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Old Jul 23, 12, 3:04 am   #1
 
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How can FTers help 11-year-old Joe Thompson who can't fly home?

Fear of flying leaves Joe, 11, stuck in desert:

Quote:
Now Joe Thompson is facing a month-long journey by coach, train and boat back to Britain as he battles aerophobia.

Four attempts have been made to get him on a plane out of the desert kingdom, but each time he has suffered a crippling panic attack.

A hypnotherapist was flown out from the UK and Joe has even been SEDATED before flights — all to no avail. <snip>

The sudden attack of aerophobia is mystifying the family as Joe had previously travelled all over the world by plane.
More coverage:
Grounded! British schoolboy terrified of flying is stranded in Abu Dhabi for months... and now his father is bringing him back by road

Quote:
His condition is now so bad that his father, Tony Thompson, a former aide to John Prescott, is going to have to bring his son home via road, sea and rail while avoiding troublespots such as Syria and Libya.

Last night, Mr Thompson, 63, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘There was no event that prompted it. It just happened out of the blue. And the fear is quite acute. He’s fine until he gets to check-in and then he falls apart.
I feel for the father. It appears the panic attack is new to the boy since he was at least able to fly from UK to Abu Dhabi back in 2009. Something must have happened or triggered it between now and then. It wasn't clear when was the last successful flight the boy took. (ETA: according to the 2nd story, Joe was able to fly one-way back to UK this March.)

I wonder what advices and suggestions our savvy FTers can come up with to bring this boy back in the air. Otherwise, Joe would be "grounded" for life, something unimaginable to passionate FTers.

Last edited by lin821; Jul 23, 12 at 3:16 am.
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Old Jul 25, 12, 9:19 pm   #2
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A hypnotherapist was flown out from the UK and Joe has even been SEDATED before flights — all to no avail.
Knock him out and fly him back. It can't be that hard.
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Old Jul 26, 12, 12:18 am   #3
 
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[Removed quote of now-deleted material]Knock him out and fly him back. It can't be that hard.
Only if its B.A. Baracus and the A-Team is flying him
In all serious, a med flight should be able to handle him. While not cheap it is an option.

Last edited by cblaisd; Jul 26, 12 at 6:46 am.
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Old Jul 26, 12, 9:46 am   #4
 
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Panic attacks do come on suddenly. It is a waste of time looking for "triggers." It is not rare for tweens, teens, and early twenties to have unexplained phobias. Looking for triggers = laying blame = our modern version of witchcraft. The cause or trigger is probably a bad gene that was always going to express itself at around this age...

My humble opinion: He is going to have to get a doctor/air transport medical team that takes him seriously, rather than somebody who is going to blow him off with a Xanax. He is having the attack at the check-in desk. That tells me right away that he is not, in fact, sedated but rather tranquilized. "Sedated" would be if he's out and being brought in on a gurney, unaware of what is happening, thus unable to freak out. Properly sedated, we allow surgeons to cut into us with knives, there's no way a properly sedated person can't be flown somewhere. It's probably just a matter of price.

I feel for the father, but unfortunately these panic attacks also happen on bridges, so I would not count on the "drive him out" plan to work. There is absolutely nothing Flyertalkers can or should do. This is a job for a competent medical team qualified to prescribe medicine.
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Last edited by peachfront; Jul 26, 12 at 9:48 am. Reason: can't type on this crummy keyboard
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Old Jul 26, 12, 10:08 am   #5
 
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Peachfront, I agree mostly with what you've said and it's a very good clinical approach. My only comment along with it is that cost may not be the only factor but rather the logistics. For a commercial Airline to be willing to transport a sedated patient over the 7.5 hours the flight is blocked for is a big problem when the patient is know for "freaking out" on planes.

Driving and trains don't sound so great either. I agree a medical evacuation with sedative therapy is the best/only route the family should take.
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Old Jul 26, 12, 11:56 am   #6
 
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Why not simply drag him on-board the plane and strap him to his seat? What's the worse that can happen? He's 11 so he's not likely to suffer a heart attack/stroke and he's probably not very strong so he's also unlikely to become out of control...
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Old Jul 26, 12, 12:09 pm   #7
 
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Ship him via Fedex.
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Old Jul 26, 12, 12:18 pm   #8
 
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Would you enjoy a flight that long with a kid freaking out? Potentially yelling, crying, trying to get out of his restraints?

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Originally Posted by vaillancourt View Post
Why not simply drag him on-board the plane and strap him to his seat? What's the worse that can happen? He's 11 so he's not likely to suffer a heart attack/stroke and he's probably not very strong so he's also unlikely to become out of control...
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Old Jul 26, 12, 8:59 pm   #9
 
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The two papers the OP linked to aren't the best out there. How much are they exaggerating this story? I think a Xanax, or something stronger isn't such a bad idea. I feel sorry for the kid. What a nightmare for the parents!
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Old Jul 27, 12, 3:53 am   #10
 
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Originally Posted by peachfront View Post
There is absolutely nothing Flyertalkers can or should do.
Of course the boy needs professional help. I would also think the collective wisdom from savvy FTers might provide some good pointers for the father, in case there's something he had missed.

Or we may be at least entertained by fellow FTers' proposed intervention strategies.

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Originally Posted by zitsky View Post
The two papers the OP linked to aren't the best out there.
Those two links were the ones with sufficient details when I first heard about Joe Thompson's ordeal. I wasn't looking for Pulitzer Prize winners out there.

If you did find other better coverage about the boy, please share, so we may learn more about how the parents handled and decided to tackle the challenging task at hand.
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Old Jul 27, 12, 5:10 am   #11
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How did he get there?
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Old Jul 27, 12, 11:11 pm   #12
 
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That happened to me when I was 11 too, but I was on a flight that nearly crashed headed to Jamaica and was terrified to fly back home. I just got through it, but I would give him ambien. It completely shuts the brain off, it makes it nearly impossible to panic.
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Old Jul 27, 12, 11:20 pm   #13
 
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Ambien was pure torture to me. Not trying to scare people off from it but my experience was hell. 7 hours of my mind racing but unable to wake up and move my body. This was the CR version. I'm mild OCD and ADD so to me this was quite painful.
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Old Jul 29, 12, 6:54 pm   #14
 
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Let him drink a bottle of Krug
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Old Jul 30, 12, 7:26 am   #15
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peachfront View Post
... he is not, in fact, sedated but rather tranquilized. "Sedated" would be if he's out and being brought in on a gurney, unaware of what is happening, thus unable to freak out. Properly sedated, we allow surgeons to cut into us with knives, there's no way a properly sedated person can't be flown somewhere. It's probably just a matter of price.
You're talking about fully anaesthetising him? 8 hours of GA requires the full attention of a trained anaesthetist in an operating theatre with the assistance of life monitoring equipment. Doing it without the proper supervision can result in death, as in the case of one Mr M Jackson. I don't know any anaesthetist that would sign up to do this as the risk of getting sued would be way too high. I'm not entirely sure it would even be legal if the boy is not suffering from any condition that actually requires anaesthesia, by which I mean, he is in good health when not on a plane.

Oh, and in maintaining my life-long role as Pedant-In-Chief; the fear of flying is aviatophobia, not aerophobia.

Aerophobia is a fear of drafts.

Surely the easiest way is to pass through Saudi into Israel and get on a ship heading for Marseilles? Unless that border isn't open (Saudi/Israel)?
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Last edited by cblaisd; Jul 30, 12 at 7:42 am. Reason: Merged poster's three consecutive posts
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