Barf Bags

Happy New Year! While this is often a time of year to set resolutions and dream of all our hopes for the year to come, my transition from 2013 to 2014 was a reminder that even the best-laid plans are never a sure thing. Goals are great, but so can be going with the flow. We all know that flexibility and patience are easiest to come by when you don’t really need them, but when everything is going wrong, resigning yourself to your fate sometimes looks close enough. Let me explain…

barfbag imgMatt and I spent Christmas and the week following with his family on the East Coast. We had a fabulous trip with just the right mix of catching up, fun with family, delicious food, quality time together (mostly hours and hours of driving, which is often when we have our best conversations!), and finally some rest as we spent a lazy day at his parents’ house before flying home. Except the night before our flight Matt started throwing up, and it was clear by morning that we were not going anywhere, much less driving an hour to the airport and flying two and a half hours home.

I cancelled our flight and did my best to enjoy our extra day with Matt’s family. Torre played happily, chased the cats and pulled CDs off their shelves. I did a load of laundry, called my parents, slept and visited in between checking on Matt who was doing his best to keep some liquids down and catch some sleep. Instead of playing board games with friends and counting down to midnight, we lay on an air mattress in the dark and prayed it wasn’t a huge mistake to re-book our flight for Jan. 1 – the day with the lowest price and most available seats, but also a gamble whether Matt would be able to travel so soon.

Day dawned on 2014 and we made it to the airport in time to avoid an EXTRA day’s late charge for our rented van. (I could get used to riding shotgun in a minivan, especially with heated seats!) We got to enjoy even more bonus time with Matt’s parents when they graciously drove to the airport to deliver a backpack we forgot at the house. Ehem.

We had no problems getting through security, and Torre had fun playing in the kids’ area near the gates until it got close to our boarding time. We packed up and moved down the hall to our gate only to find that the plane was going to be delayed by some unexpected maintenance. Isn’t that the worst reason to be delayed? Because you want them to hurry up and fix the problem, but actually you want them to take their sweet time and be certain that everything is how it should be because you’ve just been reminded that planes aren’t just buses that fly, they are basically death machines that have been tamed to transport us as long as no loose screws or bent propellers or short circuits (or snakes?) cause us to crash on take off or landing or explode in mid-air. I’m not afraid of flying, but every plane trip reminds me of my mortality, and that is without unexpected maintenance delays.

Would you like to know our second delay? After they topped up something hydraulic, the plane people did some math and realized the plane was too heavy to fly directly to Toronto. So rather than ask any passengers to take the next flight or leave luggage behind, the airline decreed we would stop over in Ottawa and refuel. A few people were pretty irate at this, having paid for a direct flight and whatnot. Matt was showing Torre all the airport business happening out on the tarmac and one lady told him, “you shouldn’t teach that baby to be so patient.” So, in case you had any hope for humanity… it’s not at the airport.

Meanwhile, through all this brouhaha I was trying to nap on our carry on bags because I did not feel so good. Which is to say I felt horrible. I finally puked in the bathroom just before they announced pre-boarding, so that was kind of good since my stomach was all settled to actually get on the plane. Over the next few hours highlights included:

  • the barf bag in my seat pocket had some chewed up tropical Hawaiian gum stuck in the bottom of it. Because pineapple and spit are exactly what a nauseous person wants to smell when they open the bag “just in case”
  • when the stewardess came to collect said barf bag she asked at top volume whether I was motion sick or VIRUS sick. I told her not motion sick. And that no, I had not been drinking the night before.
  • the gentleman next to me was more than happy to move to a new seat. His barf bag did not come with any gum.

Generous, brave friends of ours picked us up at the airport and helped Matt carry our bags upstairs when we got home (since he was now less sick than me). Torre had thrown up on the plane and in the car, but he’s the baby of the year (two years running now!) and hardly made a mess or fuss. Matt changed him and cleaned him up while I lay on the floor in our room, then I nursed him to sleep, and Matt went out to buy me gravol. There was more puking, then eventually sleep, and by morning all the nausea had been replaced with pain.

Hindsight is 20/20 and in reflecting on our experience with the flu (or “a” flu since there is no THE flu, just like there is no THE cold. You catch a cold; you catch a flu.) Matt and I realized we both had noticed neck and back pain 3 days before we got sick. We thought it was because we spent so much time driving around that our old parent bodies were just stiff and creaky, but now we see it was a sign that we were infected. If you have not yet had this year’s flu and you notice something suddenly aches (especially your neck or low back), don’t brush off your muscle pain. It might be because you shovelled your driveway (or mowed your lawn, if you’re on the west coast), but it might not. Take no chances, I say: bomb your system with vitamin C or zinc or ginseng or pepper juice, or whatever you do, and stock your cupboards with gravol, immodium, tylenol and the clear liquid of your choice. Then come back here to thank me. Or sue me because I’m not a doctor and I’m telling you what to do and you stubbed your toe on the way to the pharmacy.

I hope the New Year finds you well and treats you well and blows you kisses as it draws to a close 12 months from now. But if it doesn’t, I hope there are at least some bright spots on the way. May your barf bags come empty, and may your seatmate move up-cabin so you can sit sideways with your feet up. May your plane land safely, even if it is four hours late. And may you know deep down in your aching bones and in the fire of your fever brain that God loves you and can use all things for good. He does, and He will. Happy New Year!

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