The Hunter Family Chronicles (part 3)


Somewhere around 11 am on New Year’s Day I got a call from my Dad. He informed me that he was in the hospital. He had taken himself to the emergency room because he was getting very lethargic, his feet were swelling, and overall he just wasn’t feeling right. They had immediately transferred him to the main branch of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in downtown Youngstown. The initial thought was that he had a leaky heart value. He seemed in good spirits and was feeling a little better. That day he was scheduled for a heart catheter. I knew that this was a pretty standard procedure and that he wasn’t in any real danger since this was mostly to diagnose, not treat, the issue, so I told him that i was going to stick with my original flight schedule of leaving Montana on January 2nd. On the morning of the second, I found out that the catheter had revealed some real issues. He had a hole in his heart and was being transferred to Cleveland Clinic. Obviously this news was more than a little nerve racking. I looked into flights and quickly realized that my only real options was to keep my scheduled flight from MT to Chicago, which landed around 7:30 pm, and catch a later flight to Cleveland. Although I would have loved to have Melanie and Brooks with me, we decided that it was best to have them go home once we landed in Chicago. He was sick and she was tired (and pregnant), and we didn’t even know what was going on with my Dad yet. I booked a 9:40 pm flight that landed in Cleveland around 11:40. Luckily I got a little time to rest on the flight back from Big Sky because the next 72 hours would prove to be exhausting.

When we landed in Chicago O’Hare I kissed Melanie and Brooks goodbye and started out towards my gate. I quickly realized that the flight that I had booked on American Airlines had been canceled. So had most of the other flights. They had rebooked me for a flight out the next morning. There was a huge snow storm that had hit the Midwest. We were lucky to have even made it back from Big Sky. Lines for the support desks were hours long and the wait time for calls seemed just as long. As I was walking down the terminal, I happened to look up and see a sign that said Cleveland. It seemed like fate. It was a United Airlines desk but I figured it was worth a shot. I explained to the lady working the desk that I had a medical emergency and that my flight had been canceled. I offered to buy a ticket on this flight, but she said that she wasn’t a licensed ticket agent and therefore couldn’t sell me one. To do that, I had to go wait in the hour long line at the help desk. That wasnt going to work considering the flight was leaving soon. The lady was great and helped me more than I expected. Honestly I assumed that I would get the normal bitchy airport employee, but was pleasantly surprised. She informed me that this flight had been delayed since 5 pm but was about to depart. She also told me that if I could get American Airlines to switch my ticket over to United, that she would get me on it! Great, now I just had get them to switch the ticket. I called the AA number that I had, and again was pretty surprised at how helpful the person was. However, switching the ticket wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Since the flight that I was trying to get on was so delayed, it was showing as already departed in their system and therefore they couldn’t do the transfer. After some brainstorming with both of them, we decided to transfer my ticket to a 5:30 am flight the next day, then the United employee would transfer me to the flight that was getting ready to leave for Cleveland. The American rep transferred the ticket and it seemed like we were all set, which was great timing considering that the flight was already boarding. Suddenly, I lost my connection. This would have been fine except that the United rep needed some more information. I was starting to panic. The flight was completely boarded and I was on hold! The gate agent was stalling for me and the the guy at the desk had my ticket printed and ready, he just needed a little more info. It felt like they were just about to close the doors when all of the sudden the guy yelled “I got it” and handed me the ticket. I boarded and they immediately closed the door behind me! The good news was that I was on one of the few planes leaving Ohare that night and even fewer planes landing in Cleveland. The bad news was that I got a seat next to a very big lady with a 3 month old baby. It was a minor inconvenience considering the situation.

I finally landed in Cleveland around 11 pm in the middle of the “polar vortex”. It was freezing, I mean below zero, and snowing like crazy. The guy at the car rental place was really cool. When I changed my rental from a mid size to an SUV the system tried to take my fee from $88 to $1042! He was pissed and agreed that that was ridiculous. He worked the computer multiple times until he got the bill down to a $10 surcharge. I could barely see as I drove to the hospital from the airport that night. I followed the only two visible tracks on the highway, but arrived safely at the Cleveland Clinic around 1:30 am that night. This day had restored my faith in people. There were multiple people that day that really helped me out and if any one of them hadn’t, I wouldn’t have made it to see my Dad that night. That night was just the beginning of another long and emotional week, but I know my Dad felt a little better that I was there…I know I was a little relieved to see him.

The Hunter Family Chronicles (part 2)

On dec 27th a car picked us up around 10 am. I just finished up my conference call and started loading all of our luggage into the car, which was a workout in and of itself. Between having a child and packing ski clothes, it looked like we were moving out! We landed in Bozeman MT, grabbed a rental car, and headed to Big Sky. Luckily our friends had made most of the arrangements or we would have been shit out of luck. I didn’t even know where we were staying! We ended up in a really cool log cabin close to the ski lodge and quickly settled into our room in the basement. They did it right, both groceries and skis were delivered to the cabin that night and we were set for a week of skiing and relaxing…we thought.

The guys that we were with are both good skiers. I’m not. I like skiing but we are definitely on different levels. The first day on the slopes, I tried to follow one of the guys down a steep hill and wiped out. As soon as I hit,
I felt tingling in my leg. Not a good sign. I thought I had broken it. Luckily that wasn’t the case, just a bruise. I called it a day after that run and spent a little time at the bar before my shuttle picked me up. That night Brooks ran a fever that got up to 102. At one point it looked like he was passing out in Mel’s arms. I had take him outside to cool him down. After a bath and some tylenol, he was a little better, but it was pretty scary.

My leg was killing me from my fall, so I wouldn’t have skied the next day anyway, but we took Brooks into the medical center to see what was wrong. Keep in mind I’m taking about a medical center in a town of less than 3,000 people. After examining my son and coming to the conclusion that nothing was wrong with him, the doctor decided to take it upon himself to examine my wife. When we told him that she was three months pregnant, he proceeded to rub her belly, then lift up her shirt. I get that this guys a doctor, but that’s some creepy shit to do to someone you don’t even know. Not to mention that he misdiagnosed my son and sent us away with no medicine to treat him and $190 bill.

That night we let Brooks sleep in our room and he was up ever two hours. At around 5 am he was burning up again so we gave him a bath and some more medicine. Melanie and one of the other girls were supposed to go cross country skiing the next morning. At around 8, the girl came in to check on Mel and see if they were still going. I was trying to keep her quiet because Brooks was sleeping, but I’m glad she asked me “if I knew the basement had flooded?” I jumped up and ran out into the hallway only to step into a few inches of water. Luckily Sarah had grabbed Melanie’s iPad off the floor. The place was a mess. After calling the management company, they sent a team over to take care of it. We now had giant fans and dehumidifiers running 24/7 in the basement for the rest of the trip. I ended up going out to ski with the guys for awhile that day and was able to avoid getting banged up again. Melanie and Sarah did yoga later that evening while we watched the kids.

On the morning of New Years Eve Brooks was running a fever for the third day in a row. We took him back into the medical center. Luckily we didn’t see the same creepy doctor. The new doctor immediately diagnosed him with an ear infection. Not only is this exactly what we told the other doctor what we thought it was, and what had happened in the past, but they charged us for another office visit! They said that their records showed that they had only checked for a respiratory infection last time and since this was so different, we had to pay. What a scam. It didn’t matter though, at least we had some medicine to treat him with.

Knowing that he was okay and treated, I headed to meet the guys and try my hand at snowboarding. I’ve done it before and did fine, but after two days of skiing, it was harder than I remembered. Not only was I having a hard time transitioning, but my legs were already pretty sore. It took me about an hour to get down the first slope! I only got in three runs that day and none were pretty, but I did get slightly better with each run….slightly.

When we got back that evening I jumped in the hot tub hoping to ease some of my pain. It seemed to be working. I had a great set up. I was sitting in a hot tub while it was snowing, beer in hand, with a speaker streaming Pandora from my phone. What could go wrong. When I went to get out, I was digging through my now snow covered towel to find my phone. As I picked it up, I watched my phone take a dive into the water! I was pissed. I had no phone on NYE and therefore no way to give or recieve and new year wishes. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m slightly addicted to my phone. As a matter of fact, in college, a group of friends nicknamed my phone “precious” (Lord of the Rings reference).

For our New Years Eve dinner we had live Maine lobsters flown in. Like I said, my friends did it right! We unloaded all of them on to the floor and lets Brooks and Ann check them out. My man Brooks walked right up to one, grabbed it by its shell, and picked it up. I was impressed, especially considering that I’m a big wimp when it comes to bugs and critters. My wife still makes fun of me for my attempt to grab and bait a fish hook with live shrimp! It was pretty comical. Anyways, the dinner turned out great. Our buddy Chris is a great cook. The scotch was just as good! Mel and I made it through the New Years celebrations for NYC and Chicago but threw in the towel before the New Year hit Montana. I guess we are officially lame…or just parents.

On New Year’s Day I woke to a pleasant surprise. My phone vibrating from incoming text messages. I couldn’t believe it. My luck continued that day when I won the college football bet we had going between the three of us guys. However, it quickly ran out later that day when I found out that my Dad was in the hospital with a leaky heart valve…..

The Hunter Family Chronicles

Anyone that knows my family will agree that we lead pretty hectic lives. As an example, our son Brooks, went out to eat sushi with us at three days old, yes that’s DAYS. Obviously he didn’t eat any, but he was there. He is 18 months old, has been on at least ten round trip flights, been to Montana twice, lived on Miami Beach for three months, resides in Chicago, and frequents Ohio. You get it, right? Sometimes our schedule borders on the point of insanity. To keep track of it all, and to share a few of the stories, I decided to start a series of blogs that I’ll title “The Hunter Family Chronicles”.

The holidays are always crazy for us. We head back to both Cleveland and Youngstown for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since our son was born, we’ve tried to make our schedule a little less hectic while in Ohio, but we still make the trip. This year we went to Youngstown on Friday Dec 20th – Monday the 23rd and stayed at my Aunt Sis’s house. After getting in around 8 pm on Friday, we started our Christmas celebration early Saturday at my Step Dad’s house with my Mom, brother Kyle, and Grandma (Mema as she’s known to our family). After eating and opening gifts, we had a little downtime before getting ready for the evening.

20140103-193244.jpg By the time we packed the car with all the gifts for Brooks, we barely had room for our suite cases. The funny part about it is that this was only our first Christmas celebrations of many for the week. The day was already long, but after putting Brooks to bed, we got ready and went to my Aunt and Uncle’s company holiday party.

The next morning we headed to my Dad’s house. We were supposed to get there early for breakfast then head to church with him and the family of a good high school friend. Unfortunately we slept in and missed church. Just for clarification, at this point in my life, sleeping in means that we got up around 8am! After breakfast and more present opening by Brooks, we went to see Uncle D (my dads brother) and Aunt Doe and the rest of the Hunter side of the family. My cousin Jamie and her husband have three children, so it was a little hectic over there but Brooks loved hanging with his cousins. We ate homemade Italian wedding soup and pasta so it was all worth it. When we finally got back to my Aunt’s, around 6 o’clock, we were stuffed and tired out. When we walked in, most of my mom’s family was there to visit and eat leftovers. Needless to say, we ended up eating and drinking again. By the end of the night I was so stuffed and tired, they had to roll my ass into bed! This was the first year we weren’t going to be at Aunt Jeanine’s for Christmas, so it was great to get to spend more time with everyone that night.

The next morning we drove to Cleveland to stay with my in-laws. We noticed that Brooks had developed a bad cough that sounded like Croup. Considering that my brother in-law and sister in-law have a 10 week old baby, along with two other children at their house, and that was where we were supposed to stay, we decided to take him in to get checked. As expected, they said it was likely early stage Croup and gave him a steroid to use if it got worse. We ended up staying at my brother in-laws anyways. That night we finally got to meet our new niece, Nadia Vidovich. She’s a little dark haired cutie.

On Christmas Eve, I meet a friend for coffee to discuss an entrepreneurial venture he was considering. I love to talk with entrepreneurs, both established and aspiring. It’s exciting to talk to motivated people that are willing to take risks. After hitting the gym to burn off some of that excessive eating I had been doing, I met my brother in-law, his wife and kids along with Melanie and Brooks at a mall. We were finally taking Brooks to meet Santa!

20140103-181504.jpg I know, a little late right? We had tried a few times earlier, but the line was huge, so we figured we’d wait. It all worked out in the end and Brooks actually liked Santa. That night we went to church. Luckily we went to the children’s service, because my man Brooks did not feel like sitting still. At one point I thought he was headed for the pulpit!

On Christmas morning we woke up later than expected, 7:30 am. With a 10 day old, an 18 month old, a 2 year old, and a 4 year old in the house, we expected to be woken up by 5:30 am. My niece and nephew were excited to open their gifts. On the other hand, Brooks could care less. At this point, he had opened gifts five times already. I told my wife he probably thinks he’s Jewish and celebrating the 8 days of Hannakka. We finished opening presents and breakfast, headed to my mother and father in-laws, and ate again! I’m lucky that my wife and I are so into working out. If we weren’t, we’d be morbidly obese with the way we eat during the holidays.

The morning after Christmas we jumped back in our completely over-packed car and headed back to Chicago. We didn’t have any time to spare. We had to get home, unpack, do laundry, and repack to fly to Big Sky, MT where we were meeting some friend to spend New Years….