Monday, 6 February 2012

On Flying Backwards and Motion Sickness

I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, who barely tolerates having ADD, suffers from SEVERE motion sickness.  Since last year October I have had to travel to Lephalale (formerly Ellisras) in the Limpopo Province every week.  I made the trip three times by car and then, since the work offered, decided to fly.  Because of the massive new Medupi coal power plant which Eskom is building there and because of the very large coal mining activities close to town, masses of contractors have descended on Lephalale and as a result the small town is bursting out of its seams.  


Although Lephalale is not a fixed destination for the large airline operators, some of the bigger charter companies have instated regular flights.  So, despite the fact that I hate small planes, it still beats driving and I bear the anxiety and nausea for the 45 minutes which the trip takes.  Usually we fly with a 20 seater Beechcraft 1900, which is not too small, but the difference is huge.  You think turbulence in a Boeing or an Airbus is bad…, try flying in a small plane being buffeted about by a Highveld thunderstorm as you approach Johannesburg!

Beechcraft 1900

Last week the regular Beechcraft 1900 was in for maintenance and they used two smaller planes.  One was the highly acclaimed Beechcraft KingAir (13 seater) and an Aero Commander Jetprop (5 seater).  Of course I was booked on the 5 seater.  Of course the 1 sideway seat and 2 forward facing seats were taken.  I immediately took a valoid and 2 tranquiliser tablets.  I really very rarely take tranquilisers, but since travelling a lot, I make sure that I always have some basic pharmacological preparations with me.  Headache tablets, nausea tablets, something for an upset tummy, plasters and antiseptic cream.  My sister-in-law gave me a few tranquilisers when Honey Bee passed away.

Aero Commander Jetprop

Despite the fact that there were no storms, turbulence or air pockets (it was really a very smooth flight), travelling backwards does not agree with someone suffering from motion sickness.  What your inner ear feels, your eyes see and your body experience, is totally out of whack with relation to each other.  The company was good though.  Next to me sat a quiet Turk with a massive watch on the wrong arm.  Opposite him was his older very talkative and friendly Turkish colleague and opposite me a friendly Canadian.  The quiet Turkish guy kept on taking pictures of everything and his chatty friend engaged all of us in conversation.  I always find it so pleasant/interesting/amusing to meet people from other countries.  The chatty Turk is one of those people one immediately takes to.  With laughter lines round his eyes and lips constantly on the verge of a big smile it is evident that he does not take life too seriously and that he enjoys the company of other people.  I did not always follow his heavily accented English above the roar of the plane’s twin props, but I was captivated by the passion with which he spoke.  The Canadian was, well Canadian…  very nice, unassuming and interesting.

I might have enjoyed the conversation more if my stomach did not continue to flip unpleasantly and had my brain not kept on slowly rocking from side to side inside my head.  We landed safely (me sickeningly in reverse) and I continued to feel queasy till the next day.  If I did not take the Valoid I would have puked… I know that for a fact.

Next time I’ll remember the Stoney Ginger Beer.  Ginger really helps – ask me, I’ve tried everything and apart from Valoid and Ginger this is what also works:
  • Dramamine
  • Sturgeron
  • Coca-Cola

2 comments:

Momcat said...

Congratulations on even having the courage and self control to even consider those flights considering your issues with them. And yes, I am becoming very familiar now with those famous Highveld storms which are dominating our afternoons at the moment but thank goodness I haven't had to endure a flight through one yet!

Angel said...

Oh that is too dreadful! I am so very glad I don't suffer from any kind of motion sickness!
I hope you find something that works for you.