In 1996 I left the UK & went to live in Orlando, Florida. I had left the employment of British Gas, taking a redundancy package that would help me live in America. This story is about what happened on my flight to Florida.
In-flight panic attack.
I had made plans to go & live in my home in Orlando in Florida. I had enough money from my redundancy package to allow me to live there for quite a while. The week before my 29th birthday, I had a going away party at the Hill Park Memorial Working Men's Club, in Fareham where I lived. Many of my extended family had driven down from London to celebrate my birthday, & lot more had driven down to make sure I was leaving to go to America the following week. I think my sister couldn't make the party as she had a previous engagement she couldn't get out of. We had a great time & I was given a good send-off. I remember having a local cockle man bring in enough jellied eels to feed the five thousand & none of my family liked it. If I remember my mate Les loved it.
The following week, on my actual birthday the 23rd of January, my mum & dad drove me to the airport to drop me off for my flight to America. My mum was very upset, crying her eyes out because her baby was leaving her to go & live in America but unusually didn't want to hang about at the airport to see me off. I was quite pleased as it meant I could get through to the departure lounge & have a full English breakfast before catching my early flight to Orlando, I didn't see anything unusual in them leaving so quickly as I waved goodbye to my mum & dad.
After boarding my British Airways flight to Orlando & getting settled in my seat, we soon took off & I watched a film on the onboard television screen. As the film finished we were flying somewhere over the Atlantic & I decided to get a drink. Whilst waiting for the air hostess I suddenly felt very sick & started to shiver. I didn't want to be sick I just suddenly became very nervous & felt the blood drain from my face as my hands & body started to shake, I had palpitations, I was sweating & had a headache. As the air hostess approached me she noticed I didn't look very well & immediately asked if I was ok. I replied that I didn't know but asked her for a glass of water. She quickly came back with a glass of water & another air hostess.
I drank the water the hostess had given me & asked for another telling her that I thought I would be all right. I was given another glass of water & one of the hostesses went away whilst the other watched over me for a while until the colour came back into my face. I explained to her that I was leaving the UK to go to live in America & she thought it may have just been a sudden bought of nerves & went away. For some reason, I looked at my watch to see what the time was, I knew that my panic attack had something to do with my sister Karen & I couldn't stop thinking about her. The rest of the flight passed easily, I watched many films & didn't feel ill in any way for the rest of the flight.
When I arrived in Orlando I was able to get through customs & immigration quite quickly with no hold-ups. I went to the hire car pick-up centre, collected my car & drove straight to my home at Meadow Woods in BVL, Orlando. It was by now quite late in England but I had promised to call my mum as soon as I arrived safely at my home in Orlando. I rang my mum & dad's number & my mum answered the phone very quickly. She sounded OK & I told her I had arrived safely but when I then immediately asked her what was wrong with my sister, she burst into tears & handed the phone to my dad.
My dad asked me how the flight went & I straight away asked him what was wrong with my sister. He asked what I meant & I told him about my panic attack on the plane & even mentioned the time of the panic attack. For a few seconds, my dad had to stop himself from crying but he was shortly able to tell me that at the precise time I had my panic attack on the plane, my sister had been going to the theatre at the hospital for a serious operation. After a short time, my mum came back on the telephone & I was able to tell her my story about my panic attack & looking at my watch to see what the time was. I told her that I knew that something had been happening to my sister & she again told me the story my dad had just told me.
It turned out that my sister knew about the day of the operation for a while but forbid my mum & dad from telling me in case it stopped me from going to live in America on the same day. She knew I had been planning this move for a long time & didn't want to give me a reason not to follow my dreams. Luckily my sister had the operation & came out the other side OK. I would not have been able to do anything for my sister on this day, but I could have been there for her as she had been there for me on so many occasions in my life.
It seems the connection between me & my sister is very close. I knew from halfway across the Atlantic that something was wrong with her even though I had never been given any idea about her operation. All the time I thought my sister loved me, but she could not take the chance that I might stay in the UK to continue to pester, annoy & otherwise be a horrible little brother to her. I love you, Karen, call me anytime you need me.