My Very Own Carrie Fisher Flight From Hell

As has become our tradition, after the holiday crush and once we shipped the kids back to their prospective universities, my husband and I slipped down to Mexico for a week of sun and sand. And guacamole and margaritas.

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And it was needed. My husband, after a series of work setbacks and health issues, had morphed into Captain Miserable, Captain Doom and Gloom. Yes, he was certain the world was coming to an end and he was dying.

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No matter that I’m the one who just lost my dad a couple months prior,  and I’m the one who practically totaled my SUV while driving to a conference across town (the brakes failed and the SUV sustained over $16,000 worth of damage, but that’s another story)

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Nope, the Original Obnoxious One was experiencing the worst period of his life, so just before taking off, his family doctor prescribed some new medication to help improve his well-being. Initial indications were promising.

We arrived at our adults-only, all-inclusive paradise on its own private beach, just past the party scene that is Cabo San Lucas.  And the sun did shine and the water was blue and the food was delectable, especially the ceviche. And yeah, the margaritas didn’t suck.

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Until the third day.

By the third day, the meds kicked into overdrive and my dear darling husband could barely get out of bed. Captain Miserable blew back into town and he stuck around for a couple days until we figured out the culprit. Once he stopped taking the meds he began to improve, just in time to go home.

By then I had transformed into a stress cookie. I wondered if Captain Miserable was going to live? Would he be depressed and downhearted forever? Would he ever sort out his career woes or was I doomed to have him by my side, day after day, hour after hour, retired at only 55?! I considered every possibility in turn and agonized and worried and stewed over each. Because after all, that’s one of the things I do best…worry and stew and agonize. Just call me Chief Worrier and Caregiver of the World.

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We stepped on that plane after our week in the sun, tanned and newly svelte from not eating or sleeping. I had suffered from persistent acid reflux so hadn’t been able to choke down much food and Captain Miserable’s moans and groans and snoring kept me awake into the wee hours most nights. But I looked forward to returning home to our cold wet coast, and Franklinstein.

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I wasn’t hungry so I skipped the “meal” and went straight to the recent movie releases on the entertainment system while my husband snored not so gently beside me. Two hours into the flight I didn’t feel well. I felt like something was wrong, very very wrong. So I started googling my symptoms.

  • severe heartburn – check
  • chest pain like an elephant sitting on chest – check
  • pain running down arm – check
  • tingling fingers – check
  • dizzy & lightheaded – check
  • lower back pain – check

OMG I was having a heart attack on the plane just like Carrie Fisher?!

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Sure why not – what a way to start 2017!

I figured at this stage we were over California. Yep, let’s have a heart attack onboard a plane, land in Trump’s America (assuming they would even let us in) and kiss away our life savings to the American Healthcare System.

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Oh and by the way, my father and his father both died of a ruptured aorta aneurysm,  a rather rare heart condition which tends to be hereditary. I hadn’t been tested yet, so didn’t know if I was susceptible, but since I do have a blood disorder similar to hemophilia,  I didn’t want to take any aspirin. Ruptured aorta vs heart attack – what a choice!

My husband woke up and spoke with the incredible WestJet folks. Luckily for me, there was a doctor on board – poor guy! I managed to keep it together and not freak out or die before we made it to Vancouver. I did, however, cry and pray and promise to be a better person;  you will understand that this was not one of my better flights. To my supreme mortification and relief,  8 paramedics rushed me off the plane and drove us to the nearest hospital.

Several hours later they discharged me, after numerous pokes and prods and vials of blood and X-rays and ultrasounds…you name it, they did it.

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So what happened?

The blood enzymes indicated there had been no heart attack. The chest x-ray and ultrasound showed no signs of bleeding or tear in the aorta. So…

  • acid reflux?
  • angina?
  • exhaustion and stress?
  •  pinched nerve &/or damaged muscles?

Despite more tests and examinations the past few weeks by my family doctors and local specialists, we still don’t really know what happened. I had a very scary plane ride and a very stressful experience, but hey, I’m still here.

I’ve realized that sometimes I need to let go of my Chief Worrier and Caregiver of the World hat and relax – at least sometimes. So I’m back to exercising

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and meditating

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and hanging out with my dog.

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And Captain Doom and Gloom? He has a great new job and is happier and more relaxed than he’s been in years. Thank goodness! Now if I could only convince him to meditate, I know he’d feel so much better.

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I’ll have to get one of his clients to work on him – they usually have more luck than I do.

But you know, after everything that’s happened, it’s still a wonderful world just as Louis said.

Really!

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Obnoxious One = Very Bad Luck

It’s official – my son, the Obnoxious One, has terrible luck. He’s the kind of kid that if he and nine of his friends do something stupid, he’s the one, he’s the only one, out of the ten that gets caught. And punished. He’s been there. He’s done that. Way too many times unfortunately.DSC02374

But recently the last six weeks of his second year at university involved one unfortunate event after another.

  • his dog had to be put down and his sister insisted he Skype in IMG_2103
  • his girlfriend dumped him…nbegguyonly to want him back 24 hours later
  • his Mac laptop was stolen from the university library while he was taking a half hour break.
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    He later admitted during “that break” he’d popped home for a quick game of FIFA with his buddies. Not a great decision, especially since the laptop was never recovered. What really sucked it that he still had three exams left to write and hadn’t backed up any of his notes or files.

Nevertheless somehow he managed to survive the end of the school year and arrived home in one piece, more or less. Of course, his luck didn’t improve at home as drama after drama unfolded. I’d divulge the sordid details, but he’d kill me. Really!

However he had the opportunity to go to Spain for three weeks this month to study Spanish History. (see Queen’s-Blyth Worldwide) The accredited course would take a small number of fortunate university students and their professor from Madrid to Seville to Barcelona, an amazing educational experience. For the Obnoxious One it was the chance to smash his bad luck streak and indulge in his love of travel, food and history.

Except there was one little problem:  in Madrid on the second day he became violently ill. Despite numerous trips to the pharmacy, symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and a high fever persisted. A doctor who spoke some limited English examined him and prescribed antibiotics. I checked in with my baby every morning and night to see if he was still alive; of course his dad was out of the country on business, and his sister was newly broken up with her boyfriend. (She did the breaking up, but regardless, it was brutal at home – one wrong word or look and POW!!!)  After a week of no improvement (for him not her), a week of missed classes, and a week of missed excursions, it was time to man up; either my son had to go to the hospital in Madrid or come home and go to the hospital in Vancouver. And did I mention he lost more than ten pounds?!

Not surprisingly he chose to fly home, despite everything.

I picked the Obnoxious One up at the airport and took him straight to the Emergency Room at St Paul’s Hospital. Of course he wasn’t so obnoxious right then, my poor baby. As you might imagine, since St Paul’s is a downtown inner-city hospital it attracts all kinds of interesting people, particularly on a Saturday evening. The staff, however, are incredibly kind, incredibly patient and incredibly competent. Still, there are others places I’d rather be, especially considering it was my wedding anniversary. Twenty-eight years, but who’s counting?! After examining my son and taking samples of his blood and stool they sent us home.

He’s been home for five days now, and seems to be gradually improving on a steady diet of sleep, chicken broth and plain Greek yogurt. And no alcohol. The test results from the hospital came back negative for nasty bacteria or parasites. So either the antibiotics eventually did their business or he has a more serious underlying condition.  Good thing we have a great family doctor who’s very, very thorough since my son will be spending a lot of time with him trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

Perhaps deep in his subconsciousness the Obnoxious One just doesn’t want to travel anywhere without his mommy. Because after all, every single time during the past year he’s ventured too far away without me ( Dominican Republic in February 2012, aborted trip to Montreal in October, and Madrid in early May 2013 ), he’s had serious gastrointestinal issues.

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the two of us, happy and healthy, in Cabo

Guess I’ll just have to follow him wherever he goes…I know he’ll love that. And as a writer I can write anywhere, anytime, so he won’t cramp my style. Really!