Friends arrive to help load up our luggage and cart us to the Charlotte airport.
Saturday Afternoon, 12pm
American Airline agent gives us the 'look' about our 10 totes, 1 suitcase, stroller and carseat as she sees us pull up to her counter. She makes small talk as she checks us in, but refuses to check our bags all the way through Kilimanjaro, our final destination. She says she can't because of some lack of agreement or something. We pay the $400 for our two extra pieces of luggage (British Air allows 3 pieces per person for missionaries) and after a few tries at persuading her to change the luggage tags to JRO instead of just checked through to Nairobi, I give up. I figure I might have more luck with the British Air people once we get to London.
Saturday Afternoon, 12:30pm
Our friends are now giving us the 'look.' The we-don't-want-you-to-go-but-we-do-because-you're-following-God look. We hang out for a minute, delaying the inevitable.
Saturday Afternoon, 1:15pm
We walk through security and glance back, there they are, all standing way back there watching us walk through the checkpoint, I shoo them away as if telling them we just need to rip the band-aid off and they mock me. I love those people.
Saturday Afternoon, 2:00pm
We grab lunch in the atrium, Carolina BBQ for Bill & Owen, a Quizno's flatbread sandwich for me. We walk around a bit, plenty of time to spare before our 3:45 departure. Owen runs around the airport, then crashes for a nap in Bill's arms. Our gate is right by Cinnabon. It's calling our names. I grab a mini and share it with Bill, feeding him like we're teenagers in love again, because his hands are full with our sleeping toddler.
Saturday Afternoon, 4:00pm
We're on the plane to Chicago and it is quite possibly the smallest plane I have ever ridden on, and I have been flying across the country since I was six. We got some "Front Row Favor" as Pastor Troy says, and Bill & Owen got the seat with extra legroom for the short jaunt to Chi-town.
We've walked briskly through the Chicago airport and boarded our plane to London with just enough time to spare. We've got seats together again and we're ready to take off!
Sunday Morning, 1:00am
Owen starts writhing in pain and complaining that his "diaper hurts". Though we've been potty learning at home, we are traveling him in diapers, for obvious reasons. So I take it off real quick and check for a rash, but don't see a thing. Then I realize his diaper is dry as can be. The last time I changed it was at 10:30am Saturday morning, before we left the house. I'm assuming he's got a cramp from holding his pee in, so I tell him to pee in his diaper. Bill & I gently explain that it's okay to pee in his diaper, that diapers are for pee and poop and because we're on the airplane he can pee in there. He just keeps squirming and saying his diaper hurts in his half-asleep-overtired state. It seems to come and go depending on the position we hold him in and eventually he falls back asleep in my arms.
A couple hours later he wakes up crying and holding his stomach/bladder area. I feel it and it's rigid and his stomach is a little distended. Bill takes him to the bathroom to try and get him to use the toilet since he won't pee in his diaper and to no avail - the bathroom just freaks him out (as it should) and he cries even more. It's obvious he's in a ton of pain so I ask the flight attendant if there's anything we can do. He pages for any doctors on the plane to come to the back galley. Five different people appear, a surgeon, a couple of RNs and a couple others with medical experience. All of them agree that we need to try running warm water over his hands, on his feet, or just let him see the water. So we try it and nothing. We try to take his temp to make sure he doesn't have an infection but he's so tired, in pain and freaked out by all of this at this point that we can't get an accurate temp. He doesn't feel hot to me though, just in pain from a full bladder. When nothing worked one of the nurses suggested at least giving him some baby Advil to help with the pain, and a mom that was sitting near us appears and says she has some baby meds if we need any. I get him to choke down half a dose of baby ibuprofen and he falls back asleep. When he wakes up he's happy and his normal self again, but his belly is still rigid and distended and his diaper is still dry. The paramedics have been alerted and will be on the plane to help us as soon as we land.
Sunday Morning, 7am (London time)
Our plane touches down and the pilot comes over the PA asking everyone to remain seated so the paramedics could get to us quickly. Once they find us on the plane they move us up to first class so the rest of the passengers could deplane and she gets to work taking his history and stats. He has no fever and his other stats were all good, and he's in good spirits from the ibuprofen kicking in. She calls an ambulance while I check his diaper one more time. I notice there's a little pee in it - yay! But his belly is still rigid and distended. The medic was seriously one of the nicest ladies I've met, she said it was up to us, but if it were her child she would take him to the hospital just to get checked out. Just to make sure it's not an infection or something serious. At this point I'm mildly freaking out. Ambulance ride? Hospital? We're in London! Connecting flight? No insurance? Our luggage?
And then all in an instant, as if someone (I'm positive someone ) was praying for us right that instant, I had a peace about it. A complete and total peace that surpassed any kind of earthly understanding considering the situation we were facing. "Yes, we'll take the ambulance, " I told the medic. So immigration came on the plane to check our passports, an AA agent came on to get our connecting flight information, told us the flight to Nairobi was leaving at 10am and we would need to re-book, but that it wouldn't cost anything since we would have a hospital pass. The EMTs arrive on the plane and we wait for them to open the side door. An elevator/lift/car thing carries us down to the tarmac where the ambulance is waiting. We pile in our carry on luggage then climb in ourselves.
They begin taking stats and getting paperwork filled out and we're cleared to head to the hospital, which is about 5 miles away. I ask the dreaded question to the lovely EMT (the two girls in the rig were seriously amazing, by the way!) "So, how does all this work with insurance?" "Oh," she replies matter-of-factly, "All emergency healthcare in London is free. Unless you end up getting checked in and needing continuous care, this will all be free. And I don't see that happening, I'm sure you guys will be out of there in no time."
Thank. You. Jesus.
Saturday Morning, 8:30am (London time)
We're sitting in the waiting room of the pediatric ER (or what they call A&E (accidents and emergencies). Owen is playing with toys that are over-worn and mostly broken, but he's happy nonetheless. He's been checked out by the nurse and we're waiting for the doctor to see him when he stops what he's doing, looks at me and says, "What's that?" That's what he used to do when he was first learning to use the potty and he'd feel himself pee. I check his diaper and it is literally exploding with pee. It's running down his leg because it's so full. You know what happens to a diaper when a kid goes swimming in a pool? That's what it looked like! The thing easily weighed 4lbs. He had finally released everything that was in his bladder! His tummy looked normal again and was squishy like it should be. A few minutes later he had a bowel movement too. He was asking to eat and drink (he wouldn't before, no matter what we bribed him with) and was running around and happy. The nurse took a urine sample from his diaper and sent it to the lab. When the doctor finally came he was ready to go back to the airport (he kept asking to!) Between the two of us we deduced that he just didn't want to pee on himself because of the potty training. His lab tests came back normal, she felt around his belly and he was normal. We were given the discharge papers and called a cab to get back to the airport!
Saturday Morning, 10am (London time)
Because we were taken, literally, right off the airplane, I had no British pounds on me to pay for the cab, but the cab driver was kind enough to drop me at the curb of the airport so I could run in, exchange my money and get back to him with the 15pounds for the cab fare (highway robbery! That's $26 for a 5 mile ride!) I was thankful to him for allowing us to do that and we quickly gathered our carry ons and headed to the BA counter to re-book our flight.
The agent there kindly informed us we didn't need to re-book because we were already booked on the 7pm flight. However, he noticed our bags were only checked through to Nairobi so he quickly set to work fixing that for us. He got everything fixed in the computer system, but (obviously) couldn't go down and re-tag the bags for us. So he told us once we got to Kenya that we would just have to tell the people at the check in counter that our bags were in the transit bin, and that they should go all the way through to JRO, even though the tags said NBO the computer had the right information in it.
Perfect. So now we had a good 8 hours to kill. Oh well, better in London than in Africa :)
We found some comfy seats and Owen promptly passed out on papa's lap again. We both found ourselves nodding off as well. It had been quite the day/days/morning ?
Saturday Evening, 7pm (London time)
We finish up our coffee and dinner and head to our gate to board the plane. We show them our papers from the hospital because it's now on our record that we had to take the ambulance and they require a 'patient is okay to fly' form from the doctor. Once they check that out we hop on bus which takes us all over the tarmac until we finally reach our plane. We hop off and watch the sunset as we climb the stairs.
Once aboard, we settle in for a (hopefully) good nights sleep.
... to be continued...