Monday, April 18, 2011


The good news is my son’s passport arrived the day before our flight to the UK. Nothing like a bit of drama! The lack of time meant that I packed efficiently, didn’t keep stuffing extra things into the cases and I had no time to shop. I had been tempted in the previous weeks to go Christmas shopping. I know how sad that makes me and it proves I have too much time on my hands, but I could then leave the presents in the UK for distribution in case I don’t get back again this year. The panic about the passport consumed my waking hours and Christmas shopping was forgotten about!
The bad news was I had an 8 hour overnight flight to the UK with a 5 hour time difference and no prospect of sleep. Jet lag -caused apparently by the body's circadian rhythms (posh word for body clock!) being out of sync with the local destination time. The condition is not linked to the length of flight, but to the transmeridian (west–east) distance traveled. A ten-hour flight from Europe to southern Africa does not cause jet lag. From North Carolina to the UK, it is guaranteed!
Symptoms of jetlag include insomnia, irritability, indigestion, and disorientation. These are the exact same symptoms I suffer from drinking too much alcohol. I guess I should manage jet lag well with all the practice I have. Recovering from jet lag takes one day per time zone crossed. In my case – 5 days. It is much worse traveling eastward from the US to the UK than the other way. When I get to the UK it is really hard to go to sleep at night then even harder to get up in the morning. It makes you feel perpetually knackered...or hung over. On return it is easy to sleep and get up!
There are all sorts of ‘remedies’ for jetlag. Obviously some sleep on the plane would help. I managed to book 3 seats in a row of 5 thinking we would be able to spread out. We ended up being the last to take our seats as the kiddies were invited into the cockpit and sat in the pilots’ seats. They loved it! When we got to our seats, entrepreneurial people had assumed they were empty and had claimed them. Bastards! I went to find the stewardess who offered us a row of 3 at the front. Given we were about to take off I took them. I should have taken my brother-in-law's advice for the perfect revenge on our seat stealers as well as my unruly children. It has nothing to do with jetlag but it made me giggle! He says, and I quote:
“I find that eating eggs during the flight help to disguise the awful smell erupting from my arse. 80% of smells can be hidden by surreptitious means of looking at the passenger next to me in a distasteful way as to ‘blame them’ The last 20% can be blamed on the children that accompany you.”
I paid ₤30 for some ‘liquid oxygen’ on the plane last time I came home. It claimed to be ‘an invaluable travel and flight companion’. What bollocks. It did not offer any companionship whatsoever. Didn’t say a word. Did fuck all to alleviate jet lag either or the ‘headaches, light headedness, sluggish circulation and drowsiness’ caused by ‘Low oxygen and re-circulated cabin air.’  Didn’t mask the eggy smells continually re-circulating (that were not emitting from my bottom – I knew what the bloke giving me funny looks was up to – he was trying to blame me and my children for his foul bottom burps – my brother-in-law was right!!)! I guess I should have known the ‘liquid oxygen’ wouldn’t work! Wouldn’t you need hydrogen to liquefy oxygen? Would that make the ₤30 bottle of ‘liquid oxygen’ H2o?
I researched another ‘cure’ for jetlag. Metatonin is a hormone which controls our circadian rhythm- our body clock! Metatonin is released at night and suppressed during the day. Crossing time zones messes that up. You can take metatonin supplements for jetlag but unsurprisingly studies show it may actually slow the recovery of jet lag, energy, and alertness. Too much metatonin can cause vivid dreams and nightmares!
Day 1 in the Big Sister House: Feeling wide awake at bedtime! I eventually fall asleep at ( in my world). Before going to bed I had flicked through a book my mom had got for me as I couldn’t get it in America. It was written by someone I once knew in a Rock band. There were photos of the rock band.Scary! I awoke to find those people crawling on the floor in ‘the big sister house’ having morphed into creatures from some Kiddie movie I had watched earlier. I tried to scream then realize I was dreaming or hallucinating. Too weird! Clearly too much daylight or twilight!!! Cant work out if I need more light or dark to ensure that doesn't happen again! Maybe I need therapy! I just hope it is the metatonin levels adjusting!
Day 2 in the Big Sister House: Drank too much because the usual two glasses don't send me to sleep - Assumed I could drink more - forgot that it is jetlag keeping me artificially lively! Struggled to get up the next day. Put this down to jet lag not hangover!
Day 3 in the Big Sister House: Had to share bed with son. Could not sleep. Neither could he. Made him sleep foot end of the bed. Fell asleep around again! Struggle to get up before ! Again! Mental note to self - ensure children sleep in cousin's beds for rest of stay!

A few of my own thoughts on jet lag –
  • Copious amounts of alcohol upon arrival with help blur jetlag with a hangover. Hard to tell where jetlag ends and hangover starts!
  • Jet lag must not be confused with Jetslag! which, if pursued during the flight, will undoubtedly increase the symptoms of jetlag!
  • Jet lag is a necessary evil of travel!
  • Jetlag is better than homesickness!
  • If you want to avoid jet lag ‘Go West!’ (or south or north - it is easterly travel that does it!)
  • There is only one cure! Sleep!

Given my failure to bring home all my Christmas presents for friends and family, I will have to plan another trip to the UK in December. That gives me 254 days to recover from my jet lag and finish off my Christmas shopping! 


  1. Hope you've recovered now. How you getting on with Tony's book?. The way he's written it was if he was sat next to you reading it himself, don't you think?

  2. Jet lag is not nice but when i am on my way home from America it will be well worth it. Look forward to reading the book .xxxxxxx

  3. Haven't actually read any of Tony's book yet! still can't believe he has written one! Think I need to be clear of jet lag before I read the text! Looking forward to it though!
    Hope your jet lag from west to east isn;t too bad Sean! Try some liquid oxygen!

  4. I have discovered that the Kingfisher beer works a treat!

  5. Jetlag and I have never met. Then again, neither have I and an airplane. Hangover and I however, the best of buds.

  6. The feeling is the same as a hangover without the fun the night before!

  7. So how long did it take (after they started processing, of course) to finally get your sons passport?
    I'm in the same situation, It's been almost 8 weeks since I sent my passport in, and 4 weeks since they started to process it. I've been calling the "Careline" almost daily over the last week, and today they finally offered to send an e-mail to the Passport office. I was hoping that this was a good step forward (finally), but after reading your blog entries, I'm not too sure now.

  8. OH! good luck!
    It took 7 weeks! The frustration was the lack of information and contact! I had no idea where it was or if it would arrive. It arrived the day before we flew - they had shipped it overnight. No one ever emailed me or called to say it was on its way!
    Hope you get your passport soon!

  9. Ouch! Looks like I need to tell my boss that I'm not making that trip any time soon.
    I agree 100% though. It seems that they have deliberately created a system that is designed to provide as little information as possible. They prevent you from talking to anyone that would actually know the true status, and instead can only talk to people that have so little information, it's embarrassing. I would actually feel a little sorry for the Careline crew being put in that situation, however, they get to charge me 69p (+VAT) per minute for the privilege of talking with them, and that has a tendency to cut down on my sympathy.
    Thanks again for your comments. It's seriously (and sadly) the most information that I've got on this topic over the last few weeks.

  10. I called daily and asked for it to be 'escalated' - someone had told me to do this.
    Twice the 'careline was extremely unhelpful. the first time I phoned they basically said 'tough' The 'careline' put the phone down on me once - I pointed out, like you said that theu knew nothing and could effectively do nothing and I wanted to know what I was paying for! They mistook my stress for aggression! I have to confess to putting the phone down on them too - for wasting money and time! The US number (premium number) puts you through to exactly the same place!
    I completely empathise. It turned out ok for me in the end - with just 24 hours to go but it shouldn't have been that difficult or stressful!

  11. good luck - and remember they can air freight the passport. The care line couldn't even tell me if the passport was printed yet it was cleared in Washington at 2pm and was with me in NC by 10am the next day!