Can't be too careful with your company...
I've always wondered what it would be like to be that person who is paged through the airport, with the addendum to their name that they are the last person to check into and board the flight, the insinuation being that the entire journey is being delayed due to this person. Although I have felt like I've come close to being this person, I can now lay claim to having done the opposite - delaying other passengers from disembarking from their flight.
I'd watched a movie called A Monster In Paris on the leg from Manila to Bangkok which was quite enjoyable, and about exactly what it sounds like. Unfortunately, on the way from Bangkok to Melbourne, the movies were mostly the same as the ones I'd watched on the way to Manila. I'd watched all the big drawcards - Seven Psychopaths, Hitchcock... - so I decided to settle in for the alarmingly long Cloud Atlas, which looked vaguely interesting, but would not be something I'd normally watch. I was pleasantly surprised by the movie, but not enough to not fall asleep during it, something I rarely do on planes.
When I woke up, the old man who was sitting next to me was asking me if I was okay, and his wife was next to him, gripping his arm and looking concerned. I initially didn't understand his question, since we'd exchanged little more than a greeting throughout the flight to that point, but as soon as I replied simply 'Yes, I'm fine,' I knew the reason for his line of questioning: the words sounded slurred, making their way out of my mouth across my chewed-up tongue, and the sensation associated with the minor movements I was able to make from my position strapped into the aeroplane seat behind the tray-table seemed to take a long time to catch up with the movement of the limbs themselves. It all added up to one conclusion - I must have fallen asleep. And when I sleep, I have NewType seizures. That must have been what had happened. That is one of the main reasons why I insist on not sleeping publicly in places like planes. I started to ask the man something, as his wife summoned a stewardess, but I wasn't exactly sure what it would be. He looked at me expectantly, but I wasn't sure what I would say. 'Did something happen?' I considered, amongst various explanations, but in the end just repeated 'I'm fine,' striving for as much clarity in an attempt to relay my point.
A male stewardess came and asked me a few questions which I struggle to remember now, due to a sudden tiredness which returned to me at precisely the moment he started talking to me. The couple looked cautiously on, but I only remember their faces, not the questions nor my responses to them. I recall being brought a glass of orange juice - something I normally crave after a seizure - but being disappointed by it and nursing it for hours. I was surprised by my readiness to fall asleep again, though I was more alert this time, only really dozing for the rest of the flight. The couple must have been moved to other seats, as the whole row was vacant for the rest of the flight until the call was made to take seats for landing.
I kept thinking about the doubts of my previous doctor when I first described to him the NewType seizures I have every time I sleep, and how his decision was that, since no one had actually witnessed one of these alleged 'seizures,' he would conclude that they were little more than migraines, and prescribed some kind of migraine curative accordingly (in contrast with my insistence that, unlike ClassicType seizures, these are unaccompanied by crippling headaches and more traditional after effects.)
Now I had a whole 777 aircraft full of witnesses, a fact that was no more apparent than at the moment the plane completed its landing, that moment when the majority of passengers contravene both the seatbelt sign and common sense to immediately leave their seats and retrieve their hand luggage from the overhead compartments. An announcement was made featuring the usual description of local time and weather conditions, with an additional addendum:
'We ask that passengers remain seated to allow for examination of an ill disabled passenger by a doctor.'
A groan went through the plane, and even I, who normally enjoys all aspects of airline travel, hoped this would be a quick delay - I had hoped to make it to Shelly's baby-warming party at three.pm that afternoon, and it was almost one o'clock, and I still hoped to fit in a brief nap - and watched as the door was opened and the stewardesses welcomed a suited man on-board carrying a fold-out wheelchair and an iPad. I was only a little surprised when the man came to my row, and asked a few questions of the old couple next to me, before dismissing them from the flight and taking a seat next to me to question me. He identified himself as being a doctor, but also being employed 'by the airport,' though he didn't tell me his name. He asked me questions about my travel - had I visited farms, the countryside, various Thai landmarks, during my stay in Thailand... - and I replied that I had only visited Bangkok airport and had actually spent most of my time in Manila. This seemed to confuse the unnamed doctor briefly, and he swiped his iPad a few times, and repeated the same questions, but replacing 'in Thailand,' with 'in the Philippines.' I insisted that I'd only been in the city, and had only gone to work. He asked if I had any medical conditions, and I told him that I had epilepsy. He didn't act shocked, but asked why I hadn't mentioned this fact to anyone earlier in the flight. I think I said that no one had asked. I asked him if someone had reported that I'd had a seizure during the flight, and he said 'That is my understanding,' and I agreed that it did seem likely, and, at his request, described the abovementioned NewType symptoms. We had a brief discussion of medication, I boasted that I had even taken scheduled dosages during the flight, and he expressed shock that I would then have had the seizure. I said that it was quite embarrassing, though I didn't really think so - it seemed like a statement which might end the conversation sooner, and it was shortly after that the doctor made final adjustments to his iPad, wished me well, and left with his fold-up wheelchair, followed by the plane's passengers.
The delay in exiting the plane meant that by the the time I'd breezed through customs and bought a couple of bottles from Duty Free, my luggage was waiting to be picked up at the carousel.