Or as I'll always remember it, "Hell At 32,000 Feet".
WARNING! This entry contains graphic descriptions of the flu. Not recommended for the squeamish or those currently experiencing flu symptoms (ie. Susie and Ashleigh, sorry again guys).
First, a little background on the flight. We don't like making lots of connections, especially traveling with a baby, and to get to Reno required three flights. So to save ourselves a leg we decided to fly out of Newark, about three hours from where we live. We arranged to spend the night at my sister's, about 45 minutes from the airport, thinking we would drive down the day before and visit as well as pick up our Pack'N'Play before making the easy drive to the airport.
Then Wednesday night, after my grandfather's funeral, Sophie got sick. Six times. In Brandie's lap. Obviously we didn't want her to travel in that condition and thought about postponing our trip, but we decided to wait and see how she was by Friday morning. If she was ok by then we could drive down to my sister's early in the morning and still make the afternoon flight.
The morning of the flight she seemed to have recovered, so we packed up the car and were on our way by about 10:30. We were cutting it close but thought we'd have a good hour or so for Sophie to play with her cousins before heading out again to the airport.
A good plan, but we tend to think like we're still traveling as dependent-less adults. Due to various circumstances (like getting lost in Stroudsburg, and not realizing Newark's economy lot is barely in the same state as the airport) we made our flight with minutes to spare and without our Pack'N'Play or Sophie's carseat. In all the hurry to make the flight, we forgot to bring them.
Challenges, and stressful to be sure, but we could still rent a carseat with our rental car and buy a Pack'N'Play in Reno.
The rest of that flight from Newark to Atlanta went ok. Sophie still seemed well, and was pretty easily entertained thanks to the books and movies (thanks again Erin & Geoff for the portable dvd player!) we brought along.
The Atlanta airport seemed warm and stuffy to both of us, and as we boarded the plane stiflingly hot. We had barely reached our seats when we realized Sophie had pooped, and moments later that her diaper had failed to contain it all. For the uninitiated, this is known as a "blowout", something that happened a record seven times on our trip.
Swimming upstream against the flow of boarding passengers was bound to piss a few people off, but it was that or wait for the spill to spread. Fortunately I made it without too much fuss into the bathroom.
Now I'm not sure about all planes, but the ones in our experience lack a changing table or other adequate surface to rest a baby on. The toilet seat is the only alternative but it is barely big enough, and requires a lot of juggling to keep her in place. It's difficult enough with just a normal diaper change, but dealing with a full soiled-clothes change in that space is practically impossible. To add injury to insult, there's an access panel hatch within perfect baby reach. Sophie kept opening the hatch so it would fall on her face, leaving her crying and both my hands full on the other end.
A thankfully unharmed, clean and newly pajama'd Sophie & I made it out of the bathroom before the plane took off, but I was drenched in sweat. In hindsight abnormally so, despite the sweltering conditions onboard. I passed Sophie over to Brandie, sat down and opened the little airvent to full, hoping I would cool off quickly.
As we took off, my stomach started to cramp, at first mildly and then very painfully. I wasn't sure if I was going to be sick or go to the bathroom, but shortly after the seatbelt sign was turned off I got up and headed to the bathroom in case of either. Luckily, because it was both. At the same time. On and off for about four hours, the duration of our flight to Reno.
And other than landing, I was out of my seat for the entire flight. I'll spare the more graphic details, but for the remainder of the trip I was in the bathroom or standing at the back of the plane, shivering or sweating as waves of nausea hit me. A few times I fell asleep for five minutes, resting my head on blankets tucked into the grab-bar in the bathroom. Then I'd start spinning and the nausea would hit again.
I felt better as we landed, and other than some dizzyness and light sweats didn't get sick again until two days later up at the lake. Whether it was a relapse or an entirely different bug I don't know, but it felt different. This is already long enough and I'm running into what could be a whole new entry, but I was running to the bathroom again on our return flights.
Needless to say, not one of my better travel experiences. For those readers from Montrose, it was reminiscent of the 1988 Inaugural Parade where George Bush Senior decided to get out and walk, leaving our marching band and the rest of the parade standing and freezing in the sub-zero temperatures. About a third of us got the flu on the busride home, I think.