Flying with Sickle Cell

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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.

OH HELL FUCKIN” NO!

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.

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