I go into shock pretty easily.
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.
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.