So I was sitting at O’Hare Airport last Friday night, on the floor, staring out the window, eating airport food, chatting with a friend who had been on the same college visit trip. A pilot walked up, wheeling his Jeps behind him.
I’m a pilot, so I like to chat with pilots. So we start chatting. He invited me to come up to the cockpit before the flight; not the first time I’ve been invited up and on a few occasions, I’ve taken them up on it.
So we board the flight – 8:15 pm out of Chicago for LA. It had been a long week.
About a half hour into the flight, a guy – Asian, about 30 I would say – came walking down the aisle as if headed to the bathroom. I was sitting on the aisle on the left side. A row ahead of me, the walking guy sort of stumbled into the guy sitting on the aisle on the right side. The sitting guy sort of pushed back on him, and he made it one more row and basically fell into my lap.
My first reaction was, “oh my g-d, how rude, look where you are going!” And then I realized that I was supporting his entire body weight and he was clearly not in control of himself. And he wasn’t drunk.
The sitting guy realized that the now-stumbling guy is having some type of medical situation, and came up behind him, with his arms underneath the stumbling guy’s arms, and when it was clear that continuing to stand up was not an option, he laid him down in the aisle. He asked the guy what day it was, and he responded clearly that it was the 11th. I asked him what his name was. “Jonathan.”
We called the flight attendants, who brought a cloth to put on his face. I offered him some water and pulled out my trusty dark chocolate raisinets, in case we had a blood sugar situation on our hands. The way he was laid in the aisle, my hands were at his knees, so I kept one hand on his knee and kept telling him, “We’re with you, Jonathan.”
Then the announcement came that you never want to hear on an airplane: “Is there a physician on board the aircraft?” Two people from first class responded. The flight attendant pulled out an emergency kit, and the first doc immediately began using the stethoscope and the sphygmomanometer (I am shocked at how many people know this word and don’t have to look it up! Pat yourself on the back, smartie!)
Jonathan’s blood pressure and pulse rates were high. I asked him if he had eaten or drunk anything that day – remember this was an 8:15 pm flight. He said no. I was relaying information back to the other two flight attendants – the first one was straddling him in the aisle (which I sort of thought was odd and a little bit constricting but what do I know?) and two more were behind him. At some point it occurred to them to tell the cockpit.
The first doc (the second doc didn’t really do much the whole time!) told the flight attendants to get him sugar water and tomato juice. He was dehydrated. He needed sugar and salt. Electrolytes. The flight attendants brought Sprite and tomato juice, and then they all left. The original guy one row ahead of me helped Jonathan up to his knees. I opened both cans and poured a cup of each, and he downed both of them. He literally got up and walked away, leaving me holding two half-full cans, and that was that.
And I thought that was the most exciting part of our flight until I got off, and saw the pilot I had chatted with before, who said to me, “Did you see Buzz Aldrin on our flight?” And he showed me pictures. Indeed, Buzz Aldrin, wearing a bright red flight suit that said “Dr. Buzz Aldrin” on it – though he doesn’t want to talk to you (I tried – saw him at baggage claim – told him I was a pilot – I could see him in his mind wanting to say to me, “You fly a single-engine putt-putt and I’ve been on the f@#$#@#ing MOON!”) and won’t let you take his picture. Yes indeed Buzz Aldrin was also in first class on that flight.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated, boys and girls.