Medical Rules of Travel


This July Fourth, I visited my sister and her family in Birmingham, Alabama. Chad and I spent the weekend at their house on Smith Lake.

Chad wake boarding

Chad wake boarding

me wake boarding

me wake boarding

Traveling to Birmingham can be difficult. Recently, Continental discontinued their non-stop direct from Newark, and Delta rescheduled our flight three times. We almost left for the airport Thursday night, but luckily Chad checked only to find it had been cancelled. It was rescheduled for 6:30 am the next morning.

Fifteen minutes into the flight, the attendant asked if there were any medical personnel on board. Some of you may recall that this has happened to me several times in the past. Needless to say, I now embrace the call to arms and ran up the aisle ready to first do no harm.

Since I was sitting way in the back, I had to make my way up to the front of the plane. There an Asian woman was lying on the floor shaking her entire body.

Rule 1: Patients who have seizures don’t shake their bodies like they’re dancing the Pony.

Another doctor, a pediatrician, followed behind me. We introduced ourselves. Then she took the patient’s blood pressure while I asked how she was feeling. “My mother wouldn’t let me have steak.”

Rule 2: Patients who make off the wall statements usually are trouble.

I ignore this and begin to check her blood sugar. “If you put that needle near me I will kill you,” she said.

Rule 3: Patients who make death threats are not to be trusted.

Then the woman’s mother appeared with several bottles of prescription anti-psychotic medication.

The flight attendant asked to speak with me. “Does this woman need medical help?”

“No she needs to be restrained.”

I go back to my seat. Later, the same Asian woman uses the bathroom. After looking through the galley, she finds paper and begins to make paper airplanes and throws them into the aisle.

After we land, I see her sitting on top of the headrest of her chair. As we pass she makes a motion as though she was knighting us. At the entrance of the plane I notice policemen and EMS workers. Chad and I quickly walk off the plane. Inside the airport we make our way to our connecting flight. Suddenly I hear shouting and then the Asian woman barrels passed us barefoot and running in a serpentine manner.

Rule 4: Patients who can run like they are in the NFL have been chased before.

I looked at Chad who shrugged his shoulders. We made the connecting flight and this time I put on my iPod.

As an update I made this short film for my niece and nephews.



  1. Scott
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    When will you ever learn? Man, you have the best flights ever.

  2. spinellimd
    Posted July 7, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    It must be God’s way of giving me things to write about

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