(I’ll show you mine if you show me yours)
I have one. You have one. Your mom and dad have one. Your sister, friend, boyfriend, worst enemy. Even your dog and pet monkey have one.
The same way that, Everyone Poops, everyone has a Vagus (actually two, one on each side). And I’m not talking about wheatgrass juice or fancy sun glasses.
I am talking about the nerve. The Vagus Nerve. Take a look at where this baby is:
It is the longest cranial nerve and is responsible for the function and regulation of several bodily systems such as the heart and digestive tract.
It is also the nerve used by many martial arts experts to subdue (or kill) their opponent.
I experienced over stimulation of my vagus nerve when I had a medical professional try, Myotherapy on me for my arthritis. It was not pleasant let me tell you, and I almost fainted.
It is quite the interesting nerve. Why do I care? Why should you care? Because, this nerve is the explanation to my life long problems (some of them, at least). And you care about me, right? A little?
You see, I have been fainting all of my life. Not so much as an adult because I have learned to control it (for the most part).
It all started when I was about 9 years old. The first time, I remember standing in the kitchen helping my father make a soup. I was stirring the pot and next thing you know, I was down. I awoke to his desperate and very loud screams for my mom to come help. My parents laid me down on the sofa and my mom gave me some orange juice to drink to get my sugar up. The juice worked and soon I was up and about but feeling very irritated and moody for the next hour or so.
Another time, I was getting my cast removed from my left wrist which I had broken a month prior. Unfortunately, the doctor who set the cast was drunk at the time (I know, we should have sued) and so they had to re-brake my wrist and put a new cast on. When the first cast came off and I took one look, I was down for the count. Prior to fainting, I felt hot, sweaty and nauseous and could hear a ringing in my ear. I was very irritated and upset for a long while after that one.
There were many other times. Particularly, when I had to get blood drawn or while sitting in a dentist’s chair getting my wisdom teeth pulled. I made quite the scene on that day.
The absolute best time I fainted involved…a boy and a diet. I was in high school and was trying to decide between two boys. One of them I am now married to but at that time, I chose the other. We were outside enjoying the stars above, standing up leaning against his car. He leaned in slowly for the kiss. That kiss sent all kinds of signals to the rest of my body. My legs felt weak, I got dizzy, nauseous (sorry guy) and down I went. When I came to, he had placed me in the back of his station wagon and was sitting next to me, while his buddy drove the car to my house.
My parents panicked at first but knew I hadn’t been drinking. It was just me fainting, yet again. This boy soon spread rumors about how powerful his kiss was and the effect he had on me. I didn’t want it going to his head so I informed him that I had been doing the Scarsdale diet and had not eaten much and that is why I had fainted. I kinda burst his bubble, oh, and I married the other guy.
Well, this whole condition is called, Vasovagal Syncope. A person who is predisposed to this condition, usually will react to a specific trigger before fainting. This response to a trigger will affect their heart rate and blood pressure and therefore a lack of blood to the brain, thus…thump.
The triggers can be things such as standing for too long or getting up too quickly, stress (but I’m never stressed), arousals or stimulants (so, it was the kiss after all!), the site of blood (duh), extreme emotions, heart conditions and the list goes on and on.
Although I have not been medically diagnosed, I was diagnosed by my sister (she plays a doctor on tv) who is married to a cardiologist who confirmed her suspicions and most importantly, helped me figure out the other vagus nerve issue I have.
Remember I was saying earlier that everyone poops? Well, this is a problem for me.
We are talking, Defecation Syncope, people! Even the recommended links feature below couldn’t find a link to this condition. Yes, you read correctly. Now stop laughing and hear me out.
I often feel dizzy and utterly exhausted from a BM (I said, stop laughing.) Like the type of fatigue where I am worthless for the rest of the day (well, that’s me everyday.) I have to lay down and sleep for hours. This is different from my usual chronic fatigue due to my RA (Wow, am I a basket case or what?)
You know how one can feel a “high” or “pooh-phoria” after a movement? Not me, never. Well this is because during defecation, the vagus nerve gets stimulated and one can experience euphoria and ecstasy (God I hope my Mami does not read this post.)
During this “process”, your blood pressure drops and so does your heart rate and if you are sensitive or suffer from Defecation Syncope (I swear it exists), it can cause you to pass out or become extremely fatigued. I have yet to faint from this shitty condition, but my husband is always on high alert.
Like I needed one more thing to add to my list. Did you stop laughing yet? Look it up if you don’t believe me.
To end on a good note and flush through this information, I will tell you two last fact about our new friend, the vagus nerve.
Stimulating this nerve can help stop the hiccups! By causing another sensation, the brain is tricked into thinking that there is something more pressing than hiccups and so the hiccups stop.
Remedies like drinking cold water, eating a spoonful of sugar, stimulating the back of your throat and throwing up (I am not throwing up to stop my hiccups) are vagal stimulations. Who knew?
In conclusion, the last vagus nerve fact I will share with you is one in which research has shown, that women who have had complete spinal cord injury (I don’t wish that on anybody), can experience orgasms through the vagus nerve which can go from the uterus and vagina to the brain (I wish that on everyone.)
Well, I may have told you a little TMI so remember that, What happens in Vagus, stays in Vagus.