I took a 79 year old lady on her very first flight EVER today. It is amazing how many patients we fly that have never been in the air. I have actually added, “Have you ever flown in a helicopter before?” to my list of assessment questions. The anxiety from knowing they are going to be flying can be a physiological hindrance at times.
You can just imagine what a fear of flying can do to a patient who is in the middle of a massive MI or CVA?
We wrapped her up in blankets; tucked her in with the cables, cords and IVs for the flight. As we were loading our stretcher in, she looked at my physician and asked if we had a pan, just in case she got sick. The doctor thought she was feeling ill because of her physiologic state. She was actually afraid she would be motion sick.
We took off into cold, blue skies. The sun was out making it a great day for flying. The stoic look slowly melted from her face. Her blood pressure and heart rate evened out as she settled into the ride. I left her be, content to watch her vital signs squiggle across my monitor. Prior to take off, I made sure her head was elevated enough to get a glimpse out the window when she was ready.
Eventually she gathered enough courage to open her eyes and look at the ceiling. When she realized that was okay, she ventured a look out the far window. Although it took a few minutes longer, she eventually got up enough courage to lift her shoulders and look through the closest window at the snowy landscape.
In another time and place, I had a patient lean up to look out the window which would change his life.
Today, this sweet lady decided that flying was something she would definitely like to do again.
Maybe not life changing, but it reminded me why I enjoy this so much.