So last Monday (December 21) was week seven of our Iowa visits. Before we got to Iowa, we spent over thirteen hours in airports. Before I tell you about the good news we received, I'd like to tell you about our crazy travels.
So, Sunday morning, around 8:30 am, Ben dropped X-Man and I off at the airport, about two hours before our flight was to leave. As usual, TSA screenings went well - we had to sit in the clear box so they could test X-Man's casts, but it was no big deal. By the way, since we've done so much traveling (X has been on 21 flights in the past two months) we can now go through the expert traveler line! We did our Starbucks run so he could get his chocolate milk (he LOVES the organic chocolate milk and enjoys drinking it while watching the planes go by). We waited at our gate for a good hour and a half before the gate attendant announced that our plane would be delayed. The lady at the desk was very helpful and got us on a plane from Detroit to Cedar Rapids later in the day in case we missed our flight (due to our first flight being delayed).
Chocolate milk time!
Once our plane arrived, we had a smooth flight into Detroit. The flight attendant asked that everyone wait on the plane and let the people with short connections get off first (I thought this was wonderful - I've never had an attendant do this before). We got off the plane and walked very quickly to the gate for our next flight; unfortunately, we did miss our flight (it was 12:20 and our flight left at 12:10). Since we had seats on the next flight, X-Man and I walked around and had some lunch. We played and read books until about an hour before our next flight was scheduled to leave. Normally we don't go to the gate until right before the flight leaves, but for whatever reason, got there early this time. When we got there , the gate attendant announced that our flight (3:50) had been cancelled due to the weather. She was very helpful and got us onto a flight to Minneapolis (around 5:00) and then a flight to Cedar Rapids (we would arrive around 7 or 8).
Can I just tell you that the Detroit airport is beautiful? It was built in 2002 and is absolutely gorgeous. There's this crazy-long hall that connects the two terminals - it looks like you're under water and they play calming music with lights that change colors in rhythm to the music - very impressive. They also had a bunch of people dancing and doing karaoke (some girls were dancing to a song about "dropping a booty" or something - X-Man felt the need to sing this song for the next ten minutes), and they also have a tram and a bunch of really nice stores, it was like going to a mall.
While waiting for our flight, lots of people stared at us and asked what happened to X-Man. I also met a girl named Sarah who was really nice. She was getting irritated that so many people kept asking about X-Man. I told her how it used to bother me too, but now I consider it an educational opportunity. Our flight to Minneapolis was short and sweet, everything went well.
We didn't have a lot of time to spend in Minneapolis, so we grabbed some dinner and walked very quickly to our gate, which, naturally was on the complete opposite end of the airport. If you've ever flown into Minneapolis, you were probably taken aback by how huge the place is. I was sweating and out of breath by the time we got to our gate (we must have walked a mile to get there - no joke). When we arrived, we were told that our flight would be delayed, so we decided to eat. X-Man was so restless. By this point, we had already been traveling for 11 hours. So, we decided to walk on the moving sidewalks. Hey, anything to make the screaming two-year old happy! Our flight kept getting pushed back farther and farther, about two hours later.
Finally, around 9:30 central (two and a half hours after our flight was to depart) they decided to delay our flight until 7:15 am. Luckily, they gave us a hotel voucher for a very nice hotel suite and meal vouchers. When we got to our hotel, everyone in the lobby (there were probably 10 people in line ahead of us) let us go ahead of them. I was so touched.
We grabbed a snack and settled in around 10:30 central time. I called Ben and told him about all the craziness - God was certainly working overtime on me because I didn't lose my cool at all. Our hotel was so beautiful, some place that we never would stay in, so really, it was kind of a blessing. X-Man and I fell asleep around 12 central time. Can I just say that I love my little guy, but it is no fun to share a bed with a kicking two-year old in casts?! I woke up around 2 am and couldn't get back to sleep. I had to wake X-Man around 4:15 so we could get dressed, check out, and catch the shuttle to be back at the airport by 5 am. Oh, did I mention that the hotel room had a view of the Mall of America?! Man, I wish we could have gone! Oh well, casting is much more important!
The gorgeous bathroom in our hotel
The view from our hotel
When we arrived at the airport, X was very fussy. Luckily, those vouchers covered our breakfast. Our plane got us to Cedar Rapids without any issues. And the shuttle company was kind enough to waive our fees (we normally aren't charged because we normally go straight to the RMH) and take us to the University of Iowa. Ben had emailed Maria and Dr. Morcuende and told them that we would miss our 8am appointment due to our traveling issues. They said not to worry as they would be there all day.
X did better than ever when he got his casts off. Al, from Russia (who we met the week before) was getting his casts off at the same time. Once X-Man realized that Al wasn't crying, he also stopped crying. I was very impressed! Once they took his casts off, we waited in the waiting room. WW (X-Man's friend at the RMH) was coming in for her appointment at the same time, it was great to see them!
We didn't have to wait long. X-Man started crying as soon as we put him on the bed. We sang songs and I told Maria and Dr. M about how well he did in the casting room. Dr. M said "X-Man, Al is here, do you hear him crying?" X-Man stopped crying when he realized Al wasn't crying. Man, I wish we would've thought of this weeks ago!
Dr. M showed me how to put on X-Man's new braces. They are really, really nice. They're much softer than his old braces, and seem like they would be much more comfortable. Like I said last week, his left foot is 100% corrected, but even this week, his right foot still isn't 100%. Both feet are now at 15 degrees when dorsiflexed (normal feet are 25 degrees), so we're getting there. Unfortunately, Dr. M said he may just have stiff feet. It could be from unnecessary surgery, or it could just be how his feet are. He did have to get re-casted this week. Before we went to the appointment, I prayed "God, I don't want him to have to be re-casted, but if his feet aren't corrected, please let the doctor see that," so, even though I was hoping he would be out of casts for Christmas, I know that it's an answered prayer that he was re-casted.
His casting went well (after we reminded him that Al wasn't crying) and we scheduled our next appointment (for mid FEBRUARY!!!). We then waited in the lobby (while watching the piano) for our ride to come. Our ride had to pick up a couple of people on the way to the airport (one of which was an, um, interesting guy who informed us of the role that El Nino plays and how the meterologists have no idea what they're talking about). X-Man serenaded us with Sunday school songs. Oh, to have faith like a child!
When we got to Cedar Rapids, we tried to get on an earlier flight home (since ours was to arrive home at 10:20 pm) to no avail. We were stuck in the airport for at least four hours, so X and I used some more of our meal vouchers and had a nice sit-down lunch at a diner in the airport. We also bought some entertainment materials to keep us busy. The TSA employees recognized us right away as "regulars", I told them we wouldn't see them for a few months, they seemed genuinely happy for us.
After playing for a while, WW and her mom came in. X and WW got to play together for an hour or so, it was really nice. They scooted around the airport together (they're not allowed to walk on their casts for the first 24 hours) and we read books, and colored in X-Man's new coloring book. I love that X has had the opportunity to meet other kids in casts. It's truly been a rich time in our lives.
X-Man and WW (please ignore that my child is trying to play with an electrical outlet) - check out their awesome casts!
Our flights (THANK GOD) left and arrived on time. We got home around 10:30 or so... I have never been so tired in my life.
The good news is that X-Man is on his last set of casts. He'll wear these for three weeks, and then will have the casts removed in our hometown. Once the casts are removed, he'll wear his new braces (with a bar between them) for 18 hours a day. Fourteen of these hours will be while he's asleep, we'll just have to figure out when to do the other four hours... Any ideas or advice on this would be great. I'm worried that he's going to absolutely hate them since they will restrict his walking (although, I thought this about his casts and we see that they haven't held him back!). My wonderful sister Sam said that she's willing to help me make a padded cover for the bar. Maybe if we let him pick out the fabric, he'll like it a little more.
I'm thinking we'll postpone his party until after he gets his casts off so that we don't have to worry about him injuring anyone during his party (I got a black eye last week from his casts).