Coming Home

1 January 2018

We left San Francisco on Saturday, 30 December 2017 and arrived home in Sydney Monday, 1 January, 2018.  It's weird missing a day out of your life, much weirder than having an extraordinarily long day at the start of a holiday. It also meant we skipped New Year's Eve celebrations.

We had much more luck for the return journey than for the flight over. The food was much better and there was a lower number of passengers, meaning we were able to have a spare seat next to each of us.

However, another family was not so lucky. A man (around retirement age from appearances) collapsed a little over half way into the 15 hour flight, resulting in a call out for medical practitioners. A swarm of doctors arrived with at least three working on him for over an hour. Two members of the air crew were also heavily involved. I found it deeply distressing and really felt for his wife who was also being attended to by Qantas staff and the doctors asking her loads of questions. They eventually managed to move the patient off the floor and into a seat with a drip and an oxygen mask. He had doctors and air crew constantly by his side. The doctors and the Qantas staff were amazing. Two Qantas staff were particularly focused on the patient and yet they also managed to attend to a heap of their other duties as needed. They were so composed and caring they deserve a medal. 

My first ever long haul flight also had a medical emergency. I was travelling with an 8 month old Emma to meet John in London - he had just completed a week for work in Zurich. A man on the flight had suffered a heart attack. A call-out for a doctor brought forward a cardiac specialist but there wasn’t much that could be done on the flight. It was the second location requested in Pakistan that allowed us to land and send the man to hospital. This alcohol-free state demand some of the plane’s duty-free alcohol in exchange for much needed water for passengers and crew. 

There were six of us on the flight with babies under the age of two years old. Each of us gained information from air crew members while we were walking around with our young ones. When we landed in Warsaw, Poland, to wait for a fresh crew to arrive, us parents exchanged stories and thus we gained a full picture of what happened without any of us having seen the man in question. The 23 hour flight became an exhausting 37 hour flight and our darling Emma became quite sick for the first week of our two-week holiday.

There were many other disasters on that trip but some good memories too. I might write about them at another time.

The holiday we just had went very smoothly. We lost a pair of leather gloves, two power converters and a phone charger. There was also the late wake-up before the flight from Boston to San Francisco. But that’s it. We didn’t fall ill, only one flight was delayed (by an hour), all our transfers showed up, all our booked tours were excellent and the various events we attended were loads of fun. It was only in the last few days that I started to think about the responsibilities awaiting me back home, You know, small matters of moving house and commencing my post-grad research as soon as we return. 

Despite the drama of the flight it was exciting to come home, to feel the heat of our summer as we stepped out of the airport, hear the caw of a local bird and order a reliably good take-away coffee.


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