[M.M.X.I.V. 102] What happens in Vagus…

…nervously attacks Noah.

Not my bankroll, nor my virginity either.  Notice that I said “Vagus,” not “Vegas.”  I’m talking about the stomach.

I consider myself to be a very healthy person–I almost never suffer from illness, and especially rarely during the day.  It may be my diet, physical fitness, usually-positive attitude, or a host of other reasons–I’m certainly not going to complain!

However, there are some stimuli which will activate my vagus nerve, which sometimes does a number on my system.  The first time that I recall experiencing a vagal reaction was on February 27, 1998, part of one of the lowlights of my normally-highlighted fifth-grade year.

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One of my fingers had been infected that week, and by Friday, something had to be done about it.  My parents were out of town that week on a cruise, so there were two babysitters to supervise and chauffeur my siblings (then ages 8, 8, and 7) and me (then age 10).  At the island in the middle of our kitchen, I stood between the island and the stove, as one of the babysitters applied rubbing alcohol to a needle and the infected area, poked, and squeezed as pus came oozing out of the finger.  It hurt quite a bit, and by the time the draining was done, I felt on the verge of fainting, as I woozily staggered upstairs to lie down on my bed for a few minutes.

And then the next day, perhaps my vagal reaction from that night was saying something–that I lacked “tenasity” (misspelling intentional in this post) in getting knocked out of the spelling bee.

I have also suffered similar vagal reactions when getting finger pricks, or in general when considering needles, even if not used on me.  (However, I have not suffered vagal reactions from immunizations–only from blood draws or de-pussing somewhere on my skin).

These major vagal reactions sometimes also happen when I think about specific medical procedures or gruesome, gory events.  With the former, there was a part of “The Source” (by James Michener) where one of the characters underwent a circumcision, and one of the questions about the book on an exam required me to recall that story.  By the time that I finished recalling it (thankfully, it was the last question), I was starting to go vagal, with lightheadedness and sweats.  So I put my head down on the desk for a few minutes, and it subsided with no further problem.  With the latter, the canonical example is the account of the Holocaust and my reaction at Yad Vashem in one of my very first blog posts.

Despite the near-fainting and icky feeling, I have never actually collapsed, vomited, or had any other significant problems during these reactions.

Why am I mentioning these?  I have a feeling that since I tend to be hyper-sensitive about certain stimuli, that my vagus nerve is easily aroused.  This last week, there were several consecutive evenings when I struggled with minor stomachaches, hot flashes, and an urge to drink a lot of water.  My Dad supposes that these are minor vagal reactions, and are basically a CHECK ENGINE light.  Maybe it was something physical, but more often, it is something mental that is bothering me, and at night, my lower activity allows things to stew more.

Hyper-awareness of one’s own processes can be both a blessing and a curse.

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Today is the one hundred and second day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes fourteen weeks and four days.

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