Friday, February 25, 2011

Fear

Something like 13 years ago, I had a terrible flight. It took a long time to get over the fear of flying that it instilled in me. I've sometimes thought that I've been paying for that fear ever since with turbulence on every subsequent flight. I never didn't fly when it was required but there was a time when I took many fewer trips. It wasn't hard since I was still in grad school and there wasn't so much reason to travel if I didn't want to.

A couple of years later, at a friend's recommendation, I got myself a prescription for something to make it easier. The drug I was given was overkill and I developed my own drug cocktail (Dramamine and Valerian root) that did the trick with relatively few side effects. I still carry these with me whenever I fly, but over the last year or two, I've stopped taking then. Every once in a while, I'll pop a Dramamine if it's very bumpy and I want to rest, but it's become rarer and rarer.

Today was like the final exam in a graduate course about how to get over a fear of flying.  I was a bit concerned about the forecast of high winds in the DC area but I figured if it weren't safe, they'd cancel the flight. Oh, how I wish they had! As we approached Washington, the plane bucked and dipped like a tiny boat on high seas. The woman sitting next to me was terrified and I grabbed her small hand as we hit the worst of it. She squeezed my hand and thanked me. I didn't feel afraid, though. I felt a bit nauseated--my real fear was that I was going to throw up.  I broke out in a sweat and put my head down. I took long breaths and managed to keep it together.

It was decidedly unpleasant. I was not happy. I was ill. But I never felt that flash of fear, the horror that I felt on the previous flight, those many years ago.  Maybe that flight was worse because my fear started at the beginning of the journey and I had the whole rest of the flight to get through before I could relax. This time, we bump-bump-bumped all the way to the landing, but then we were done.  People whooped once at the roller coaster action and applauded when we touched down...just like that other time. And...I was fine.

I'm tired now since all that tumbling around in the sky did give me an adrenaline rush. I won't say I'm looking forward to getting on a plane again on Tuesday--but I am not afraid. I passed.

Grateful for: surviving.

2 comments:

  1. J, it would have been priceless if you threw up all over that woman right after she thanked you.

    Glad you got home safe!

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  2. I had a flight like that last year going into Providence - completely unexpected - those winds that you had today were the same winds that produced 2 F2 tornadoes here last night. (And straight line winds in East Nashville.) Terrifying. Glad you made it back OK.

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