My experience of air travel in January 2020
This is my experience following a long-haul flight. Although I was in business class, I was sitting on the window side and next to the engine. I think that this affected my cochlear and my balance – it may affect people with hearing aids too. The advice given to me was to sit in the main body of the aircraft where I would have less noise and vibration. I haven’t tried this yet. Always seek professional advice if you experience any problems as they could be something more serious. It is better to be safe than sorry. I hope you don’t experience this but also hope this information may be useful to you.
- It is recommended that you sit in the central seats of the plane.
- Seek medical help either from your doctor or from the A & E of your local hospital, as these symptoms could be something more serious!!
Since having my cochlear implants, the right in July 2017 and the left in May 2018, I have had several flights in both helicopters and aeroplanes including long haul flights, with no untoward effects, however this was soon to change.
In January, I was on an 11-hour flight. All went well until we were about 5 hours from Heathrow. I began to feel very unwell. I got up to seek assistance but was very unsteady on my feet. I managed to reach the cabin crew but could not make the air hostess understand. Apparently, I was not coherent. I thought I was. I accepted a bottle of water and tried to make my way back to my seat but on entering the passenger cabin, the world began to spin I began to collapse. I called my friend who came to my assistance. Fortunately, there was an empty seat and I collapsed onto that. My friend and the cabin crew were marvellous. I was given oxygen but as I was already feeling sick that actually made me sick which was horrible. I always carry a list of my medication with me. The steward took this and consulted a medic. After this I was given an anti-motion sickness pill which helped a bit. I slept for quite a while and although I still felt peculiar was much better.
On landing my husband and I waited until everyone else had got off the plane. I had assistance from the plane and was taken by wheelchair up to the airport and then with my husband by buggy through the airport and through a special lane through passport control to baggage reclaim. When our luggage was collected I was taken by wheel chair to our car. The service was amazing and both my husband and I were so grateful to the Crew and to airport staff for all their help.
When I arrived home I had some tea and toast and managed to keep it down. I stayed downstairs Monday night as I didn’t want to risk going upstairs.
In the morning I still felt very disorientated and my balance was not good. Still no hearing in my right ear just interference when I put my processor on. I ate a banana but was promptly sick – so no good trying to eat. By lunchtime I could barely stand and needed support to go anywhere. My husband made an appointment for me with our doctor for the afternoon,
On seeing the doctor she tested my Co-ordination and it was OK. She confirmed what I suspected. It was either an inner ear problem or a virus. She prescribed me some anti sickness pills used to treat migraine. She also said if I felt any worse to either come back or even go to A & E. We returned home and I took my first pill. By the evening I was feeling a little better and able to eat a little food. A good first step.
I now had to sort out my cochlear and hearing! I am lucky to have a second processor and I tried that but that didn’t work either. Still feeling dizzy but not so sick. I was given advice to try to make my cochlear work but to no avail.
The following day I felt a little better but my balance still not too good. I noticed that when I put my processor on, the interference was not so loud. I had also felt like a popping in my ear and sometimes could bear to have the processor switched on. Still could not hear but the interference was minimal and then the interference stopped, and I could hear again in my right ear!!! Wonderful! Next step to use the controller/zapper. That didn’t work on either of my processors for the right ear. I kept trying to regain control and then by about 9.45pm suddenly they worked - what a relief! I am so lucky to have the support of my friend and audiologist. I am so grateful to both of them.
Now I just have to get myself well balanced again.
For the next ten days my balance began to improve but I still couldn’t hear too well
I tried to drive, only just round to the next road, but was so scared because I felt odd with my balance. Won’t be driving for a while yet.
I went shopping today with my husband. While he was finding some items, I started to sway and grabbed hold of the trolley which moved and knocked over a cardboard display board. It was so heavy I couldn’t pick it up. A lovely young lady assistant came to my aid, but I WAS EMBARRASSED. I finished the shopping with no further hiccups but was very tired and off balance when I got home.
I had an appointment with my tutor and audiologist. My audiologist checked my cochlear -I have much more volume now and the sounds are not so tinny. Great!! I am going to monitor my hearing and then we’ll meet again to see if the problem has righted itself.
After they left, I had a shock as for a few minutes all I could hear in my left ear was interference BUT it stopped, and I could hear again.
Hearing pretty good even if I just use my left cochlear. It’s not perfect but definitely better than it was. In the morning my balance was good but after a couple of hours I began feeling a bit off balance again. After a rest it was better again for a while.
I have gradually recovered my balance. I have good days and bad days but am very much improved. When I am tired, I notice my balance going but I can bend down and move quickly without ill effects most of the time.
I can hear better but need a retune because it seems to me that everything is very loud. Obviously in the current climate I will not be having a retune in the near future, but I am so pleased to be able to hear as well as I can now.
I can drive but only for short distances. But it is a start. So glad to be able to do that!
I am able to drive now!!!
It is now May and my hearing is much better. On the whole my balance is better but I still have times when it is a bit unstable. When the doctors don’t have more pressing things on their mind I will seek further advice. I’m doing very well for the moment.
This has been a trying time. I hope my account may help anyone else who is unfortunate enough to experience anything like this. It is not very pleasant. Always seek help if you are at all worried! I still find my cochlear implants an amazing benefit and marvel at how they have changed my life