February 10th, 1989
Finished up week two of training with a full day of Bertha’s stern delivery of Aviation Medicine. Our main trainers are not only competent, but also good-humoured, plus they make the classes interesting and fun as well as informative. Going from those teaching methods to Bertha’s has given me a new appreciation for the three of them.
I was dreading this afternoon and asked Lorna (an ex-nurse) if she would keep an eye on me during the segment on Childbirth. She thought I was kidding when I told her I fainted during that part of AvMed with Air Europe and only got away with it because I said I was feeling ill. I didn’t think Bertha would be as tolerant, so I made sure Lorna knew I wasn’t joking. Lorna sounded like a nurse when she told me not to worry because she’d be monitoring me for any signs of distress.
So, when we turned the page in our manuals to the chapters on Childbirth, I was reassured when Lorna moved her seat closer to mine. I felt fine during the first few pages, then Bertha began to read words and descriptions of the birthing experience and I felt myself getting warmer. My breathing became laborious and Lorna looked over at me and mouthed, “Just breathe.”
Because of the importance of the subject matter, the session was intense to say the least. Unfortunately, I’ve heard the horror story of my birth one too many times and have already told mum I’m scarred for life.
Every aspect of AvMed is crucial but I have no problem talking about heart attacks or projectile vomiting. Fortunately we were in civvies today and not our polyester uniform shirts, but I still felt clammy. The more Bertha spoke the more nauseous I got, but the final straw came when she uttered, “uterus,” “womb,” and “birth canal,” all in the same sentence. I felt myself sway slightly and knew I was close to keeling over.
“And later when we discuss the placenta, I’ll…”
“Excuse me Bertha,” Lorna said, interrupting her.
“You have a question?”
“No, but it’s awful warm in here. Could we take a wee break?” Lorna asked in her sweetest voice.
Lorna nodded her head yes. “I’d love some fresh air. Does anybody else feel warm or is it just me?” she asked, standing up.
“I do,” I said, reaching for my bag on the floor, knowing full well that putting my head down between my legs would save me.
Much to my surprise and delight, Bertha said, “We’ll take a five-minute break but no more than that.”
In the bathroom, I splashed cold water on my face and thanked Lorna profusely. Then I laughed and agreed with her when she said, “Another wee minute honey, and you’d have been on the floor.”