Friday, May 18, 2007

Witz Pickz: Airline Mis-Adventures!

It really began at the Doctor's Office--er-- hospital. You see, I was sick. Not a shock, given that my immune system is one breakdown away from an HD Special on The Discovery Channel. So I'm sick again, and this time I have a fever and some real pain, and I'm 24 hours away from a cross-country flight where my health insurance will be useless. So I call up Group Health and find the soonest appointment possible-- 11 AM (I call at 9AM). Now, granted, I should have been concerned, given that "the guy with the earliest open appointment" probably is not also "the guy with the best medical school education and interpersonal skills." What am I gonna do, though? I'm sick, and I need help stat.

I have this thing, and it's not a plus-- it seems that every single time I make an appointment with a new doctor, I sit in the room, waiting, and then the sketchiest, least professional, worst spoken man I've ever seen comes stumbling into the room. In fact, I'm pretty sure I haven't been to a doctor in years, but a series of Psyche Ward patients who have stumbled into my room in an attempt to dodge some pursuing attendants. They always arrive skittish and confused, and tend to have one eye on me and one eye on the door the whole time they're working, often times literally. This was one of those literal cases, as my lazy-eyed MD, Brent Lewis stumbled into the little room and shook my hand with a pudgy mitt.

"What seems to be the problem?"

I explain to him all my symptoms and he proceeds to check my ears. He spends about five minutes painfully jabbing my ear with what I'm pretty sure is a dentist tool, and removes the smallest piece of wax I have ever seen. "Now I can see," he says, with one huge eye showing through his magnification eye-lens. "Now I'm deaf," I want to tell him. He looks in the ear, but gives no sign that there is an issue. He moves to the throat and I do the obligatory "Ahhhh's" awkwardly aka without enough prompting. "It, uhhh, it uhh, looks like, a uhhh, you might have a little case of tonsilitis," Brent tells me. My Doctor. Whose name is BRENT.

"That means my tonsils are enflamed right?" I ask, faintly recalling that tonsilitis is a horrible problem that must be solved by REMOVING THE TONSILS."
"Yep. Minor case. Tonsils look a little pussey," he replies, and I wonder two things-- one, if the guy is making it all up and two, how you spell puss-y without making a post socially uncomfortable.

So I leave the office with a penicillin prescription, which is also suspect, since I'm pretty sure they don't just give out straight "penicillin" anymore. Isn't it usually mixed INTO another medicine? I dunno, all I know is that our man the doctor got the hell out of my room quickly, telling the nurse to take my temperature, but I was good to leave. I have a 96.7 subtemperature, but apparently that wasn't his concern.

Fast forward. This pick isn't about doctors or penicillin or swarthy RN's who don't appreciate a good, "I'm glad to see that temperature taking technology has make advancements in the last ten years," joke when she uses a new fast-actin' ear thermometer on me. This pick is about AIRLINE MISADVENTURES, of which heretofore, there have been none. So here it is.

I take my penicillin the whole rest of the day. I feel alright. The next morning I feel a ton better, my fever appears to be down or gone, and I take another dose of the meds with some toast and peanut butter. We get to the airport, I take another dose at noon, and eat a bagel from a Starbucks that apparently does not have a toaster oven-- freakin' homeland security. At noon, we board the plane, settle into our seats and prepare for take-off. The plane takes off fine, I smile, remembering how insane it is that WE CAN FLY IN PLANES ACROSS THE COUNTRY, and start to read my book.

An hour in. That's when it happens.

I'm feeling good, reading my book, nothing having changed from when I got on the plane when-- SNAP!-- I feel nauseous. Like NAUSEOUS. In a split second, I go from feeling happy to be here, to feeling like I'd been riding the Pirate Ship ride at Six Flags for the last twelve hours. NAUSEOUS. I'm tucked in the window seat, with my girlfriend next to me, and a pleasant older man reading a Hunter S. Thompson book on the end. My girlfriend has already had to slip past him once for the bathroom, and I'm number two er-- number three? Is number three "vomiting until your brain pops out and your toenails shrink? If so, yeah, number three. "Uhp, your turn!" he says to me and I try a smile as I force my way past.

"Where's the bathrooms?" I ask my girlfriend.
"In the front and the back, but the one in the front is in use." I look to the back and see the snack lady blocking the aisle. No way I'm making it there.
"I gotta go to the front," I tell her.
"You can't stand there while you wait, you have to wait at your seat."
"I'm going to throw up," I explain and force my way into the aisle, aiming for the front, which seems to be getting further away and I stand up.

My vision starts to darken and whirl, flicker, and fade, and I know this isn't just about throwing up anymore, I'm definitely gonna pass out. I place each heavy foot in front of the other as I stumble and make my way towards the front. I look up and see the flight attendant shaking her head at me. She's probably in her fifties, tiny, and wearing a frown on her face as she shakes her head and makes it abundantly clear that my girlfriend was not lying about the waiting thing.
"Nooo," She says and pantomimes, waving her hands back and forth to block my path.
"I-m-go-ing-to-pass-out," I mouth and continue my headlong charge up the aisle. My body feels like we must be flying straight up and each step is a journey. I'm also tumbling back and forth like I just pounded a fifth of tequila, so that's fun. I press forward, the air darkens, the flight attendant shakes her head "No" and I shake my head "Yes" just so she'll understand when--
...and I'm on the ground. I'm at the front of the plane, on my knees, with three of four people crowded around me talking and all I know is that my name is Jon W itz and I think I'm going to pass-out. "We know honey," is what I get back and water is handed to me. "I swear I left my water in my seat," I think, and drink it anyway, completely baffled by the fact that I'm sitting on the floor of an airplane, but knowing that it's much more comfortable than one might think. "I need to--"

"We know, honey, we know," I hear all around me. "Now sit down and drink this. How's your head?"
"My head?"
"You hit it pretty hard."
"My head feels fine, but I don't remember hitting anything....wait a minute, have you guys seen Flight Plan?"
"The Forgotten?"
"Red Eye?"
"Snakes On A--"
"--We don't watch any movies starring Jody Foster, Julianne Moore, that chick from the Notebook, or anyone who was ever in Goodburger. Besides, this is all in your head, you're not saying this outloud."
"Whew-- you're all pretty snooty film snobs for flight attendants who have to watch crappy movies all day long."
"This is Southwest Airlines-- we don't show films."
"What's your name honey?"
"Still Jon Witz," I say outloud, hopefully answering a question posed audibly by someone.

Apparently, this is what happened: I blacked out about halfway down the aisle, stumbled forward, clipped about five people on either side of the aisle as I went, barrelled through the flight attendant who spun around as I charge headlong forward, slammed into the wall at the front of the plane, and hit the ground like a sack of rocks.

So now I'm lying on the ground in the aisle, the old flight attendant at my feet, a nice younger woman talking to me and checking my weak pulse, wet towels on my head and neck, sweat dripping down my pale white and green face, passengers on either side of my head (one of whom is a midget, which makes the whole thing even more surreal), and the rest of the plane staring at me from their seats. The nice lady asks me if I want some oxygen.

"No thanks, I don't want to make a scene."

She stares at me for a minute and tells me just to lie there and breath. I talk about my meds, she tells me she's a sports trainer who saw me stumble by and knew something was wrong. She talks about how medicine soaks up liquid so fast that I'm probably really dehydrated and need some food and sugar in my stomach. No, I'm not hypoglycemic or allergic to penicillin. Yes, I would like some pretzels and Sprite. The floor IS very comfortable all things considered, and no matter how many times you say it, flight attendant, nobody is gonna laugh at your joke that I tried to dance with you.

So I lie there for a while, my savior with a slight southern accent coaching me through my recovery, and in a matter of fifteen minutes, I'm sitting up, and standing a few minutes after that. The sports woman tells me that I went into shock and my body had the fight or flight response and, naturally, my body selected flight. This knowledge is slightly embarrassing, but not as much as knowing that I have to walk back to my seat in a few minutes. I take a second to wonder what I would have done if I had made it to the bathroom intact. I'm pretty sure I would have just starting pounding on the bathroom door repeating, "I need to use this now!" over and over until eventually vomiting on the person right as they came out to see who the crazy-person was. Passing out was the better option.

The time comes when I have to get up and go back to my seat. The flight attendant walks in front of me, but I'm much taller, so it's not a helpful shield. It's essentially my first Walk-of-Shame, and I have to keep looking at people staring at me as I walk back and giving them the "Whoah, How Bout THAT Little Fiasco But Now I'm OK" face, which is a combination of a half-smile and a grimace slash wide eyes. But I make it back to my seat, where I sit back down and am welcomed by the friendly old man.

"Want something to eat? We got an assload of peanuts," he imforms me and he is right. Apparently my aisle got "Sorry someone in your row went batshit crazy and passed out" snacks. Nice.

I settle in, eat as much food as I can find, and fall asleep for as much of the flight as possible. As we exit the plane (looking forward to my next three hour stint to Hartford), I am greeted by all sorts of people staring at me, saying they're glad I'm alright, and patting me on the back. In line, while getting pizza, a gentlemanly man behind me strikes up a converstation about how he's glad I'm ok, without my ever turning to know that he was talking to me. Everywhere I go, people look at me, and I know they know. All the same, I got to waste a good half hour of a four hour flight, and had the chance to lie down on an airplane, which, once feeling better, was incredibly comfortable. So yeah, all things considered, Witz PICKZ Airline Mis-Adventures, because with any luck, I will forever be able to refer to this one incident as "My flying story." Hopefully. But I can't help but think that somewhere back in Seattle, Brent Lewis is hiding in a janitorial closet, sniffing chemicals, and trying to avoid the attendants trying to get him back in the psyche ward.

You Know, We Fly High, Ballin--,


IrishGal said...

Holy s**t. Glad you're okay.

By the way, the correct term for something that's full of pus is "purulent." No lie. I worked at several medical offices and had this question come up all the time.

None of those offices were Brent's, either.

Anonymous said...

So glad you're okay! Think you can sue Brent? Then you won't need a new job.