March 17, 2007

Don't fly with a milk tummy!

I'd have to say Thursday's flight on United was the most uncomfortable I've endured yet. They pack you in tightly, almost no leg room. And then I got sick.

On the way to the airport I experienced some nausea but decided to ignore it. Other than feeling cramped, all went smoothly on take-off. But as we left Dulles far behind, I felt a sharp pain in my abdomen. Uh-oh, milk tummy, I thought. I cannot digest cow dairy products, and pain in the side is part of the symptoms. We had eaten out the night before and our efforts to be sure my meal had no butter must have been in vain.

The pain grew sharper, like appendicitis, except that my appendix was removed years ago. And my abdomen seemed to be swelling. I tried the remedies that were in my snack bag - an antacid, Benadryl, and later an herbal capsule that included okra. Squirming in my seat, I found no comfort in the tight quarters. For a while I tried to lie on my left side with my head on my husband's shoulder. I tried walking around but it didn't help.

The pain continued for most of the 5-hour flight. But a funny thing happened as we approached Seattle. The pain lessened and became minor discomfort. I believe this was due to the lower altitude. By the time we were on the ground the pain and swelling were gone, although I felt a bit nauseous.

Apparently the high altitude had caused the increase in swelling and pain, turning a minor reaction to a small amount of butter into excruciating pressure.

From the web: At a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, the cabin is pressurized to 8,000 feet. A typical individual may suffer from swelling, tiredness and disorientation from flights at this elevation.

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