On Blood, Blackouts and Bravery

A strange thing happened to me yesterday, as I was getting ready to go to sleep.
I was shutting the door of my room, which has large panes of glass built into it, when my weight-bar (which was kept upright against the wall and a cupboard nearby), slid across the ground and the wall simultaneously, and crashed into the glass section of the door.

Shards of glass flew everywhere, and one such shard made a nice slice on my left thumb, creating CSI-esque splatters of blood on the wall next to me and the floor below.
My father heard me cursing and arrived promptly on the scene, directing me to hold some cotton against my gushing wound while he cleared away the glass. So here I was, waiting in my parents room until the floor was cleared, with a large bloody cotton wad pressing on my wound that spilled blood non-stop.

Now, it’s not like I’ve not seen blood before. I’ve seen it plenty of times, on other people and animals (especially my dog after his brutal skirmishes with the dog next door). I’ve seen mine quite recently, after I fell in a small hole in a construction site next door and drove my broken toenail a few centimeters into my own toe, and damaged my knee and ankle somewhat. I pulled the toenail out myself, and half-crawled back home, leaving a bloody trail behind. Even before that, I accidentally stepped on a pair of scissors, effectively stabbing myself with it. I pulled that out too, and limped into my parents room for some gauze, again leaving a trail of blood behind.

Through all that, I never blacked out.

Yet as I was staring at the blood and sighing in disappointment at my own clumsiness, I felt the unmistakable hint of dizziness. Slowly, my vision started to fade to black, from the corners of my sight, gradually moving to the center. Anticipating a loss of balance, I quickly sat down on the nearby bed, yet held myself upright and kept my breathing calm.

Then, my hearing began to fade away and was replaced by a high pitched whirring sound. It grew louder and louder, as my sight grew blacker still. In a few seconds, I could see nothing, nor could I hear anything, save for the eerie high pitched whistling noise. I was experiencing a blackout.

I’ve experienced blackouts several times before, once when I fell and hit my head on concrete at a cousins place. I slipped in and out of consciousness that day, and finally woke up in their guest room, surrounded by the entire house hold sporting worried faces. Another such time was when I was kicked in the head during my early Karate days (I was about 12 or 13 then) in my old dojo, where I woke up on the floor, with my head cradled in my Sensei’s hands.

But this time, I did not lose consciousness. I was wide awake, and could feel, taste and smell everything as normal; only my hearing and my sight had vanished so far. Slowly, they began to return as well, until after about a minute, I could see and hear as normal, with the whirring sound absent. Through all this, I remained quite calm and watchful, as if I was watching a documentary of some sort; feeling more wonder and curiosity than fear or repulsion.

My wound was dressed, yet my curiosity was obviously not.

Later that morning, I went to the doctor’s to get a proper dressing for my cut, and undid the bandages myself. There was more blood as the tender skin broke again, yet I didn’t feel anything about it. Nor did I feel anything about it earlier, prior to the blackout; consciously at least.

I later theorized today that the blackout was obviously my body reacting to a fear of blood in my sub-conscious. Perhaps, in my sub-conscious I believed that I was invulnerable and unable to bleed like that. Perhaps this sudden accident shook me off this belief somewhat. Thus, my sub-conscious wanted to block this experience from my conscious self and thus ordered the body to faint.

However, my conscious self is not afraid of blood, and refused the body to faint, and held on to staying awake; thus resisting my body’s reaction of blacking out.

This all resulted in what I call “a half-assed attempt at blacking out” by my body, which kind of implies that my body is too lazy to faint!

But certainly there is a conflict for control between the sub-conscious and conscious minds here. A part of me is afraid of blood (“OMGs YOU’RE BLEEDING!!! NOOOOO!!!!!!”), and the other part is not (“meh…”).

So who then, is the real me? Is it my sub-conscious, or my conscious mind? Am I afraid of blood or not?

I am forced, once again, to be confused by myself!


~ by Prageeth Thoradeniya on April 26, 2010.

4 Responses to “On Blood, Blackouts and Bravery”

  1. lol… nice post. i guess we are a bit of both noh?
    I’ve blacked out once, and it was surreal.

  2. Well yeah I suppose!

  3. Maybe your subconscious is a little girl. You passing out was probably a self defense mechanism.

  4. Yeah it was such a little girl back then! haha!

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