The blood draw went as normal (well, normal for me; they had to stick me in both arms before they could find a vein). I did my duty, had a Nutri-grain bar and a juice box, and went on my merry way.
About ten minutes into the mass, I started feeling a little flushed. Again, no big deal. This happens to me occasionally. Usually it's a reaction to a hot room and too much incense. Alright, I'll sit down and put my head down between my knees.
Didn't help. After five minutes, I'm getting even hotter, and I'm starting to get dizzy. I think about quietly getting up and walking outside, but after trying to inch my way to the end of the pew, think better of it. I don't think I can stand, let alone walk.
I text message my ex-wife who is still in the parking lot talking with friends, hoping that she can come in and help me out. No luck. What a time to discover that the text messages I've sent her didn't go through (damn you, Cingular/AT&T).
By this time, some other people have noticed me, and they come over to assist me.
I'm a little fuzzy on the details for the next few minutes. As near as I can tell, they walked/carried me out of the church and into the vestibule. I started making my way toward the stairs, just to sit down on a step. Instead, between a doctor, three nurses, and a half-dozen well-meaning women, they laid me down on the floor, put cold towels on my forehead and neck, propped my feet up, and had me sip a little Gatorade. Somewhere in that whole process, I apparently lost consciousness for a few seconds.
By this time, the doctor has called for an ambulance. The EMTs show up, strap me onto a gurney, and take me to the hospital. En route, they inserted an IV (again, having to stick me twice before find a vein in the back of my hand).
I arrive at the hospital, by this time feeling more or less normal, and spend the next two hours sitting in an ER booth. My IV went dry after the first hour, so for most of that time, I've go a needle sticking out of the back of my hand with nothing going in, slowly starting to backfill with blood. They finally sprung me at 3:00.
Total time from the onset of symptoms to release. Just under three hours.
Total time actually being examined by medical personnel: less then 15 minutes, and most of that was by a medical student.
My guestimate at the total bill, between the ambulance ride, the IV, the blood sugar test, and being looked at by the EMTs, two nurses, and doctor: well over $1000.
Their release orders: drink more water.
All of this could have been prevented if I had stuck around the bloodmobile for five more minutes, had another cup of juice, and left the church at the first sign of lightheadedness.
Son of a bitch.