A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Whistler

It was inevitable. Everything had gone relatively smoothly up until we set foot on the plane. We were on our way to Whistler to cheer Mike on at Ironman Canada. We had left the house on time, didn’t have to rush to unload the suitcases and car seats at the RTD station and parking was easy. Some things were out of our hands though. The RTD driver was very slow and methodical while loading luggage into the storage area (or perhaps it was resentment) so right off the bat we were running 15 minutes behind schedule. We had to cross the entire terminal to get to our airline’s counter to check our luggage in. Still, we made it with minutes to spare and no real problems arose. Until we made it to our seats on the plane.

Cooper already had one of his coughs in progress. He had a fever a couple of days before and anytime this kid gets sick, a cough ensues and lasts the next 5-7 days. Expecting this chain of events to occur during our travel out of the country, we started the usual nebulizer treatment right away and brought enough medication to last throughout our trip. As we got settled into our seats, the kids demanded their morning snack. Just as the cabin doors were getting ready to close for take-off, Cooper started in on a coughing fit. A pretty bad one. So bad, in fact, he caught the attention of the flight attendants (and everyone else on board, I assume) as he began to gag and cough out his food. Out came the air sickness bag. Out came the huge plastic cover they put on seats when a bad mess has occurred. Concerned flight attendants decided to call for the Customer Service Representative where they assessed our situation and deemed us as too risky to fly. We were asked to deplane and told we would not be able to fly together until we returned with a note from a doctor giving Cooper the all-clear.

While waiting for the paramedic, Mike and I tried to determine our next course of action. Which overbooked flight should we attempt to get on? Should Mike go on without us? What if Cooper actually required a hospital stay? What if the kids and I did not go at all? None of these questions had good answers. The biggest hurdle was that we were not flying anywhere near Whistler. Our flight was to Seattle (originally arriving nice and early) and then we were going to drive the 4+ hours up to Whistler. Separating onto different flights would actually create more hassle.

The airport paramedic finally arrived and called off the firefighters (!) once he could see we were not requiring their emergency services. I’m fairly certain NO one wants to see a team of firefighters burst through a set of authorized personnel-only doors at an airport but it’s even more alarming when you know they were called because of you. This is where my memory starts to get fuzzy. I’m not entirely sure what the paramedic’s role was in this whole scenario but ultimately, he served as a strong proponent of having an ambulance take us to Children’s Hospital in case there was a more serious situation we were not aware of yet. In all fairness, Cooper had stopped his coughing fit but he still had not bounced back and looked a little peaked so there was still some concern for his health in our since-it’s-Cooper experienced eyes. Since we did not drive our own car to the airport and our car seats were in the belly of a plane that had long departed towards Seattle, we all hitched a ride in the ambulance.

I do have to say that in the event you should ever require ambulatory service from the airport, be prepared to receive admittance through all of the authorized personnel-only doors. If there was a ever a high point of the day, this was it!

I’ll fast forward through the rest of the day and just give the highlights. Cooper was checked out, his oxygen levels were good, and the doctors rolled their eyes at everyone from the airline personnel to the airport paramedic but thankfully took us seriously enough to give Cooper the next level of treatment, an oral steroid, to take with us to Canada. As we were to find out, it would take completing that entire steroid treatment regimen until he got noticeably better. We would have been on pins and needles the entire time we were out of the country so perhaps the universe was telling us something.

Free to fly!

Free to fly!

With doctor’s note in hand, we took a taxi back to the airport later that afternoon and caught an evening flight to Seattle. We resigned to stay in Seattle that night instead of trying to push through but it was still midnight by the time we got to the hotel. We had a restless night’s sleep in the tenth hotel that I called that had the only vacancy in town and we started anew the next morning.

At the end of a terrible, no-good, very bad travel day

At the end of a terrible, no-good, very bad travel day

The rest of the trip was mostly without drama and turned out to be a pretty amazing trip. We were able to catch up with some old Boulder friends in Vancouver after the race although we did not nearly have as much time together as we thought. This was such a unique journey in so many different ways but I think we’ll keep our feet on the ground for the rest of the year!

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