TRAVEL THERE: GETTING THERE – A PAIN IN THE NECK, LITERALLY
Whoever said that getting there was half the fun must have lived a long time ago. On our latest journey, getting there (and getting home) was just about the only hassle we had to deal with.
The Pain in my Neck
So, I had a wreck in January and have been under the care of a chiropractor. While it has been distracting and frustrating, on most days I can keep the pain to a dull roar. The one thing I can’t do is sit still for any length of time. Talk about frustrating! I spend my days at a computer, but these days my computer time is broken up by neck breaks.
What has been an irritation in my day to day life became a real dilemma on my trip. Before my pond-jumping flight was over, I was having pleasant fantasies about guillotines – and anything else that might stop my neck from hurting.
No Room on the Plane
My biggest problem is that I remember when flying was fun. The airlines were still trying to get our business, so our knees had room, the food was good and you didn’t have to be in first class to be treated well. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you all this has changed.
I do have a message for Lufthansa, that Airbus 330-300 you put us on had no business going across the ocean. I guess I really don’t have too much room for complaint, since my flight was virtually free. Viking included airfare for $100 each and my travel agent tried very hard to warn me that I might want to upgrade to Premium Economy, but I was intent on keeping a low profile in the money department. All the same, I’m going to complain.
As soon as I sat down, one thing was obvious, my seat was not designed for a 5’8″ female. I can only imagine how miserable my six foot husband was. There was no position I could put myself into which would keep my knees from touching the seat in front of me – and this was before that passenger leaned his chair into my lap.
My biggest complaint was the well-used condition of the plane. Oh, the upholstery was fine and everything was clean, but from the moment it taxied down the runway, I had the distinct impression this plane might have crossed the water one too many times. My husband drives a Mercedes and I drive an Altima. Neither is reflective of this experience. The flight reminded me of the strange orange car my niece drove when we visited Egypt – there was a hole in the floor and everything rattled. Now the plane didn’t have a hole anywhere (that I know of), but the rattling just about drove me crazy.
Sleeping – Forget About It!
In best case scenarios, it is unlikely that I will get much sleep on a plane. In this case, unlikely was an understatement. I had headphones, a neck pillow, a blanket, a sleep mask and I brought cozy socks for my feet. I had dinner, did a little adult coloring and then settled down for a long flying nap.
I tried all the tricks to convince my body to fall asleep. First was the sit-erectly-and-close-your-eyes method. I told myself this would be best for my neck, but since I usually fall asleep on my side, I had to give it up. I tried to emulate sleeping on my right side, which is my initial falling asleep position at home. It was a little awkward, but it tricked my body into thinking it might want to fall asleep. My next trick was to roll on my left side, which I always do in bed right before I head off to dreamland. As a bonus, Bill was on that side and I was able to lay my head on his shoulder. It was going to happen…I was falling asleep…then we hit the turbulence.
It was a pretty significant bounce, so I came wide awake, but if that had been all there was, I might have been able to overcome it. I could not overcome the next hour of the bone-jarring ride. The rattling sounds pierced through the headphones. I tossed and turned for an hour in the dark with no luck. Out of pure frustration I found a movie to watch. I like Jennifer Lawrence. I like Bradley Cooper. I like Robert DeNiro. However, Joy has to be one of the worst, most depressing movies I have ever attempted to enjoy. After it was over I wished I had just listened to the plane rattle.
By the time the movie was over the flight attendants turned on the lights and shades were going up. I shook off my misery and looked forward to breakfast – which should be an indication of just how miserable I was.
Ten hours from take-off, we were landing in Frankfurt and I felt like I’d rather be dead. The rattling had merely been a distraction, but from the base of my neck radiating outward was some of the most excruciating pain I had endured since the accident. I was also punch drunk. We must have asked 10 people how to find our gate. We were like Keystone Cops.
When we did find the gate, I went to the restroom to freshen up. We stacked our luggage around Bill’s feet and I slept until it was time to catch the next flight. Thank you to my remarkable husband who acted as my pillow while I slept. I was at least coherent when I woke up. My shoulders felt good enough to make me think I might be able to withstand carrying my head around for the rest of the trip.
On to Budapest! Things do improve and to prove it, here’s video highlights of our trip.