First of all, I’m not fond of flying – especially by myself. Second, the thought of a room full of editors and fellow writers critiquing my work made me a little uneasy. But my biggest fear was concerning my health. If you’ve been following my blog, you know I was diagnosed with MS last February. Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease.
I found my seat on American Airlines flight #1101. To my right, an older guy sat down and started reading a book. To my left, a college-aged kid plopped into his seat, stuck an earbud in each ear and immediately closed his eyes. The whole flight was relatively uneventful. That is, until we began our descent.
As the plane swayed from side to side, my stomach churned. My mouth began to water. Ugh. I was elbow to elbow with two total strangers and nowhere to go if my stomach erupted. I rummaged through the seat pocket in front of me, searching for a bag.
Wiping sweat from my face, I looked to the guy on my right. “Do you have a bag?” Surely he could see the urgency of the situation. He pulled open his seat pocket, but found only a wrinkled sky miles magazine.
To my left, Mr. Earbuds noticed my desperation. He fumbled through his seat pocket and handed me a bag. “Do you need this?”
I gave him a nod and took the bag. And that’s when my hands started tingling.
Actually no, I wouldn’t say they tingled. Have you ever hit your funny bone at that precise spot that feels like electrical shockwaves are blasting down through your fingertips and it’s virtually impossible to bend your arm?
That’s how my hands felt.
I tried opening the bag, but my fingers were stiff and paralyzed. My feet trembled as well. What in the world?
Breathe Sheri. Breathe in ... Breathe out ...
It wasn’t helping.
I took a DEEP breath in. I exhaled a DEEP breath out.
Please Lord. Please don't let me throw up while crammed between two strange men.
This continued for what seemed like an hour. Honestly, it was probably ten minutes. Finally I heard the landing gear release. Once on the ground, my stomach settled down. The tingling in my hands slowly subsided.
Thank you, God. Exhale.
Book Guy looked over at me. “It’s always windy like that, landing in Albuquerque.”
Lovely. I made a mental note. Never go back to Albuquerque – at least not without knocking down a hefty dose of Dramamine first.
The guy on my left yanked out an earbud. “Feeling better?”
“I think so,” I said, exhaling. “Thanks for the bag.” I looked down at my hands. My fingers still tingled, but at least I could bend them again. I noticed instructions printed across the bag.
“Seriously?” I said, reading it out loud. “Please place in waste receptacle after use. Do not place in seat back pocket after use.”
Earbuds chuckled and shook his head.
“Oh my gosh.” I said, “If you would've handed me a bag full of barf I would've lost it for sure.”
He laughed. “I think we all would’ve.”
As I maneuvered my carry-on bag up the aisle, I had one thought. Surely the worst was over now.
Thankfully it was.
Other than a bit of a headache, the rest of the weekend was fabulous.
Before heading home, I bought myself a souvenir from the hotel gift shop.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”
As it turned out, I brought home one other memento from my trip. It reminds me of an insightful little quote from another great woman: my mom.
“Better safe than sorry.”
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