Scary Day (or Vasovagal Syncope)

Today started like most other days lately – my morning Power 90 workout (that’s 13 weekdays in a row!), breakfast, and off to work. I got settled in and was responding to some e-mails when I received a frantic call from Alli. She said that her left leg had gone dead and that she had fallen out of bed.

Naturally, I was a little concerned. I talked to her for a little bit and then she abruptly told me she’d have to call me back. Within 2 minutes I was back on the phone with her and she was hysterical. She had blacked out and woken up in the bathtub. I was packing my stuff to leave work before I even heard the word “bathtub”.

Cruising about 85 down I-35 South (thank goodness there were no cops), I got home quickly and comforted my wife, who was obviously quite scared. I did my best to calm her down so we could go see a doctor. At first, I thought it would make the most sense to go to the walk-in clinic since she seemed to be OK for the time being. It’s funny how your co-pay can affect where you choose to go.

Anyway, we walked in to the walk-in clinic (ha ha) and they promptly told us to to go to the ER. I guess when you faint for no apparent reason, you are supposed to go to the ER. Go figure.

We were admitted very quickly (which always makes you a little nervous) and the nurse told me that since Alli was a “fall risk” that if I was going to leave the room, that I had to tell someone to make sure that she wouldn’t fall out of bed. They ran her EKG, drew blood to check for anemia and some other stuff, and then whisked her off to have a brain scan and make sure she had not had a stroke.

It’s funny (and somewhat annoying) how in emergency rooms, they run all your tests very quickly and then you have to wait for about an hour and a half for the results. Fortunately, when the doctor returned to give us the prognosis, it was good news. All of their tests had come back negative. They gave Alli a clean bill of health and sent us away with the news that Alli had experienced what is called vasovagal syncope, or fainting caused by an over stimulation of the vagus nerve, the only nerve that is connected directly to our brain stem. It was quite interesting as Alli and I went through some of the triggers – she was experiencing several of them at the time, creating essentially a “perfect storm” of triggers for vasovagal syncope, particularly great circulatory change (the rushing of blood back to her entire left leg).

The doctors told her not to drive for a day or so and so I’ll be working from home to keep an eye on her. I really appreciate the sympathy of my employer, who have been extremely understanding this year with some of the family emergencies that have arisen. I’m lucky to work for someone so flexible. It’s also nice to finally have a company-provided laptop (not that I couldn’t ever get one before, Vince) at all times so I can work from home when it is necessary. I’m very fortunate to be in the situation that I’m in. Thanks Chris and Jessica. I also want to extend a special thank you to the doctors and nurses of Olathe Medical Center. Every time we’ve been in that emergency room, we’ve been treated very well, and this was no exception, our nurse Robin was so accommodating and kind and the doctor that attended to Alli had the best bedside manner of any ER doctor that I’ve ever seen.

Overall, the day was scary and I’m glad it’s over. There isn’t much that sucks more than watching the person you love more than anything in the world suffer and feeling that there isn’t a heck of a lot you can do about it. For now, I’ll be here to support her, and I think that to her, that’s more than enough. To those of you who sent e-mails and text messages to me and Alli today – thanks so much. And special thanks go out to our family of prayer warriors, the Arnolds and Adams. We felt you lifting us up today and we are so appreciative to have such a wonderfully supportive family unit. So a special thanks goes out to Tom & Carol, Ray & Sidna, Ashley, Jake & Kelly. We love you guys all very much.


My Uncle Larry passed away this morning at 5:30 AM Pacific Time.

Jake has a really good post about Larry here. I just wanted to share my thoughts too.

Larry Beck was one of the best uncles that anyone could ask for. He was fun, quirky, and he loved his family. When I was growing up, my uncle was a magician at Magic Mountain. How cool would it be to have a magician for an uncle. he used to do all sorts of tricks for us and he would always get this wry smile when he saw how impressed we were.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if this was your card? That would be a pretty good trick, wouldn’t it?”

That's a Huge Camera

That’s what I remember him saying when he would put on his magic shows for me, Jake and all of our cousins.

The past 3 years have been increasingly difficult as I have watched his health deteriorate very rapidly. I’m really glad that Alli, Jake and my mom and I were able to go out there two Decembers ago. That was the last time I saw my uncle, and while it was in a hospital (he was laid up in UCLA Med Center at the time), it was a good trip. We laughed (although not as hard as usual because laughing was painful to Larry physically), we cried, and we talked. We spent almost the whole time there in the hospital in Westwood and while I LOATHE hospitals, I never thought about that once. I enjoyed every second of it.

Larry Paula Mom 2

That’s Larry on the left, his wife Paula, and my mom. I’m sad that I don’t have a picture of me and him from that trip. Despite his sickness, he was still the same old Larry.

I’ll miss him a lot. It’s really tough when some of your closest family live many miles away. I wish that we could have seen him more often. If only.

To those of you that read this, I ask you to please pray for my Aunt Paula, Larry’s two daughters, Cindy and Stacey, as well as the rest of the Beck family. Larry was a good man and he’ll be missed by all of us.