Vaso-Vagal Discussion

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10 years later, and I'm still okay



Hello, I am a healthy (except for this "hypervagatonia with vaso-vagal syncope") 24-1/2 year old. My first episode was when I was in the 3rd grade and 8 years old. My teacher actually got made at me for fainting in class - she thought that I was playing a trick on her because I laughed while I had the seizure, but honestly, what 8 year old is going to wet their pants on purpose? After a visit to our local ER, my parents took me to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City and I underwent numerous tests. Nothing was found - they told me that my heart "skipped a beat". My second episode was June of 1996 (I was 2 months shy of being 15), I had just finished the track season (I ran Cross-Country in the fall and the 800 meter, 1 mile and 2 mile in the spring). I had been reading an aritlce about female circumcision in the newspaper (and was currently on my menstrual cycle). My mom was in the other room, and as I was about 1/2 through the article I said, "Mom, I don't feel good." By the time she got to me in the kitchen I had already passed out, my back arched, my eyes rolled-back and my skin a waxy yellow color. Again, another trip to the local ER. The Dr. there told me that I just "fainted" because I was emotionally upset. End of October of the same year, my family was in Salt Lake City visiting family. The day before my high school team had placed for the state cross country meet and I was going to go to state for my 2nd year in a row. I had felt nausea on the way to SLC from Idaho Falls, and so when we stopped at the rest stop in Brigham City I finally decided to go to the restroom. Just as I was within 10 yards of the restroom, I had my 3rd episode and landed on the cement walk way. Luckily my head turned during the fall and I didn't break my nose, only a massive "cement-burn" on the side of my forehead. 5 hours later I was asleep on my grandpa's sofa. He and my dad were just 5 feet away from me when I woke up to throw-up and instead had a "seizure." The next day, a few of my concerned aunts called my grandma's cousin who is a retired Ear, Nose and Throat specialist in SLC. They told him that I had had 2 seizures within 5 hours of each other and he said, "If she's had 2 seizures within 24 hours she needs to be seen!" So he personally called LDS Hospital ER and made an appointment. We went and they did all the usual blood tests (to see if I was pregnant or on drugs), did a CT-scan, EKG and nothing out of the usual. But they did make two appointments the next day - AM - cardiology, PM - neurology. Luckily, when we went to cardiology the next morning, I passed out within 5 minutes after they started the tilt-table test on me - so I didn't have to go to neurology. When the doctor came in after I had recovered from the induced seizure, he asked me if I was an athlete. I said, "yes" and then he said that they had to "de-condition" me because I was in too good of shape. I could run 3 times a week for no more than 30 minutes each time and I couldn't competitively run. They also told me that I needed to eat anything with salt in it, pizza, french fries, etc after prescribing the beta blocker, Toprol for me. A year later the doctor at LDS hospital accepted a new job in Philadelphia so I was referred to another wonderful physician, who actually is a pediatric cardiologist. I've been seeing her about once a year for the last 9 years. She was the one who told me to take salt tablets (since I never was a great fan of salting my food). After 5 years on the beta blocker I was weaned and have just been taking the salt tablets. I did not have another "episode until May of 2005 when I had gone about 6 months WITHOUT taking my salt tablet everyday and experienced a migraine. We were in Clovis, CA (near Fresno), for my husband's business trip. I had gone to bed in the afternoon to try to sleep off the migraine and the next thing I knew I had come out of the seizure. Even though it had been 8 years since my last seizure, you never do forget the feelings of going into or coming out of your seizure. I had told my husband of my condition before we were married, but I never expected to have one again since I had it "under control". He was visibly worried when I called to him and told him that I had just had a seizure, becuase he got to see my lovely, yellow, post-seizure complexion. That night he went out and drove around to different pharmacies in Clovis until he found the $7.00 bottle of Thermotabs salt tablets (not all pharmacies carry them and you have to ask the pharmacist at the counter for them even though they are not a prescribed product). I have not missed a day taking my salt tablet since then. Do not EVER get comfortable if it has been a while since you last had a seizure. Stick to what your doctor tells you until he/she tells you otherwise. Another lesson learned is that if you have health-insurance, do whatever you can to keep it! I had just gotten my own health insurance 3 months before my seizure and I know the only reason they took me is because it had been over 7 years since my last episode. My husband and I recently tried to change insurance companies and they would not take me because of my "seizures". So even though our insurance isn't the best, it's better than not being insured. This condition can be a pain at times, but you can do things to cope with it. Just remember to ALWAYS do what your cardiologists tells you to do. Also, there are some inexpensive medications that your doctor can prescribe if you feel like a seizure is coming on. My doctor prescribed Hyoscamine for me and I'm supposed to dissolve one or two under my tongue whenever I feel a seizure coming one. I've done this about 6 times and I know I have avoided a seizure. The only warning to this is that if you take it and you don't have a seizure coming on, it will give you a massive headache the rest of the day. I've never had the headache, but that's what my doctor told me will happen. I asked her when I saw her in June how this condition might affect future pregnancies and deliveries and she told me that my blood pressure should actually be higher when I'm pregnant and that I can still take my salt tablets everyday, I just won't be able to take the Hyoscamine since there is no research on what it could do to an embryo or fetus (and I don't want to be the parent to find out!). She said that I could have a seizure during labor due to the extreme pain, but as long as my OB/GYN knew about my condition (and she will gladly forward a copy of my files), and could prepare for me having a seizure during delivery, then I should be fine. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is hope for a normal life and that this condition does not need to paralyze us! Feel free to e-mail me at if you need any sort of emotional support dealing with this condition. I'm here to help!

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