In the Air

My husband and I have never been fond of flying. Not that we haven’t flown, we have, but if driving is feasible, we’d rather hop in our car, turn the key or press the button, and accelerate.

The year was 2019 when we visited our daughter and son-in-law for the first time after they moved to Tennessee. It’s tough living so far from them now. Visiting takes more thought – sitting in an airplane for almost five hours or driving across country are the best options. Since flying will bring us to them swiftly, flying it is!

“Mom, if you and Dad take a red-eye, you’ll fly at night and won’t waste a day of traveling,” my daughter suggested.

“That sounds like a good plan,” I replied, not giving it much thought. So, Matt and I booked our red-eye flight. On the night of our departure when we clambered our way through security, we were surprised at how crowded the San Francisco Airport was at 11pm. We were definite red-eye rookies. We had time to kill, so relaxing over a glass of wine sounded nice. I realized Matt was more talk when it came to jumpy nerves about flying. Once we survived the winding lines of security, the juggle of wallets and cell phones while tightly gripping our luggage, any jumpy nerves he experienced lied down to rest. He enjoyed the airport experience – the buzz of people in masses coming and going from who knows where and heading to who knows where.

My nerves, however, were as jumpy as kids in a bounce house, and I had high hopes for that Chardonnay. Our flight was boarding, so we joined the other passengers in walking through the boarding bridge. The rows on the plane comprised of three seats on each side. Our seats were near the wings. After sliding my carry-on into the compartment above, I slid into the middle seat with Matt to my right on the aisle. In a few minutes, a young woman wearing a black jacket with the hood pulled over her head climbed over us to find her window seat on my left.

I silently kept telling myself that all will be fine. Get comfortable, breathe in, breathe out. The jet began to roll down the runway and Matt took my hand to calm me. Takeoff was as smooth as silk. Once we were flying in the air and seatbelts unbuckled, I exhaled, assuming I was fine. But where I blundered involved my breathing. Did you know you can breathe incorrectly?

“Honey, I feel like I’m going to pass out,” I whispered to Matt.

“What?” He said with panic in his voice. After all, by this time, the clock read midnight and the jet soared over 30,000 feet in the air. No emergency exit provided an escape. This was not a Disneyland ride.

“Honey! My hands and feet are contorting and going numb. I’m going to pass out! PLEASE FIND HELP!” I pleaded through the light-headedness.

The Eagle Scout in my husband shined as he hurriedly walked to where the flight attendants were comfortably sitting. He couldn’t believe this was happening at thousands of feet in the air trapped in a silver cylinder! I’m sure this event wasn’t a first for the flight attendant. The woman was compassionate and, in a firm, loud voice for all passengers to hear, she asked if a doctor was on board, and gratefully, a doctor was on board!

When Matt returned to my side, two flight attendants and that doctor accompanied him. My hands resembled pretzels and my head lolled back on the head rest. I couldn’t feel my feet. I remember the male doctor’s soothing voice, instructing me to again breathe in and out s-l-o-w-l-y. I was given a few sips of 7-up to help raise my blood sugar level. In a matter of minutes, I began to feel human again…hands relaxed to normal position, I could wiggle my toes, and the dizziness in my head subsided.

“Lauren, it looks like you hyperventilated. You didn’t have a panic attack, but it’s important to stay calm and breathe slowly,” the kind doctor said to me. When I exhibited no more symptoms, the doctor and flight attendants returned to their seats and stations. By the way, the young woman sitting on my left kept to herself during my entire calamity – white earbuds plugged in for entertainment and the hood still covering her head.

When the excitement ended, embarrassment washed over me like a tsunami. I wanted to slide down my seat in flexible fashion like Gumby. Instead, my head held high, I analyzed what had just occurred. My analysis was clear as drinking water. It wasn’t so much the flying; it was flying at night that terrified me. But the only way to realize this is to sit in an airplane as it soars through the inky darkness. This nugget of knowledge noted.

No more red-eyes for me and a Big Thank You to doctors on board! From now on, my flights will ascend into the big blue with the golden sun as my beacon. I now know how not to breathe! And a day of airport hopping will never be a waste when our children wait for our arrival on the other side of the itinerary.

The “kids” playing tourists in downtown Nashville.

Lauren Scott (c) 2021 ❤️
Airplane photo courtesy of Google

44 thoughts on “In the Air

    1. Not annoying at all, Joanna. Some people love to fly, and some loathe it. I fall somewhere in the middle. 🙂 Thanks for your kind words about my story and have a lovely weekend. By the way, thank you for your beautiful reviews on Amazon for my books. Greatly appreciated! 💞

    1. Oh, Molly, you might have a better experience than me. 🙂 I can laugh about it now, but at the time, it was scary. And I felt bad for my husband. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 💗

  1. What an experience and recorded so well Lauren. When we go to India, almost every year, it takes 15 hours of non-stop flying and three time zones 😀 plus all the hassle of security checks and waits at the boarding gates, it seems like going into another era!!

    1. Thanks for your wonderful words, Balroop. We’ve been on longer flights, but not for 15 hours. I’m not sure I could that. 🙂 I can only imagine the process feeling like entering into another era! 💖

    1. It was, John, but now I can laugh about it. Of course, it helps to be on solid ground. 🙂 And, it was worth writing about. Always glad to have new inspiration, right? Thanks so much! 🥰

  2. Oh no. As soon as you started listing the symptoms, I knew, Lauren. (Been there, done that, though in different circumstances). I also don’t like flying, but my husband is even worse – clammy hands, terror in his eyes! His very kind doctor gives him a prescription for two valium, one for the flight “wherever” and one for the flight back.

    I hope you get to see the “kids” soon. Take that daytime flight. 😀

    1. I shouldn’t say this, but I’m happy to know I’m not alone in the fear of flying club. 🙂 Though I don’t wish that feeling on anyone. I feel for your husband. Tell him to just remember to breathe and do it slowly. At least you know what I went through. We will see the kids soon and we will fly when those fluffy white clouds are visible. 🙂 Thanks, Diana. Sending hugs!

  3. Flying into the darkness does sound nightmarish! I’m glad though the whole incident went fast and with kind help! [got to ‘admire’ the indifference of that woman next to you!]. Only time I ever flew during night [at least part of the flight], was when I was visiting relatives in Canada, but I was too young to worry [11], even if I traveled alone! 😉 xoxoxoxo

    1. It didn’t take long for me to feel better, but during the moment, I felt like it took forever. 🙂 And I’m sure Matt felt the same! I understand when you were 11 being too young to worry. Although, the woman next to me was old enough to know that something was wrong. I guess I pictured my kids in their late twenties offering to help in some way. Then again, who knows what she was going through. We can’t pass judgement without the facts. It was only in that horrific moment that she annoyed me. 🙂 But it’s all over and all is good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Marina. And remember to breathe slowly! Hugs for a happy weekend! xoxoxo

  4. When I was doing Hypnotherapy and Meditation therapy, many years ago, I had a middle aged woman come to me for help with fear of flying. She had never, ever visited her daughter on the opposite coast, but now her child was getting married! I interviewed her as I always did to try and get a peek at the issue, the block. She was a beautiful soul and a spiritually religious woman. I wrote my Hypnosis script with much imagery … beautiful angels holding up the plane in the air! I have never forgotten her and her gratitude. It worked! So when life throws you turbulence or darkness, the angels will keep you up in the air. My 2 cents.

  5. I just about lived in an airplane for much of my Asia travels when based in Singapore so it was no novelty and quite exhausting hopping from one culture to another with frequent missed connections for one reason or another. So there was nothing fearful about the experiences. I would board the plane, settle and either sleep or review business magazines looking for the latest tips which I’d highlight and dump on my secretaries desk on a return to Singapore to extract the articles that were most useful to me for filing. Now flying with young children is another experience indeed. LOL

    1. It’s great that you could fly with ease, except for dealing with the hassles, Ian. And I’m sure flying with young children is a whole new adventure. Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. Oh dear! I’m sure that was quite an ordeal you went through. I honestly can relate, as I have a fear of flying, and especially at night! I hardly sleep, and try to remain calm, but my heartbeat races like the wind as soon as I board the plane! I’ve always had a fear of flying and I don’t think I will ever get over it. But thank goodness you were alright! Yeah, day flights are way better to take!! Stay blessed my dear. 💖🙏🌈

    1. I’m sorry you deal with this fear too, Diana. Its grip can be unbearable. But just remember to breathe s-l-o-w-l-y. 🙂 And yes, day flights are the best! I always appreciate your lovely comments. Hugs! 🥰💕✈️

  7. Ah Lauren , we share a fear for sure. I flew 2 years ago for the first tkme in 20 years. I spent a lot of time before listening to pod casts on fear of flying and how aeroplanes work. It did help. I had an anchor thought to keep me going and a whole list of helpful hints. 😊 im glad you brave it and hope yoh have a great time when you finally reunite with your family xx

    1. It’s comforting to know you understand how I felt on that flight, Alison. An anchor thought is a good idea. It’s mind over matter, keeping those negative thoughts that invite fear more than an arm’s length away. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience and solution. I’ll give it a try before we fly again. Hugs 💗

    1. It was a wonderful convenience that a doctor was on board. I’m sure the flight attendants would have handled the situation just fine, but having that medical expert added the final touch of comfort.

  8. That had to be a horrifying experience. I’m glad for the happier ending. I used to love flying in the good old days. Now, I just want to get there; traveling is such a hassle without a pandemic added to the mix.
    Hugs xo

  9. Oh my, Lauren, what a story! I had a feeling you weren’t going to like the red eye flight – although I’ve never taken one. Glad you were okay after the doctor came by. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Barbara! I learned a few lessons…no more red-eyes, stay calm, and breathe slowly. Visiting the kids was worth the fiasco, but I was happy to be on solid ground once we landed. 🙂

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