by Kari Diane Pike
A couple of weeks ago I discovered a hidden talent. My devoted eternal companion regrets not recording the event. He claims I executed a faint that would make my corset-wearing Victorian grandmothers proud. What can I say? After nearly forty years, my man can still make me swoon.
It all started when I walked into his office to discuss our plans for the evening. I stepped through the door, took one look at the love of my life and the whole world started to spin. My heart skipped a beat or three, my peripheral vision disappeared, and everything started to turn gray.
"Doug, I think I'm going to pass out."
He swiveled his chair around to look at me. "What?"
"I...I..." All I remember after that is wanting to sit down before I fell to the floor. What seemed to me to be just a moment later, I woke up with Doug kneeling beside me and lifting my head. "I'm awake. I'm awake. I'm okay."
But I wasn't okay. When I sat up, my heart raced so fast I couldn't count the beats. I tried to get to my feet, but even with Doug's help, I couldn't move. The heat in my face and the pressure in my head made me think of one of those old Disney cartoons where steam comes out of the character's ears.
Doug tried to help me up again. I told him to leave me alone and run across the street to get help from our neighbor the nurse.
He let go of my arm and frowned at me. "I can't leave you here by yourself. What if you pass out again? I'm not going anywhere."
After another minute I caught my breath enough to stand up. "Honey, help me get to the bedroom so I can take my blood pressure. The reading will give us my heart rate." Except it didn't. My heart beat so fast the monitor couldn't read it. I closed my eyes and tried to visualize my heart slowing down, but it continued to race like a locomotive that lost its brakes on a downhill slope. Another minute passed. I tried to lie down, but I couldn't breathe in a prone position. I perched on the edge of the bed. Doug stood next to me and wrapped his arms around me.
I leaned my head against his side and tried to swallow the increasing tide of panic. "Doug. Call 911."
"Let's just get you in the car and take you to the E.R."
"No. If I pass out in the car, you won't be able to help me. If we call the paramedics and they have to transport me, they have the right equipment and know what to do."
Doug grabbed his cell phone and dialed 911.
"911. What is your emergency?"
Doug described our situation to the dispatcher. About the time he gave her our address, my heart rate returned to normal. Just like that - as if nothing had happened. The fire died down, the tracks leveled out, and my sweat covered body shivered in the chill that took place of the heat.
"Doug. Doug. Tell them never mind. I'm okay now. My heart is okay now."
Guess what. Once you call 911, they have to come check things out. There's no such thing as "just kidding" in that kind of situation. While Doug remained on the phone with dispatch, I reclined back onto the bed. I felt so silly when just a couple of minutes later six, not two or three, but SIX firemen came into the room. They looked like they had just stepped off the set of one of those Hallmark romance movies - you know- tall, buff, and ruggedly handsome. If I had been single and thirty years younger I might have been tempted to swoon again.
Anyway...when I started to sit up, those young men ordered me to stay down and asked Doug and I questions while they took my vitals: blood pressure, oxygen levels, heart rate, blood sugar, and temperature.
Everything was back to normal except my blood pressure. Much too high and it had nothing to do with the company in the room.
"Mrs. Pike, we can call an ambulance to transport you to the hospital, or..."
"Actually, I'm okay now." I started to sit up, but they ordered me to stay put again.
"You don't understand. You have two choices. We can call transport, or we can walk you to your car and let your husband take you to the E.R., but you are going to the hospital."
Doug brought me my slippers and with a fireman on each arm and others in front and behind me, I walked out the door to the car. Once they saw me buckled in, they turned things over to Doug and off we headed. The rest of the story is pretty unexciting. When the E.R. doctor asked what happened, Doug told her that I performed the most graceful faint he had every witnessed and wished that he had recorded it. My blood pressure ebbed back toward normal and three hours and several blood tests later, we returned home.
In a couple of weeks I have an appointment with the cardiologist. He wants to see if he can recreate whatever caused me to faint by putting me on a tilt table. I suggested that the Tilt-A-Wheel at the fair would be way more fun and a lot less expensive, but he didn't go for it.
Why tell this story? This experience made me ponder a bit more on my mortality and the ups and downs that make my stomach flip and my heart race. President Gordon B. Hinckley once described life with this quote:
Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.What I really want to remember in thanking the Lord for the ride is that each and every day is a gift. Every morning when I wake up, there are new and exciting things ahead. Because of the Savior's Atonement, no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay. No matter how challenging the gift might prove to be, it will all work out.
“The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride (“Big Rock Candy Mountains,” 12 June 1973, A4).
To quote Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
... Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it—...You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come (General Conference, October, 1999).
During my life's journey, I've learned that the steepest mountains and the harshest of deserts offer the most spectacular vistas - something miraculous and amazing. And while I think the Victorian Era's fascination with fainting was highly overrated, I am grateful for the reminder that Life is Magnificent.