Writer’s Workshop: The Sickest I Ever Got

A number of years ago, I spent a week in Houston. This was during the summer, and as is usually the case Houston was about 98° (32° C) with about 80% humidity. That was outside, of course. Inside practically everywhere I went, they had the air conditioning going full blast, so it was about 68° (20° C) with 10% humidity. I spent a week going inside and outside, but I didn’t have any ill effects. I went home, where I was scheduled first for a week of vacation followed by a week training at the Bank of Hawai’i.

Within 24 hours of arriving home, I was miserable: coughing, runny nose, sinus pain, sore throat, all the signs of an upper respiratory infection. We hadn’t been planning to go anywhere on vacation, so there were no plans that we had to cancel, but we didn’t do a whole lot that week. I got a prescription from the doctor, which helped some, and by Saturday, when I was to leave for Honolulu, I felt pretty good. Not great, but I thought I’d be okay to go.

I had a direct flight from Atlanta to Honolulu. It was about a seven-hour flight, and since the time difference between Atlanta and Honolulu was seven hours, it meant I’d arrive at the same time I left. After 6½ uneventful hours in the air, we started making our initial approach. And that was about the time that my head felt it was going to explode. My ears hurt, I could hardly breathe, I’m sitting with my mouth open trying to get relief. A flight attendant gave me some gum, which helped a little, but it got so bad I thought I would pass out. When we did finally land, everything went back to normal, thank heaven.

I got to my hotel and called Mary to let her know I was in and my general state of health. That’s when she told me that, the week before while I was in Houston, she had babysat for the kids across the street, both of whom were now down with, you guessed it, upper respiratory infections. I guess after a week of ever-changing temperatures and humidity, my immune system had basically given up…

38 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: The Sickest I Ever Got

  1. Poor John! Awful being sick and traveling, not to mention having to sit in training classes! I’ve had a few colds where I felt like I had been hit by a truck and used to get really bad migraines but knock on wood I’ve been relatively healthy.

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    1. The air on airplanes is stale and any germs brought aboard by passengers cycles through the plane. Not to mention the bacteria and viruses that get stuck in all the soft surfaces (the rug, the seats, etc.).

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      1. ugh! I read somewhere that drinking alcohol a couple hours before boarding is supposed to stave off illness you could pick up. Maybe it was an alcohol salesperson or an alkie looking for a reason who told me so not 100% sure if it is true.

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  2. Hi John – well I hope this isn’t now as well … just horrible feeling like that – take care and good luck … cheers Hilary

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    1. I was fine with traveling until about 20 years ago, when they started cramming people on the planes and made the seats smaller, especially uncomfortable if, like me, you’re built like Nero Wolfe.

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      1. Yes, they became very uncomfortable when I had to fly. My last flight (Southwest airlines) was from Baltimore to Jacksonville, FL. It was delayed because of a winter storm in Chicago. The gates were changed several times and we were running from gate to gate. When we finally boarded the plane, the stewardess announced – drinks on us! Somehow, that made it all better. 🙂

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  3. Sounds awful, but glad you survived.
    Reminds me of one summer years ago when I was in and out of A/C coupled with heat and humidity. Got the walking pneumonia.

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  4. Being sick and having to fly is one of the worst. I totally understand. I was in Munich and got very sick to the point my throat was so sore I couldn’t speak. When we went on the plane and lifted off, I thought I was going to die. I had so much pain in my head and ears I was crying out in pain. The passengers around me were very concerned and the stewardess came to my aid. We had to land and take off again before the final landing so she gave me w plastic cups with soaked paper towels in very hot water in it. When we were landing I had to put those 2 cups on my ears and yawn continuously until we landed. I looked like a comedic idiot but it helped. I was sick for 3 months afterward because, I believe, of the plane ride. It just settled in.

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    1. It’d be terrible to find out that all you needed to do was yawn and that the plastic cup thing was for the entertainment of the flight crew, wouldn’t it? Seriously, I’ve heard that you can blow out an eardrum if the pressure gets really bad. It doesn’t surprise me that you were unwell for months after.

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  5. Hello, John! Lovely to see you again… I have a big problem in that my blog does not seem to be on the list. As you know I can’t comment on Blogger blogs (still after all these years, since 2012!) so can’t tell the others. Where on earth could it be? I entered, and I’m pretty sure I’m on the theme reveal, but I’ve had no visitors, either…

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    1. Hi, Liz! Glad you’re back!

      We have a simulcast A to Z blog on WordPress (http://atozchallenge.wordpress.com) for folks that have trouble commenting on Blogger. This year should be a little easier on Blogger because we’ve recommended that people turn off CAPTCHA and allow people to comment with their name and blog address. How many people actually do that is anyone’s guess, but maybe it’ll get a few. I’ve found that the easiest thing for me was to use my Google ID to comment. Yeah, I know, Google, but it saves a lot of aggravation…

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