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Monday, September 18, 2006

Coming Down to the Wire

7 days to go.

In 7 days time, at this exact time, I am on the flight from Amsterdam to Cape Town.


I have just to finalise some odds and ends in terms of airport transfers and small stuff. I alternate between panic and fear and excitement. I already have a Plan C for a next time but at times this week, I have felt that enough is enough. I am weary and I am not sure if I have the strength any more to go through this.

I keep trying to give myself the pep talk about the fact that I have only ever had one embryo transfer and theoretically it worked first time. So it must be a good sign, right? No. That shit doesn't fly with me. I know how much of a fluke this whole crock of shit is.

It is too late to back out of going to Cape Town but the prospect of a 11 hour flight is driving me batshit. The longest I have flown before is 9 hours to Florida and I was a whole lot younger and more confident then. Does anyone have any non-pharmaceutical tips for panic attacks on planes? My GP refused to give me any proper drugs to take on the outbound flight. I hate drinking booze on planes and it does not make me sleepy.

I don't want to be like that woman who ended up arrested and in restraints on the floor after a panic attack. It is the claustrophobia that does me in. Pity I can only afford Economy class! Last year, going to Toronto, I had to spend about an hour standing outside the galley in order to calm my breathing. The stewardesses were giving me funny looks. No wonder.


At 2:17 PM, Blogger Cricket said...

Can you tolerate benedryl? I've used it in the past as a calming agent as well as a sleeping pill. The amount would depend on you, but start at one, 50mg, and work up. It lasts about 4-6 hours, so you might have to dose twice.

PS - I don't think I've commented before, but all my best.

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Beagle said...

Wishing you lots of luck and an anxiety free flight.

Benadryl is good. Other than that my only non drug suggestion is a meditation tape or mp3. I like the ones at anjionline dot com. I don't think there's time to order a CD, but I think you can download a file.

I don't have actual panic issues, but I find the time goes faster with good distractions like a good movie (you can rent those portable player things at airports now) or an audio book or knitting or . . . OK, I'm out of ideas! GOOD LUCK!

At 2:57 PM, Blogger N said...

Oh Pamplemousse you are going to be fine! At least that's what I always try to tell myself when in state of shock and panic before big public speeches (which I know is nothing compared to IF treatment in South Africa). What really helped me is VALERIAN ( . At zoos they give Valerian to Elefants when they have to go to the vet and are scared. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to compare you with an Elefant....sorry!

You can buy Valerian in Germany at the Pharmacy and in Sweden at Alternative medicine shops. It's cheap and it helps, really!

I am so excited for you! I wish I could follow along and hold your hand on the flight. Bring a book and watch the movie, and there is nothing wrong with one sedative drink, isn't there? I don't have other good ideas, but I know that you will get through the flight!!!

If I don't comment before you leave, know that I will be thinking about you so much and that I wosh you all the luck in the world, and strength!



At 3:06 PM, Blogger Millie said...

What about Bach Rescue Remedy? It comes in drops and a spray. It's great at helping you stay calm/destress. Let me know if you have trouble finding it.

Benadryl can work as well but for some folks it actually amps them up (it did this to my ex). It does help me sleep.

There will likely be lots of movies. One week!!!!! So excited for you.

At 3:51 PM, Blogger Lut C. said...

I can't give you any advice on this one.

You can't argue with claustrophobia, or any other phobia for that matter. I hope you find a way to keep it in check.

At 5:08 PM, Anonymous pixi said...

When you get to the gate, you could ask the attendants about an upgrade. Sometimes it works. Let them know that you are flying out of country for a medical procedure and that you're anxious and need to be able to rest. If there is room in first class, they may well bump you up. Try to get your name in early.

Good luck, P. I hope after this, you won't need to think about Plan C.

At 6:17 PM, Anonymous julianna said...

Well, I am the queen of panic attacks and anxiety.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Make sure you are taking long, slow deep breaths. If you are feeling a bit tense, make yourself take very long, deep breaths - by the time you are at your third deep breath, you'll be less tense - concentrate on the breathing.

2. You need to take the attention off of yourself - read, do puzzles (i have a good puzzle book I take on a plane), listen to music you like and is familiar to you - i take my ipod.

3. A nice BIG glass of wine before getting on the plane can help relax you but I never do that if I am going to take something.

4. Tylenol PM puts me to sleep - I have a lavender neck roll pillow and take the pills 30 minutes before the flight is to leave - I don't wait until I am on the plane anymore.

5. Do you have any pain pills from your last cycle? Vicodin works great for me and I still have Valium left over from transfers so I take those on the plane as well.

6. Do you know anyone who has Vicodin or Valium that will let you have a couple of pills? Half will probably be fine (if you're like me and don't take pills often, a tiny bit goes a long way).

7. Pity that you don't have Xanax. That is my drug of choice at the moment - I first learned of it's wonders a year ago. It really does take the edge off and it doesn't make me feel groggy or weird.

Sometimes just the notion of having some medicine in a bottle is enough to ward off any panic attacks.

I do know that you have to get the concentration OFF of yourself - even if that means making small talk with the person next to you - it will help you not think of your anxiety.

Tylenol PM should do the trick if that is all you have available - just make sure you take it 30 min. before the flight is to leave.

My girlfriend got written up on a short flight from LA to San Francisco, when I went to pick her up, she was being escorted off of the plane and any future reservations have a flagged report of her ridiculous behaviour - Airline staff doesn't seem to understand panic attacks - they thought she was being a bitch when she demanded to switch seats with someone up front and in the aisle and then she yelled to everyone to let her off first ---------- it is funny now, but wow, at the time...

You'll be fine - deep breaths!

I wish it wasn't illegal because I would ship you some Xanax. Can you find another doctor who will give you a prescription????

Thinking of you,

At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Lynnette said...

Tylenol PM works for me, too, but I don't like to take it when cycling (same ingredient as Benedryl) I took a 3 mg tablet of Melatonin, and it knocked me out on the flight to South Africa. You should have told me, I could have sent it along in my big 'ol box o' drugs!

At 7:35 PM, Blogger Krista said...

I don't have anxiety issues on airplanes (lots of other anxiety issues though) so I am not much help, but I really like the idea of asking for a free upgrade. I got a free upgrade to first class once and it is even nicer when you are not expecting it.

Also, I am so excited to hear about your trip to SA, I truly hope this is "it" for you.

At 9:01 PM, Blogger Summer said...

I don't have any advice or ideas for dealing with the anxiety. I just wanted to wish you luck.

At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best wishes for your trip to Capetown!


At 9:35 PM, Blogger Sarah S. said...

Good luck with your trip - I'm excited for you! I second the suggestion of Bach Rescue Remedy. It is really quite wonderful for calming anxiety. Benedryl never really knocks me out, which is great when I want a cheap allergy med, but not so good when I want a cheap relaxant!

At 10:10 PM, Blogger LJ said...

I hate flying and I've tried just about everything (non-prescription sleeping pills, staying up all night, etc) to sleep on a plane and nothing has worked for me (I won't sleep even if I haven't slept for two days and I've taken sleeping pills), but I try to fill the time by doing things that take up large blocks of time- reading a novel, reading a couple of gossip magazines cover to cover, watching whatever horrible movie they're playing, listening to several cds in a row. It also helps to wear one of those sleep masks over your eyes while you listen to music b/c you can pretend you're not actually on a plane.

I usually still end up spending that last hour or two sitting nervously and checking my watch every other minute, but if you can make MOST of the time pass quickly, it's a little easier!

At 11:07 PM, Blogger soralis said...

Enjoy your trip, hope the flight isn't too difficult for you!

Take care

At 11:45 PM, Blogger Teendoc said...

You can't get your PMD to give you a few ativan? That is exactly what you need. Wish I could call some in for you.

Benadryl is the best second choice I can think of (or any other antihistamine that makes you sleepy). 50 mg should do it. And no matter what, get an aisle seat. Sometimes my secretary has put me in a window seat and I've been unable to change it...very bad things then happen...very bad...

At 12:48 AM, Blogger Zarqa said...

I agree that asking for an upgrade may just work (and it certainly can't hurt).
I can't drink on planes's just not the same. Walking around constantly despite the weird looks is the way I deal with the claustrophobia.
Good luck and have a good trip!

At 2:18 AM, Blogger moo said...

Ms. P, you will be fine. I survived it and it was 18 hours. I took valium on the way over and NOTHING on the way back (hence the sleeping across hubby's food tray). All of the advice here looks good. I would try to score a Valium from someone..that is actually what I did from a friend locally.

But you will be fine!!! I am so excited for you!

At 2:37 AM, Anonymous said...

My sympathies, I'm hate flying. Not that I get panic attacks, I just cannot sleep. I'm awake the full 26 hours it takes from London to Oz.

I watch back to back movies.

Julianna, your knowledge of pharmaceuticals is awesome.

Change docs, OR tell your doctor you have a backache and need a muscle relaxant - that should get you a script for valium at least.

BTW I reckon the nerves are part of the journey.

Really excited for you.

Bloody hell, I just upgraded to Blogger Beta - and it's a nightmare leaving comments - Sparkle from IF And The City

At 3:55 AM, Blogger sube said...

How about an MP3 player and a nice soft eye mask? If music doesn't relax you, maybe an audio book?

So excited for you!

At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Boulder said...

Can your doc in SA write a rx for something that your GP or pharmacist would then be willing to write locally or fill? I'd be sure to try Benedryl at home first to see if you have the paradoxical reaction to it (amped up, rather than relaxed) prior to taking on a plane. I'm pretty sure that it is also the main ingredient in Tylenol PM - just so you know. (No need to take tylenol if you aren't achey - know what I mean?) I'd think an anxiolytic would be no problem, given your known issue. Your GP is an asshat. Tell the GP I think so, please. I mean it isn't like you will be "abusing" a med if they only prescribe 1 or 2 pills. ASSHATS.

One thing I'd do - regardless of where you wind up in the cabin is check in with the flight crew as you are boarded and let them know that you tend towards claustrophia, and what your plan will be - deep breathing in the galley, etc. That way they can be accomodating and understanding, rather than annoyed because they don't get it. I'd even couch it in a self-depricating way - "I'm mortified that I might be bothered by some claustrophobia, and I might need to get up an walk a bit or get myself a different view in the galley area for some deep breathing - would that be too much of a bother?"

Lastly - yay for going to SA!!! Enjoy Cape Town! I'll be thinking good thoughts for you!

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Thalia said...

I love what boulder says about telling the flight assts.

Sadly I've never been a nervous flier so I think you've probably already had all the good advice. My guess is that you are on klm? I have some ff miles on them. Prob not enough for an upgrade, but let me know and we can see if we can use them - it will only work if you booked directly with them rather than through a travel agent.

Just keep telling yourself you will be fine.

At 9:53 PM, Blogger the waiting line said...

my only recommendation . . . . VALIUM, my friend, VALIUM.

At 2:45 AM, Blogger ninaB said...

Lots of good advice, so I won't add any.
I'm just amazed that it's coming up so quickly!! Yikes!
Will be looking forward to you updates from cape town.

At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

I agree about asking for an upgrade--it really is much easier to sleep and relax when you are not crammed in to your seat. So exciting that it is here of luck for a safe trip and I hope that you will be able to update from down there! Good luck.

At 5:38 PM, Anonymous T said...

"I know how much of a fluke this whole crock of shit is." And this, my dear, is why I love you - har har!

Unisom, unisom, unisom! Take a half pill and see what it does for you. I discovered this only in the last year or two, so I never had the advantage during flights - guinness was my drug of choice.

At 6:09 PM, Blogger linda said...

The only nonpharmaceutical remedy that works for my panic attacks is deep breathing. Wish I could mail you some vicodin!!!

Can't believe how close you are to leaving for SA. I'll be thinking of you and looking for updates.

At 11:35 PM, Blogger MC said...

Good luck with everything. I don't have any advice about flying. I basically hate it, but as yet haven't had a panic attack.

At 3:36 AM, Anonymous Manuela said...

Oh, P... I'm SO not in the place to give you words of calming advice... because I am so so damned EXCITED and HOPEFUL for you that I have to pee everytime I think about it.

At 2:33 AM, Blogger Kris said...

Good Luck and have a great trip! As for the flying... I've always been calm on planes- but H is a pilot. Maybe some good (but expensive) noise cancelling head phones and lots of reading material- try to keep your head out of the plane and occupied with something else? Best wishes and everything crossed for you.


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