Drowning at 35,000 feet: The Problem With Staying Hydrated While on an Airplane

A healthy daily amount of water consumption is 48 ounces or more. Lately, I had been neglecting that requirement; the result being I was feeling a scooch “bulky.” Therefore, be it resolved that while on my recent travels, I would drink eight glasses of water a day.

Whether in restaurants, at meetings, or on airplanes, I opted for the clear stuff. I am certain coffee and soda companies the country over were feeling a hit in their profits, but I felt proud for taking care of myself.

The downside about drinking so much water is the more one drinks; the more one’s body needs to drink. After a short period of hydration, one’s innards feel like desert sand if he goes a short time without water. The upshot is I began feeling antsy if I didn’t have a water bottle within reach 24/7. Of course, another byproduct of so much water is an excessive need to visit the restroom (or as I refer to it, “The Weight Reduction Cubicle”).

With that as back-story, I boarded a three-hour flight to Houston.

Immediately upon reaching cruising altitude, I rose to use the lavatory, traversing the entire plane to get to its aft location. Upon returning, I

recognized I was already thirsty and requested a new bottle of water, which did well to quench my thirst… and re-trigger the urge. Being near the front of the plane, each repetition of “the long walk,” meant that I passed all the other passengers, leading me to feel self-conscious.

I was convinced they were whispering to seat mates, “What’s up with this guy? You think he’s got a thing about airplane bathrooms?”

Vanity and negative self-talk overruled by biology, I again unclicked my seat belt and strode back to the lavatory, trying to avoid eye contact with the rows of flyers that had seen me parade the aisle twice moments earlier. The attendant smiled as if we were old friends, and opened the door for me as I approached.

Again, back to my seat, feeling parched. I resisted the urge for more refreshment, thinking if camels could traverse the vast expanses of dunes in North Africa, I could sit in a 737 for a couple of hours.

Sadly, I was mistaken. After repeating my “drink and release” pattern yet again, I was becoming intensely embarrassed and tried to sneak my way into the first class cabin for the next round, assuming upper crust folks would pay no heed to one of the riff-raff using their lavatory. The attendant gently pointed out, “for security purposes, main cabin passengers must use the facilities in the back of the plane,” and steered me to this too-familiar landscape.

I wanted to counter her comment by asking how my small bladder could affect the safety of a 72,000-pound aircraft but in light of current airline security measures, decided against it.

As I walked yet again the long aisle, smiling awkwardly at the other passengers, I attempted to console myself with the thought, “at least I’m getting my exercise.”

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