I was thinking about our vacation to New York, jet lag and travel in general because everyone in our town has been away for ski week. I remembered an incident that happened to me as a teenager, which was super scary and traumatic to my whole family and thought I would share. This is the story.
I was a freshman in high school and my parents planned a trip to Australia for Christmas break. My parents loved to travel and were always planning a trip to some far off and exotic place. Me, I have always been a creature of habit and as much as I loved our vacations I hated being away from my routine.
We spent 8 days in Australia, saw a little bit of Sydney, Melbourne and Koala Bears up close and personal, which was my favorite part. On our way back to the States we stopped in Tahiti for a few days, which made the flight home much shorter. Thank Goodness, plus Tahiti was beautiful. It was also fun because the bartenders didn’t speak English and every time I ordered a Virgin Pina Colada I ended up getting really tipsy until my parents figured out they were serving my sister and I alcohol. They didn’t know what a virgin Pina Colada was. No more Pina Colada’s for us, back to sodas.
When it was time to leave and go home, I was already calculating if I could make it home in time to get to ballet class. I took ballet at a small studio but had just advanced to “the company”. I was proud of myself and part of the agreement was that each member of the company had to take 4 classes each week in addition to company practice. Of course there were exceptions for vacations but I had already missed a week and wanted to get back quickly.
We arrived home from Tahiti on a Saturday morning and I begged my Mom to drive me to the studio. She did and I took take 3 hours of ballet that day. Back then we didn’t drink lots of water. I would drink a little water during class, but probably not enough to stay hydrated. I was rather addicted to diet coke as a teenager and would drink several cans each day. At this point I had been up for 24 hours but I wasn’t tired. I was totally jet lagged.
When I got home from class my cousin called, who was like a best friend to me, and invited me to go on her grandparent’s Yacht. Her Mom was getting remarried and they were her new grandparents. I had never been on a real yacht and really wanted to go but my Mom thought I needed to rest. My Aunt finally convinced my Mom to let me go and promised we wouldn’t be out long. Well, we ended up staying on the boat for well over 4 hours and by the time we got home I wasn’t feeling that good. I assumed I had gotten seasickness and went up to my bedroom. My aunt, uncle and cousin stayed for dinner, but I stayed in my room. When my cousin came up to see me I was acting really weird and she ran and got my parents. I totally remember this all of this but at the time I wasn’t able to control myself. It was like I was having an outer body experience.
My whole family came to check on me and when my Mom said “Tiffani, are you ok?” I responded like this:
me: “I’m not Tiffani, I am Lucille Ball. Will you please get my fur coat, I need to get out of here!”
Mom: “Tiffani, stop joking around!”
me: I then flung myself down on my bed and started doing leg lifts while everyone in my family was staring at me. I then said to my uncle, who was a serious runner, “You can’t run in that race tomorrow, they are going to chop you up and kill you. If you run, you will turn into meat.” “Bring me my red glitter shoes, NOW! I am in a hurry!”
At this point everyone was terrified because I would ‘t stop acting totally insane. They decided to take me to the hospital because I wouldn’t snap out of it. My Dad, who always took me to the hospital, I had a history of visiting the hospital at least once a year for some weird reason, got me in the front seat. I kept trying to open the door while he was driving so My Mom had to hold me in place. I remember wanting to jump out of the moving car, even though I knew it was dangerous I couldn’t control my actions.
Once we got to the hospital they took me straight back and we were really rude me. They assumed I was on drugs and kept questioning everything I had done for the past 24 hours. My Mom got hysterical because they weren’t doing anything to help me and finally they put her in a wheelchair and sedated her. I remember watching her crying in the wheelchair in the corner while my Dad tried to convince the doctors I wasn’t on drugs.
They took some blood and after they realized I wasn’t on drugs they discovered my electrolytes were dangerously out of whack and I was seriously dehydrated. I was actually hallucinating because my body was shutting down from dehydration.
They got me on fluids and I had to stay the night and was fine the next day but boy did I have a story for my friends the next day. The ER doctor apologized profusely to me and my parents because he had been so rude to us all, it was unbelievable.
It’s funny because as a child I always had weird medical things happen to me. I went to the hospital often even thought I didn’t have a chronic condition. At one point I received a special card from Hoag Hospital, for frequent visitors. Once I got to the hospital they would just swipe my card and all the information they needed would show up on the computer. I was the only one in the family that ever received that card and my parents still laugh about it today.
Looking back, I guess my childhood visits to the ER were in preparation for what my future would hold.
Have a great Monday!
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