We are so grateful to have safely arrived in Florida after a terrifying event occurred on the 17-hour flight from Joburg to Atlanta. We’d had dinner at the airport restaurant, but the food was mediocre. I only had a grilled chicken salad and a pot of chamomile tea since I hadn’t had any wine since the heart event over a week ago.
Finally, after the five-hour layover, it was time to board the plane, and we were anxious to get to our seats and relax. We hadn’t booked our seats together. We booked a seat with two other empty seats beside us, which worked out for me but not for Tom, who was two rows directly behind me. Someone else had booked one of the three seats where Tom was situated, and he wasn’t ever able to lie down, although I was.
The flight took off about 20 minutes late, but the huge plane finally took off smoothly without incident. I was thrilled to have two empty seats next to me so that when I was tired enough, I could lie down on the three seats with the blankets and pillows provided for all three seats.
About half an hour into the flight, I noticed my pulse suddenly increased. It started at about 100 bpm and, within a short period, it had escalated to 160. OMG, I was terrified. I was afraid to have Tom get the blood pressure cuff out of the bag in my carry-on bag in the overhead compartment. My pulse alone was high enough to convince me that my blood pressure was equally high, and seeing it would only create more anxiety, possibly making it worse.
As stressful as the concept of this long journey was only three days after getting out of ICU in hospital, I felt very calm and at ease about traveling. Sure, I’d considered that something could occur on the plane, but I wasn’t stressing about it by any means. I knew it was afib and not an anxiety attack which I don’t experience.
As the event escalated, I imagined how awful it would be if I told the flight attendant I was having a heart-related crisis and the plane had to turn back. Oh, good grief, that would not be very good. Besides, even after deep breathing and working for hours to stay calm as my heart rate soared, I knew this was no panic attack.
There was nothing I could do but wait it out. I told Tom what was happening, and he checked on me often, worrying about what we’d do if this continued through the 17-hour flight. After the sixth hour, my pulse began to drop for short periods and eventually returned to normal. What an ordeal. No words can express how relieved I was when it settled down to a steady 65 beats per minute. at that point, I was exhausted and hadn’t slept a wink.
After my pulse returned to normal, I was grateful and watched a few movies, dozing off and on. Back in normal sinus rhythm, I was able to stretch out on three seats and sleep for a few hours. Almost 17 hours after the flight began, we landed in Atlanta for the five-hour layover until the next flight.
Much to my surprise, the time passed quickly, and we boarded the last flight from Atlanta to Orlando. I slept during the entire flight, sitting straight up, sandwiched in a center seat between two burly male passengers. I awoke moments before the flight ended, and we rushed to make our way to baggage in hopes of collecting our bags in time for our 6:00 pm pre-arrange shuttle to The Villages.
Although this particular flight was over 30 minutes late, we managed to make it to the shuttle in time for our 6:00 pm ride to The Villages. By 8:30 pm, in the dark, we exited the shuttle just in time to see the SpaceX shuttle launch from Cape Kennedy in the night sky. That was exciting.
Now, we’re situated in this gorgeous place, well-equipped with everything we could possibly need. In tomorrow’s post, we’ll share details of our new temporary home in this fantastic retirement community of The Villages.
Photo from ten years ago today, May 1, 2012:
Comments and responses We made it to Florida, after a frightening experience on the long red-eye flight…
I am so happy you are on the ground and in your rental.
They said it is lovely at the Villages.
I was getting worried.
Phyllis, thanks for thinking of us. We are very comfortable here and getting tested.
I’m sorry, Jess, I know how scary that can be! I had a similar episode that required ablation. I’m on a beta blocker now & that helps. Did you have any meds to take for it? Will you see a doctor here at all? It sounds like it’s happening much more frequently since covid. Having Covid can cause or exacerbate existing heart conditions even this far out from infection, especially if you’ve already been diagnosed with LC. Viral persistence is a thing! Either way, I hope it settles and you enjoy your travels! Kindest regards & take care, Lisa
Lisa, that’s an interesting point about long-haul Covid. Two nights before, I tested positive for Covid, I had my first bout of Afib. Surely I already had Covid but simply hadn’t taken the test yet. It’s only recently that I got rid of the long-haul Covid headache and facial pain. Perhaps as you’ve said, Covid caused heart inflammation resulting in now three bouts of Afib. I was put on a drug, Tambocor, but it made me deathly ill, so I had to stop it. There’s no way I am willing to lie in bed, sick from medication all day long. That’s no quality of life. For now, I am thinking the bout on the plane may have been based on the fact I’d only been treated four days earlier in hospital and needed more time to recover. I have no interest in going from doctor to doctor to pin this down further. I am making some added lifestyle changes and hope they help. Thanks again for writing. You’ve given me a new perspective.
I asked Maury what he would have done, he replied probably the same. He had 3 ablations last year. The final ablation, the Dr did an extensive ablation and so far he has had zero ablation. Fingers crossed you are over afib.
Peggy, thanks for sharing this. I don’t do well with the awful drugs they use for this so if it continues, I will have to do the same.
Love to you both