Monday night unrolled much like any other night in New Jersey’s version of Stepford. Y & I pottered about in the kitchen: Y making a fabulous version of Julia Child’s Fondue de Poulet a la Creme, me poisoning myself with evil killer chili peppers, as I attempted to throw together a salad, and Finchley frolicking about at our feet, hoping for freefall snacks.

As we sat down for supper in the dining room, I noticed my empty water glass &, in a reflex action, I grabbed an icy can of Coke Zero from the bottom drawer of the fridge. It was only the second fizzy drink or soda in a can I’ve drunk in years. (I’m not a sweet drink person (unless it’s a raspberry martini) and on the very rare occasion I pick up a soda it’s in a bottle so I can finish it later.)

I poured it into my glass and gulped the carbonated liquid down. I’d forgotten that really fizzy drinks always make me burp – a lot. Charming. It was hot & steamy and I was dehydrated. I took another enormous swig. I knew it was a mistake immediately, as I felt a huge bubble trap in my throat.

Oof airlock! I exclaimed. Christ it hurt. I started to feel woozy. Grabbing each side of the table I clung on tight as my head swirled, my vision blurred and I started to black out.

The boys tell me I was out for 30 seconds. Apparently, my eyes rolled back in my head as I keeled to the left. Y &J raced around the table and stopped me falling. Y tried to stop me swallowing my tongue, but I bit his finger as my teeth were clamping. (I’m so, so sorry Y).

I came back to consciousness slowly, watching Pucci-esque colours merge in front of me with a sensation of being many miles removed. I was searching for a conversational thread I was part of & could not quite grasp – and then my vision cleared and I was staring at the boys asking what had just happened.

Interweb diagnosis points to a vaso-vagal syncope: the air bubble irritated the esophagus and over stimulated the vagus nerve. As I discovered so dramatically, vagus nerve stimulation causes both heart rate & blood pressure to drop: it is the most common cause of fainting, the above named vaso -vagal syncope. Some faints apparently are quite complex, and do give the impression of a seizure.

I have fainted three times before in similar situations many years ago. The first was on my first day of work as a banqueting waitress at a Moat House Hotel (the glamour!) aged 18. Not realising that they were boiling hot, I nicked a mushroom off a flat of catering food I was hefting through the kitchen.

It obviously obstructed my esophagus, and I fainted, fell over backwards, pouring boiling champignons a la crème everywhere and knocking myself stone cold on the kitchen floor. I woke up in hospital with a very nasty case of concussion.

The two other times were just straight faints, on my own in the kitchen whilst eating hot food. But I never got myself checked out as it was obvious what the problem was. I just never knew why. Until this week. Bless the lovely internets.

Poor boys: they didn’t sign on for paramedic duty when I came to stay. I felt a bit wobbly like a weeble the next morning, but I think that was just low blood sugar as a result of not feeling like eating the rest of my supper the night before.

With reflection it is quite obvious that I was being punished for first time ever attempt at drinking hideous fizzy drink with supper. Quite right. Will stick with wine with supper in future like a proper civilised person should.

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Very frightening. Am glad your friends were nearby. I have a history of swooning (usually in the theatre when confronted with something physically wrenching), so I've learned to choose my films carefully.


I'm so glad you're ok now.

The very same thing happened to my nephew age 3. He was drinking tea at the time. Blacked out and like you was out for 30 seconds or so.

It really frightened my mum and aunt, who called an ambulance.

Thankfully no long term effects, though it was amazing how, at such a young he was able to recount what had happened to him in extraordinary detail.

You're right – stick with wine.
(Nephew has switched to apple juice)



I had a similar experience…except my loss of consciousness occurred in Uniqlo on Regent's Street (embarrassing but I was in no state to notice).

The other issue with soda is that, as I discovered, Aspartame can actually cause fainting…

Hope you're feeling better.


how horrid! I am so glad you're find now.

I think it best you stick with vino – much more sensible, and anyway those sodas have terrifying ingredients, much worse than a few grapes and alcohol..



Oh dear, poor you. Never heard of that happening before.
Hope you're feeling better now.


How frightening! I've fainted several times as well, all for the same reason (some kind of heat exhaustion) but I've never checked out if it's medically relevant either. Probably should look into that…


oh dear! thats quite scary…. but i am glad to know that your alright. so i geuss we all know now to never offer you a soda! 🙂


I'm so sorry you had to have this frightening experience! At the same time though, selfishly, it did result in a wonderfully crafted post. My favourite thing about it is probably your title, swiftly followed by a calm, idyllic opening where you just know something is about to go wrong…


Poor you. Take Care x


I'm sorry to hear this happened to you – as a person with epilepsy, while you are 'out' for the seizure, the after effects are terrifying.

Can I just point out to anyone who reads comments that it is a complete myth and quite dangerous to try to stop somebody swallowing their tongue etc. as your friend tried to do? DO NOT TRY TO PUT ANYTHING IN THE MOUTH OF SB. HAVING A SEIZURE! I know he meant well, as people do, but unfortunately can lead to more/worse injury (for both parties!).

I hope you feel better. If you are prone to this with sugary drinks then best stay away from all quick fix energy spiking food – the low gi diet is recommended.

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