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mancmm19

Flying, Elevators, And G-Force...please Help!!

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Hi everyone, please help!! I have to fly to Orlando from New York on Thursday, a 2 hour and 45 minute flight, and then return to New York on Monday (little time to recover.) I had a really bad experience with flying to Mayo last June that required weeks of down-time before my flight home and then afterwards as well, and I’m terrified of the same thing happening. I flew a smaller Delta plane to Minnesota and am flying a Southwest Boeing 737 to Florida. Does anyone have any preference on the way big planes affect us vs. smaller planes? I don’t know whether it was the altitude, the way the plane was pressurized, or some other factor but it was the worst day of my life. I had drank plenty of water and salty foods and had taken .75 of Xanex prior to departure to calm any possible nerves, but what I experienced on the plane was simply not related to panic. After we took-off, I thought I actually beat any sort of symptoms and said to my Mom, “I did it!” when BAMM, out of nowhere, I started feeling extreme pressure on my body, like I sometimes feel in elevators, and felt as though I was on the verge of passing out. My face started tingling and I was getting the worst adrenal surges I’ve ever had (if that's what they were) or "waves of death" as I called them. My whole body could feel the pressure and speed of the plane, especially during take-off, landing, and when it turned. I wound up laying on the floor of the galley with oxygen and trying to keep calm for the 3 and a half hour flight. I managed to psych myself up for the return flight, which wasn't nearly as bad, but I still needed to lay on the floor of the plane for an hour or so and force myself through it. I was prescribed 15mg of Remeron while at Mayo which I had taken the night prior to my returning flight, so I'm not sure if that's what is wasn't AS bad as the first trip.

I’m now on only 75mg of Wellbutrin, and will also take Meclizine, load up with salt, Pedialyte, pretzels, and drink tons of water. Has anyone ever experienced similar feelings to what I described above and if so, is there anything that I can take to make it stop? I rode a high-speed elevator in Manhattan 2 days ago and felt horrible once I got off, the floor felt as if it was falling in and while on the ride up/down I felt like I was going to explode. I don’t know if it’s something vestibular, due to pressure, or the way the g-force affects us, but I can’t imagine what the plane ride will be like. Any advice or related stories would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much in advance; this is truly the only thing that will help calm my nerves.

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Oh yeah, its familiar.

Ana used to be ok with smaller planes, but with bigger ones, she would get shortness of breath, severe pressure on her chest, then of course a migraine. Now it happens with all planes.

All we can figure out is it has something to do with the pressure. Tried all the things you did.....didn;t work either. Used oxygen on one flight on United, they almost refused to let us go on our connecting flight, saying that she was to sick to be on a plane, and we could get a bus! Then the stewardess even said that oxygen was for emergency purposes only.|!! I was furious!

If you find any answers, I'm all ears!!

Cathy

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From a fellow "Potsie flyer" - Hello! This POTS girl now flies on average 80,000 miles a year, so I'll give you my best tips.

1) Larger airplanes vs. smaller - I definitely prefer the smaller planes, much smoother ride than the larger one with one exception: bad weather. What you are feeling is "normal" for a potsie. So when you get that "feeling" - take a slow deep breath, and know that for us - this is perfectly normal. Remember, the side effect of taking the Xanax is lower blood pressure, so when that plane tilts - your body has to do a little extra to compensate. I know it feels weird, but just go with it, and know that it's okay. Try not to panic - that just makes it worse. But - if you do panic - it's okay. Don't fight it, just let it happen, and it tends to get over with a lot quicker.

2) Lots of salt loading - gatorade, etc. - at least TWO DAYS ahead of time. Yes, I said TWO DAYS. On the day you fly, don't go overboard on the liquids, especially right before take-off. That just means more stuff sloshing around in your stomach during take off and turns. Instead, grab your favorite salty chips, and snack on those pre-flight, to keep the liquid you already have pumped into your system, well...inside your system. Otherwise, you may urinate out all of your hard work.

3) I like window seats because they tend to have a ledge running along the side of the plane that I can put my foot on. I can also lean against the window for a quick nap. Sit on the wing - always. It is the part of the plane that moves the least. After take off, pull your bag out from under the seat in front of you, and set your feet on it like a foot stool. The key is to keep your feet close to you (central body) as much as possible - makes the blood have to travel less distance, and helps circulating it. Wear compression socks!!!!

4) Comfortable clothing is a MUST. Loose, and comfy, please.

5) When you feel dizzy - do NOT panic. Also, do not close your eyes. I learned a trick from a great opthalmologist who is familiar with POTS. Keep your head straight (no turning and talking to the person beside you - sorry), and pick a point directly in front of you. Concentrate on that focal point, (I use the lever that pulls the tray down). Simply stare at it, but do not lose focus (no staring off into space). For some reason, this adjust the messages that run from the ear to the eye (this is where most motion sickness begins). Just breath - it will pass, I promise!

6) Congratulate yourself - because you have just landed!!! :P

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Oh yeah, its familiar.

Ana used to be ok with smaller planes, but with bigger ones, she would get shortness of breath, severe pressure on her chest, then of course a migraine. Now it happens with all planes.

All we can figure out is it has something to do with the pressure. Tried all the things you did.....didn;t work either. Used oxygen on one flight on United, they almost refused to let us go on our connecting flight, saying that she was to sick to be on a plane, and we could get a bus! Then the stewardess even said that oxygen was for emergency purposes only.|!! I was furious!

If you find any answers, I'm all ears!!

Cathy

Hi Cathy - I would arrange for oxygen pre-flight. All planes are pressurized to 6,000 feet above sea level, so there is definitely less oxygen for her (it's like visiting Denver aboard the plane). Lots of people have to have oxygen because of this. Sorry about that United flight attendant - you should not have been treated that way.

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Avias1 - Oh my goodness- what great advise you have given us!! Thanks so very much!!! I live in Denver and I never knew what the weird feelings were upon flying... I thought everyone had them or that I was just overly 'afraid' of flying...mostly take offs and landings. All of these Posts make sense now ;o) I haven't been 'cleared' for flying yet but there are talks about going to the Mayo in Scottsdale between my Docs.... The information you've shared makes me feel more confident :P

Again, THANK YOU!!!

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Thank you so much for your responses! Although I never wish this upon anyone, it makes me feel so much better to know I'm not the only one and that other people have gotten through it. Avais1- your post was wonderful, I appreciate it more than you know. I know that I will certainly do everything you said and I'm sure others will too! And congratulations to you for flying so often with this condition!! You are living proof that POTS doesn't have to run our lives due to fear. Quick question for you because you have some great tips and plenty of experience...sit near the wing as you said or the bulkhead seat? I "sat" near the wing going to Mayo Clinic, although my boarding pass should've really read "floor of galley" because that's where I spent all of my time! I heard that the bulkhead seat in the very front of the plane has a lot of legroom and that if I felt like I was going to pass out and needed to lay down, I wouldn't be blocking the stewards and their snack carts :) I know you said sit near the wing but have you ever sat in the bulkhead? Which do you prefer?

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Anytime - so glad I could help. For me, I always sit on the wing. I don't like bulkhead seats because I have to put all of my stuff in the overhead bins (you can't put it in front of you, there is just a wall there). When I fly, since I am already doing my best to "maintain" the last thing I want to do is 1)stand up 2)lift my arms over my head - to get my stuff out of the overhead compartment. I also am very sensitive to motion, and the wing has the least amount of movement in the plane (think of a see-saw, the middle moves the least), so I personally like the wing window seat.

But - you have to find what works for you. I rarely get to the point where I have to lay down asap (I do get that in the airport, but not on the plane). Good luck to you - and let me know how you are doing!

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I have in the past had problems flying with severe chest pain, dizziness and shortness of breath which happens during the accent and decent of the plane. In the past, I know this sounds strange, but eating ice and then alternating drinking hot tea helps me some. Maybe it shocks my ANS into a better place.

The last time I flew, I requested wheelchair assistance from the airline and they met me at the ticket counter. I did not walk or lift my luggage and did not have ANY problems with the flight. (NO chestpain, shortness of breath, ect.) I think the prior walking(we all know how airports are) and lifting puts me into a bad state prior to the flight and makes the probablity of symtoms during the flight much higher.

I also had a wheelchair waiting as I stepped off the plane and they took me to the connecting flight.

On the way home, had to walk and pull my carry on quite a way before getting to the ticket counter(San Diego airport)where I got a wheelchair, and I DID have chest pain on that flight, so it is directly related to the walking and lifting prior to flight for me.

I do much better being in the first 5 rows. I know I will be off the plane first and I don't see all those people behind me.

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Thank you so much for the great tips! Thankfully, I'm flying out of a smaller airport tomorrow so there won't be much of a wait or standing time in security, etc. I have someone to carry my bags for me and it isn't a far walk from the car to the Southwest terminal.

I'll be wearing my compression stockings, using EarPlanes, taking .50 of Xanex, Meclazine for motion sickness, and bringing pedialyte packets to fill my waterbottles with after security. I don't know what more I can do, I guess it's in God's hands from here on out.

I'm not scared of the plane ride itself, but whatever that intense adrenal surge/extreme pressure feeling was shortly after they said we could take our seatbelts off. I can't imagine feeling that way ever again, especially on the way there tomorrow then home on Monday night and then going back to work Tuesday morning! Whatever that sensation is feels like death to me, and being stuck on a plane for the duration of a flight (without oxygen I might add as Southwest does not carry it) is the definition of a true nightmare to me.

I'm hoping that I'll have a great experience and that it can somewhat erase the previous flight that scarred my memory. Wish me luck!!

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Good luck tomorrow. When you fly over North Carolina (about 1/2 way into your flight) wave down to me! :lol: Remember, just breathe. I know it will feel weird, and you may panic a bit from the strange sensations (usually during take off, turns, and landings), but you will be okay.

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Thank you!! I'm a little nervous but doing surprisingly okay so far, I have a feeling the panic will set in once I board but I'm going to try to keep calm. I've printed this thread out and am going to do all of your tips, I'll let you know how it goes!

I just have to trust that if I get those sensations, they will pass in a few minutes. The things we have to do to get a little vacation time!!

p.s.- I'll be waving so look out for me :)

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Avias1 - Oh my goodness- what great advise you have given us!! Thanks so very much!!! I live in Denver and I never knew what the weird feelings were upon flying... I thought everyone had them or that I was just overly 'afraid' of flying...mostly take offs and landings. All of these Posts make sense now ;o) I haven't been 'cleared' for flying yet but there are talks about going to the Mayo in Scottsdale between my Docs.... The information you've shared makes me feel more confident :P

Again, THANK YOU!!!

Unless it is winter. I would drive from Denver to Scottsdale. I drove from Utah to Scottsdale, it was about 8 hours and I'm glad I did. It was more coming back that was the issue. I was happy that I got so many tests done so fast at the Mayo but it was so exhustaing, usually 6 tests a day starting at 6am! I have never had to be in a wheelchair before but towards the end of my time at the Mayo I had to be in a wheel chair full time. I was glad coming home I was driving so I could stop and eat what I wanted and take my time. I have flown alot and always felt pretty bad during and afterwords. i could not imagine flying after going through those tests.

As for travel tips.

Before I knew I had pots and I had to travel alot(I thought I just was a nervous flyer) I would pick a flight that was less full so I could have three seats to lay down. I would practice being on the plane the week before. I would have my blanket and laptop and play the same game lying down every night. I would wear the most comfy clothes I had and had some sort of hoodie or cardigan if I felt cold. I would eat the same snacks I packed during my practice times. I have had a big debate small vs big planes. When I thought I was a nervous flyer I always thought big planes are better because they are safer and have more open seats. Bigger planes are more often nonstop. I prefer only one take off and landing. However my last two flights I did better on the smaller planes but it is always hard for me to seperate the psychological aspect since both smaller flight were the last leg taking me home wher I could finally rest!

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I've never had an experience that bad before, but I've had some doozies. The list of advice posted at the beginning is very good, here are a few others that have helped me:

1. No coffee the day I fly. Makes me SO MUCH SICKER. Ditto acidic drinks like orange juice or lemonade, and no spicy foods.

2. Not only hydrate with gatorade several days ahead of time, but also get very regular ahead of time with Metamucil. I don't know why this helps but it does, big time. I even take Metamucil with me when I travel to make sure I'm good for the flight home.

3. The relief bands that shock the inside of your wrist are surprisingly helpful. I had the old Relief Band but this appears to be its successor: http://www.aeromedixrx.com/Reletex-Anti-Nausea-Device.html

4. Definitely compression stockings, definitely comfy clothing in layers -- whenever I get really motion sick I get SO HOT, but then I'm so cold later when the plane is up in the air

5. Stupidly, alcohol (just a little) helps. It's a balance to deaden the motion perception but not make your blood pressure bottom out. I used to do bloody mary's (with no spice) for the double whammy of salt and alcohol.

6. Go early and spring for the President's Club (or whatever) if you can so that at least the hanging around time is relaxing and you're not going directly from the POTSie problematic activity of walking through the airport to the POTSie problematic issue of being in a pressurized plane.

7. Similarly, do direct flights if possible (which it sounds like you're doing). Takeoffs and landings are so terrible.

Hope your flight goes okay!!!!!!!

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