first flight: part one

For this past 4th of July holiday the wife and I decided we would fly out to Indiana to visit both of our families for a week long vacation. Traditionally we've just driven the whole thing, but the trek (12 hours each way) has become a bit more challenging since Olivia came into our lives. What once was just a suitcase for the two of us has now turned into: a suitcase, a diaper bag, a pack and play, a toy/book bag, a plastic bag filled with paper towel if O gets car sick and a gun rack. How did that get in there? We don't even own "A" gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack. Regardless, we figured that flying instead of driving would make things a bit easier for everyone. Or, at the very least, the amount of pain we'd have to endure wouldn't last as long. Unfortunately that was not the case for one of us (Ooooooh! Foreshadowing!).

First off let me just put this out there because I don't do it enough: my wife is amazing. She booked all the flights (nothing goes direct, so we had to fly into Detroit to make a connection), she reserved the car with a child seat to get us to and from the airport and she planned out a ton of activities for Olivia to do while we were in the air.  She's a great planner, has her shit together and is absolutely the better half of this relationship. So I knew going in that much of our trip was covered and all we'd have to really worry about was making sure that Miss O was calm on her very first airplane ride. 

The day before we were supposed to depart we got an automated message from our airline: "Your flights have been canceled and we're working on getting you new ones." What the hell? No explanation was given, but we assumed it had to do with the bad weather headed up the East coast at the time. Jodi tried calling the airline but couldn't get through. So all we could do was sit back and wait for robot voice to connect with Skynet and reschedule our flights for (hopefully) the same day. As an added perk they'd also be sending a cyborg back in time from the future to assure us that not only did our vacation go off without a hitch, but that the robots really did just want to be our friends and were only joking about the whole eradication of the human race thing.

A short while later we get the call and found out that we got rebooked to fly out the same day as planned. The only problem was that our original flights were scheduled for when Olivia would normally be awake, and now the first flight wouldn't leave until right when she was supposed to be napping (about 1 p.m.). Everything that we'd read online said to book a flight around when your toddler was awake so as to avoid unnecessary meltdowns due to lack of sleep. The only advice the internet could give us now was to pray she napped, pack flasks of our favorite alcohol and bring treats for the passengers in the seats closest to our little tantrum in waiting. The saving grace to the reschedule was that we now had more time in the morning to finish packing and make sure nothing was forgotten. We did as much as we could that night, crossed off most of our checklist and noted all the stuff we'd need to do before we left. 

The next morning I woke up with soreness in my lower back, which I'd been having off and on the past month or so. I've had kidney stones before, and knew that this could be related to them, but I had seen a urologist two weeks prior and gotten a clean bill of health. I popped a few pain relievers and started getting ready for our big day. Suddenly I'm hit with searing pain that makes me sick to my stomach and I find myself in the bathroom on my knees, knowing fully well that I was passing a kidney stone. The pain crescendos and then finally there is some relief. Unfortunately this doesn't last very long and I'm hit with waves of pain (albeit at a lesser intensity) every few minutes or so. I'm completely useless and can offer no help to Jodi in our final preparations for the trip. All I can do is finish getting dressed, curl up into a ball on our bed and wait for the car service to arrive.

Left side: how people think kidney stones look. Right side: one of many shapes they can actually take.  

The car shows up and I manage to gather enough strength to haul our luggage outside, strap Olivia into her car seat and we're off. As we head down the street the driver pulls out rosary beads and begins praying, which makes me wonder whether this is just something he normally does or if he knows the kind of day we're already up against and wants to throw a little help our way. We get to the airport and decide to hit the check-in counter to make sure everything is ok with our new flights. The guy checking our bags in says that we should have plenty of time to make our connecting flight in Detroit, but that he'd pre-book us for the one after ours in case something went wrong. Next stop is security, and of course there's only one gate open and a somewhat sizable line. The pain returns and I proceed to get cold and clammy, pale and anxious, which of course is exactly how you want to look and feel while TSA agents are determining whether you're a threat to airport security or smuggling something on (or in) your person. I tried to maintain some sense of composure as I stepped into the full body scanner and raised my hands. I wondered if there was a chance the agent could see my stones via the imaging and at least give me some indication of how far along they were. But, of course, no luck there.

Once we got past security I had to sit down to rest, but then the pain came back and I run to the bathroom to try and avoid an accident. Back and forth I went, stopping only to apologize to Jodi for how useless I had been and traverse the crumbs of the snack Olivia was dropping all over the floor. Our flight was finally ready for boarding and we made our way in, noting that Jodi & Olivia would be sitting three rows behind me. I got on, threw a bag or two in the overhead storage and tried my best to help the girls get settled. Olivia immediately protests sitting down and only wants Jodi to hold her. Jodi tries multiple times to explain the situation while I turn around in my seat and try to help somehow. One flight attendant comes over and asks how old O was (two and a half), then informs us that she will have to be seated for the flight. Jodi does everything she can to calm her down and eventually gets a much needed assist by another flight attendant: 3 packs of cookies. With Olivia contained we can finally rest a bit easier and settle in for 90 minute flight to Detroit. Jodi graciously hands out bags of chocolates to the passengers around her, each with little notes that ask them to bear with our child. There were some bumps and squeals along the way, but Jodi kept her busy and calm through almost the entire flight. Every time I turned around to see how they were doing Jodi would stare back and assure me that they were ok and tell me to rest up. Did I mention how amazing she is?

As we're getting ready to land the captain tells us that we're actually arriving later than expected, which meant that we had less than our original hour between connections. We land and the stewards politely ask that any passengers not needing to make a connecting flight should allow those that do to leave first. Which, of course, absolutely no one adheres to. Everyone is important on this flight and stands up immediately, anxiously waiting for them to open the cabin door and let us off. So we wait, and then we wait, and then wait some more. Jodi proceeds to tell me that if we miss this connection we'd end up waiting for at least another 3 hours for the next, and then we hear others chime in about even longer waits if they miss theirs as well. Finally they let us go and we dash into the airport to look at the board to determine where our next gate was located. Jodi spots the info first and let's out a sigh. "Our flight takes off in less than 30 minutes and the next gate is far away. We're never going to make it."

Will our tremendous trio take off on time? Will The Riddler get his revenge and ground our heroes for good? Can our champions get clearance to climb the friendly skies once again? Tune in next week for all the answers. Same mixtape time. Same mixtape channel.