Booted off the Server of Life
Syncope is a transient loss of consciousness characterized by rapid onset, short duration, and spontaneous recovery. It is more commonly known as fainting, and is not a socially desirable thing to do. However, fainting is a legitimate medical condition that can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons. Still, this does little to make me feel any less embarrassed about the fact that I had the misfortune of fainting this weekend. Even worse, I fainted in public.
Many things can cause fainting; lack of glucose, loss of blood pressure, and shortages of oxygen are all common causes. It can be the sign of a serious problem, but is usually more embarrassing than it is dangerous. Such was the case for me. I didn’t faint from a heart attack or suffocation. It was just a busy weekend that created a perfect storm of stress, dehydration, and hunger that culminated in my momentary lapse in consciousness. It is ironic that I like to consider myself fairly intelligent, but how smart can a person be if they forget they need to drink water and eat food in order to function correctly?
Before fainting I started feeling profoundly sick, and knew I probably looked sickly to everyone around me. Then, knowing something was wrong, I focused all of my energy toward the simple act of not falling down in a crumpled heap on the floor. Fortunately, I managed to stay upright, but could not avoid the disorientation and momentary confusion associated with fainting. Everything disappeared in a white light. All sound was muffled and distant.
For several milliseconds, though it seemed like an eternity to me, I felt like I was in a different place. It was how I imagine an out-of-body experience would feel. Then I returned to my mortal vessel, to the sight of people’s concerned faces all around and their voices asking “Are you ok?” While I appreciated their concern, I did not like the attention.
I struggled for a long time to describe exactly what my fainting spell felt like. The best analogy I can come up with is, like many things in my life, related to technology. The human body is not much different from an organic machine, and like all machines, it is prone to fail at the most frustrating times. In the modern world, there is one machine that most shares this characteristic: the ever-troublesome Internet router.
If the world is like the Internet, then fainting is similar to being booted off the server. The sickness and disorientation prior to the actual faint were like the Internet lag that occurs just before your modem actually quits. Then it felt like I was forced to log off of reality, but was able to log right back in again without losing any precious data. I like this comparison, but it is somewhat disheartening to think my body is about as reliable as an Internet router. The only difference is that an Internet router has a convenient reset button, while the human body can apparently reset itself at any time and with little prior warning.
Fainting in public was probably one of the most embarrassing things to ever happen to me. But there was at least one good thing about the whole ordeal. At least if gave me something to write about.