If You’re Going To Faint, Do It In The ER

Oh Lord, have I got a ridiculously embarrassing story to share with you. See, I started volunteering at a hospital emergency room this week up in Seattle. As I’m applying to nursing fairly soon I wanted to get some actual experience in a medical setting and seeing the ER is packed with everyone from doctors to x-ray techs I figured that volunteering there would let me see how they all work together to take care of patients. Sounds like a good idea, right? Yeah, well, kind of.

My first shift was from eight to midnight this week, shadowing a guy who has been volunteering since forever ago. We were busy from the second I got there, making beds and making sure the rooms were stocked with supplies. An hour or so after I got there this lady came in with a monster cut on her hand that was going to need some stitches, and the doctor treating her invited me to observe the procedure. The patient was totally fine with me being there so I hovered behind the doc waiting for him to do his thing.

Let me pause here and fill you in on a little bit about moi. I really don’t have a problem when it comes to seeing blood. During college I was a bouncer at a super sketchy bar in Seattle and I saw way more than my fair share of bar-fight nastiness working there. One time, in the course of throwing an extremely unhappy drunk out of the bar I somehow managed to bend my finger back in such a way that the bone and ligament of my middle finger popped through the skin. It hurt like all get-out, but aside from that I was cool. I even stopped at Jack In the Box on the way to the hospital because, well, I was hungry, and we all know how long ER visits can last.

So anyways, back to the stitches. Everything is cool as I’m watching the doc clean the wound, taking mental notes on what he’s doing. But then, out comes the needle. Actually, it wasn’t really a needle. It looked more like a fish hook without the little barb on the end and some thread hanging off the back. He takes the needle, asks the lady if she’s ready, and then moves in for the first pass.

That’s when everything went black.

One second I’m watching this really cool procedure and the next I’m on my back staring into the eyes of a half dozen freaked-out nurses. Next thing I know I’m in a neck brace and I’ve gone from ER volunteer to ER patient. Take a guess at how awesome that feeling was.

From that point I half-expected the ER staff to take turns pointing and laughing at me, but things went quite a bit better than that. Over the next couple of hours just about every nurse, PA, and doctor stopped by my room to share their own when-I-passed-out stories. Hearing them share their experiences lessened the sting of my own shenanigans and made me feel like a little less of a baby-boy-biatch. They told me what to do when you feel a bit woozy, and suggested that next time I observed a procedure I might try to do it sitting down so as to make the fall considerably shorter if I did pass out.

So yeah, that’s the story of how a 6’6″, 250 pound man passed out when he saw a needle. Hopefully I won’t have another incident next week — because I am definitely going back next week — but if there is you’ll be the first to know.


11 thoughts on “If You’re Going To Faint, Do It In The ER

  1. is it bad that I giggle a little reading this? No, seriously, of course they all had to share their own fainting stories, if they didn’t have them I’d think hospitals were made up of psychopaths! We’re human, you’re human, and this is a good way to pass out I agree, in full sight of people who know exactly what to do.

  2. Oh no! Hopefully next time you’ll be all set to watch the stitches. On the bright side, you probably really distracted the lady getting the stitches from the pain. What a good volunteer!

    Maybe you should watch some birthing videos so you’re all set when your wife goes into labor =)

  3. I wonder what the evolutionary purpose of fainting is? It doesn’t seem as if it would be very useful, as a survival technique. Maybe your body assumed that the staff would think you were dead and let you out of work early.

    • Oh man, I laughed so hard at this. Honestly, I looked into that very thing and found the best explanation — or at least the most badass sounding explanation — was of fainting as a mechanism to survive battle. If you pass out and look dead then the enemy is less likely to kill you, or something like that. Of course, if your side is likely pass out during combat I don’t feel like you’d be winning too many wars.

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