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Posted by Dorothy on 2/24/05 at 15:50 (169813)

I'm in a state of near-catatonia from the likelihood of impending travel to Hawaii. I know it is probably difficult for anyone here to understand, but I am having a lot of trouble about this idea. The feet, the back, ears and sinuses prone to major pain on airplanes, the long hours in cramped seats and close quarters, the bathrooms, the flight delays that occur almost daily at O'Hare, the security that I think is beyond absurd, the cramped showers in hotel/motels that don't permit any adjustments for backs and feet that aren't in perfect condition.....
This is not seeming like a trip to paradise to me, yet it is an opportunity that we will not likely have again...
I can't get over this mental hump and I've tried every 'trick' I know to jar my thinking out of this negative hole - not successful.
You've all already given me so much good information and encouragement but what I'm asking now is: who has traveled a long distance with painful feet and painful back and sciatica from cold to hot climates non-stop for hours??? Anyone??? Plus, I don't really like to fly anyway, even in the best of conditions (I'm so sorry to say that, dear John H) and it so easy for me to envision us floating in the Pacific, surrounded by circling sharks and my little carry-on loaded only with Birkenstocks and New Balance shoes ...... Me: whining, wailing and moaning, but mostly whining!
Incurable Neurotic, and scared to boot ~

Re: Trips

Julie on 2/24/05 at 16:42 (169815)


My sympathy with your trepidations can be taken for granted. You have it.

Practical suggestions for the flight:

Don't be afraid to request assistance before going to the airport. One of those big buggies that transport people and their hand luggage will save you the long walk from the departure lounge to the plane - and save you the hefting of the bags.

Request an aisle seat - I'm sure you would think of that, but it's worth emphasising - and get up out of it and walk around as often as the drinks/meals/earphone/duty free trolleys allow you to. Do the same at the other end - the airline you're flying with should be able to arrange it in advance.

Exercise en route. The simple Pawanmuktasana joints exercises: finger stretching and hand clenching, wrist bending and rotating, toe bending and stretching, ankle bending and rotations. They'll keep your circulation going.

Take lumbar roll for your back - if you haven't got one, a pillow to support. On your prowls up and down the aisles pause in the space where the toilets are and do a few simple stretches to keep your spine lengthened.

Wear your oldest, comfortable-est, most roomy shoes, preferably lace-ups. Take them off during the flight (put on one of those pairs of Birkenstocks) and let your feet breathe and move (you can't do the toe exercises inside shoes). 'Most roomy' is important: your feet will swell.

Take a supply of sucking candy for take-off and landing to spare your ears and sinuses. Eat as many as you need and don't worry about the calories - I usually go through four or five while anticipating take-off, and at least that many while stacked before landing. Swallow, constantly, to offset the pressure, especially on landing.

Take a good book - either a novel you can get genuinely absorbed in, or a book about where you're going. With lots of good information, and photos.

Stop chastising yourself for worrying - it's not helping. You feel how you feel, and it's ok.

Have an absolutely wonderful vacation! When are you leaving?

Re: Trips

Julie on 2/24/05 at 16:44 (169816)

PS. Maybe one of those light folding seats for the check-in and security procedures?

Re: Trips

Dorothy on 2/24/05 at 16:45 (169817)

Dorothy - If I were advising you - and I guess I am - I would say:
Do it. or Don't do it. But stop Weeping and Wailing and Gnashing your Teeth and for goodness' sake: stop whining! What's a cramped bathroom and cramped airplane seat for hours and hours and hours? what's a little unplanned float in the warm Pacific with the sharks? People pay good money to swim with dolphins, after all!
Grow up! Get over it! Think your back gives you problems? Your feet? Hey, think about ....um......something else. I'll write later with some suggestions.

p.s. to John H: I am not on any hard stuff - whatever that means. Ice?
I have had some rather strong yogurt today, along with some thoughts of pineapple..... Aaaaarrrrgh.

Re: Trips

Dorothy on 2/24/05 at 16:49 (169819)

Julie -

Thank you for the wonderful post with good advice and assurance.

In a couple of weeks. Plenty of time to get overwrought. I don't really need much time for that. It's my forte.

:-) :-(

Re: Trips

john h on 2/24/05 at 18:03 (169828)

No Dorothy not ice. More like Jack daniels or beef eaters. pineapple is very good for digestion-enjoy.

Re: Trips

john h on 2/24/05 at 18:08 (169829)

Dorothy up in the great big plush pilots seat you have a great view. the seat is adjustable with unlimited leg room. the attendants bring you what ever you want and you can adjust the temperature to your exact requirement. you can see the sunset or the sunrise and only imagine what is going on back in coach. unfortunately we had to use the same rest rooms but everything cannot be perfect.

Re: Trips

Dorothy on 2/24/05 at 18:16 (169830)

John H - Well, la-ti-da.

A.) I'm not a pilot, in case you had any doubts
B) I never took you for a braggart.
C) How long does it take to become a pilot? Think I could qualify for one of those big plush pilot seats in a few weeks? Probably not, huh...

The first time I ever flew on an airplane, I wore a hat and gloves. In fact, it was a big straw hat - that's how roomy that plane was. Even though it was the late 1960s and hats and gloves were no longer the norm for airplane passengers, I just felt like dressing up. It was a big deal.
I wasn't afraid. I wasn't annoyed. Nothing hurt. It was all good. I felt totally cool. Now.....not so much.

Re: Trips

Dorothy on 2/24/05 at 18:25 (169833)

In fact, maybe you saw my picture in Life Magazine? The Lady Who Boarded the TWA plane Wearing a Hat, Gloves and Vicks Vaporub: What is the World Coming To??

Re: Trips

Carole C in NOLA on 2/25/05 at 13:39 (169888)


Chant the following to yourself, until you find yourself on the ground in Hawaii:

I WANT to go to Hawaii.
I would never FORGIVE myself if I chickened out now.
I am going to fly on this plane to Hawaii no matter what it takes!!!

Also, do everything the others said, to make the experience less painful. But above all, just grit your teeth and GO or you might regret it for years. It's only a few hours, for an experience you'll remember always. You can do it.

Like the little train that could: 'I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can'....

Carole C

Re: Trips

Dorothy on 2/25/05 at 14:24 (169892)

Ok, Carole. I'm taking orders from a smart, sensible oceanographer! I like the chant. It's a good chant. It's good advice. (Is there a little train I could take to Hawaii?) .....

Ok, Ok.....I WANT to go to Hawaii. I would never FORGIVE myself if I chickened out now.....

Thanks much to Ms Hawaii-Louisiana!!! I'll let you know how it goes....

p.s. Thank goodness, early humans and early explorers were not like me; we'd all be living in caves, waiting for a slow rodent to venture into the circle.....

Re: Trips

Carole C in NOLA on 2/25/05 at 14:39 (169895)

You can do it! (You WANT to go to Hawaii. You would never FORGIVE yourself if you chickened out now...)

(tee hee!) :D

Think of your plane as the little train that could. Read a book on the 'train', and don't look out the window! LOL Good luck and take pictures so we can see what fun you had. :)

Carole C

Re: Trips

Dorothy on 2/25/05 at 14:58 (169899)

Yeah.....my digital camera will wash up on some distant shore years hence and some beachcomber will find it, take out the still-intact memory card and view the last photos of my trip to Hawaii: giant shark jaws wide-open coming at someone, but all you can see of that someone is a pair of hands holding a waterlogged Birkenstock, getting ready to strike the shark in the snout, a pathetic little PowerStep seen floating away in the distance....

**I WANT to go to Hawaii. I would never FORGIVE myself if I chickened out now...***

Did you or anyone see those photographs that were found on a digital camera on a beach in Thailand? They were from the camera of a couple who were caught in the tsunami but took photos until the end. They are amazing images and give a very eerie feeling, knowing the story behind them. A pretty astonishing set of events, how the photos came to be ...

Re: Trips

Julie on 2/25/05 at 16:59 (169911)

Dorothy, you are NOT going to chicken out.

Carole did not tell you to say 'I would never forgive myself if I chickened out'. That gives your brain a negative message.

Now be a good little engine....

Re: Trips

Julie on 2/25/05 at 17:02 (169912)

Oops. She did. Apologies to both of you. OK, say it - but GO, and enjoy yourself. How long will you be away?

Re: Trips

Carole C in NOLA on 2/25/05 at 17:16 (169914)

Yes I DID see them. You're right... they're amazing.

But THEY were killed by a giant, freak tsunami.

YOU, on the other hand, will simply be riding a one of a huge number of planes that safely go to and from Hawaii each year, and you'll be going there for some fabulous and well deserved fun! So banish those thoughts and enjoy riding the 'train'. :)

Carole C

Re: Trips

Carole C in NOLA on 2/25/05 at 17:19 (169915)

Don't worry... I know the feeling. I hate the way we can't edit or delete our posts on this message board. :)

Carole C

Re: Trips

Buck T. on 2/25/05 at 19:14 (169922)

Dorothy: I have two trips planned and feel the same way -- as do probably many others here. I used to jump from airplanes, so I'm no coward. But am more worried about feet flaring up in airports now than I ever was about jumping.
Don't think family members or friends understand this type of fear. So, what I do is say to myself, 'yeah, I got a problem. I'll have to somehow deal with it.' Ways of doing this are calling ahead and telling ticket agents exactly what you are worried about. Don't know details, but they can have a wheelchair there for you. I know they would want to help you -- but I think due to American with Disabilities Act they are required to give assistance. Let me know if I can help.

Sincerely, Buck T

Re: Trips

Dorothy on 2/26/05 at 00:37 (169932)

Buck T - Thank you so much; that is very kind of you. I know what you mean (except the part about jumping from airplanes!)
I hope your trips go well for you. Your post is much appreciated.

Re: Trips

Suzanne D. on 2/26/05 at 08:02 (169938)

Dorothy, I really want you to be able to go to Hawaii and enjoy yourself. You deserve it!

I think you have been given some wonderful advice in this thread. I believe if you heed all this, you will have a successful trip.

As Julie said, request assistance and an aisle seat. Exercise, take a pillow, wear your most comfortable shoes, and change them often. Have you ever used those 'therma' products - small, packaged wraps that upon opening heat up and keep their warmth for hours? They are sold at drugstores and are made to fit neck, back, knee, and other areas. They can be worn under clothing without being noticed. Perhaps it might be helpful to have these on hand. Do you ever take anti-inflammatory medicine? Maybe this would be a time to do so for caution's sake.

Then, after you have done everything possible to protect yourself against undue physical strain, follow Carole's advice and just keep thinking that you can and want to do this! Remember that often the dread of something is worse than the actual experience.

Three years ago I had the opportunity to go with my daughter's choir to Branson, Missouri. My PF had begun 6 months before, and I was just at that time experiencing some real progress in healing. I worried, 'Will this trip make me worse? Will I get there and not be able to keep up with the group? Will my daughter be ashamed of my clunky, lace-up SAS shoes?'

But I decided to go, and I had a wonderful time. I sat next to the aisle on the long bus ride, on the front seat, and continually stretched out my legs against the metal pole in front of my seat. This really helped as my calf muscles were at that time quite tight. I taped my feet every day and took anti-inflammatory medicine. I did the Yoga stretches often and sat down whenever I had the opportunity. I kept up with the kids, and the trip didn't make my PF worse. I related well with the kids as I showed an interest in them. I ended up fixing many of the girls' hair before the performance, and they weren't worried about my shoes. With my daughter now away in college, I often think how glad I am that I did not let my worries keep me from that trip.

I really hope you can go and enjoy Hawaii! We will go along with you in spirit, Dorothy!

Take care,
Suzanne :)

Re: Trips

john h on 2/26/05 at 10:29 (169947)

Dorothy the fact is and has been for decades you are safer flying that big plane to Hawaii than driving down the street near your home. The statistics are not even close. I think military pilots particularly in combat develop some sort of mentality that you will never die. Often in combat I would be scared out of my pants before a combat mission but once I got in the aircraft I was home and safe no matter what the odds I always expected to be home that night. Most of my friends thought the same way. Must have been some sort of defense mechanism. What ever it worked. I detest driving on long trips and will take a plane any day. I enjoy the long flights even as a passenger. Always seem to meet some interesting people and the flights pass in a hurry. Lucky you.

Re: Dorothy - GO!

Kathy G on 2/27/05 at 08:52 (170015)


I have always been afraid of flying. When I was a senior in high school, my older sister's graduation gift to me was a trip to visit her in California. I thought I'd die before I got on that plane, I was so petrified. I had a wonderful time but I dreaded the trip home. The next time I flew, it was to Ireland with my husband, on a delayed honeymoon. I was scared to death then, too, and he swears he still has the finger marks on his arms thirty-two years later from where I grasped him during take off and landing.

Now, I will fly whenever I have the chance (and the money!). I'm still afraid but I guess age allowed me to realize that my fear is due to the fact that I am a 'control freak.' When I go anywhere, I'm always the one who does the driving, unless it's with my husband. And it's always been that way, ever since high school. I just feel better when I'm in control. My fear was was purely emotional because intellectually, I am well aware of the safety of flying vs. just about any other mode of transportation.

In 1991, my thirty-one-year-old brother in law was murdered in an attempted car robbery. It took place on a brightly lit street in front of a very nice restaurant in one of the safest cities in the country. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. From that day on, I have looked at life very differently and I vowed to enjoy every minute of every day as if it were my last, because I know, all too well, that it could be. I used to a worrier and a terrible perfectionist but now my philosophy is that I control only the things that I can and I don't worry about the rest. Oh, I still have my moments but I've become a master at thrusting worries aside because I realize how counterproductive it is.

If you have a chance to go to Hawaii, go! Enjoy yourself! Don't worry about what might happen. Make all the proper practical arrangements that everyone has suggested and then go for it! Life is very short. Don't waste it worrying. Heck, if need be, take a benadryl before the flight so that you will be drowsy during at least part of it. I know lots of people who do that. But, as hard as it is, don't fret about 'what ifs' and embrace it as a chance to do something that many people will never get a chance to do! I'm so excited for you!

By the way, I still hate flying! :D

Re: Dorothy - GO!

john h on 2/27/05 at 10:39 (170024)

You have some good insight Kathy. Pilots actually are much more comfortable when they are in control and flying the aircraft. Worst thing you can have is 4 pilots in a cockpit. Even riding in the back of a commercial airliner I am always watching the flaps/spoilers, paying attention to the sounds and putting myself in the seat up front. Worst thing than can happen for me when a passenger is a GO AROUND. Particularly in bad weather. When this happens you have all sorts of crazy things that go through your mind as every time I have made a go around as a pilot something was not right.

Re: Trips

Dorothy on 2/27/05 at 11:01 (170026)

Thank you, Suzanne; good advice as always. I know I've become quite the boor on this subject so I'm going to try to leave it. But before doing so, I wanted to thank you. What your experience did was give you some practice in the 'what if' technique and once learned, it will serve you well always. Sometimes it is easier to practice than other times and although I use it, and advocate it, sometimes it takes a little more 'oooohmph' than I have at the moment. Your own story helps remind me of how much this can help. .... And I do sincerely wish you and all could go along in more than spirit; no one deserves to stretch out in the warm sun or to walk on the beach more than the folks here.
This is a great statement of yours and I will think of it along with Carole's mantra: 'I often think how glad I am that I did not let my worries keep me from that trip.'
It's not that the worries are not there, but that the worries are more passenger than driver. Thanks again.

Re: Dorothy - GO!

Dorothy on 2/27/05 at 11:53 (170033)


Thank you for the nice note on this subject. You folks are very kind to put up with my ongoing obsessive 'stuff'!! I think the issue of 'control' is important - and although I know we only imagine we have any control, I keep trying to control my environment (bathrooms, how to sit, etc. ) because of all the possibilities....I like your statement 'but I've become a master at thrusting worries aside ...' and that is a big achievment. I'll keep working at it (although it is clear that I am very fond of my worries...)

Kathy, I am so very sorry that your family lost a family member and in such a horrible way. The lesson that you have internalized from your experience of that is a very important one - and one that is good to be reminded of. I needed that reminder, too - thank you.

I hate flying, too, but not out of fear. I just think it's been changed from a once-delightful adventure to a nasty challenge to all of our senses.

However, I reckon I'm due to be on a long airplane trip soon and by golly, I'm gonna make the best of it!! :-)

Re: Trips

JudyS on 2/27/05 at 12:13 (170039)

Dorothy I'm a tad late to this conversation but I would suggest that, to avoid that really lengthy airplane ride and break it up in to two shorter rides, do a layover in San Diego at the Friendly Casa of JudyS. In fact, do a few days worth of layover. San Diego is every bit as gorgeous as Hawaii!

Re: Trips

JudyS on 2/27/05 at 12:19 (170040)

Dorothy - don't be so hard on Dorothy! She's entitled to her angst and comes by it honestly! A lot of folks would call it being human.

I had a really rough plane ride once. (just once in a zillion years of flying)- I was scared out of my socks. After it I had a brief layover in some airport before my connecting flight. I headed right for the bar and drank several rounds of alcohol.
Not being much of a drinker, I'd always been pretty skeptical of folks who drown their sorrows in liquor. I certainly cured myself of that arrogance in no time!

Re: Trips

Dorothy on 2/27/05 at 14:22 (170050)

You didn't say: did you ever find those socks?? If not, I think maybe they landed somewhere in a Chicago suburb encased in an iceball...


p.s. Thanks Judy S. I appreciate the good thoughts.

Re: Trips

Dorothy on 2/27/05 at 14:26 (170051)

JudyS - Oh, that is a lovely idea. I love San Diego - but I'm afraid I must decline that kind offer. Marriage and airline rules and budgets and the schedules and plans of Others carry certain commitments. You live in one of the planet's many jewels, as you already know... Thanks much, JudyS. Maybe if I can lay my hands on a parachute......

Re: Trips

marie on 2/27/05 at 19:52 (170083)

I wonder what will happen if you decide not to go.

1. You won't get to feel the sand under your bare feet. You can always go barefoot in the snow.

2. You'll certainly enjoy a little more of the cold winter at home. Yes we love the cold.

3. Instead of listening to the ocean you can listen to the snow plows hum past your house.

4. Crank up the furnace so it feels like it's 85 degrees. of course that will cost you a little more money......utilities aren't cheap in old houses.

Hey either way just have fun......whether ya stay home or go.

PS: You guys have all turned into html monsters. tehehehehe!