(The previously untold story of how I got home for Christmas 2007.)
Gather around the fire kiddies and let me tell you the story of how I got home for Christmas of 2007. [Editors Note: Up until now, only my immediate family knew this story]
The year of 2007 was one of the landmark years for me. After I got my paramedic license I decided to move to the East Coast to get some work/life experience. So in August of 2007 I packed all of my belongings in to my truck and drove across country to the state of Connecticut. While I did have a job waiting for me there, at the time I didn’t have a place to stay and didn’t know a single person in the state. By the time December rolled around I had a few friends, but none close enough to go crash their Christmas party. Instead of having my first Christmas alone with a TV dinner and porn I decided to fly home instead for the holidays and surprise the family.
I looked for flights back to LA of and on for about two weeks with the prices always being way too high. Then one day when I was about to give up, I found a ticket that started with a two in the price instead of a five. I snapped it up immediately thinking it was a mirage, still skeptical even after I received the confirmation email.
When the snowy day rolled around and it was time for my flight I still thought it was too good to be true. Using highly sophisticated 4th grade technology I employed the reverse jinx. Maybe the flight will be cancelled. Maybe the plane will be broken. Maybe the weather will be too bad. I got up to the gate and waited, bracing for the Murphy’s Law worst.
Of course, It was delayed.
I knew it was too good to be true. Now I’ll never get home. I sat there another hour until they announced that the plane was down for maintenance so they were going to switch planes and bring a new one. Another hour passed until the new plane arrived. Wait, was that it? Would I really be able to get home for Christmas? Is that all you got Murphy?!
I boarded the plane and walked down the aisles to my seat in 39C. Aisle 34, 35, 36, 37…and then it stopped. What the fuck?!? There is no 39C, I knew it! No! At the back of the plane stood a couple other people with the same problem. Apparently when they switched planes they brought a smaller plane up to the gate. I was understandably livid and broke my cardinal rule to always be nice to those in customer service (flight attendants).
Thankfully they booted off the standby people and gave the three of us standing actual seats and we took off without a hitch. I took a deep sigh of relief as I watched the east coast get smaller and smaller beneath my airplane window. I would finally be going back to LA for Christmas.
Until about one hour in to the flight when I heard, “If there are any doctors, nurses, or paramedics on the plane please hit your call button”.
I dropped a silent “fuck”, cursed Murphy, and hit the button. So this is what is going to prevent me from getting home.
I walked up to Aisle 3 and standing there was a doctor and a nurse staring in fear at a 300 lb man wedged against the window not breathing. I pulled off the oxygen mask and attempted to lay him down across the seats. The doctor protested that I should keep the oxygen mask but he clearly wasn’t breathing. Now, doctors and nurses are infinitely smarter than me but the one thing paramedics have is experience of “in the rubble” emergency medicine. I have pulled you out of your car, carried you down your stairs, and helped you out of dark alleys. Other health care professionals have much more responsibilities and knowledge than me, but they are used to the controlled fluorescent lighting of a hospital environment.
I gave him a head tilt chin lift to open his airway and he spontaneous began to breathe. Still unconscious I spoke with his wife to gather medical history and explain what was happening. The flight attendant brought over a bag of medical equipment and that’s when I learned that airplanes carry a cache of Advanced Life Support equipment (defibrillators, epinephrine, and laryngoscopes). He was a diabetic so we checked his blood sugar. A couple minutes later he woke up and we sat him up and explained what happened. I shook hands with the doctor, nurse, spoke with the wife, and told them to call me again if it happened. When I returned to my seat the flight attendant brought me a piece of cake on a real glass plate from first class (apparently they get real glassware up there).
I found out afterwards that it happened again two more times during the flight but the nurse did the same thing and he was able to breathe again.
Finally, six hours later we began our descent in to LA, the west coast, my home. Never before was I so happy to see those palm trees at LAX and every time since, when I land there I look for those signature trees.
So I was able to get home to surprise my family and friends when I popped up at the annual Christmas party. And that’s what I went through to get home for the Christmas of 2007.
I love Christmas. I love the music, I love the decorations, I love the gluttony, I love the ugly sweater parties, and I love the spirit. Maybe its because with maturity you realize what is really important in life but as I get older I love Christmas more and more.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.
[Photo: New Haven, Connecticut]