Years later I realized what had happened. I was reading the book Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane and he describes the changes in his visual field before he would pass out from starvation. It was exactly like what I'd experienced on the stairs at school. I was crash dieting that year, eating only the school lunch because my mom was in a major depression and was not cooking, and the kitchen was in no shape for me to make anything for myself. So I was starving, basically, and I'd get very faint and see spots of light against a brown-gray color background, I'd hang my head down and blood would flow to my brain and stop me from actually passing out.
The residents who did the tests never thought to ask me what, if anything, I was eating. (I was 13 at the time.)
Mom was of course disappointed that I didn't turn out to have epilepsy.
Once doctors failed to diagnose something I actually did have because they no longer believed my mom. I started having gallbladder attacks when I was 15. I'd be doubled over in pain for hours at a time after a heavy meal. Classic symptoms, and classic placement for the pain. Teens don't normally develop this but I read years later of a study that connected crash dieting and gallbladder disease. The doctor didn't believe it could be gallbladder and in fact it remained undiagnosed for 22 years before my gallstones showed up on ultrasound and x ray and I had it removed. This didn't exactly help my relationship with doctors. More than one along the way suggested it was "in my head." Of course this infuriated me. The last thing I wanted was to be mistaken for my Munchausen afflicted mother, even though I hadn't yet heard that term for what she had.
I am currently going through my baby books which chronicle my mom's earliest obsessions with my health.
It makes me sad to look back and realize I never thought of myself as healthy. I was expected to be sick, and rewarded for going along with my Mom's stories. Of course when I was younger I didn't even question her stories or behavior. She was MOM. She must be right. And I guess that's what the doctors thought too.