Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chickenpox panic

I usually get a bit emotional when taking off on a plane, either because I'm going somewhere I long to go or leaving a place where there are people I love. Today was no exception but my emotions were just a bit more of relief. The past two days have been taxing on my usually calm travel heart. But now things seemed to be solved and I was about to be reunited with Zoe again in 4 hours.

Two days ago I got a video call from my flybaby in Scotland, who as the first thing asked me "Mommy, are you on an airplane?". No Zoe I'm on the subway to work. "Are you in Stockholm or another country?", she continued like this would be normal. I looked at her. She had spots in her face. "Mommy, I'm sick" she finally said and I immediately knew she had the chickenpox. Her dad confirmed in the background and tried to hug her over the choppy video. She had been sick since Saturday and spotty since the day after. Their holiday had been slightly derailed but at least they were staying with his sister and could snuggle up in bed. I said goodbye and went on to work, not realizing that the consequences of this.

I got a text message a couple of hours later, slightly panicky, saying that she would not be allowed to fly now, until Thursday. Her dad had taken her to the doctor and although she was not contagious any longer by Wednesday the doctor could not clear her for flying before Thursday. And as things go in our crazy travel life, we had left absolutely no margin for anything like this. Zoe's dad was leaving for California, one hour before his girlfriend would be taking off with Zoe, bringing her to Copenhagen via London. She had to be back in London that night as well, for work.

We don't have a big network but the few people we do have around us are extremely kind and willing to go far in terms of helping hands; like my mom who flies to Paris to pick her up, and Zoe's dad's sister who is willing to look after Zoe for several days. But for some reasons things didn't work here. I was ready to jump on a plane to go stay with Zoe, but I had to be in Copenhagen Thursday for an important medical thing. I couldn't ask my mom since she would not be comfortable being in an unknown city with a sick child. Other family members were away on vacation. I finally asked my close friend and colleague who knows Zoe very well and he agreed to go if we got stuck. I sighed in relief and can still not imagine that I am this lucky to have such friend. It would cost me app. 8000 Skr/1100 USD for plane tickets and we concluded that no medical insurance would cover anything as crazy as this situation. But it would work. He had family in Scotland where he could stay with her. We even looked at a way for me and  Zoe to get to Copenhagen via land but I still wouldn't make it back for Thursday.

After several text-messages throughout the day and me not being able to focus on my article at all, we decided to give it a day and a half. Tuesday evening we decided to coach Zoe into *not* revealing that she had chickenpox to any airline staff whatsoever and since she had been fever free for more than 24 hours by now, we would take the chance. "It's just a skin rash", the girlfriend would claim and just before I took off in Stockholm to go to Copenhagen to pick up Zoe at the gate, I got the much awaited text message: Boarded, everything is okay. There must be a special travel angel looking over Zoe, my not so small any longer FlyBaby.

ETA: Zoe and I reunited inside the air-bridge right as she deplaned to her astonishment: "MOMMY, How did you know I would come out here?" she asked sweetly. Well Zoe, I have my ways and if you look determined enough, nobody stops you from walking onto a deplaning air-bridge. 

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