Vaso-Vagal Discussion

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Vaso Vagal Syndrome

From: Shawn Hare


I've just experienced my third bout with this so-called Vaso Vagal Syndrome.

The first time it happened, I was at work, I'd not eaten breakfast, nor lunch (yet), and I'd just finished with a very stressful situation with a customer. I was smoking a cigarette and chatting with the boss (by the way, that was the last ciggy I ever smoked), when all of a sudden, I felt a wave of nausea. I went to my desk and sat down, lowered my head to try and calm down, and that was it. The next thing is me coming to on the floor.

The employees described me as shaking and making a grunting sound. Somehow I'd developed petequia (small burst blood vessels) all over my face, so badly that the examining doctor at the ER kept asking me who beat me up. He just couldn't seem to grasp that someone could look like that without having been in a rumble. The icing on the cake, so to speak, was my eyes. You know how on monster movies, werewolves have the totally red eyes? Well, that's what mine looked like. We're not just talking some heavy duty reddening, I mean it looked like my whites were reds! I had a little fun with them on the way home, in the elevator, with a lady that was riding down to the first floor with us. I said "Hey, want to see something scary"? She said "Okay". I turned up to look at her with my werewolf eyes, and she backed off with a gasp. But enough of that silly stuff.

So I underwent an MRI, CT, EEG, EKG, etc, along with a cardio stress test, and wearing heart monitor for a couple weeks. Nothing. Nothing wrong with the brain, and nothing wrong with the heart.

A few weeks later, I'm back at work, and I get a case of heartburn that just won't go away. I mention it to one of the employees just as a bit of passing conversation. This was an older fellow who'd beaten cancer through chemo, and he said that I'd better go and get that checked out. So I took my lunch break to go to the doctor's office (instead of eating lunch). The nurse, for some odd reason, decides to take a blood sample from the top of my hand, which triggers a revulsion feeling in me, which possibly triggers the VVS. I black out and fling my hand (and blood) around the room. They hook a heart reading aparatus up to me and the report was that my heart rate went down to around 30. I already have low blood pressure, usually somewhere around 101/74, but that's really low!

Above I said "possibly triggers the VVS", because from what I remember, the way I "returned" was different from the first time in the store and this last time. This second time, in the hospital was more of a return via "phasing" back in. There didn't seem to be a huge interrupt in time nor a disturbing sense of whirling as it was the first and this last time, which I'll describe now.

This most recent time, it began Saturday night, after an outdoor "oldies" concert with the Fifth Dimension and The Temptations (the former were not so good, and the latter were rather good, though quite corny), I start noticing an ache in the lower left portion of my back. It gets worse as we keep walking a couple blocks to get to the car to go home. Halfway there, it's all I can do to keep from crying out, but I make it to the car. My wife takes me to the ER (Miriam Hospital in RI) where a CT scan is done and it is discovered that I am about to pass a kidney stone. So we're there until 3:30 AM.

I am the only deacon (presently) at our church, and it is my resonsiblity to set up the communion table. So I got up the next morning and set up communion, but I was simply too exhausted to attend church services. So I left immediately for home. I ate some breakfast and went back to sleep.

Around 2-ish, I wake up and my wife and I go to a Chinese restaruant for lunch. I eat a bowl of hot and sour soup, and am about a third through my orange beef when a sudden rush of heat and nausea sweeps over me. I get up to go to the restroom, because I feel like I may vomit. I notice that it seems like a very long way to the restroom, but I make it there, close the bay door, and sit on the lid of the toilet seat with my head in my hands, trying to time it, as to when I should turn around to evacuate whatever it is in my stomach that needs to be removed into the toilet bowl.

That was my last thought. The next thing, I am coming to on the floor. A man named Spiro had seen me stumble forward from the toilet seat and hit the floor, and alerted the manager. My wife recalls that she saw them running to the restroom and knew immediately I must be in trouble.

Just like the first time, while I was "out" I was still aware of my "being". I felt as though I was at the bottom of a whilpool or drain. Images of my life are whipping round and round me, in sort of an abyss. I can hear my wife calling me "Honey! Honey!" amidst this very distubring, roaring, grunting sound. I latch on to her voice and basically claw my way out of the "hole". I can hear this disturbing grunting sound the whole time, which while I was in the "abyss" sounded quite terrifying, but which I learned after coming to, was the sound of my own breathing.

I learned after I got to the hospital that I'd lost continence just slightly. A small piece of caked feces was between my buttocks. But I'd not pissed on myself, nor had I vomitted. I did however, vomit after being brought to the ER (Miriam Hospital again), and I must say that Chinese food, when it comes up, smells worse than any other vomit I've ever ejected. I don't think I'll be eating with chopsticks for a long time. If I have the same kind of mental rejection as I did with cigarettes the first time, I may never eat Chinese food again. We'll see ...

So, as it is now I still have to see my PCP to get permission to drive. I also have to get another stupid heart monitor (I don't know why, especially when my heart's been ruled out) and take another cardio stress test in a few weeks. I took pictures of my face, to especially showcase my eyes. If anyone is interested in seeing what they look like after a Vaso Vagal Syndrome experience, just email me at

I still have to walk and move cautiously. I wonder why I don't get VVS when watching an aggravating Red Sox game?

Shawn Hare

This web site is not a substitute for a thorough medical evaluation and diagnosis of your vaso-vagal type symptoms.  Medical treatment and diagnosis is the only acceptable initial response to these serious symptoms since they might present from any number of life threatening and treatable illnesses. It is for you and your physician to rule out more serious illnesses; Please don't use this online forum as an alternative to getting responsible medical attention and being under the care of a physician for the duration of any unknown, suspected or dangerous vaso-vagal syndrome symptoms.
Last changed: June 22, 2007