True personal experience this week: I was at my desk, racing to get work done, unable to go to lunch. I got up at about 3 or 4 pm and grabbed some pretzel sticks and a Diet Coke.
Sat down, popped one in and took a sip. Somehow, either the pretzel went down the wrong way or the Coke flooded my throat or ... I don't know. Next thing I knew I propelled myself out of my chair noisily attempting to breathe.
Like Bush said, "I hit the deck." I fell, throwing a paper basket out of the way and even shoving a bookcase against the wall so hard that the phone jack was twisted in such a way that the phone became inoperable.
I'm not sure what happened then. I blacked out. I came to in pain, lying on the chair mat and attempting to catch my breath. I could not speak, just make signals that I needed a moment.
I felt myself sweat profusely. It was a cold, panicked sweat. Slowly breath returned to me and from shallow gasps I went to deeper, more moderate breathing.
Then I noticed I had hit my left leg badly. My big toe was swollen and, upon inspection later, at home, it was bruised -- just like Bush's face.
CNN called it a "vasovagal syncope" at the time. I'd come across that term once before, when someone I know had a horrible, humiliating loss of bodily function. According to the Wikipedia, a syncope is
a sudden, and generally momentary, loss of consciousness, or blacking out caused by the Central Ischaemic Response, because of a lack of sufficient blood and oxygen in the brain. The first symptoms a person feels before fainting are dizziness; a dimming of vision, or brownout; tinnitus; and feeling hot. Moments later, the person's vision turns black, and he or she drops to the floor (or slumps if seated in a chair). If the person is unable to slump from the position to a near horizontal position, he or she risks dying of the Suspension trauma effect.This approximates in many ways my own experience, and possibly Bush's.
Uncannily, Bush was almost exactly my age in 2002, when he had his episode. Perhaps it's a middle-aged-man thing. The killer pretzel attacked me, too.