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MaiTaiTom's Paris When It Sizzles; Paris When It Fizzles Anniversary Trip

MaiTaiTom's Paris When It Sizzles; Paris When It Fizzles Anniversary Trip

Old Mar 20th, 2015, 07:21 AM
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I better finish today, because I might be too depressed after the San Diego State game tonight.

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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 07:25 AM
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You are not alone, MaiTaiTom, in your basketball priorities. At least you have not scheduled surgery, just skipped a Fodor's update.

Apparently there's a national trend in men scheduling vasectomies as an excuse to couch potato for the event:
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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 09:03 AM
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Go, SD State! We'll be part of the cheering section.
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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 04:03 PM
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<B>CHAPTER TEN: The Longest Day...And Night...And Day

Day Twelve - Strike 2, The Disconnect, Confirmed, I Go Hugo We Go, Goodbye Mickey, Is There a Doctor In The Queue, Confirmed My Ass, Tracy Plays Her Cards, The Waiting Game, “You’re On”, Dead Man Running, Tracy Gets Us In A Little Jam, Tracy The Sherpa Returns, The Passenger You Want To Kill, Bad News From The Finger Puppet, Breath Of Fresh Air, Is There a Doctor On The Plane, The iEKG, Over My Dead Body and Home Not So Sweet Home</B>


Once again I had trouble sleeping, so like Pavlov’s dog I picked up the phone at 4:30 when I heard an email buzz through. It was from my friends at Air France. We had been checking every day for the past week, and our flight home from Paris to LAX had not been affected by the strike up until now.

The Air France email stated, and once again this is not an exact quote, “Hello valued passenger. I know we’ve lured you into a false sense of security that your Saturday flight will go off as scheduled, but we have now decided to cancel your flight back to Los Angeles. Enjoy the rest of your vacation.” I’m not 100% sure, but I think the email had an “LOL” at the end of it, too. They were nice enough to provide a phone number to call.

At about 4:45 a.m. I called Air France to see what options I had. For nearly 90 minutes I waited not so patiently, listening to pre-recorded message after pre-recorded message. Then, out of nowhere came a voice I have learned to detest. It was Siri, and she was asking me if I needed help.

I had not summoned her, but she wouldn’t go away, and then, like I wanted to be at that moment, the line went dead. I had been disconnected. Thanks Siri!

By this time, Tracy was awake, and as she kept me from jabbing a knife in my eye, she calmly suggested I use the landline in the apartment instead. I called a local Air France number to see if that might work better. It did. Luckily, the wait was only about 20 minutes until a real person actually came on the line. They said our Saturday flight was indeed cancelled, and that we could not get out before Sunday or Monday. I inquired if they had a flight today (Friday), and was informed that, yes, they had seats on an Air Tahiti Nui plane departing tonight.

I said, “That will work.” I asked if the seats on the Air Tahiti Nui flight were confirmed, and I received an enthusiastic, “Oui.” This was followed a short time later by an email confirmation with seat assignments. Although I had wanted to try and make a go of one more entire day in Paris, I channeled my inner Spock and realized this was the most logical solution to this mess, although I could have given a Vulcan death grip to Siri.

We showered and went to see one or more Paris sights before leaving. We stopped by Camille for a quick omelette and croissant, and then headed out for a last morning of sightseeing.

It was perfect that we chose Maison de Victor Hugo for our first stop, because I was feeling Les Misérables (poetic license). This is where Hugo lived for 16 years in the mid 1800s and again later in the century. He died here in 1885.

We walked through various rooms including the Reception Room…

…Juliette Drouete’s Chinese Drawing Room (Drouet was an actress who subsequently became Hugo’s mistress)…

…The Dining Room…

…and finally the bedroom where Hugo died.

Stepping back outside, it was perhaps the most beautiful day I had ever seen in Paris.

Not that we’d get to enjoy it.

We still had about an hour to kill, so we walked around snapping some more photos on a picture-perfect day.

“Maybe I should have tried for a Sunday flight,” I told Tracy. She shook her head in a way that said, “It’s time to go home.”

The last church we visited was Notre Dame des Blancs Manteaux, a Baroque church constructed in the 1600s. From what I remember from the photos it was an interesting interior…

…but I started a coughing attack from Hell, so we got out of there before parishioners were infected.

My last photo in Paris was of the Tour Saint-Jacques.

My original plan before getting sick was to get reservations to climb it today. Unfortunately, we would not get our UNESCO World Heritage Sight card stamped there today, because it was time for us to rest, pack and depart for the airport.

We had what we believed was a foolproof plan to make this trip as easy as possible. Our flight was not scheduled until 7:10 p.m., but we would arrive at the airport very early, get our tickets and then have some food, purchase some cough syrup, read and relax until our flight. This, we thought, would be the most prudent way for me to ease into the flight and hopefully not cough for the entire 12 hours on the way home. So much for planning!

We bade Mickey “au revoir” and our taxi arrived at Charles de Gaulle a little past three. We thought we might be the first ones there. We thought incorrectly.

The queue for the 7:10 p.m. Air Tahiti Nui flight was already a long one, but we were four hours early so the line did not really bother us. About 15 minutes later, the day turned from sublime into insane.

As we stood there, a woman checking her bags on the flight collapsed with what seemed to be a heart attack. I won’t go into the gory details, but people started yelling for a doctor. There just happened to be one in the line not far in front of us.

Soon the paramedics arrived, and the woman (who was talking) was wheeled to an awaiting ambulance accompanied by her husband. It took nearly an hour, but finally Tracy and I got to the check-in desk (trouble ensues) woman.

As I tried not to cough, we showed her our original Air France tickets and the information about our now “confirmed’ tickets on Air Tahiti Nui. Her look eerily reminded me of the woman at Mélia 1 who told us “our room” had a broken toilet. Silence, at this point, was not golden.

Looking up from her computer, the woman said, “I’m very sorry Mr. and Mrs. Maitai, but Air France overbooked this flight, and you will be on stand-by.” I was in no shape to try and string together any kind of coherent response (which was probably fortunate for us), however Tracy, who might have been nearing the breaking point after five days spent with a non-stop coughing husband, did not miss a beat.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

“Well,” she said, “we know there are two extra seats because a woman just had a heart attack, and she and her husband won’t be on the flight.” I looked on in admiration and trepidation. Although a great try, it didn’t work. We would have to wait until 6:10 (an hour before our flight) to see if we had a seat or would be traveling back to Paris to try and secure a hotel room.

As my closest friends will tell you, I take these types of setbacks very calmly...ok, maybe not. For nearly 2 ½ hours I paced like I was awaiting the birth of our first child, or so I surmised since we don’t have any. Meanwhile, Tracy kept searching our insurance policy to see how much extra it would cost if they ended up having to put my cadaver in the cargo hold.

At about 6:07, Tracy sidled up to the agent who was about to read off the names of the few lucky ones who would be put on this flight. I know a lot of people who think I’m crazy to always get to the airport early, but this time it paid off. We were the first names on the list (we heard later that that only three more were called after us). That was the good news.

The bad news was we would still have to check our bags, go through the long security line and get to our flight (not to mention find some cough syrup since we couldn’t bring liquids through security).

With less than an hour until our flight departed, after depositing our bags, we ran. If Frankenstein could have run, this is what it would have looked like. It was not a pretty sight. I was running like an 80-year-old man through the airport...in slow motion… coughing. I actually think I saw a guy in a walker pass me.

We finally made it through security…almost. They needed to check Tracy’s bag for contraband. Time was not on our side.

Speaking of liquids, the agent then pulled out two jars of jam from her carry-on that we had purchased from Hédiard. We thought we were toast.

The agent then took one glance at my face that looked exactly like a face looks when you have less than ten hours sleep in four days, gave Tracy a small smile that seemed to say, “Madame, you should have married a younger man,” put the jars back in the bag and let us go. We filed it under current events.

Channeling her inner Sherpa from our 2005 train trip to Rome (please see Italy 2005), Tracy picked up both bags and led us in our final sprint (perhaps a slow jog or a kind of fast walk would sum that up better) to the already long line waiting to board our flight to Los Angeles.

By the time we reached the Air Tahiti Nui line I felt like we had run all the way to Papeete. I was sweating so much it looked like I had been through a car wash. The run had not helped my cough either, which was now pretty bad again after our mini marathon run through CDG.

Since the flight was just about ready to board, Tracy only had a few minutes to shed the bags and sprint to find cough syrup before contemplating divorce on the flight home.

There was no cough syrup, but she did purchase some cough drops and Kleenex that would hopefully preclude me from getting 248 of our closest friends seriously ll on the flight back to L.A. We boarded, and I was seriously not in good shape. The run had completely wiped me out.

During the first few hours in the air, I attempted the best I could to not cough, sucking down cough drops while watching a movie I have no recollection of. It was then I started going even further downhill. My breathing was becoming more and more labored, so I took out the little device I use to check my breathing saturation and heart rate, which Tracy lovingly (I think) calls my “finger puppet.”

A normal SAT rate is 95 or above. When I was admitted to the hospital four years earlier, when I got to the ER it was at 78 and they immediately put me in the hospital. When I placed the finger puppet on in the plane, the reading was at 85. I turned to Tracy and said, “This is not good. I don’t know if I can make it to L.A.”

Short of throwing me off the plane (which I’m sure she seriously contemplated), Tracy did the next best thing. She explained my plight to the flight attendant and asked if they could find the doctor that was on board.

Tracy told her that she knew there was a doctor on the flight because a woman had a heart attack in line at CDG and one had come to assist.

I was led to the center galley where I heard the words from the pilot you never want to hear when traveling on an airliner, “Could a doctor please come to the center galley? We have a passenger in need of assistance.”

Not only was there one doctor on board, but two of them were suddenly at my side. It was the Mayo Clinic of the air. Only needing one, the other took his seat, very happy in the knowledge he would not be infected with whatever plague I was carrying.

Digression: It was less than a week later that the man in Dallas was diagnosed with Ebola. My friends said it was lucky that our flight wasn’t scheduled a week later, or they would have diverted the plane to Newark and quarantined the plane. That would have been terrible because then this trip report would have been even longer.

As we flew over Greenland, the doctor took out his iPhone. He told me to “hold the phone” (literally), and as it turned out he started taking my EKG. Yes, there’s an APP for that!

He asked some medical questions to ascertain that I was not having a pulmonary embolism and then instructed the flight attendants to put me on oxygen. MY SAT rate immediately went up and I felt much better. Although airplanes are oxygenated, at that altitude it’s not 100% and any breathing difficulties are only made worse.

The doctor then stated he thought that when we landed I should be taken off the plane first and rushed immediately to a hospital. Since the passengers seated around me already had taken a lottery on who would kill me when I returned to my seat, I respectfully declined the recommendation.

After the doctor departed the galley, being the loving wife she is, Tracy snapped a photo of me with the oxygen mask on my face as I sat there (the story and laughs always come first in our marriage). When she showed it to me, I couldn’t believe the airline hadn’t charged me extra for two extra carry-on pieces of luggage because of the large bags under my eyes.

After a couple of hours of much needed air, the flight attendants said that was all the oxygen I could have just in case someone else needed it. I hope they at least change the mask if that happens.

The rest of the flight was fairly brutal as my SAT rate dropped again by the time we reached the Canadian-U.S. border (I have to stop looking at that in-flight map), but fortunately once we started descending it rose to a level where I didn’t think I’d keel over and have to have people step over me to disembark.

To make a long story even longer, we were picked up by friends at the airport, but instead of going to the hospital, I told them they could just take us home. We got home about midnight, and four hours later I realized I better go to Urgent Care.

Three hours and two breathing treatments later I was diagnosed with Acute Bronchitis. It was the early morning of September 28th. I would not end my non-stop coughing spell until the beginning of November.

So that’s the story of our not so romantic 20th Anniversary Paris trip. Sure, we had flight problems, hotel problems, a little mouse as a roommate (hope he’s ok) and a rather bad illness, but this was the first trip we’ve ever taken where the stars just did not align correctly for a good part of it. Sometimes, you’re due for a little bad luck (just ask the San Diego Padres about the last half century). You just have to make the best of it, and I think we did.

Still, we have a lot of great memories of places we visited and people we met. We were also able to dine at some wonderful restaurants, and, really, what’s a trip without a “Pringles Night” in your hotel room or apartment? Plus, our not getting to everything is just another in the hundreds of reasons we’ll have to return to Paris again in the future.

So, as always:

<B>Enjoy The Journey! Attitude Is Everything!
(and always have a doctor on speed dial) </B>
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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 04:35 PM
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Thanks for finishing up your story! What a nightmare. What a trooper your wife is. No one I'm sure you would rather be with than her when you are sick.

One hour to game! Go Aztecs! Hope they do better tonight than last Saturday's loss to Wyoming. My son, an SDSU graduate was none too happy about that...looked like someone kicked his puppy after that one.
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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 05:10 PM
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What a story! So glad you are feeling better now.
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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 05:15 PM
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Wow, what a saga! Congratulations to both of you for surviving it. I hope the next trip goes much better!
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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 05:34 PM
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Thanks for the best trip report ever!
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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 06:17 PM
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Glad you survived to tell the tale.
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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 06:47 PM
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Wow! Another marvelous trip report. Glad to see your sense of humor survived what must have been a frightening and harrowing experience. I hope you are feeling fit again at this point in time. Bronchitis is so debilitating. I once cracked a rib as a result of the relentless coughing spasms.

Uh, any upcoming travel plans? or did Tracy turn in her passport?
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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 08:09 PM
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Wow! The end of the trip report and an Aztec victory!!! A good day to be sure. Thanks for the comments. travelchat, we are next going to Spain with Kim and Mary. Tracy decided she needed extra medical personnel on this one.

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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 08:14 PM
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Not a bad idea to bring your doctor along considering your history. What an adventure, for sure. Tracy deserves a medal.

Hope your Spanish sojourn goes without a glitch except for a hiccup here and there. But to say the least your odysseys are interesting.
Keep on traveling.
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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 08:17 PM
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Kim and Mary aren't really doctors, but they play one on vacation. Thanks Treesa.

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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 09:42 PM
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maitaitom, what a great trip report. I loved it. I am sure this will be a trip you will long remember. I can feel for you being ill away from home as I fell on a trip to Europe and broke my shoulder and arm (one left and one right) and had to fly home for surgery. My DH and I still remember that trip well and surprisingly have some fond memories now.
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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 09:45 PM
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Bravo! Another fabulous trip report. Thanks for all the restaurant recommendations. My husband and I returned from Paris last night and we went to L'Ange 20, L'Estrapade (the wife is pregnant!), and Les Papilles all because of your report. We liked them all, but agree with you that L'Ange 20 was best. We also were lucky enough to get a tour of Hotel De Ville which was wonderful. I checked your report every night we were in Paris for more ideas of what to do next!

My husband loves the vin rouge as much as you so if you ever find yourself visiting the wine country outside of Portland, we owe you and Tracy a bottle or two!

Congrats on the SDSU victory tonight!
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Old Mar 21st, 2015, 06:26 AM
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another great tale from Tom! Thanks so much for sharing.
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Old Mar 21st, 2015, 06:30 AM
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Great report! Kudos for "Dr." Stacy for managing brilliantly, and to you for living to tell the tale! It's quite a testimony to both of you and an anniversary tale that will not be forgotten!

Thanks for sharing this episode with so much humor!
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Old Mar 21st, 2015, 06:42 AM
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hydromet cough syrup is the bomb. Only thing that will stop my coughing. Why Doctors don't prescribe is beyond me. I guess people abuse but I don't.
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Old Mar 21st, 2015, 06:51 AM
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Tom, are you part cat? It seems you have 9 lives.

How you can go through such dire situations and bounce back to tell the tale with humor always amazes me.

Sorry you had to go through this. I'm SO glad you are well now. Tracy is a gem, and so are you.
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Old Mar 21st, 2015, 07:51 AM
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So, now we all go into withdrawal until your next trip. Thank you so much, I was happy to travel along. Glad you are recovered.
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