Fear Of Flying
As a new mom, I’ve embraced my baby’s developmental milestones, clapping when he began to crawl and cheering his tentative first steps. However, there is one milestone that I’d hoped to avoid entirely, and that’s my baby’s first airplane flight.
The thought of enduring a six-hour flight with my toddler seems like a sure recipe for disaster. From the inconveniences of security checks and delays, to the effect of cabin pressure changes, the multitude of baby essentials to pack, and non-stop crying, there is one fear that reigns supreme: PATHOGENS. No question about it — I’m a germaphobe. Still, time after time, my worst fears have been confirmed. Did anyone else see a highly disturbing “20/20” expose? Note: Don’t sit on hotel bedspreads. It’s a fact that planes are hotbeds of disease. (Despite my better judgment, I recently watched the film “Contagion”). Even my normally laid-back pediatrician told me in no uncertain terms that my son would get sick while flying.
Yet, with in-laws who live out of state and a cross country sojourn long overdue, it’s inevitable that we’ll soon rack up a host of frequent flyer miles. Therefore, I’ve begun to strategize how best to keep bugs at bay while flying the “friendly skies.” Most importantly, I will bring a large cache of Lysol, Purell wipes, and alcohol swabs. Seatbelts, arm rests, light buttons and especially tray tables (don’t get me started) will be thoroughly wiped down and disinfected. Though convenient, I won’t be stashing bottles or toys in the rear seat pockets, as passengers have the habit of using them as trash receptacles for dirty tissues, chewing gum wrappers and diapers, resulting in a thriving community of microbes. With bacteria and viruses more apt to stick to dry nasal mucosa, my family’s nasal passages will be coated in saline gel to combat the low humidity levels on the plane.
Call me crazy, but it has been well documented that water on planes can play host to millions of hidden germ colonies. In 2009 the EPA randomly tested the water supply on 300 planes and found high levels of coliform and E. coli in water samples. I’ll be certain to load up on bottled water (post-security check) and forego the complimentary tea and coffee. There will be no cholera outbreak on my watch.
With a host of germ-busting tools at hand, I’ll embark upon this adventure knowing, in the back of my head, that all of this prep is for naught, and that in truth I have little control over the pathogens in my wake, let alone anything else in the universe.