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Pass out in aisle six

This morning I woke up and had a headache. Not a bad headache, but a headache nonetheless. I didn’t have much of an appetite either, but after taking two Tylenol, and three eggs and a cup of coffee after the medicine kicked in I was feeling better. Good, because I had to run to the grocery store.

I don’t have a “usual” grocery store near to where I live. Sure, there’s some that are not that far away, but I like using the SCAN IT option at Giant that lets you scan your purchases as you shop around the store, and the Giant locations near me don’t have that option available; I like bagging my own groceries as I go so I can use as few of my reusable bags as possible (less trips I need to take groceries from my car to my apartment), it’s handy to have a running total of my purchase handy as I shop, and the checkout process is so much faster since my groceries are already bagged.

Rather than go to a Giant that I usually visit that has SCAN IT, I went for a bit of a drive and visited one that was on my way home from my old job, since I was already familiar with that store’s layout and wanted to get out of the apartment for a bit. Unfortunately, this location didn’t have any fully charged units available so I had to cart my groceries around and to a register the old-fashioned way.

When I got to the register and tried to pay for my groceries, I was a bit confused as each payment method I tried kept failing, when there should have been more than enough money in the accounts I was using. I think the cashier said he was getting a message about entering in an ID number? I’m not sure. We tried swiping both chip and non-chip cards, we tried inserting the chip card, and neither card seemed to work. I apologized and said “Let me check my account balance real quick.”

If you’re going to pass out in line at the grocery store, I recommend passing out in line in front of EMTs at the grocery store.

Next thing I knew I was on the floor being helped to a sitting position and someone saying that I passed out twice (Twice?? I didn’t even realize I passed out once, and how much time had passed for me to have passed out twice??). I was helped to sit on to a stepstool while a man and a woman (the man was an EMT, perhaps the woman with him was as well) asked me questions about when I last had something to eat, was I on any medication, would I like an ambulance, etc. “Look at his pupils,” I heard the woman say to the man. The man reached into a nearby cooler and opened a bottle of water and handed it to me. I was wearing a hat and a hooded sweatshirt and I was helped off with both of thoses. The man helped walk me to a nearby office where we found a seat for me. A pharmacist and the store’s special police security guard stayed with me while we waited for the ambulance to come and I fanned myself with my hat while I sat there sweaty, clammy, confused (was it related to the headache I had this morning? dehydration? a panic attack?), and thankful – I felt like such a burden and I was apologizing and thanking everybody who was helping whenever I could. Even when I was on the ground at the register I felt bad about blocking the aisle.

When the ambulance arrived the EMTs took my vitals (blood pressure / heart rate / blood sugar, all good), asked me about when I last had something to eat (three eggs, just a few hours before), was this something that happens frequently (nope, closest was perhaps a year or two ago when I was on my way to work and started to feel lightheaded, and I got off the Metro and put my head between my legs to stabilize myself), was I on any medication (yes, for anxiety and depression), and did I do anything unusual today (nope).

Once we established that everything seemed to be normal the EMTs asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I didn’t really want to go. “Well, we can’t force you, but stand up and if you’re feeling dizzy or nauseous we strongly recommend we take you there. Or if you don’t feel like you can drive now you can call someone you know to come pick you up and come back to get your car, but if you’re feeling dizzy and nauseous and you get in an accident driving your way home, you’ll likely have to go to the hospital anyway.” I stood up and felt fine. Walked around a bit, sipped some water, and still felt fine.

The store staff had moved my cart over to the customer service desk so one of the EMTs walked with me over there while I paid for my groceries (this time it went right through), the EMTs gave me a band-aid (the finger-prick for testing my blood sugar was still bleeding), got my signature to say that I didn’t want the ambulance ride, and said I was free to go. I took my time gathering my things, made my way over to some of the store staff that helped me out to thank them once again and asked them to pass on my thanks to the cashier and the pharmacist, and headed off to my car.

In the parking lot a woman walked up to me as I was headed to my car. “Can I ask you a question?” I thought it was going to be about my experience. “I’m homeless, please don’t run away.” I had to apologize: “Sorry, I need to get home. I just passed out in there and they had to call the ambulance.” “You passed out?? Oh my god, I hope you’ll be ok!”

I sat in the car for a minute before heading off, and posted a tweet:

I drove home, still trying to process all that just happened in my head. While I felt fine during my shopping, I didn’t notice anything that made me think “I’m going to faint”. That’s what freaked me out the most. I was a bit cold in the car on my way home as I left my sweatshirt and hat in the trunk, and either because of the cold or because of the shock and anxiety of the experience my teeth started to chatter. I got home and felt exhausted. Contacted my parents and posted about my experience on Twitter to follow up my earlier tweet.

Maybe I’m getting sick? I haven’t always been feeling 100% lately. Most days it’s 99%, rare days it’s been more like 9%, but either way I’ve been feeling lately that Something wasn’t Quite Right. Maybe it was triggered by a panic attack? My anxiety has been up lately. In any case, tomorrow I’m going to work from home and call my doctor to set up an appointment.

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