What is Syncope and How can it be a Danger?


See that canvas belt? That’s to keep me from fainting onto the floor where I can’t get up without help as a paraplegic.


There are many horrifying symptoms and illnesses; unfortunately I seem to keep developing more and more of them with each visit to a specialist. I now have Syncope, also known as passing out but far more often than usual, and it’s one of those horrible health issues in life that can be life threatening if you fall in the wrong setting. You really have to be cautious just as with neuropathy in which you can get your foot caught in a blanket after a nap and feel nothing until you’re face first on a tile or wooden floor, syncope is harmful in quite a similar fashion.

I haven’t had much experience with fainting, it had only ever happened once at home and I had no explanation for why or how it happened. Since it didn’t occur again up until a few days ago I figured it was a one-time occurrence. Honestly I barely even recall it happening and we figured it was a non-issue. Clearly we were wrong as was proven last week when I fell flat on my face as I fainted in the lobby of the Gonda building whilst waiting for an appointment. Thankfully my mother and a strange man came to my aid, I wish I’d at least shook his hand or offered him some compensation, but I was far too confused and uncoordinated. I mean when I awoke from my unconscious state I couldn’t remember my name for a few second, where I was, what I was there for, who my own Mother was, and I can honestly say it was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I was out of breathe and looking around rapidly wondering what was going on until I slowly regained my memory and with that understood the situation. I thought to myself surely this won’t happen again, it was embarrassing and I’d made a scene in the waiting room which should be a quiet peaceful place!

It seems I jinxed myself ever since that first incident at the Mayo Clinic it has happened sporadically every few hours, minutes, or even seconds depending how much severe pain I am in. I am not talking about pain you take morphine or a Dilauded for, I’m talking about pain that simply cannot be dealt with. We just don’t have the drugs yet to control this level of suffering and if they do develop something I sure hope it isn’t addictive. That’s why I try to stay away from opiates and narcotics, not only do they come with a risk of addiction, they come with a almost sure risk of exacerbating a migraine or turning a mere shadow into a full blown cluster headache. When one is in enough pain to syncope from it at least in my case my one desire is to be put into a medically induced coma.

I sometimes stop breathing, so they did an EEG a test in which you wear what looks like a pilots cap with electrodes to monitor brain function. I must’ve passed out every minute or so, they were scared and called a doctor in. He said my brain function was normal so I was “good to go” which absolutely baffled me. Well excuse me but passing out every few minutes from pain is NOT ok, I wanted a solution or an explanation, I got neither as I’ve come to expect from doctors that’s why I meet the better ones through advocacy, the ones who truly care and want to learn. So I did what I do as an advocate a journalist I researched it and am chronicling my experiences with it. How else can one come to a solid and concise conclusion? It took a lot of reading on my part because I’ve seen Syncope, but never knew the medical term or experienced it myself.

If you haven’t experienced Syncope that’s a good sign it means whatever hellish pain your body is going through, you can physically tolerate it. Through my knowledge of how I feel and what I’ve read I have come to the conclusion that this seems to be my own body’s way of protecting itself from total failure, I could be wrong this is a hypothesis and though I have a lot of experience I am certainly not a medical professional. Therefore my sample size of 1 person and being biased towards my own feelings I cannot give a valid scientifically accurate answer as to why my passing out happened. Had I not fainted so many times lowering my heart rate, my heart rate would’ve continued to increase along with the blood pressure we’ve worked so hard to control. So maybe it is a good thing in some sense, it essentially helps me prevent my heart from stopping due to pain. If anyone here has experience with passing out with no notice beforehand then please let me know in the comments what you think about this. This is a sneaky surprise attack health issue and it can hit whenever the pain gets too intense, I can sense them now so I can grab someone’s hand or put down my drink before I pass out. To not know who or where you are for a few seconds though or why you’re there in th e first place is quite upsetting emotionally and once you regain that memory you feel like a burden and a complete fool.

Syncope is an extremely inconvenient problem to deal with I would never say it’s anything close to narcolepsy, which one of my good advocate friends suffers from, but it’s similar in some ways. For example since I am a paraplegic now I need to be strapped into my wheelchair because if I get a cluster and a migraine along with the spinal pain I’ve been suffering and herniated discs I pass out immediately I have no control my body goes limp. So you can clearly see how this might be a problem in the mayo clinic lobby with a granite floor and tiled bathrooms. I am just thankful I didn’t crack my head open and I am learning how to control it slowly and will reveal my methods to you all once I’ve gotten this under control myself. I don’t know if I’d call this a disease or illness but it certainly is a health issue and if you too suffer from it you could benefit from a visit to your primary care physician for a referral to a specialist or specialist(s).

Remember my friend’s collaborative care is the key to wellness and we all need to share our stories and request that collaborative care be made mandatory at all hospitals. As you can see by me leaving with 5 diagnoses and coming back with almost over 20, maybe more I haven’t counted all of them yet people miss things. It sucks I know but people are human and they make mistakes hopefully not detrimental to your health but if so we must make the best of the situation. Syncope and working to control it will be one of my main goals that’s why I haven’t written in 2 days due to pain and severe cases of syncope as I wrote this article. Thank you for reading and understanding now that I am back home I will be back to writing like a busy little bee! Thanks for reading and be sure to share my blog with all your spoonie and chronic illness friends I will share anyone’s story who wants to put it out there just email me for guest posting guidelines!

5 thoughts on “What is Syncope and How can it be a Danger?

  1. Michael .. so nice meeting you at the Mayo !! But I didn’t think you’d put the picture on here !!!! lolllllll
    Very interesting article. I got the diagnosis of ‘Reoccurring Migraines’ .. but they want me to try Botox.
    (Sigh ……) I was so hoping for something ‘magic’ ..and the headaches would be gone…. but guess that is what it is ….
    love, hugs, and best wishes !!!!!!!!

  2. HELLO MICHAEL !! A little progress note… after some discussions, more Dr visits, I got the prior authorization to get the Botox. So, had all the injections a week ago this Friday ( 10/2 ) and thus it’s been a week.(which is how long the Dr said it would be, before I saw any results) Still having the migraines, but I am hoping that they are easing off now. Today, Saturday, I went almost the whole day before I had anything. Oh, I hope!!!! I see the Dr again in 3 months, and will see what she says, The prior auth is good for a year.
    You are looking GREAT !!!!! am so glad to see that. Congrats on all that is going on in your life. HUGS my friend !!!!!!

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