Any of you who have read my previous posts where I tell you about my fun and relaxing vacations are obviously reading the wrong blog…because I have never had a fun and relaxing vacation. Ever. My vacations are filled with stress, anger, fear and vomit. That’s MY idea of a good time! This year, despite my recognized and accepted fear of flying, I decided to fly the kids and myself to Florida to visit the Mecca For The Modern American Family, Disney World.
This isn’t our first time. I went as a kid and have been back twice more with my own children. I like Disney. It isn’t an obsession or anything. I appreciate it for what it is, the iconic nature of the place that was built for families. But my idea of a great vacation would be to rent a house in Martha’s Vineyard and shop and eat in small, exclusive, upscale places and read on the beach. But I have kids, so I felt the pull…Disney it is. But, I am a single mother and I just can’t see driving from New York to Florida with a 13 year old and a 9 year old.
I tried the train, which would have taken about 24 hours and doesn’t leave the ground, but it was booked. I thought about the bus as I had taken the bus to and from Texas and Philadelphia and Chicago when I was a wild and crazy teen. The bus would have taken about 28 hours and I remembered how the smelly, weird, drooling guy ALWAYS sought me out, sat next to me and then fell asleep on my shoulder. Not only do I have NO patience for the smelly, weird, drooling guy anymore, but I didn’t want to subject my kids to him either. Because in my experience there is a smelly, weird, drooling guy on every bus. So, no to the bus. I tried to talk my neighbor into driving with me but that was a no go also….which leaves me with the last resort: flying. Shit.
The last time we went to Disney we flew and it was the first time I was aware that I was terrified of flying. Prior to that trip, I knew I wasn’t a huge fan of flying but I would take a Dramamine and usually sleep. That last time I flew I had a panic attack for the 2 and a half hours we were in the air. I took about 10 Dramamine while in flight, which did nothing for me, until we landed and I basically passed out on the ride home. This time I knew I needed to be better prepared with stronger medication. I called my doctor.
She prescribed me 6 calmthehelldownyouspaz pills which sent me into a panic attack. Because it was only 6. I know how my vacations go. I was anticipating a week-long panic attack and 6 calmthehelldownyouspaz pills weren’t going to cover it. So, I wrung my hands and creased my forehead for 3 days and then called and exposed my crazy to my doctor and asked for at least 6 more. She listened to my logic and called in 6 more. Honestly, if my doctor could live inside my body for just one day she would burn thru her prescription pad writing out all sorts of meds I have no doubt.
And so the day came to take myself and my two kids to the airport. I have read thru all the new rules and regulations, I have reaquainted myself with all my meditation techniques to relax, I was concentrating on the fun we would have once we got there. I know how to do this stuff but it is a Don Quixote sitch in my brain. The Don Quixote where he is going full tilt at the windmill but with a toothbrush…? Anyway, we are there waiting for the required 15 hours before the flight takes off. Ya know, 15 hours to sit and get nice and worked up with fear and anxiety. I took my calmthehelldownyouspaz pill an hour before we were to take off. And it did nothing. Not. A. Thing. My panic was escalating by the second. The kids were doing their best to act as if all was right in the world, playing with their Nintendo, listening to their iPod, giving me sideways glances to see if my head would actually explode. I decided to kill some time and distract myself with a potty break. Good idea.
Except that being in the bathroom made me think of throwing up. I didn’t want to throw up. So I got the hell out of the bathroom. But the seed was planted and I began to notice that I felt sick to my stomach. Dramamine! My old friend! I popped two Dramamine and waited. Half hour later we had to do another potty run. That damn bathroom…despite the calmthehelldownyouspaz pill and the Dramamine, I totally puked. Now I KNOW it’s a vacation!
We go back to the boarding area to wait some more and then we board the damn plane. I immediately check for barf bags. None. WHAT??? I flag the flight attendant and ask for one. I also give her a heads up that I am probably going to be her “annoying” passenger on this flight because I am not a good flyer. To her credit, she smiled, brought me a handful of barf bags, some plastic bags and a ginger ale with a smile. Just before we started taxi-ing I turned to my kids and said “I don’t think I can do this.” and they, being 9 and 13 said ” I think you can mom!” And just as I was about to stand up and run off the plane we started moving and I knew it was too late. I popped another calmthehelldownyouspaz pill and 2 more Dramamine, said a prayer, and tried to find something to watch on the tv while I ignored the safety instructions about what to do if we were about to die…I mean crash (same thing).
All of the sudden, I felt numb. Like mentally. Like it didn’t really matter that we were in a plane, flying above the clouds. It was totally fine and if we crashed then oh well. My 13 yr old, on the other hand, came to a very sudden realization that she didn’t like flying! thru her tears she downed a couple of Dramamine while I held her hand and tried to get my “whatever” state of mind to rub off on her. What would a vacation be if it didn’t involve crying and panic and vomit? Well, it would be not MY vacation that’s for sure!!!
Come to find out the 9 yr old has a problem with landing. She didn’t cry but she squeezed my hand so hard and tried to make everyone around us be quiet and still. We really are a fun family huh? But we made it. I casually mention to the kids that we could always take the bus home…
After that beginning you would think that things could only get better right? Except that this is me we are talking about. Ofcourse I am on an antibiotic that says right on the bottle “avoid direct prolonged sun exposure” and ofcourse I am in Florida in April and the weather is completely perfect, sunny, 80’s beautiful. Now, I didn’t notice the STAY OUT OF THE SUN warning on the bottle of pills. I was just amazed that we were lucking out with the weather. Because this was my vacation, I just assumed it would be the first record snowfall in Florida in April ever and packed accordingly. We had jeans and long sleeve tee shirts. We all had 2 pairs of shorts and 2 tee shirts. So, we did some shopping. Hey… the weather is nice, we get to shop for new clothes…this has GOT to be someone else’s vacation…
Day One we shopped. Day Two we did The Magic Kingdom. It was awesome! The sun was shining, the lines weren’t very long, the sun was shining. I got a bit of a burn but nothing bad. Day Three dawns just as sunny and warm and we head off to Animal Kingdom. I wasn’t feeling great and the places where the sun had burned my skin were feeling very prickly. Like needles under my skin but itchy also. I stopped taking the antibiotic that day after I read the sun warning and I grabbed some Benadryl from the gift shop just incase. I have taken enough vacations to know that if it is gonna happen, it’s gonna be bad. Later that day we went to Hollywood Studios. By that time I had purchased a black umbrella (because that is all they had) and was walking around like I was Michael Jackson, trying to stay covered. My mood was deteriorating rapidly although I was trying so hard to stay happy in the happiest place on earth for the sake of the kids. We went back to the resort and once night fell I started feeling a bit better. The kids joined a Wii competition,we swam and I took some Benadryl. All the other parents were having a drink and here I was pounding the Benadryl, praying that I didn’t wake up with hives. I didn’t wake up with hives. I woke up with my entire body tingling like it was on fire from the inside out. But what do I do? take some more Benadryl and head off to Epcot as it is our last day…and I love Epcot.
We got thru 3 rides and my lips started to swell. And as hip as swollen lips are, I knew it was a bad sign. So I get the kids, we go back to the resort and I call the front desk to try to figure out how I get help before the swelling travels to my throat. The front desk lady helpfully called me a cab to take me to Celebration ER. The kids and I pile into the cab and I feel like I want to die except I can’t cause I have a zillion needles under my skin trying to poke their way out and I have the kids who would be so bummed if I died at Disney World.
We walked into a hospital the likes of which I have never encountered. It was nicer than our resort. I said allergic reaction and I was immediately whisked away to triage. I was put into a room that had doors and tv and a private bathroom. The last time I went to the ER in NY where I live, I was stuck on a cot in the hallway and the only entertainment was a drunk, crazy guy who was spitting on the cops and hitting on me. Celebration ER is paradise! They dose me up with steroids and pepcid and fluids and the Doctor tells me I do have hives but they are internal and on every nerve ending in my body. Leave it to me to have a unique allergic reaction while on vacation! Don’t be jealous.
The nurses were so nice and after 3 hours asked if I felt ready to leave, that I could stay as long as I wanted…what??? But I knew my kids were getting bored, ya know, after the excitement of having their mother almost drop dead and all…and I opted to go back to the resort and let the kids swim. The Doctor gave me strict orders to stay out of the sun, a prescription for more steroids and 2 epi pens because now I am apparently going to be allergic to bees also. Good to know.
We went back and the kids swam while I slept and then packed.
Day Five we went to Downtown Disney and shopped like the girls we are. Had a lovely lunch and grabbed the resort bus to the airport. Oh damn it. We had to fly home!!! In all of the excitement of almost dying, I totally forgot that all three of us had serious issues with the whole plane thing. Great. Three calmthehelldownyouspaz pills for me, Dramamine for the kids and we are off! The flight went well except that it was packed and my 13 yr old wound up sitting with two young girls who tried in vain to comfort her as we took off. But all in all, it was an incredible vacation! I mean obviously right?