Have you ever been on a plane when there was a medical emergency?
Okay…what about if YOU were the medical emergency?
Let me back track a bit. Yesterday morning, Sunshine and I were on the L Train in downtown Chicago…enjoying our final hours in an amazing city. She had a decent breakfast and I had a Honeycrisp apple…not much in terms of substance, but certainly not out of the realm of what I normally eat in the morning. We picked up our last-minute gifts for our kids and head back to Random Esquire’s place to say a final “goodbye” before heading home.
We got to O’Hare airport a bit early, I admit. We arrived and were through security at 1:20pm, a solid two hours before our plane was scheduled to depart at 3:30pm. I grabbed some M&M’s and Sunshine grabbed a bag of Doritos. The idea was to have a snack in Chicago and then grab an actual supper during our layover in Newark.
Not my best plan ever.
The plane was completely packed and due to a (seemingly) last-minute “rain-turns-into-snow” weather change, we were stuck in the plane on the tarmac for an hour while it was de-iced. At this point, everything seemed fine. I felt good and my only concern was Sunshine, who simply wanted to get home and was frustrated by the wait.
The flight itself was fine. I kinda dozed in and out a little bit, but overall stayed awake for the 2-hour flight. Everything seemed ordinary until we began to make our decent into Newark. To me, it was really bumpy and the turbulence was bad. Now I’ve been through turbulence before and it has never bothered me before. For some reason, I began to feel queasy.
We hit the tarmac with a fairly rough landing and I thought all would be well. At this point, it seemed as though the plane was just bouncing all over the place as it taxi’d itself to its gate. It was here when I felt as though I was going to be sick. I grabbed the “barf bag” and cranked on the fan above me. I felt over-heated and nauseous.
Then it happened.
From what Sunshine told me, I stiffened up like a board…like I was going through some kind of seizure or something. After about 20 second or so, I went completely limp. I don’t remember any of this.
What I remember is Sunshine’s face…staring at me all worried as I opened my eyes. She was asking me if I was alright. I thought I just fell asleep for a second and was taken aback by the fear on her face. I then looked to my right and realized that a man was talking to me and asking me questions. He told me he was a doctor and attempted to explain what had happened.
I heard the captain announced that there was a “medical emergency” on the plane and that an ambulance was on its way. I looked around and realized that they were talking about me and that everybody on the plane was looking in my general direction. I was scared out of my mind because I had no idea what was going on. I felt weak and woozy, but otherwise fine…so the attention I was getting was really scaring me.
The doctor was asking me questions. I was alert, I knew where I was and who I was, so his immediate conclusion was that I didn’t have a seizure, but something else. I then asked to head back to the restroom as I was feeling ill. I think the plane ended up appreciating this because it meant that they didn’t have to wait for me to get escorted off, rather they could now exit while I got sick in the back of the plane.
I looked at myself in the mirror and realized I was a ghostly shade of white and green, and the reality of the situation really hit me…I got even more scared.
I opened up the restroom door and a very friendly attendant spoke to me a bit. I explained that other than “weak and woozy” I was feeling okay. He gave me a bottle of water and explained that the NYPD and Homeland Security were going to want to talk to me. I totally understood, realizing that I had caused a scene on an aircraft, that they would want to ensure I wasn’t crazy or drunk or something else entirely. I also realized that we probably wouldn’t be hitting our connecting flight in 40 minutes.
I met the security team and they escorted me to some seats at the terminal gate. They gave me some oxygen and I gave them my identification. We spoke for 10 minutes or so before the ambulance team arrived. The immediate recommendation was to take me to the local hospital and have me checked out before finding another flight out the following day.
I then began to feel my stomach move. Violently. I asked the medic for a bag or something, but he couldn’t find one fast enough. I ran to the nearest garbage can and “let ‘er fly”. A few times.
Once done, I felt 100 times better. I sat down and spoke with the medics awhile longer and they could see the colour coming back to my face. The NYPD even asked my wife if I was normally this shade of pale, which we all got a bit of a chuckle from.
The United representative wanted to confirm if I was feeling well enough to make the next flight, so the medical team took my blood pressure. Everything was fine and the decision was mutually made that I could fly. She called ahead to hold the plane and we made our way to the gate.
The ensuing flight went off without a hitch. I thought I might get sick again on decent into Halifax, but I think it was more mental than anything else as once we landed I felt totally fine.
I’m heading out this morning to the hospital to sit in the emergency room for who knows how long. Sunshine took the day off from work to make sure I go. We just want to make sure we find out if this was a one-off situation or something more serious.
I not only scared myself, but scared my wife to the point that she was in tears on the second plane for a solid hour. The whole situation must have been horrific for her to experience…I can’t even imagine.
For now, though…I’m feeling fine and will update all of you on what the results of today’s trip to the doctor are.