Sunday, February 27, 2011

I was recently catching up with an old friend of mine, sharing stories of what we've done since our last visit. During the several years of our separation, I was a flight attendant for what is now the world's largest airline. Somehow my friend and I got to talking about the way people act on airplanes. Any flight attendant will tell you that people do some strange things while flying. My best way to describe the difference is by telling how diapers get changed on airplanes. Now, let me start off by saying that commercial planes all have changing tables in at least one of their lavatories on board. But people don't always ask about those. I have watched mothers change their babies poopy diapers in the middle seat between two complete strangers, in a seat where others will clearly have to sit also, during a food service (on our airline, we still served free food on most every flight). Then, the mothers would attempt to hand me their child's dirty diaper. Flight attendants don't generally wear gloves while serving food, but people ask us to take dirty diapers and put them somewhere on the food or beverage cart. I ask you, if you were in a restaurant, would you change your baby's diaper at the table and hand it to your server? The answer is clearly no. So, why would you do that on an airplane? 
Another odd object that I have been handed is a bloody napkin. A little boy had cut himself on the plastic food tray that we had given him for breakfast. That sucks, but it's not my fault. Another flight attendant had given the boy a band aid, unbeknownst to me. As I was picking up trash with my bare hands the father of the young boy handed me the food tray/weapon with a bloody napkin inside it. I didn't realize this until I was throwing the tray away. I was taken by surprise. I didn't know who's blood that was or what kind of diseases it held, and I was unprotected. I politely explained to the father that next time there was any blood involved, I would need him to throw the items covered away in the lavatory trash bin. Apparently, this request somehow turned into a slur against the son and the cleanliness of his blood, and was my fault for giving him "my" faulty tray to begin with. Luckily, as flight attendants, my crew and I were highly trained in teamwork, so another flight attendant came in and calmed the man down by explaining that the sight of blood had taken me by surprise and that I had not meant to suggest anything about the cleanliness of anyone's blood. All of the other passengers around were shocked when they heard that he had handed me a bloody napkin. Remember, even doctors who deal with blood on a regular basis at least get to wear gloves! Again, I ask you, if your son had cut himself in a restaurant, would you hand the bloody napkin directly to your server? No. Flight attendants have lots of equipment on board, including an entire protective kit meant to be used while dealing with bodily fluids. So, please, next time you fly, don't hand your dirty diapers, bloody napkins, or anything that you would not want handed to you to your flight attendants. And don't be offended if they don't want to touch those objects. And don't blame the flight attendants if the company they work for gives out their free food in plastic trays with sharp edges. Flight attendants have certain powers, and that's probably why food isn't free anymore.
I could go on and on about the strange things that people do on airplanes, but those stories will have to wait for another time.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Singing my troubles away

Well, while I'm wasting my life away with this sickness, that is definitely not Strep or the flu, I have done some thinking about relaxation. Relaxing is good for my lungs: when they are relaxed I don't cough as much. But how do I relax them? How do I keep myself from having migraines or muscle spasms or panic attacks?
One of my favorite ways is to escape. I escape into a comedic movie or TV show, a book that takes me out of this world, or even just a game that keeps me from thinking about the rough times I'm facing. Life is hard enough, and coming home to a hot cup of tea, a comfortable couch, and a How I Met Your Mother marathon sure helps me out. I know that a cold isn't the end of the world, even for me, but it is stressful. And letting myself get stressed doesn't make anything any better. So I curl up and read a good book or watch a show that makes me laugh. Or, I sing (in my head, since my throat feels like I recently swallowed a cheese grater).

When I first moved to Bayonne, NJ as a flight attendant, I left my car at my parents' house in Alabama. It was easier since I never went very far around town. And if I did, there was generally a shuttle or a train to get me there. I got a lot of exercise by walking all over Bayonne and New York City. But one day, I realized that I had lost a very valuable form of relaxation; probably even my favorite way to let go. Singing. Spending all my time surrounded by people on airplanes or in the two bedroom apartment that I shared with seven other people, I never had a chance to belt out my favorite tunes. That's when I brought my car up north. My little Honda Accord is an escape for me. Singing in the shower is great, when you trust those who might be listening. But singing in the car has a way in bringing out the most of my vocal "talent." And the most of my emotions. When I removed this type of emoting from my life, there was an obvious hole in my heart. My mother would rather listen to talk radio. I, on the other hand, prefer music of almost any style. Talk radio is often interesting. For example, NPR has many stories that are enjoyable and informative. But listening to people tell me what's going on in this world does not generally relax me. In fact, it often stresses me out more. I'm sorry, but hearing about the struggles in Darfur doesn't make me feel better about the world in which I live. I would rather belt out my feelings, happy or sad, Hannah Montana or the Beatles. I think that the most important aspect of music is to display emotion. Whether or not you believe that Taylor Swift has true talent, her music touches people and helps those of us who are not writers or poets put words to our emotions. This is why I believe in the power of song. This is why music helps me to relax. I can release all of the pent up feelings that I didn't know how to express and send them into a world where no one in particular has to know what I'm feeling.

By the way, I hope this all makes sense. Cough syrup has a way of making me understandable to no one but myself...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wasting my life away...

I am not what you call a healthy person. I have a weak immune system, asthma, a low thyroid, Meniere's Disease, poor circulation, blood sugar problems, a bit of insomnia, and several other issues that I won't mention at this moment. I have so many health issues that it's hard to keep track of them. I have to carry a list of the medicines I take so that I can properly fill out forms at doctors visits. Because of my severe asthma, which has put me in the hospital twice and on bed rest for a total of at least 8 months during the past 5 years, a simple cold puts me into panic mode. Because of my weak immune system, I catch every bug that comes my way. And when I catch something as simple as a cold or as bad as bronchitis, I keep it until my lungs forget how to work properly. They forget how to stop coughing.
So I rest until it is gone, which is easier to do now that I'm living at home with my mother and stepfather and currently unemployed, and I take more medicine than you can imagine. I am currently taking three nasal sprays, anti-anxiety medication (because it relaxes my muscles, most importantly my lungs), Singulair, Advair, Dulera, Allegra, codeine cough syrup, steroids, and having to use a nebulizer for breathing treatments. And don't forget the sinus medicine and sinus rinses, which feels more like water-boarding than a helpful health aid. I'm drinking boocoodles of water to help flush the bad things out of my body, and enough tea with lemon and honey to keep me awake even with all the meds. Honey is supposedly an antibiotic. Oh! I'm also taking an antibiotic pill. The problem is that what should be a common cold has settled in my chest and moved in. It's as though my lungs are addicted to coughing and can't give it up. Every time I get them back on the easy-breathing-wagon, they fall right back off. I seem destined to spend more time in my bed than out.
People say I should be grateful that I don't have something as awful as cancer, and believe you me, I am. But that doesn't mean I'm any less upset about my condition. Asthma is something that people live with everyday. And most days I don't even remember I have asthma. But for several months every year, it runs my life. Hopefully this battle with asthma that I am currently facing will only last a few more days. Please, Lord, no more than a week!
So I am back to wasting my life away in my bed. Quite frequently the time I spend lolling in my bed is my own choice, but right now, I don't have one. The fear of this cold turning into a three month battle is too much for me to handle right now. So I ask God what lesson there is for me to learn from this and repeat to myself that this will only make me stronger, if it doesn't kill me first. But truly, what lesson do I have to learn? Other than to stay away from people who are sick?