Up in the Air

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Aruba was amazing. Getting there was awful.

** Disclaimer: This experience is mine and mine alone. The following story is based on true events that may or may not be true of other Potsies. I do not claim to speak for anybody else.**

So let’s recap my posts thus-far. What is POTS? POTS is the body’s inability to regulate changes in blood pressure and pulse due to a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system. What is turbulence on an airplane? Pressure change.

Putting two and two together, what happens when you put a Potsie on a turbulent airplane? Said Potsie does not become nervous on the plane because said Potsie has flown many times before. This being said, the Potsie has not flown since her POTS has come out of its shell, so to speak. So, combining a person with very little ability to regulate pressure in her own body, and significant pressure changes around her, this Potsie’s body will have a VERY difficult time remaining upright.

If you couldn’t tell from my ranting, that Potsie would be me.

I recently went to Aruba with my family and it was a wonderful time! Ask me about it if you want details of the trip! What I want to discuss now, though, are my thoughts on flying with POTS.

I’ve never flown with POTS before, so this was a new adventure.

Flying down to the island was relatively okay. I only blacked out and lost my vision a little bit during takeoff and landing, resulting in me crying twice and struggling to stay conscious. That was a walk in the park compared to the return trip.
IMG_3803I started out the trip by having anxiety issues at the airport. That’s when the POTS started to go downhill. So we got a wheelchair and whizzed through security. Great. We waited at the gate for about four hours, during which time I donned my compression garments. Waist- high tights and full-length sleeves. (Keep in mind, this was Aruba…… hot to begin with, made hotter by my new fashion statement.) We got on the plane, which I was dreading to begin with, after flying down and blacking out on takeoff and landing, and I sat down in my seat. I immediately started crying…. We hadn’t even moved yet.

We took off…. I blacked out again. I was still wearing all of my compression gear, chugging my NormaLyte, and squeezing every muscle of my body, fighting to stay conscious.IMG_3807

We got into the air and the turbulence started. As I stated before, turbulence is a change in air pressure. I’m sorry to burst everyone’s bubble, but those airline cabins are not as pressurized as you might think….. I. Felt. Everything. Every little bump sent me spinning. And chugging. And swelling. And struggling. And crying. And fighting to stay upright.

This went on for the entire flight. I was fighting my body for five hours straight. It was all- out war.

Anyway, all of this is just to say that when flying as a Potsie, you should be prepared to tackle your POTS head-on. I didn’t know what to expect from flying and now I know that I love traveling, but flying is not something I’d like to do very often in the future.

Email me at potsienb@gmail.com and tell me about your travel experiences! I’d love to hear how you all manage while everything is “up in the air!”

7 thoughts on “Up in the Air

  1. Because I have to wear the cooling vest (Glacier Tek) whenever I leave home, I can’t travel. I can only imagine how horrible it would be to even attempt to fly without it (TSA won’t allow it because it eventually turns to liquid- about 3-4 hours after putting it on, in controlled temperature environment). 😦

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      • It’s got this stuff in it that pulls heat away, and keeps my body at about 57 degrees (superficially). It has made a huge difference in being able to leave home for appointments, short trips to the store, etc. If I have time and need to be somewhere for more than 2 hours, I have extra refills that I carry in a heavily insulated bag (Polar, I think). It was a life changer for me. I’m super sensitive to temperatures, and keep the AC on even when it’s snowing at times. THey’re not cheap, but they are well made, and have allowed me a little bit of normality. Otherwise, I’d be homebound %100… with the vest, I can leave for about 2 hours (max) a couple of times a month. 🙂

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      • That’s wonderful! I’m so glad it works for you!! Good luck in continuing to leave the house. Never give up and stay homebound. 🙂 you are so strong

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      • I’m pretty much homebound for the last 12 years. Worse the last 4-5. I manage OK- Schwan’s frozen food delivery , Walmart delivery, Amazon, etc. This summer will be the last that I’m out during the day, but it’s OK. I’ll just have to schedule MD appointments during cooler seasons (I’m usually only required to come in every 6 months). It wasn’t this restrictive the first 8 years (been diagnosed since 1996)… then it’s been a progressive decline. I have a good TV, music, dog, etc- so I don’t feel too bad. 🙂

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