The road to the hospital was paved in traffic … and barf

I felt this rises to the level of needing a blog entry…

John-John’s first appointment with the doctors at the International Adoption Clinic was today.  We had been working on scheduling it since before we went to the Philippines, so there was a lot of anticipation surrounding it.  The appointment was downtown at the University of Chicago medical center at 9:30AM.

Faith and I had this grandiose plan about getting up at the crack of dawn – actually before dawn – and hitting the road by 6AM.  We figured we’d get ahead of the traffic and make it there in time for breakfast together before the doctor appointment.  I picked a pancake house near the hospital, and mapped out the routes / got most everything ready the night before.

We woke up at 5AM, got our showers, woke up John, and were out the door at about 6:15.  A little late but not too bad.  The only thing we hadn’t taken care of the night before was getting gas, so we had to stop quickly to do that (plus get me coffee, since I was all kinds of tired driving on the highway in the dark like that).

Well, somewhere in the process, we didn’t exactly miss traffic, because right about O’Hare, we hit the parking lot traffic jam for which I-90 is famous.  By the time everything was said and done, it took us over 3.5 hours to get from our place to the medical center – characterized mostly by bumper-to-bumper traffic traveling under 10mph.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

About 90 minutes into the trip, we had come in fairly sound touch with the fact that we weren’t going to make breakfast, especially in a sit-down restaurant.  So, Faith gave John some frosted mini wheats for snacks.  We were pretty proud of ourselves for thinking to bring the snacks, btw.

We were considerably less proud of ourselves when he – a few minutes later – got car sick and threw up the mini-wheats (along with the orange juice he had before he left) all over himself and his car seat.  We’d thought of the snacks, but not of how to deal with an accident of this kind.  There were napkins in the car because Faith keeps them there for her, not because we thought to bring more for John.  We didn’t have a change of clothes for him, so he walked around with caked-on barf all over him the rest of the day.  And we used my used Venti Skinny Hazelnut Latte cup to hold barf-soaked napkins and the few wet-wipes left in the bag we had with us.  YUCK!  John was a trooper about it, though.  Never complained.  Didn’t throw a fit.  Just sat there and erupted.  It was so bad that mom didn’t even move that fast getting into the back seat.  By the time we noticed, it was too late.

So, another hour goes by.  We’re in the express lanes, so we’re moving 2 mph faster than the locals.  I’d say we were easily cresting 8-9 mph by the time we got to the city.  But between Faith and I, we got confused and drove right past the exit to the express lanes, therefore right past the local lane that would get us to our exit.  So, the good news was that traffic thinned out – since we passed the rush hour apex (the point at which the direction of rush hour reverses, because you’ve passed the destination that everyone’s heading to).  The bad news was that we were heading away from the city at 65 mph, noticing that the traffic heading in the opposite direction was a parking lot.  And we couldn’t get off to turn around, because we were in the express lane.

I’m glad John was asleep at this point, so I didn’t have to feel guilty about the string of expletives that were in fact well deserved at that point.  Here we had just spent hours getting through the gridlock, and I was queuing us up for another run at it, but in the opposite direction.  I couldn’t help but calculate that every mile we flew by at 60 would take like 10 minutes to recover at parking lot speeds.  Sigh.

It didn’t help my mood that it was already closing on 10AM, and our appointment was 9:30.

We finally got turned around though, and headed back north.  I got off the “express”way early and took side streets to get to the hospital.  I had been told to get valet parking at one place, but when I got there, they said to go to another entrance.  I had to weave around through alleyways and construction to get to that entrance, where a valet guy literally standing in an alley said we could get out of the car right there and he’d take care of it.  Yeah.  Right.  I’ve *seen* Ferris Bueller, you know.  This guy was even a little shifty-lookin’.

But he ultimately led us around a corner to the much-more-legitimate-looking entrance.  So we gathered up our barf-soaked son, bundled him up in his coat, grabbed our stuff, and sent our car (at least it’s not a Ferrari) with the scary guy.

We walk in the door, and while Faith took John to the bathroom, I eventually dragged out of a very disinterested large woman behind the desk that we were in the wrong building.  It was awesome.  She pointed out the window and said, “You’re supposed to be in that building.”  It was right across the street from where we were.  I could easily have thrown a rock and hit it.  But here’s the catch, the road was ripped up / under construction between us and them, so we couldn’t get there.

So, she points to the building to my right, then turns around and points down the hallway going the opposite direction, and says (I kid you not), “Go down this hall, turn right, down that hall, turn left, out the emergency entrance, turn right, down the block, around the corner, cross the street, up another block, blah blah Charlie Brown’s teacher blah blah blah, and it’s right there.  You can’t miss it.”  I said, “Can you call me a taxi?”

So, when Faith and John returned, I informed her that this wasn’t the right entrance either.  We bundled John up, followed her instructions, and walked all the way around the building to the other one we were actually supposed to be at.  We walked right by where we had talked to the first valet guy, and as we approached the front door to “right” building, we noticed that it too had valet parking.  And it didn’t even look shady.  Evidently, this is where we should have been in the first place.  Made a note of that for next time … assuming I get my car back.

Once inside, we found the doctor’s office fairly easily.  By now, we’re a solid hour late.  I walk up to the counter while Faith gets John situated in the cool play area they had, and am extra friendly to the receptionist as is my custom (when I can pull it off) in the wake of stressful situations that can make me want to drive an ice pick through my temple.  (Actually, I wasn’t really that stressed.  I’d left all that pretty much on the expressway.)

She asks for my name, then John’s name, then social security number, then the secret password to the tree house I had when I was a kid, then the recipe for the long-dead Cheese-a-rito, then a few other things I can’t remember … and ultimately says, “I don’t see an appointment here for you.”

And that’s when I bludgeoned her to death with a stapler, Your Honor.

Actually, the story gets boring from there.  Translation: things stopped going so wrong.  Eventually we figured out that the first person I had talked to in the process (weeks before) had set the appointment up wrong.  So, it took about 30 minutes to reset all the bad info, and a little while longer to meet with their business people about insurance.  But eventually, we got into our appointment.

The nurses were all awesome.  We saw a nurse practitioner primarily, and a bunch of other nurses for other stuff.  John did amazingly well too, even giving 7 vials of blood at one point during the day.  Ugh.  I’d have lost it, but he didn’t even flinch.  He’s an amazing little guy.

We stopped at Gaylord’s and had Indian on the way home.  I think will have to become a tradition, given that John loved it (rice … lots of rice) and it’s pretty much Faith’s favorite restaurant.  And it was ultimately a good day.  But God was definitely teaching me/us patience.  The patience lesson didn’t stop when we got home either.  John and Faith went inside to take a nap, which turned more into play than sleep, and daddy spent a good solid hour cleaning chunks out of John’s car seat.  I was pretty impressed at how thoroughly he’d baptised that thing.  I learned a lot about how car seats work too.  🙂

Last thoughts…  We’re grateful that John got a clean bill of health … so far, but we have to wait for all the blood work to come back.  And now we have a John-John Emergency Kit in the car that includes wet wipes, a roll of paper towels, an opaque container with a lid, and a change of clothes.  I’m sure the kit will grow with time too.

All in all, I love being a dad!

About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Jesus, the long awaited King. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long, difficult, joyful adventure, learning to swim with the current of God's sovereign love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
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3 Responses to The road to the hospital was paved in traffic … and barf

  1. saramason says:

    Oh, man, there are so many things I can relate to in this story, although thankfully neither of my kids have ever gotten sick in the car, lots and lots and lots of other messes to clean up though. Don’t forget to pack an extra set of clothes for the car (or in his bag). I keep an extra set of Avery’s clothes (including socks!) smashed in a gallon ziploc bag for school mostly, just in case. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Chris Miller says:

    Ahhh – the old triple-B: Baptized By Barf! Now you just need to add a dog to the mix, Jeff. That adds some fun variables to the equation: Must clean barf before Rover rolls in it or tries to pick the tasty bits out. 🙂


  3. Kelli Ray says:

    Hi Jeff,
    Just wondering if we have security clearance yet?( haha) I contacted Tebow ministeries( Tim Tebows family) last week to see if they could give us any info about where they minister and if they were familiar with Shekinah home. They have been missionaries to the Philippines since the 80’s. I actually got a call back the same day and had some conflicting news compared to the positive things I have heard and read about just concerning the adoption process itself.


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