first flight: part two

We now return to the exciting conclusion of 'First Flight.' Starring David Hasselhoff as' Chris,' Meredith Baxter as 'Jodi,' and Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen as 'Olivia.'Part one can be found here.


Jodi thinks we won't have enough time to make our connection, but I grab as many bags as I can and tell her to follow me. I run as fast as my sore back will allow and make it to the gate, exclaiming that we were there and needed to board. The gate agent asks where Jodi and O are, and I stall by doing my old Vaudeville soft shoe routine until they finally show up. We end up being the last ones to board, with Jodi and O now three rows ahead of me. I got seated and noticed a mom sitting across the aisle from me with her 1 year old son on her lap and her 7 year old daughter sitting next to her. I secretly hoped that they would be the ones to make a fuss during this flight, but unfortunately Olivia wanted to be the star of this show all by herself. She cried and screamed as Jodi tried to buckle her in, threw tantrums and somehow managed to bend time to make 30 minutes feel like an eternity. 

Since I was sitting behind them, I got the uncomfortable pleasure of seeing all of the other passengers react when Olivia got loud. There were the two ladies towards the front that turned around and then shook their heads, perhaps thinking they could do a better job of keeping her contained. The man who would just look over and stare, as if he was trying to exert some mind control over our child (trust me dude, we've tried). Then there was the lady who looked like a female Michael McDonald. She was completely taken out of the book she was reading, and the music coming from the huge headphones over her ears couldn't mask the sound of our child, so she just shook her head and commented to the passenger next to her. The kids next to me? Occasionally there was a giggle and a squeal, mostly out of the daughter, which everyone seemed to either not take notice of or enjoy thoroughly. At one point the steward announced that he would be presenting those children with 'Best Flyer' awards. There was a ceremony, a giant check to help pay for their college tuition and then they bronzed the seats to make sure future passengers would know about this momentous day in aviation history. 

As we started to land, Olivia decided she needed to remain standing while the plane plummeted from the sky into the runway. All Jodi could do was hold her still, try to stop her from screaming and hope that it would be a soft landing (which it thankfully was). The plane began to deboard and I could see everyone was more than happy to be done with our child and her "bad" behavior. I watched as people walked by Jodi and Olivia, some looking over and seemingly mentally scolding them for ruining their flight. Female Michael McDonald passed by, gave them a fake smile and proceeded to mumble something which I could swear were part of the lyrics to 'What a Fool Believes.' I'm not 100% sure on that because I couldn't understand her, nor can I really understand the real Michael McDonald for that matter

Jodi's mom picks us up and immediately Olivia becomes a very happy, cheerful and polite little girl (she's going to make a great actress some day). The rest of our day goes pretty fast because we're all beat from traveling and dealing with each other. Olivia goes down with nary a song in her usual pre-snoozing repertoire, Jodi calls it a night fairly early and I'm able to get some rest with the help of another pain reliever. But then at 12:30 a.m. on the 4th I'm awakened by more low back pain, so I decide to go out into my in-law's sunroom overlooking the lake they live on to avoid dragging Jodi into my misery. I pop another pain pill and will it to begin working as quickly as possible. Somehow I manage to doze off but then I'm back up again in hardly any time. This cycle continues until about 6:30 when I return to the 'pain so bad it'll make you puke' phase. I manage to catch a quick glimpse of the lake at sunrise, which is quite beautiful and peaceful, and then sprint for the bathroom. I'm at a 9 in my pain scale now and I'm making noises that should have convinced someone there was a poltergeist in the house, but somehow everyone is snoozing peacefully. After about 10 minutes of haunting I decide that I can't take it any more and need to go to the emergency room. I crawl into the bedroom Jodi is in and proceed to flip the light switch off and on in the hopes she'd wake up and see I was in trouble. She finally gets up, deciphers my whimpers about needing to go to the hospital and proceeds to wake her mom up to tell her what's going on.

Jodi asks if I want to take an ambulance and I shake my head no. I know that the hospital isn't far away, I don't want the visit to be even more expensive than it already is going to be and I don't want the entire neighborhood knowing what's going on. She brings me out some clothes and I have a terrible time putting them on. Every move of my back makes the pain level rise higher, so it took me a few tries before I finally managed to get everything on. We get in the car and Jodi punches it into hyperspace to get us to the E.R. as quickly as possible. I do my best to manage the pain by taking short breaths and focusing on how Eriq La Salle was going to help make everything better and then do that fist strike move to congratulate himself on a job well done. 

We finally get to the hospital, enter the main doors and proceed to watch as a mother and her teenage son calmly and quietly talk to the nurses behind the registration counter. I'm standing there hunched over with my arms over my stomach, moaning and groaning, while they seemed to be taking their time making sure all the 't's' were crossed and 'i's' were dotted. The nurses eventually get them moved on and proceed to grill us about what's going on. They take down my symptoms, inform us that Dr. La Salle was not on duty that day (dammit) and wheel me into an examination room. 

Less than 10 minutes later my nurse comes in, asks some more questions and lets me know that she's 99.9% sure that I was going to be getting an IV of what the medical community calls "the good shit." She preps the IV, the doctor comes in and confirms he thinks it's the kidney stones and tells the nurse to pull out the top shelf pain medication. She reaches past the Patron, the Grey Goose and the aged Lagavulin and finally finds the good stuff. She then does something which, in my limited experience, most nurses fail to do most of the time: she explains exactly how this drug will make me feel and how quickly it will work. Granted, yes, each of our bodies reacts differently to different substances, but she nailed all of it and made me feel at ease once it started to kick in. First there'd be a rush of heat to my chest and head, then my arms, then everyone's heads would start looking like ice cream cones and finally the pain would melt away (much like their heads). It took less than 30 seconds for me to go from 'wrinkly faced pain guy' to 'Does Costco sell this by the case? guy.' Eventually I get a CT scan which confirms that the stones are still playing the entire 'Exile on Main Street' album in my kidneys and won't be leaving any time soon. The doctor then writes me 3 prescriptions to help with the pain, inflammation and eventual eviction of the little bastards.

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In the end we had been in the E.R. for roughly 2 hours. Had we still been in Brooklyn, I believe I would have been in the E.R. for most of the day (especially on a holiday). In Indiana, Jodi was able to come with me while her parents watched Olivia for us. If it had been Brooklyn, either she would have stayed home and I would have gone solo, or we'd all have gone and most likely dealt with both kidney and Olivia pain. So even though it sucked having kidney stones again (the third time in my professional career), I was thankful that it happened in a small town where I got very quick and courteous service. As John Mellencamp once sang: "I was born in a small town, I can breathe in a small town. I can get fast emergency medical assistance in a small town, that's good enough for me."

We left the hospital to get my prescriptions filled, but it turned out that they weren't open yet. So Jodi forced me (I dragged her) to go with her to Cracker Barrel where I had to choke down (I was eating too fast) their repulsive (incredibly delicious) pancakes. I mean, who wants such a craptacular (fantastic) meal after having such a terrible start to their vacation? Not me (yes me), I tell you. After all was said and done we had a week of family, friends, sun, fun, water and Paul McCartney; all of which were exactly what we needed. The flights home ended up going almost the exact same way, but in opposite order. Olivia freaked out on the first (shorter flight) and was well behaved on the second. As we were de-boarding in New York a woman in front of Jodi commended Olivia for being so well behaved, to which Jodi replied, "Thank you, but you should have been there for our first flight." As we were walking through the airport terminal another woman approached us and stated, "I was on both flights and, you're right, she was a completely different person from the first one to the second one." I'd like to think that our child mellowed because of our parenting skills, but in reality it came down to one little hyphenated phrase: Play-Doh. We bought some to give Olivia on the flight, and I cannot believe how well it worked. So, take note if you ever need something to pass the time for your toddler while flying. Just be prepared to clean up lots of little doh turds on the plane floor, the seat, in your child's teeth, her hair and anywhere else you can think of.