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Vaso-Vagal Discussion

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My vaso-vagal experiences

From: John
Date: 9/3/99
Time: 3:06:54 PM
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I'm a 46 year old male. My vaso-vagal experiences began in 7th grade and recurred every several years. The triggers always seemed to be a combination of digestive distress (flu, cramping, gas or just a large meal), social anxiety or panic (public speaking, on a first date, a medical exam, in a crowded theatre with no easy way out), pain or blood (office surgery, injury) and/or heat. I would get progressively more lightheaded and if I couldn't lie down would faint for a minute or so and wake up totally soaked with sweat. It would take at least 15 minutes to recover enough to get up. I passed out several times during medical exams, so I avoided seeing doctors for about 10 years.

Other peoples comments about Reynauds syndrome are interesting, because I have always had problems with cold hands during the winter. My fingers nearly freeze if I try to wear gloves, so I have to wear mittens.

My vaso-vagal symptoms became more frequent when I went through several years of problems with gastro-esophageal reflux and ulcer symptoms. I was in for a Holtman cardiac monitor and passed out just after the technician had connected it up. The tape showed a 9 second pause in the heartbeat. A pacemaker was implanted and for a while I took Atavan (a sedative) before situations which might trigger an episode. Interestingly, the Atavan seemed to stop the Reynauds symptoms. The vaso-vagal episodes occur less frequently now and I don't usually pass out completely anymore, just feel a little light-headed and need to sit down. I think the pace-maker has made me more confident that I won't pass out, which helps avoid a panic response, so the spells don't escalate into complete collapse. I avoid large or difficult to digest meals before social situations, I try to sit at the end of the aisle near the back in theaters, and dress lightly if it's going to be warm. And after having been through all this medical stuff, I don't get as anxious seeing a doctor anymore.


On Sabbatical!

When my office lease expired at the end of 2004, I decided to turn it into a "sabbatical" from my private practice. Many years ago, in my grandfather's 89th year of life, he told me, "John, it is important to smell the roses while you can still smell them." His life gave living a very good reputation. It is also true that the pursuit of that philosophy required my grandfather to to re-open his assay office/ore market in Wickenburg, Arizona as a 75-year-old because he had run a little short of retirement money. Thus, if blessed with his luck and health, I'll be back.. --jjh

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