Oh my – that soldier just fainted!

A couple of years ago I had the gBriansBasicGradreat privilege of attending my sons graduation from boot camp at Fort Benning. It was quite the ceremony with a tremendous amount of pomp and circumstance. The graduates has been up for the majority of the night and then stationed down at the parade ground waiting for the ceremony to begin and so I’m guessing that while excited they were not physically at their best. We watched all of the young men line up and then stand at attention on the parade ground while the band played, demonstrations were given, and officials spoke. And during the course of all these activities, one of the graduates, front and center, fainted. A couple of sergeants rushed over to him, dragged him to the back behind all of the other graduates while everything else continued. I’m assuming that this young man quickly recovered because the units marched off the parade ground I did not see anyone lying on the ground. When I mentioned the fainting graduate to my son he said something about the soldier locking his knees.

SpencerTurner - FaintingWhenStandingAtAttentionA question of why some people faint after standing at attention for some time was posed of Dr. Spencer Turner in Oct of 1973. Fainting, also called syncope, is defined by WebMD as the sudden, brief, loss of consciousness and posture caused by decreased blood flow to the brain. While there are medical conditions that can cause fainting, what occurred with the soldier was most likely a simple episode known as a vasovagal attack or neutrally-mediated syncope. This type of fainting occurs because blood pressure drops, reducing circulation to the brain and causing loss of consciousness. Typically it occurs while standing and is often preceded by a sensation of warmth, nausea, lightheadedness and visual grayout.

Locking the knees can indeed lead to fainting as it hinders the flow of blood to the brain. The lack of circulation often leads to a light-headed feeling and can end in the individual fainting. The best way to avoidthis situation, if you have to stand for a prolonged period of time, is to bend your knees.

The original article written by Dr. Spencer Turner can be found at the Lantern Archives .

Would an Advance Directive have helped Marlise Munoz?

Erick & Marlise Munoz

The sad story of Erick and Marlise Munoz has been in the news quite a bit lately.  Marlise lapsed into a brain-dead state in late November.  Marlise and her husband had had conversations regarding such a situation and she had told him that she did not want to be kept alive by machines. 

Such a decision, when put in writing, is called an Advance Directive.  This tells your doctors and other health care workers what type of care you would like should you be unable to make medical decisions.  It can include such things as:

  • If you are brain dead, do you want to be kept alive by machines?
  • If your heart stops, do you want to be resuscitated?
  • If you stop breathing, do you want to be resuscitated?
  • If you are unable to make health care decisions, who is to have durable power of attorney to do so for you?

These are things to be considered when you are healthy and calm.

Marlise had only her husband to communicate her wishes as she had not formally indicated them in an Advance Directive.  Her situation was further complicated due to her 14 week pregnancy and the interpretation of Texas law.  Had Marlise had an Advance Directive, the document could have communicated for her instead of relying on her husband as he was dealing with all of the emotions of such a situation.

The Caring Connections web site (http://www.caringinfo.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3289) provides free Advance Directives and instructions for each state.

If you have an Advance Directive, a copy of it can be brought to the Student Health Services Health Information Services department to have it included in your medical record.  Student Health, however, is an out-patient facility and may not have access to your medical records in an emergency situation.  If your heart stops or you stop breathing within our building we will provide basic life support and first aid.  We will request emergency transport (911) and a copy of your Advance Directive will be given to the Emergency Squad to take to the hospital or it will be forwarded as soon as possible. 

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Reviewed by Mary Lynn Kiacz, M.D.

Just in time for Halloween – ZOMBIE PANDEMIC


Dead Alive

Night of the Living Dead

Cemetery Man

These classic movies and other zombie offerings on TV, in books, and in other media, all have the potential of making us scared to go out at night.  Sure, these are flights of literary fancy, or are they?  Is that your friend, your suitemate, your neighbor, or SOMETHING ELSE?????

The horror motif can certainly get us thinking.  That’s why the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brings us another episode of their Zombie stories, this time in the novella “Zombie Pandemic“.   Our heroes, Julie and Todd, and Max the dog, discover a street full of zombies in their neighborhood.  What do they do?  Are they prepared to survive the night? 

As you sit in Thompson reading this, just think:

  • Would you know where to go if Thompson and the Oval were being evacuated in a weather emergency?
  • Would you be able to stay in contact with family and other supports if your cell was dead or the cell networks were down?
  • If there was an outbreak of illness on campus and you found your roommate sick in their bed, would you know where to advise them to get help?

Being prepared means having some basic equipment for emergency situations, but also thinking through the possible answers to all those “what would you do…” questions.  The CDC has even published a personal checklist for you to use to get ready.

Tornados, man-made threats, virus outbreaks, all of these are far more likely than a zombie pandemic.  I mean, unless you start noticing the…..slow…..movements…..and the slurrrrrrrred……….speeeeech……and…….AAAARRRRGGGGH!!!!!!!!

Be prepared.  You’ll sleep better.

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University