Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Vasovagal Lifestyle

A friend of ours requested I tell this story. It's actually interesting that she brought it up, because since my accident I'm no longer as susceptible to these episodes.

In college, just after Brooke and I started dating, I found out I was capable of having something called a vasovagal episode. My Dad calls it by a different name. I'm pretty sure he's not using the medical term.

The way we found out started with lunch one afternoon with some guys from my fraternity house. One of them, probably Andy, says to me, "woah, Tony, have you seen your neck?" No, of course not. It's after 1PM. I just woke up and haven't looked in the mirror all day.

I put my hand up to my neck to see what everyone was so wide-eyed and laughing about.

I had a golf ball embedded in the right side of my neck. Just under my skin, there was an object no smaller than a golf ball. In my neck.

I take off. The guys, of course, are still laughing like crazy. My parents schedule a doctor's appointment. When I show up, he says it's an enlarged lymph node. He tells me I'll need blood work done to ensure it isn't lymphoma.

Oh, by the way, I'm a hypochondriac. I've just been diagnosed with lymphoma.

I go back to some area and sit down for my blood work. A young looking nurse comes in and gives it a shot. Then I hear her mumble, "uh oh." She'd hit the vein in my right arm, but there was a slight malfunction with the blood collection device. I was left with water gun squirts of blood erupting from my arm.

Some time is spent getting that mess under control. Then she goes in for the left arm. Again, something goes wrong and I end up doing more incredible bleeding.

So let's quickly summarize things up until this point. I've had lot's of blood drawn from each arm. None of it has made it into any kind of container or lab collection tube. Effectively, we're still sitting at the starting line with much less blood.

The nurse is kicked off of the team. In comes an old, mean looking woman. You can tell she's a cold and calculating, but seasoned blood taker. On her first attempt, she pops me on the inside of my right elbow. That's the most sensitive place to remove blood. But hey, blood is finally drawn into a container! Just very painfully.

Moments later, all of the nurses and staff in the room start to look at me as if there's something very wrong. I'm getting a lot of, "are you okay?" and, "do you need to lay down?" I felt just fine. I didn't feel nauseous. I was glad the whole ordeal was finally over.

Suddently, I go deaf.

Then, it's Looney Tunes! For those of you that have never fainted, this is pretty much what your field of vision looks like before "That's all, folks!"

When I finally came to, I'm unable to speak. I'm on the floor with my butt awkwardly up in the air, and all of these nurses are trying to help me up back into the chair.

Now there's something bad happening in my stomach. Real bad.

I can't talk! How can I communicate my need for some type of collection system? So I muster up all of my energy and power to utter one word. It had to be a simple word that would explain to my unsuspecting nurses the transaction I was about to make.


They read me loud and clear. Immediately, the nurses move into action. A trash can appears in front of me. I perform my transaction.

And that's how I found out I didn't have lymphoma.

What I just described is a vasovagal reaction. My triggers are getting my blood drawn and getting stabbed with needles.

Since February 13th, it seems I've started to develop an immunity to these episodes. I've been stabbed with hundreds of needles and my blood has been drawn several times.

While I was in the Breckenridge Clinic, the ER, the hospital, anytime someone warned me I was about to be stuck with a needle to start an IV, I was Gung-ho! It meant they were installing a freeway for pain medicine to reach my ankle.

And with the Lovenox shots, I discovered I didn't really care anymore about getting stuck with needles if the whole point was to reduce my risks of blood clots and death.

Hopefully I'll continue to have fewer episodes. I just wish I could have developed the same results without going through the process of apple saucing my ankle.


  1. It wasn't me. I probably would have taken a hack at it with a golf club.

  2. All right Tony's Dad, we're counting on you. What do you call it, and how should it be referred to from here on?

  3. Look, Dad. Don't succumb to the silly demands and wants of my childish co-workers (I'm not positive this is a co-worker, but it really smells like it). I'm sometimes with these people more than I'm with Brooke. Honestly, they scare me. They're bullies. You don't want to encourage their behavior, do you?

  4. Tony, Tony, Tony. Honestly I can't believe your afraid of a such a fine group of people. They care about you.They want to see you get well. But because I want your recovery to be stress free I won't tell them I called you a (classified). I will tell them that you have "cowboy upped" after this accident. Love ya Boy, Dad