Going into Shock–Toes and Thumbs

I go into shock pretty easily.

 Perplexingly, this is the first picture that shows up searching for “in shock” on Google.

Even more perplexingly, this is number four. (Also, apparently perplexingly isn’t a word? Spell check is saying it doesn’t exist.)

When it comes to jarring situations of any nature, it’s like I’m a fleece-covered little lamb that watches his entire herd jump off a cliff and then looks over the edge to see the mangled, blood-soaked bodies of everyone I’ve ever loved. That moment of horror right before I jump off the cliff myself to follow the herd? That’s the feeling I get after something traumatic happens to me, like unexpectedly stubbing my toe.

Haha! Surely that’s a joke, you think to yourself with wild inaccuracy. No, no that is not a joke.

I was about ten years old and for family home evening (which is this Mormon thing where families spend time together and talk about religious things on Monday nights and then go to a park and eat treats and jello and stuff) my family went to this really cool park called Copperton Park. We loved Copperton Park because it had this really awesome brick hill-like structure that had lots of slides that I can’t really describe or even see in my mind’s eye but, trust me, it was awesome. We freaking loved that thing. And my parents and siblings and I would get our Kentucky Fried Chicken and all bring our neon colored roller blades (go 1990!) and have the time of our lives. Well, on this particular day I was wearing sandals (flip flops? Do guys call sandals flip flops?) and we were playing some variety of tag, and I was “it” and was chasing people around and then a tragedy happened because I stubbed my pinky toe on the amorphous brick hill-like structure.

Normal person? Would say “OUCH!!” and stop playing tag for a couple of seconds to assess the damage (which in my case, there was none), and then get up and DOMINATE in tag.

I, however, decided to go into shock. Like, not kind of in shock. We’re talking full-fledged, were-you-in-some-kind-of-massive-car-crash? yes-and-my-mom-died-in-it Shock with a capital S. There I stood, my knees wobbling, thinking “wha… what just happened…?” as all the blood drained from my face.

Shock, as I’ve learned from vast experience, is kind of weird because it usually goes one of two directions: feeling the extreme need to vomit, or passing out. They both start the same way though–you feel like the world is spinning, and like your heart forgot to keep pumping your blood, and all you can hear ringing in your head is some random phrase like “I can’t believe I just did that” over and over. You try to get a hold of yourself, but you can’t. Your body has taken over, and it will freak out in some embarrassing way no matter what you do.

To try and make myself feel better by seeing that “it’s no big deal,”  I made the poor choice of looking at my foot and seeing that my toe had a tiny scrape.  Aaaaand then it was over. Any hope I previously had of not riding the train of shock to its bitter end vanished. My brain interpreted that scrape in the same way it would have reacted to looking down and seeing fountains of bright red blood spewing out of a gangrenous, pus-filled hatchet-wound on my foot: complete melt-down. (Don’t ask me how I would have a fresh-spraying hatchet wound on my foot that is already gangrenous and pus-filled, okay? Let’s let you figure out pesky details like that for yourself.)

First I started feeling like I was going to pass out. I stood there, wobbling, not knowing what to do. Surprisingly, nobody was rushing to my aid. Nobody was throwing their chicken on their blanket to run over and say “Oh, young boy, you stubbed your toe! Put your head between your legs whilst I locate a tourniquet.”

And then the unthinkable happened. That feeling of needing to pass out? It shifted into nausea. And we all know how I feel about that.

So, yeah. I threw up (for the last time in 18 years) into the sand right there in Copperton Park. Because I stubbed my toe.   

Why else?

One thing’s for certain though: that’s so much better than passing out.

I know that because of this one time a year or two later when I experienced a severe trauma while weight-lifting in P.E. See, I was standing by a weight machine, and then I idiotically put my thumb near the weights without realizing that there was five pounds still being lifted, and then that five pound bar came down and barely touched my thumb which I had already mostly moved out of the way, thus barely nicking it. It was horrible! It was as bad as if a fly had landed right on my arm. It had the horrific impact that a piece of paper would have had if it floated gently down from the sky and brushed my face as it breezed to the floor.

Yeah. I immediately went into shock. I don’t know if it was the sound of that one weight clanking down, or the surprise factor of knowing that if I hadn’t moved my thumb in time, it might have been very, very mildly smashed by the smallest amount of weight possible in the room.

Whatever the reason, the blood immediately drained from my head again and I got that dulled, overwhelmed sense that something unspeakable had happened. My mind went blank and I felt faint. I started walking out of the weight room, but as I was walking, I forgot where I was and what I was doing and where I was going. Everything slowed down, all the sounds around me began to stretch like a slowed cassette tape, and then everything went black. I passed out for several seconds as I was stumbling out of the room.

When I came to, I found myself standing outside of the weight room (I hadn’t fallen, just stumbled a lot) and a few people were looking at me like “Um, are you drunk right now?” Then someone asked why I was tripping all over crap. And I looked at him and said “Well, a weight almost hit my thumb. And it was kind of loud, and it scared me. And so… I was passing out.”

And that’s when I became the most popular kid in the 8th grade.

 “Awesome job not falling on your face when you were fainting in the weight room today, man! From this day forward, you’re getting picked first on every team.”

Photo attribution here, here and here


  1. Oh man! I totally had surgery when I was about 12 or 13, and I needed total anesthesia. But instead of inserting it directly, they decided to hook me up to an IV line first. I was perfectly okay with them putting the thing in my arm, but I passed out when they actually connected it to something. I'm pretty sure it was just saline at that point, so it wasn't like the anesthesia had knocked me out. Luckily I was on a bed! 😀

  2. This had me crying so hard I was nearly in tears. Work a little harder next time and maybe you'll get me to smear my mascara.

    Also, I have passed out too, but I didn't realize that's what happened until years later. 7th grade PE: one second I was standing on the lower bar of the uneven bars psyching myself up to go for the higher one, the next second I was on the ground looking up at my entire class staring at me. Awesome. (I totally thought I just closed my eyes and didn't even think about how everyone in the class could have possibly gotten to me in the time it takes to blink your eyes.)

    The comment area of this post is now going to be an outpouring of people telling you their stories of passing out. You're welcome.

  3. I freakin' love your blog! You are so funny. You are masterful in the art of being self-depricating without coming off whiny. There should be some kind of award for that. You are so funny! And still macho…all those kids your fathered seem to help with that image.

  4. omg you are one of those fainting goats! know the ones where you just make a sudden movement towards/at and they fall down on the ground passed out. that is too funny…for us but probably not for you.

  5. @Chrissy–stunningly, I can take a needle prick to the arm like a man. I rarely even scream out loud.

    @Tami–THONGS. Maybe that's the word I was looking for. I was referring to the footwear that affixes to your foot by going between your big toe and the next one over.

    @JJ–I will not rest until mascara streams down your face. You're welcome.

    @IWASNT–Okay, good. Another confirmation of this. I'm finally beginning to understand how to describe foot-wear, and I'm only 30.


    @CharlotteJ–You just made a really, really macho man's man blush. Thanks for the compliments. (I had children for the sole purpose of making me more macho, but then they were all girls. Oops.)

    @Mariah–I forgot about those! Maybe that's why my brain went to sheep. That's really funny. I should find some footage of those things… (gets distracted and goes and eats breakfast)

    @Anonymous–First of all, you should have left your name, because I've been laughing about this for like ten minutes. HOW DID I MISS THAT? Second, I have made my analogy a little more specific so as to make it less like I was talking about going into shock because I looked down and saw that I 1. had changed genders 2. was not wearing clothes and 3. was on my period. Which if I looked down and that was happening I WOULD DEFINITELY GO INTO SHOCK.

    …still laughing.

  6. sorry i'm anonymous. i found you from the bloggess. i don't have a blog or any sort of internet footprint. (can you have an internet footprint?) dude, i actually laughed at loud when i read that sentence about the hatchet wound! a coworker walked by my office then and i had to totally pretend that my accounting spreadsheets were hilarious.

  7. Had me laughing outloud Josh! It reminds me of my dad who has the same issue. I came to know by the age of 5 or 6 that anytime I heard my dad say "ouch" I automatically would say "It will be ok daddy, lay down and put your feet up" then I'd go find mom. What seemed funny to me at the time and still is is that my father worked in the ER where he saw blood and owies all the time but that never bothered him it was only when something happened to him that he would go into shock – we still laugh about it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. I can't believe I never knew you're prone to shock. And, no, there's no way I'll be using that knowledge to my advantage the next time I see you. So don't be alarmed if I'm humming a little to myself and hiding something behind my back. That's just what I do these days.

  9. Your posts about nerdiness and awkwardness and, etc, etc, sound so familiar that I have to wonder sometimes: who are those other kids in high school who didn't have these experiences on a regular basis? I hate them all. Whoever they were. There's *nothing* wrong with passing out for no reason or having uncontrollably negative reactions to mostly benign occurances. Nothing.

  10. Oh yeah… and I had a patient today bring in actual used toilet paper with blood on it (as if I wouldn't have trusted his word on it)… and I thought of you.

    Please do not discuss such topics ever again anywhere. Unless you are an actual dying cancer patient, and then I'm all ears.

  11. ughhhhh, you grossed my shit out and made my whole body seize at just the MENTION of "stubbed my pinky toe."

    when i was a kid, i was running down the upstairs hallway and accidentally yanked my baby toe underneath the dresser. i can still feel more poor little baby skin meat being ripped apart as my bone cracked.

    brb- i gotta call my therapist. and by therapist, i mean white russian.

  12. I kinda expected you to faint by recalling the memories. I felt your pain…Never have I considered a baby toe stub to be such a horror.

    I broke mine once on my amp. I felt so hardcore. I walked by it and misjudged the space between my toe and the amp. And, I was shocked to learn that there are no baby toe casts…because it was totally broken.

    Anyway, about the whole flip flops/thongs thing. I must warn you to be careful how you toss around the word "thongs" in everyday conversation. I made that mistake by mentioning to my boyfriend – how my dad always wore thongs when I was a kid and how he had thongs to go with every outfit. Thinking nothing of it, I didn't understand why my boyfriend appeared to be refraining from vomiting in his mouth as I explained my childhood memories of my pops' attire. And then it hit me…and oh, how we laughed!

  13. @jaime–Nice to meet you! Clearly, you're pretty funny–perhaps you should think about making an internet footprint. Might be cool.

    @Naters–Thank you for doing my pointless dirty work. Are you a minion? Do I have minions now?

    @Special K–That's really weird that he was able to stand seeing others' wounds and not his own. I'm pretty much a mess if I see other people get hurt too. (Writing a post on this theme now.) Thinking of you saying "It's okay, Daddy…" makes me laugh, because I can totally envision my oldest doing the same thing with me as she grows up.

    @Melissa–I hide my secrets very well, as you know. Or, not so well, perhaps, since I just put this one on THE INTERNET. (Please don't hurt me?)

    @The Tall One–I think you're on to something!

    @Coach–So, saw my general practitioner last night. (Same one from earlier posts about cysts.) Verdict? Colonoscopy! (My aunt had gut cancer like eight months ago or something, so, family history up the yinyang, as it were.) I'm happy to report I did not take in my feces covered, blood soaked toilet paper swab.

    @YLIDHG–I cannot read your comment because the mere image of that happening to a little YLIDGH makes me…*gets woozy* (I'm only kind of kidding. Also, sorry to make you consult your "therapist.")

    @Sunny–That's hilarious about the "thong" discussion. With my entendre' issues today, I'm surprised I didn't say something like "I looked down, moved my thong out of the way, and passed out when I saw a bloody hatchet wound…" I am out of control. BTW, have I ever mentioned that I love your blog? Because I do. Also, see? You BROKE YOUR TOE. That is hardcore. That's worth a fainting spell. And you didn't even faint.

    @Cassanndre–Well, I don't really think it's an intensification of pain for me at least–I don't scream or writhe in pain or feel like things hurt worse than they really do. I just go into shock. So, I dunno. Maybe?

    No editing of this comment. Hopefully I didn't make some horrific wording error where I totally slaughter a euphemism. Wouldn't THAT be embarrassing!?

  14. Copperton Park!!! Oh my gosh, favorite place EVER to go to as a kid. You forgot to mention the tunnel going through the huge brick like hill structure. =) I have also tried describing this place to people, and I just can't do it justice. But, I'm glad to see that your stubbed toe trauma did not take away your love of the park. That would be Tragic!

  15. Oh, Josh Weed, I miss your face.

    I too passed out once. And it even involved Caren Burns, so I think I'd better tell the story!

    We were driving through Price canyon when we had to stop for some reason to get something out of the trunk of her illustrious Bronco II. As she was shutting it, I saw that something was about to be caught in the lid, so like a genius, I reached out to put it back in. Which naturally meant that my fingers got slammed by the full force of the hydraulics-less ginormo-door.

    I screamed.

    Caren: "Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry? Are you OK?"

    Me (hopping up and down in pain, clutching my fingers): "Of course I'm not OK! You just slammed my fingers in the door!"

    Gracious even under pressure.

    Me (stops jumping and stares straight ahead: "I think I'm going to pass out now."

    Which I promptly did, right into the front seat of the Bronco II.

    I was only out for a few seconds, but I do remember waking up to Björk singing "my name's Isobel, married to myself".

    And that is my story.

  16. Oh, Josh, you make me giggle. I do hope you are writing something humorous for your first great novel because you have a gift. When you're ready for a beta reader, I'm your gal.

  17. I don't think it's an intensification of pain for her either… just an intensification of pain reaction. There have been a couple times when she's seemed to go into minor shock over some small injury before, now that I think about it.
    But I don't think I've seen it happen in a couple years.

  18. Okay, so I have been AWAKE during a painful and bloody operation and just chatted away with the docs whilst they sewed me up with drippingly disgusting threadlike material. Just hangin' with my docs. No prob. You would think I could just FOLD YOU UP,don't you?

    Well, I routinely pass out at eye doctor appointments. They freak me out. However, I feel somewhat more at ease when a small, shaking eye doc– who probably got into the profession because no one hated them or were horribly afraid of the CHAIR or INSTRUMENTATION–mops his sweaty brow after he peels me off the floor and gives me a slightly gummy and dusty Jolly Rancher while I breathe deeply with my head between my legs. I am awesome!

  19. hahaha. That's awesome. Twice I've done pretty much the same thing. During clinicals to get my CNA I changed an old man's diaper, helped give this old, old man a shower, and only when I was helping this lady put on her socks and did the blood drain-can't think clearly-stumble out of the room into hallway-and at some point find myself on the floor-thing happen. It was great. The other time my mom was driving the car in the middle of nowhere and hit a cow. Now one of my very rational fears is hitting an animal and killing it, so when she rammed into the cow I saw the blood spray all over the windshield (don't pass out;) and I might have screamed, gone into fetal postion and started mumbling and crying like a crazy person…in reality we only knocked the cow over and when I came to my senses and jumped out of the van asking where it went and they told me it just go up and walked away total unharmed (unlike the car which had about $1,000 worth of damages)

  20. My brother passes out at the slightest provocation and we made fun of him for years. Then we found out he had Neuro-Cardiogenic Syncope and he couldn't help. We still make fun of him but he can at least claim medical malfunction

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