I was a St. John First-aid member for the five years in my high school. I was always taught the proper way to do CPR, mouth-to-mouth, diagnose a casualty, proper way to take care of a fracture, etc… And I used to question myself, why does a fainted person require mouth to mouth? What happens when a person faints? Is he not able to breathe? Is his heart still working? Is his brain still functioning? What happens if first aid does not come to rescue fast enough? Will a fainted person just… die?
Well, never did I think that I would be experiencing the role of the victim instead of the saviour. For the first time in my life, I now know how it feels to be fainted, to have lost touch with the world, to have lost touch with myself.
It was the Raya holidays, and my family and I just came back from our trip to the Cameron Highlands. Trip was good, purely R&R and not much sightseeing. Anyway, we reached home early in the morning and decided to go out for breakfast. My mom ordered a few plates of fried noodles and 2 bowls of prawn noodles to share around. I was not feeling too hungry so I just took a few bites off my mom’s prawn noodles. Later in the afternoon, my mom got hit with diarrhea and vomiting. All of us suspected she got food poisoning… and main culprit was the prawn noodles. In the place where we stay, the prawn noodles’ soup was made with dried prawns and other awful smelling seafood paste. Well I say it is awful smelling because I’m not used to the strong prawn paste smell, but for those who love prawn noodles, they will find this smell tantalizing even. But it is definitely the kind of smell which would attract flies… hence, our strong suspicion went to the prawn noodles.
However, I, who had a few bites of my mom’s noodles, was still feeling ok in the afternoon. So I was not too convinced it was the noodles. Alas, I said it all too soon. I was indeed feeling well the whole day, that is, until night arrived. We went to a restaurant for dinner at about 8pm. All was well, until the first dish arrived. I suddenly felt a pang of sharp pain in my stomach. It lasted merely 10 seconds but the pain was all too strong to ignore. I made a mental note to take some medicine after dinner. All through dinner, I was normal again and then right after I swallowed the last bite of my rice, the pain attacked me again. But this time, it lasted more than 10 seconds. In fact, it was continuous to the point that I thought I must visit the washroom to relieve myself. The pain was so severe I could not walk straight, but I did not inform my family members so as not to get them unnecessarily worried.
Unfortunately, I was just making my way up the stairs (the toilets were located on the first floor of the restaurant), when I could not muster enough strength to withstand the pain, and had to squat down. After that, I blacked out. I was not aware of what was happening until later on, I faintly heard someone calling my name and nudging me to wake me up. It was my dad and Saucer. Saucer kept calling my name and asked me whether I hurt myself or not. He thought I slipped when I was climbing the stairs and hurt my legs. In the blur of my mind, I just did what he asked me to do and checked my legs. They looked fine to me. I was still spinning. Then it suddenly hit me again… the attack of sharp pain to my stomach. And I realised during that instance that I needed the washroom. Badly. So I dragged myself up, with the help of my dad and Saucer, to continue climbing up the stairs.
Halfway through the last flight of stairs, I collapsed again, but this time only for a few seconds. My two strong heroes were carrying me on each side, making sure I was able to stand and walk properly. With the last thread of strength that I had, while suffering the massive pain in my stomach, I pushed myself forward to the last few steps, and finally reached the toilet entrance. At this point of time, my head was so dizzy and I blacked out for the third time! The whole of my body just could not stand my weight, and I completely fell down on my behind and passed out. The events that followed were a total blur. Every few seconds or so, I opened my eyes and saw people around me. Then I felt myself being carried away from the washroom area. Blackness. Someone calling my name, I opened my eyes, but could not feel anything. Blackness again. I felt my body being placed on a chair. I felt that I lost one shoe. Where’s my Hush Puppies? Blackness again. I felt like I was dreaming, that I was in a deep sleep. I didn’t want to wake up. Someone bloody slapped me. And slapped me again. I heard my name being called for the umpteenth time. And then I woke up. I was still in the restaurant, but in the private area where there were no customers. My dad, grandma and Saucer were with me. My rescue team…
Dad’s look was very worried. I couldn’t believe the first words I uttered was, “Where is my shoe?”. Someone got back my shoe and I put it on my right foot. I tried to stand up but my head started to spin, so I sat down again. The waitresses came by to see me, and asked whether I needed an ambulance. I was shocked! Ambulance? No… It can’t be that bad, can it? I am fine, I am fine. I took a few minutes to gather enough strength. And the stomachache still wouldn’t leave me. I had to visit the washroom. Thankfully, this time I managed to reach to the toilet cube safely. And I spent more than 15 minutes in it – relieving myself and suffering the sharp pangs of pain every minute. When I thought it was over, I came out, my rescue team was still waiting outside for me, and I realized the pain was still there. I had to turn back for a second visit. Another 10 minutes passed by (it seemed like forever) and I was out for good. My legs were still weak, but I managed to walk. Barely, but still manageable. I had my rescue team supporting me anyway, I was really thankful for them.
My all-too-worried dad fetched me to the doctor. It was still the Raya holidays, and most of the clinics were closed. We managed to locate one at the end, just minutes before its closing time. Thank God. After checking my blood pressure, the doc said my reading was very slow… only 94 as opposed to a normal 120. Dad was worried again. Doc mentioned I needed to drink lots of water and lots of glucose to regain the normal blood pressure. I thought to myself, what? Drink SUGAR? Argh… My dad was out searching for glucose before I could respond.
The experience was all too real, too scary, extremely terrifying… Now I know how it feels like to be disconnected from the world, even for a mere few minutes. Blood flow to the brain is restricted. All five senses are numb. Body is cold. I cannot imagine what would have happened if I fainted when I was out alone, or in my room, where no one noticed. Would I have survived?