Wanderlust: Barfing from Glasgow to Denver

by Stephanie Gall

I was about an hour and a half into my flight from Glasgow to Denver when I knew something was wrong. As the flight attendants started serving our delicious in-flight meal, all I could think was, “This is the worst thing I’ve ever smelled.” The sky waitress came closer with her cart of hot meals to bring me a Chana masala dinner and the churning inside my guts continued to get worse. I knew I was going to be sick on this airplane. Like all episodes of sickness, I tried to fight the urge to vomit for a whole hour before succumbing to the idea that I would feel better if I just let it out.

With an uncontrollable urge, I grabbed the tiny barf bag, wondering how my seat neighbors would respond to my retching. Images of the whole plane being triggered into a complete and total barf-o-rama entered my mind.

After a few good retches, I felt better, but it wasn’t long before the overpowering nausea returned and I realized the barf bag was getting full. Out of barf bags in the seat-back pocket, I’d have to make my way to the bathroom to discard my chunks and get a new bag.

After still barfing into a nearly full bag while walking down the aisle, I stood in line behind a callous, old man who gave me a dirty look as I barfed behind him in line.

I was filling up my second barf bag outside the bathroom (because the callous man took the next open bathroom) when the flight attendant asked if I wanted to sit on one of their jumpseats so they could keep an eye on me. I followed her to the back of the plane and she gave me her seat, turning away other travelers if they came to use the restroom so I could have sole access – my own private “barfroom.”

Five hours into the flight, I had vomited every 30 to 45 minutes and it was apparent this was not going to stop. One motherly flight attendant called the cockpit and asked to open the on-board medical kit so they could give me their most potent anti-nausea medicine. Thirty minutes later, after I signed my first-born child away, I swallowed some Phenergan and kept them down for a nearly an hour before the barfing resumed. The pills didn’t work.

The longest flight of my life finally landed in Denver, eight hours after departing Glasgow, and during de-planing, my only thought was how I could get myself through customs and pick up my luggage without vomiting on myself. I puked one last time after passing through customs before collapsing at my friend’s house. I spent the next 24 hours in a restless stupor.

— Stephanie GallGot a travel story worth telling? Write it in about 400 words and send it to [email protected]. If you’d rather tell your story, send a brief synopsis along with your full name and phone number to the same address. Either way, your story should be true.

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