What Happens in Vagus

Sunny Frazier 5Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today with thoughts of finding joy in life, in the little things.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.

sunny69@comcast.net   //  http://www.sunnyfrazier.com

No, I didn’t spell that wrong. While a lot can happen in Vegas, I want to talk about a nerve you never knew you had in your body. But first, I want to tell you how I got acquainted with mine.

I was at a friend’s house and just finished lunch. I went to use the bathroom. All of a sudden I got unbearably hot. Not menopause hot. I inexplicably started tearing off my clothes. I was sweating and anything against my body felt awful. After awhile, my friend came to check on me. I asked if she had a very loose garment I could wear. She gave me a duster. I managed to make it to the couch and just lay there until I had the strength to get up and get dressed.

Months later, on my birthday, I was at the same friend’s house having ice cream and cake. My sister was there and (important to the story) she happens to be a critical care nurse. Again, I left to use the restroom. All of a sudden I was throwing up. I felt weak. The pristine bathroom tiles looked inviting. I lowered myself to the floor and experienced bliss.

Eventually, I was missed and they came looking for me. I couldn’t open the door and I wouldn’t get off the floor. When I was able to sit up, I opened the door a bit. They tried luring me to the bed, which seemed far too high. No, I was very happy right where I was.

That’s when my sister told me about the Vagus Nerve. You see, she’d had a similar episode while at work in the hospital. She went from feeling okay to sliding down to the floor. And, like me, it was cool and inviting. She didn’t want to get up despite the worry of the other nurses.

Fools Rush In 2The Vagus Nerve is one of the longest nerves in the body. It goes from the brain stem to the heart and stomach. It regulates your involuntary nervous system and controls things like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, sweating and gag reflexes. If you faint at the sight of blood, blame it on your Vagus Nerve.

Although it’s unclear what triggered my episodes, I had all the symptoms: clammy skin, excessive sweating, pallor, nausea, drop in blood pressure and the urge to get flat on the floor. Oh, did I mention I asked for and ate toothpaste? I wanted something cool, minty and creamy in my mouth and that seemed like the perfect treat. Fortunately, my friend had an unopened tube and didn’t think I was a complete idiot.

Apparently, being prone on the floor was the right move. Blood leaves the brain and fainting often occurs. I went down before I reached that stage. That gave my body a chance to get the blood flowing again and push the heart rate up.

What if this had happened in public? Often mistaken for a heart attack, that’s how paramedics would treat it. At a conference, I saw this happen to an author and I spent all night in the hospital emergency ward with her. People thought it was stage fright as she was supposed to sing in the talent show. She proved them wrong by belting out the song at the closing ceremony.

Sunny Frazier-Inappropriate-giving-water-after-fainting

Last week it happened to one of the techs at my dialysis clinic. It was diagnosed as an anxiety attack. I’m betting it was the Vagus Nerve.

So, now you know. Spread the word. What happens in Vagus shouldn’t stay in Vagus.


16 thoughts on “What Happens in Vagus

  1. Wow, Sunny, and quite amazing; you must have been terrified, too. Love your play on words.
    I recently finished A Snitch in Time, and LOVED it.


  2. Scary stuff, Sunny. I appreciate you sharing this with us, and I sincerely hope it never happens to me. I hope it never happens to you again. Is there a treatment for this that will keep it from happening again?


  3. Hi Sunny, glad your sister was there the second time it happened and could help you. It’s happened to me many times, and it’s a scary thing. I could feel my heart rate increasing as I read your story.


  4. Vagus syndrome also happens when you sit up after dental surgery, or any surgery for that matter. Learned with when daughter has a cyst removed. I had it after my first child was born. No clue what it was then though.


  5. Holy cow. I did not know this. Now if it ever happens I’ll know what to do. I’m glad you are ok. Any kind of treatment out there for it?


    • Info is coming in from others who have experienced this. Ice on the back of the neck is a suggestion and lying down with legs up is another.


  6. Happened to me right after upchucking, 2 middle-of-the-nights in a row a few hours after I’d indulged in too large a nightly ‘snack’ while reading in bed. Passed out cold, very suddenly. Both times hit my head, once on the bathtub, once next to my bed with my face and arm half in and half out of the large bowl I’d placed next to the bed ‘just in case.’ My arm, having been caught on the edge of the bowl when I landed on top of it, was banged up for days; my head was also bruised from each time I passed out. Because I had no awareness at all of passing out so quickly, my equally sudden coming to each time was , uh, welcome, of course, after the fact, but startling each time, because if I had not come to…well, you can fill in the blank. Needless to stay I stopped overeating before bedtime, but it took me two times in succession before I caught on and learned about the vagus nerve. Scary! (posted by Chris Roerden)


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