Jasovargal Occurrence

This morning I had my 3rd-ever encounter with the phenomenon I refer to as jasovargal occurrence. It is more commonly recognized as vasovagal syncope or vagal response.

As some of you know Lauren and I are participating in a clinical trial to test delivery methods for the yellow fever vaccine. We basically get the vaccine (today) with an additional two shots in your butt. This is either immune globulin or saline solution (the placebo), and this is what the test really is. After that we have to go for a lot of blood draws and they look at the immune response to both methods of administering the vaccine.

About a month ago we went for our first visit where they took blood to check for existing immunity and other peculiarities. Everything was fine and today we went back for the vaccine itself. First they did a blood draw for a baseline and this is where I ran into my jasovargal occurrence.

The first time I ever had a jasovargal experience was junior year in high school when I was finally eligible to donate blood at the blood drive. Questionnaire, check. Ear prick iron test, check. Give blood, check. I headed over to the table for some cookies and orange juice confident in my deed and ready to slap a little red cross sticker on my shirt. The next thing I knew I was laying on the ground staring at the ceiling. I had fainted and fallen straight back in the chair I was sitting upon. I decided to take a break from donating.

Let me step back and tell you that I have always been told that I have lovely veins. They are sort of popping out of the skin and phlebotomists look at them and start drooling. Such flattery does nothing to dissuade me from situations where my blood is drawn, thus compounding my problems with jasovargal occurrences.

In college I decided to give it another change. The ole’ college try, if you will. The whole act of doing something that was not graded or intoxicating drew immediate attention and ridicule from my hyper-masculine roommates. At the student union, again I made it through the pint and again I felt weak and dizzy but made it over to the beds with some help. There a paper bag was quickly held to my face and I was given more cookies and juice. More ridicule followed. It just occurred to me that the nurse told me not to give blood again. This study is different (I have just convinced myself).

Today I again felt weak, the lights got bright, I was sweating, and my ears ringing. In this setting, it is nice that the nurse and doctors are right there for you, and there are repeat interactions. Tomorrow they’ll know what they’re getting into and take precautions (drink juices before as well as after). They’ve seen this before. I’ll let you know what happens.

Have your own vagal response story?

2 thoughts on “Jasovargal Occurrence

  1. Yeah, I do have my own vasovargal experience. I, too, have been told I have nice veins. I, too, have had two donating experiences end sub-optimally. In high school, I donated blood and afterwards they were walking me to a bench (one attendant on each arm) and the next thing I new I was waking up on the bench. It was awesome, though, because as I swam out of it I had the sensation of having every muscle in my body relaxed. That part felt great! The whole nausea, disorientation thing did not. The nurses told me, “next time, just lie down longer afterwards.”

    Fair enough. So, I decided to give it a go in college and “lie down longer afterwards.” They took my pint and I didn’t feel good but I remembered the words of the high school nurse. So I lay there. And lay there. This time, the lady came over to me and said, “If you lay there any longer we’re going to have to charge you rent.” So, naturally, I got up. Just following instructions here!!

    I made it to the cookie/juice table (random: what kind of cookie would produce the best cookie juice?) and started eating, but they must have seen something because next thing I know, they ring a bell, an attendant comes over, pulls my chair out and shoves my head between my legs. I did not know that blowing myself was the key here. But, again, I followed instructions. I never fully fainted this time, and felt like 100 bucks after a minute or two.

    I have not given blood since. Lauren, big ups to you!!


  2. I give blood like a fucking champ. And by that I mean I charge this shit out of people just to get a piece of me. HA!

    My experience came when I pierced my nipples my senior year of college. I was so freaked out and had been wanting to do it for a long time and one day I went for it. I had them tagged at the tattoo place on Bardstown right by K’s Convenience store.

    I told the guy what I wanted and that I was really nervous. He said he wasn’t going anywhere so we talked about the Israeli Palestinian conflict (this is was in December of 2002) for about 45 minutes. I finally felt like I wasn’t gonna pass out so I said let’s do this and I hopped in the chair. I said don’t laugh if I cry. He said he definitely would.

    He put the clamp on the left one, told me to breath in and slowly let it out. While I’m letting it out, I feel a sharp prick through what has affectionately become known as “my man titty.” I let out a small grunt and before I could recite Hamlet’s soliloquy, the ring was in and ready to go.

    Moving on.

    What I learned about the human body that day is something I will never forget. Try to hurt yourself in one place in an accident or if it must be more, make sure it happens simultaneously. The first one hurt, but since my left nip was being tended to by antibodies and adrenaline, the right was was unprotected and VERY vulnerable. It hurt so much that I screamed FUCK and grunted some more when he put the ring through.

    I asked him how I did and he said I was one of the best ones he’s seen period, and he had been doing it for a long time. He had seen people pass out from an ear piercing and I guess my pain tolerance is high because I do like stretching my ears.

    When I tried to sit up (I was laying in a dentist chair kind of thing), I got real light-headed and had to sit back down. He told me to rest and relax because my body had just taken a massive attack and I needed to regroup.

    Afterwards my mom refused to talk to me and my dad said, “Why would you want to mutilate your body like that?” Their lameness and the fact that I couldn’t wear a shirt or shower or whatever, led me to take them out 4 hours later. If you push on the side of my nipple you can still feel a little tunnel from where the needle went. If I ever do it again, I’m only gonna do one at a time.


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