Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Flying with Sickle Cell

As you know one of the precursors of an exacerbation is flying at high altitudes. Although a pressurized cabin is highly recommended---even this manages to trigger a sickle cell crises. Usually I've been fine flying with only minor L2s if anything but usually I didn't live in California and have to fly back east on a long flight.

I always hydrate, pack both my Dilaudid & Vicodin and pray and hope I don't get sick, getting up to stretch my legs and joints often as suggested. But even then, on a trip from Baltimore to Cali with a layover in Atlanta, my ass was laid out on the floor hurting in so much pain. The plane was packed, and I needed to lay down bad. Worse I was in the center aisle, so getting comfortable wasn't an option. My Vicodin wasn't working and my Dilaudid was in my other suitcase in the overhead bin. There was nothing I could do, just retreat into my head and wipe the tears running down my cheeks. Son-of-a-cow!

The stewardess noticed my distress and I told her I had to lay down bad. The only place that I could lay down as was at the back of the plane, between the kitchen and the bathrooms. So you know everyone who was going to pee saw me rolling around on the floor in pain, but I didn't give a rat's ass. She got my Dilaudid from my suitcase, called for a medic and the airline marshal came to check me as well. Luckily there was a doctor on the flight who suggested Oxygen (which they had on board). The rest of the flight was a blur, all 2 hours of it and when we landed in Atlanta, they wouldn't let me get on my next plane.


I know the reason is cause they were worried for me, but leaving me stuck in frickin' GA was not part of my game plan. I had places to be. I refused the ambulance they brought to take me to the hospital and had to sign a paper stating that I was boarding the plane against medical advice. They told me that if I took sick, they couldn't stop the plane once they started so it was my last chance. I doubled up on the Dilaudid, kicked some Benadryl as well and slept my way through the second flight. I did have pain but it wasn't as bad as the first time, and I got escorted from the plane with a wheelchair---all the way to baggage claim where my Aunt was waiting for me.

The reason this is on my mind is because I'm flying to my sister's wedding on the 29th. And it's a straight 8 hour flight round trip. Perhaps not having a layover wasn't that good of an idea.


KM said...

Aw, sis... will you get to take it easy this weekend? If you're not gonna be able to take time off work, a quiet weekend might give you a chance to charge up before you have to travel again...

Regardless of how you choose to swing it, I hope things go smoothly.


Real Life Drama Queen said...

Be careful hon. You worry me. And you know you better call me or have someone call me if you end up in the hospital again. HUGS

Anonymous said...

I have sickle beta thalassemia minor and I have enjoyed reading your entire blog. It is nice hearing from one that suffers as I have and do. I wanted to let you know that I was reading an article on the web about stem cell transplants in adult sickle cell anemia patients and they were successful. In fact it seems that stem cell transplants are extremely successful on sickle cell anemia. I still keep reading in many places that there is no cure for sickle cell but that is completely wrong now. I am excited to know know that stem cell transplants can actually cure a person of the disease because I know how it feels to suffer the pain. WOW!!! I am sure that I would never qualify for this because I am not nearly as sick as you or someone with Sickle Cell Anemia. So do some research and maybe you too can be one of the lucky ones that get a chance to be cured!!

Anonymous said...

MUST HAVE LAY OVER;-\ or if not, hydrate, rest (before trip) and eat. When we travel we usually don't eat well, we (SC folks) MUST take precautions before travel....who am I telling, u already know that.
Keep up the great post, you're telling all of our (SC folks) story (from sex to travel) God bless u!

Ify said...

The same thing happened to me even though I was popping my oxycodone like popcorn, it still didnt help. But when I landed, I was hospitalized for 2wks. We gotta keep STRONG and take it easy.