Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Getting There

So we were flying to Calgary on Thursday. There was no connecting flight, so we were flying to Toronto first. Everything was going swimmingly - we got to the airport, got a primo parking place, checked our bags, got boarding passes, went through security, hung out in the lounge for a bit and then went down to the gate. As soon as we got to the gate, they started boarding us - we didn't even have to sit down. Matt said that was like winning airport bingo.

We got on the plane. It was quick, of course. Just as we were touching down in Toronto, Eve said "this is my best flying day ever!"

We shushed her. But it was too late.



As we were boarding a flight to Calgary, we walked past a young man in a wheelchair who looked kind of out of it. After we sat down in our seats - in aisle 17 - we saw the young man being helped up the airplane aisle by a flight attendant. When I say 'helped' up the aisle, she wasn't just holding his arm - she was holding him from behind and almost carrying him. To aisle 16. I thought it was a little weird, but beyond feeling bad for him for having to fly while being unwell, I didn't think much of it. She got him into the middle seat and a woman who was presumably his mother sat in the aisle seat. She proceeded to put down her table tray and unload a buttload of prescription pill bottles onto it. When the woman who had the window seat arrived, the mother seemed annoyed that her son had to stand up to let the woman by and muttered something about him having had surgery. The kids and I were directly behind their seats and my husband was across the aisle. We exchanged glances.

Before the flight left, three separate flight attendants came to speak to the woman. They asked her what kind of surgery he had had - abdominal - and how long ago - she never said anything more precise than 'a few days ago'. They expressed surprise and concern at the fact that the reservations people had apparently not been informed about his condition and asked several times if his doctors had cleared him to fly. There was a bit of a language barrier, but she kept saying yes, yes, he was fine to fly and "he's okay, he's okay".

I did not have a good feeling about this.

Before takeoff, the woman kept dropping pill bottles and asking people around her to look under their seats for them. Shortly after takeoff, the woman at the window seat was moved to another seat to she wouldn't be blocked in by the sick man. Flight attendants kept walking up and down the aisle shooting looks at the pair which ranged from worried to angry. Finally, a male flight attendant came and told the woman that the man wasn't looking very well and that he was going to see if there was a doctor on board. She kept saying "he's okay, he's okay" and finally he said, very firmly, "I don't think he is. And we're at thirty-five-thousand feet."

There was a doctor on board. He came back and asked the woman the same questions that had already been asked, and then looked at the medication. He said "okay, Valium. How much of this did you give him?" She said "six". He said "Six milligrams? No, this is ten milligram strength. Wait, HOW many did you give him?"

She said "six."

He said "You gave him SIXTY MILLIGRAMS of Valium?"

Then he said that one of those pills was enough to keep someone asleep for twenty-four hours, and that sixty milligrams could stop someone from breathing. Then he told her to keep him awake.

Because, sure. Nothing easier than giving someone sixty milligrams of fucking Valium and then keeping them awake for a four-hour flight.

I couldn't not hear any of this. The kids were mostly watching movies or playing on their ipods, while asking me the occasional question because I looked worried. When the guy started roaring at his mother for yelling him awake, they got a little more frowny - even though we all sympathized, because geez, if someone dosed me with horse tranquillizer and then wouldn't let me sleep I'd be cranky too. When he actually DID stop breathing and they started slapping him across the face to get him to breathe again, they became fairly perturbed. Then they removed him to the back galley of the plane and shortly informed us that we would be flying back to Toronto to get medical attention for the man.

On his last trip back from California, Matt's suitcase got lost. Not delayed or misplaced - lost lost. Like, it's never getting found lost. He said that was a first for him in all his many flights. This was another one.

So we flew back to Toronto - and man, it feels horrible to be going backwards. But they were fairly fast and efficient at refueling the plane while the medical personnel got on and took the man off - he was semi-conscious - and they got two new flight attendants really quickly, and they kept us informed, which is the most important thing to my mind - I get stabbiest when no one will tell me what's going on. At one point the announcement said "the two new flight attendants have just arrived and are being briefed. As soon as that's done, we'll.... make another announcement."

So our travelling day was a few hours longer, but my kids were really good. ALL the kids on the plane were really good. I saw one woman who was pregnant and traveling with a toddler and felt like hugging her. Another little girl came down the aisle, whacked me happily on the leg a few times, demanded to be picked up and then tried to pull off Angus's braces. And after we got back airborne, they gave us free pretzels AND cookies, so I guess they really WERE grateful for our patience.

As we were getting off the plane in Calgary, Eve said "well I can't imagine a worse flight than THAT one."

We shushed her. I hope we were in time.

16 comments:

Jane said...

Oh. My. Goodness.

Hugs to you and all the other patient passengers.

I don't dare say anything else.

Nan | Wrath Of Mom said...

HOLY CRAP! Free pretzels AND cookies?! I assume you were on WestJet, then?

The worst flight I've ever had was Puerto Vallarta to Calgary when over half the people got sick. The only reason we didn't have to set down in New Mexico was because there was a doctor onboard. She managed to put the sickest people on saline drips and that meant we all got to fly back to the land of free healthcare! Then when we got to Calgary Health Canada was notified in case we needed to be quarantined. FUN TIMES!!!

StephLove said...

Is her middle name Cassandra?

Sarah McCormack said...

oh yes. the joys of flying. i love love travelling but i really wish we could use "floo powder" or a "port key" (a la Harry Potter)..

Sasha said...

Wow. WOW. Did the woman show, I don't know, any DISTRESS about him not breathing? I wonder what was so important about that trip to Calgary.

And yeah, I'd be sending Eve as unaccompanied minor until she clears that jinx debt :P.

Mary Lynn said...

Wow. Wow, what a flight. Can't believe she gave him that much valium. Thank goodness a doctor was on board.

My worst flight was being on a flight that was flying in rough weather. The plane actually got hit by lightning. There was a BIG scary jolt. The pilot came on right away to say everything was fine. Then he came on five minutes later to say they'd checked out all the engines and everything was fine. This made me realize that the first time they said everything was fine, they didn't actually know that yet! Gah!

Ed's flown hundreds of flights and has never had a plane hit by lighting.

Nicole said...

I just got stressed reading this. Imagine if he had DIED on your flight. OMG.

The worst flight landing I ever had was going to Palm Springs and there was some kind of windstorm. I honestly thought the plane was crashing.

Sarah said...

Holy. Shit.

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

Ok. Free cookies just might be totally worth it.

Crazy Preggo Lady said...

Valium is awesome but that's CRAZY!!! Did I mention that I like morphine too?

Julie said...

Holy shit that is crazy!! Glad it turned out OK in the end. Did you happen to snatch one of those bottles rolling around on the floor? :)

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clara said...

Holy shit man. That is awful. What happens if there's no doctor on board? Or all the doctors are like "nuh uh, I'm on vacation, screw you all".

I took a recent trip to Saskatoon, which is 3 hours as the crow flies but takes a whole day if you go the cheap route and the worst thing was this kid who was probably 4 years old but screamed for 15 minutes straight about ??? while we sat on the tarmac being de-iced. He could have used just a tiny bit of Valium.