Wednesday, December 08, 2004

When Whizzing Kills: This Holiday Warning is a Public Service to the Reality-Based Community

Listen to my tale, my dear friends. Early one morning not so long ago after perhaps celebrating my birthday a bit too vigorously, I rose from my bed, emptied my bladder, had a sudden attack of the giddies and fell to the floor with a thump. A period of unconsciousness followed. I finally regained my bearings -- about the time five firemen came charging down the stairs, having been summoned by my wife during my 20 minutes of horizontal contemplation. After some poking and prodding, I was allowed to remain in my cozy bed and was not dragged off to the hospital.

The lesson is this: We are not as young as we used to be. After midnight, particularly when the booze has flowed, men should sit down to whiz.

Here's the medical summary: micturition syncope, which is the temporary loss of consciousness upon urinating. "Simple" syncope is loss of consciousness or, in plain English, fainting. The situations that trigger this reaction are diverse and include having blood drawn, straining while urinating (micturition syncope) or defecating or coughing or swallowing. The reaction also can be due to the emotional stress of fear or pain. Under these conditions, people often become pale and feel nauseated, sweaty, and weak just before they lose consciousness. Situational syncope is caused by a reflex of the involuntary nervous system called the vasovagal reaction. The vasovagal reaction leads the heart to slow down (bradycardia) and, at the same time, it leads the nerves to the blood vessels in the legs to permit those vessels to dilate (widen). The result is that the heart puts out less blood, the blood pressure drops, and what blood is circulating tends to go into the legs rather than to the head. The brain is then deprived of oxygen, and the fainting episode occurs.

You did not know this. I did not know this until I took a seminar in the subject on the hard cold tile of my own bathroom floor. The lesson is simple. If you drink, don't drive. If you drink, don't flirt -- in fact, don't even talk. If you drink, don't expect respect, my man.

And, oh yeah: Squat in the gutter like a particularly decrepit wino if it becomes necessary to urinate.

As you age, these warnings are a version of those old Burma Shave signs on the edge of the highway, in this case each one more disheartening than the one before. It would seem some of us feel compelled to read them all and -- forgive me -- whiz on by.


Anonymous said...

A harrowing tale. And here's another. The great heart of Elvis Presley stopped when his determination to pass a difficult stool came up against the refusal of the lower colon to part with it. When the forehead veins bulge in exertion, gentleman, see it as a red flag.

Anonymous said...

Where is poor Arius to try conclusions? Warring his life long upon the contransmagnifcandjewbangtantiality. Illstarred heresiarch! In a Greek watercloset he breathed his last: euthenasia. With beaded mitre and with crozier, stalled upon the throne, widower of a widowed see, with upstiffed omophorion, with clotted hinderparts.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Yes, as you probably suspected, the preceding is from Joyce's Ulysses. Speaking generally from outside the text rather than specifically from inside the text, I am flattered to be in such company.