My friend Kay Ace got a ride in a diesel truck with a siren last night. She doesn’t remember too much of it.
The “episode” started at a meeting in Milton, Vermont. She says she felt queasy, asked for a chair, sat down, and still felt upset of tummy and clammy. Passed out. She woke up in an ambulance on the way to the hospital in Burlington. She said she was still woozy for her first hour in the ER.
Dx: Vasovagal Syncope
That’s the common big Latin word most doctors use to describe fainting. A faint is a brief loss of consciousness caused by a sudden drop in your heart rate and blood pressure, which reduces blood flow to your brain.
“A fainting spell?” her friend Rufus asked. “And these are real doctors? I’m surprised they didn’t diagnose her with the vapors. Sheez.”
Vasovagal syncope is usually harmless and requires no treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic.
So, of course, Milton took her for a $700 ambulance ride to a $2,000 trauma center where they performed a $900 EKG and (maybe) a few $65 dollar blood tests. All for something a $1.99 bottle of smelling salts would have fixed as little as 20 years ago.
“More like 45-50 years ago,” Rufus said.
We still had smelling salts around the house as recently as the 90s; certainly until 1990 because my grandfather was still alive then. For anyone of that generation as well as many of our parents age, it was just something you had in the medicine chest.
“And you took someone to the hospital if they needed it… in your own car,” he added.
Sure, although an ambulance (and the state police) came when that same grandfather cut his foot halfway off at the ankle with the spinning Gravely flywheel. That was in 1958 or so. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure my mom drove my dad in when he cut his fingers off. Both times.
Smelling salts not required either time.
Kay fainted. No one is worried that it might happen again. People faint occasionally and it’s not often a sign of any underlying problem. The over-reaction to her fainting will happen again because that is a sign of any underlying problem.
Kay is still just fine, by the way, although her wallet lost some weight.
I guess they’re not $1.99 anymore.
Some at-risk groups, such as pregnant women, are
currently advised to keep smelling salts close to hand.