet and wanted to make some kind of harness to lift me out. I am about seven inches taller than he is and a percentage of body mass (an undisclosed percentage) larger, so it worked better for me to turn myself around onto all fours and climb out. My son, chivalrous like his father, had come in to bring me a pillow.
The first doctor I went to told me that ninety percent of patients with these experiences will not know why. The second, a cardiologist, told me it seemed benign and that some people are prone to this. That said, I have some ideas about what happened.
I think I needed to leave for a second, escape some pain. I bypassed even my consciousness, to become unconscious, to step back for a minute. I grew tired of the incessant mind chatter of late, telling me I am not enough. Some not thin enough, not young enough, interesting or spiritual or successful enough. The worst is the not “Mom” enough onslaught. There are always so many ways to convince yourself you are a bad mother, every mother knows.
Then there is the underneath part of all of that, the real pain. If I was not a bad mother, why did Susanna have to leave? If there is nothing obtrusively wrong with me, why did I have to lose one of my children? I returned from my second away without answers to these questions, but somehow different. Somehow in a state of surrender which softened me and cleared my head.
My wise, young son offered some insight later in the day as he reflected out loud. This was the day after Easter. “Last year”, he said, “we lost Susanna. This year, we had a fall”. I felt terrible for having scared him and added another rough history for the day. He seems to have forgotten that two years ago, the year before we lost Susanna, on the day after Easter, the four of us were in a car accident. No one was hurt and no one died, because that was not in our cards that day. I thought briefly about starting early to plan something safe and disaster proof for the Monday after Easter next year, but no matter what that might be, I will need to brush my teeth in the bathroom. Instead I need to follow the advice of Susanna’s music. Since the day she left, the music of five year old girls, the soundtrack from Frozen, frequently drifts through my mind. I will try to stand on my feet, but I need to Let it Go.