Sunday, March 22, 2015


I sat there on the sidelines, a deer in the headlights, wondering what to do.

Of course, I hadn't been watching. I had been reading some dumb thing about some dumb thing on the interwebs while he was busy running, jumping and kicking. So now I didn't quite understand what I was seeing.

I didn't see him fall over. But there he was, on the mat, crying. He was clutching his stomach; eyes, squeezed tight. The teacher was looking at me. They usually like me to stay at arm's length.

What should I do? What. Should. I. Do?

Now, I was in the process of deciding whether his belly had accidentally collided with another kid's kick at the dojo. And whether this was a mom-should-intervene moment, when another parent came over to tell me what I was looking at was urgent:

“No one was near him when he went down. He just fell face-forward. It looked like he was having a seizure.”

Instinct sometimes needs a kickstart.

His mouth had blood inside. He'd bitten his lip, not his tongue. His teeth were fine.

Sit him up. Give him juice. It's possible he just fainted.

All these actions swirled around me without my intervention.

Stay calm. Stay calm. Stay calm.

Another juice.

We head to the ER by way of urgent care. He gets an ambulance ride as a precaution. Each person along the way asking different versions of the same questions:

How do you feel? Do you know what happened? Did you feel dizzy or like you were going into a tunnel before you fell? When you woke up, did you know where you were? Push against my hand. Pull my hands toward you. Does this hurt when I press here? Can you touch the tip of your nose … and now the tip of my finger? Tip of your nose again?

Pretty silly if you ask him.

Pretty frightening, if you ask me.

Everyone stays calm except the people who aren't with us.

“He's going to be OK,” I tell them. “This is just a precaution. Don't worry.”

Ittybit breaks down in tears when they load him into the ambulance. His father started texting furiously to my unheeded phone.

"What is going on?"

But I can't pay attention to the pings. I am listening to the EMTs. Trying to stay calm as I answer questions about what I saw and what other people reported. I was trying to be precise. Couldn't be two places at once just then.

All I can do is listen and hope they understand.

Time does its roller coaster thing; it slows down and then speeds up. First there's not enough of it to think and then too much.

Eventually, things do return to normal.

There is a diagnosis: Vasovagal Syncope, a scary-sounding medical term that simply means benign fainting. Precautions and preventions are discussed, and we are sent on our way. Tired but relieved.

Soon he is his annoying lovable self again only this time he has a new superpower, which is curiously resistant to the word "NO." A word his sister is now putting into full practice.

“Did you faint yesterday? No? I didn't think so.”

I believe it's called guilt.

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