One thing I was a tad neurotic about when it came to preparing for my first ever international flight in February was sleep. I’d heard enough harrowing tales of jet lag to make me a tad OCD (doesn’t take much…ask my poor husband). Being a slightly wound up woman on a regular basis and maybe a bit of a control freak, I was determined to do whatever it took to get a few hours of decent sleep on my overnight flight from New York to London on the first leg of my Kenya trip with Every Girl Counts.
My traveling companion Rene and I would arrive in Kenya Friday night, 9 hours ahead of Nashville time, and on Saturday we’d hit the ground running with a jam-packed schedule so I wanted to feel as rested as possible. Did I mention I also had a case of the flu the week before we left for Kenya? That was not in my favor.
I researched a few travel websites and blogs before our trip and decided to go the low-key route and rely on good ole over the counter Tylenol PM and a glass of wine after our in-flight dinner. Wine…it’s always a good choice! No prescription anti-anxiety meds or sleeping aids for me. I didn’t want to feel over-medicated or groggy when we arrived in London and I wanted to stay awake all day so that I’d sleep well once we checked into our hotel in Nairobi that night.
Rene and I boarded a plane headed from Nashville’s BNA to New York’s JFK on a Thursday afternoon, had a connecting flight in New York to London, and from London Heathrow we’d be headed to our final destination – Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya.
Our flight to London departed on time and passengers started to settle in under blankets and try to catch some sleep after dinner. I read on my Kindle for a few minutes, took a Tylenol PM and then a few minutes later realized I hadn’t taken my anti-malaria meds for the day. There’s nothing worse than jet lag than malaria, right? So I dug around in my bag to find the bottle of antibiotics I needed, popped that pill, and started to doze.
I was starting to drift off to sleep when I woke up sweating and feeling really ill. Was I having hot flashes? This was so not the time to start peri-menopause! I was dizzy. Had I eaten something that had made me sick? I just knew I had to make it to the bathroom. Rene was asleep in the aisle seat next to me so I stood up and gently nudged her on the shoulder. I remember stepping out into the aisle of the plane and then I woke up. On the floor. People were saying things like “Is she diabetic? Was she not feeling well?” Poor Rene didn’t know what to think, waking up as someone patted her on the shoulder to alert her to the fact that I was out stone cold on the floor.
I came to, feeling like I’d been sleeping for hours and having no idea initially where I was. I then got my bearings and realized I had been out like a light, passed out in the aisle of the airplane.
The flight attendants were amazing, told me to stay there as long as I needed, and said I probably just got dehydrated. Another woman on the other side of the plane had also stood up to go to the bathroom and passed out and was BLEEDING from her head. At least I wasn’t bleeding, although I did manage to break the nose piece off my glasses.
I took my time getting up, feeling a tad woozy, and slowly navigated toward the back of the plane to the bathroom. The flight attendants who helped me were so kind and sweet I felt better just knowing I was in good hands, albeit thousands of feet in the air. I sipped on water, got a few hits of oxygen while relaxing in the lavatory, and felt relatively normal by the time we touched down in London.
Obligatory thumbs up from the airplane toilet photo.
Passing out on an international flight, somewhere over the Atlantic?
Been there. Done that.