Freaky Friday

This post is not for the faint of heart. It is long. I whine. Sorry dad, but I think that this is something to whine about and yes I would like some cheese to go with that whine. That being said,

After about a week, I can laugh a little about Friday. The day just started out wrong. We were traveling to Logan, Utah for my grandfather's memorial service that started Saturday at 11am. We woke up at 3am (1am Logan, Utah Time - LUT) and got ready and drove to the airport for our 5:30 am (3:30 am LUT) flight. Because of the need to get the tickets somewhat last minute and searching for a reasonable deal, our travel plans literally had us going all over the US. Rochester - Philadelphia - San Diego - Salt Lake City - then a nice drive up to Logan. Just a side note, when we left Rochester it was a whopping 1-2 degrees. Really cold. It was great to see the palm trees in San Diego and quite depressing to leave them again just 50 minutes (and a tasty California Pizza Kitchen original BBQ Chicken Pizza) later.

After nearly an eternity (10 hours and 46 minutes total travel time according to Expedia.com) we arrived in Salt Lake City and went to pick up our bag. I remember thinking as we checked in that Friday morning was the first time I'd ever had to pay for a checked bag and wouldn't it be ironic if that would be the first time I'd lose my luggage while traveling. Thank you Alanis Morissette. So you have probably already guessed that our bag didn't arrive when we did. So after waiting about an hour in hopes that the bag (with all of our clothes for the memorial) would magically appear, I went to the Delta Baggage office and politely asked the nice lady what the $%@# had happened to my bag. She said that it hadn't made the connection in San Diego and that it would be put on the next flight and get to SLC by 4pm LUT. When she said this, it was about 3pm LUT. We were promised that the bag would be delivered to Lisa's sister's apartment in SLC by the time my sister picked us up to take us to Logan, at about 7pm LUT, blah blah blah (this is called foreshadowing, thank you Mr. Forsythe).

So Lisa's sister Jessie picked us up and took us to their apartment and we had fun seeing them and talking and playing with their daughter Penelope. I called the baggage claim area to make sure that my bag had made it in and was indeed shipped out as promised. Jimmy answered the phone (we became friends over the next 7 hours - more foreshadowing) and said that the lady we had been so lucky to speak with earlier had basically been lying through her teeth until her shift ended. At least, that was how it felt. He said that there was no way we would get our bag before we left for Logan, and that in fact the bag hadn't left San Diego for SLC yet. Great. We decided to make the most of our time and head to Cafe Rio (there is a distinct lack of Tex-Mex type food in the Rochester area, we constantly crave it). At this point in the story, please refer to my previous post, item 87. Near the end of munching my enchilada style pork burrito, a sick, sadly familiar feeling came over me as I tried desperately to wash down the latest bite. It wouldn't go down. I won't go into details, but I tried everything that I could to get the food out of my throat. For those of you that are wondering what I'm talking about, I have a esophageal stricture and my throat reacts like it is allergic to the food even though that it is not, causing it to clamp down. Shut off. Nothing goes down. Food Impaction.

So now we don't have our luggage, I can't swallow, and my grandfather's funeral is the next morning at 11am LUT. The throat thing has happened to me four other times and every other time, an endoscopy has been necessary to remove the food from my throat. The first time that this happened was quite the event that involved a male nurse throwing up and passing out while trying to pass a tube through my nose, down my throat and into my stomach. Not fun (thanks for being there Rose). I was really looking forward to the rest of the evening at this point. The only question was whether to go to the hospital in SLC or Logan. We opted to go to Logan because besides the constant heartburn feeling in my chest and not being able to swallow - anything - including saliva, I was basically fine.

Katie picks us up and off we go to Logan. The drive was nice (except for the not being able to swallow part) and it was good to talk with my sister. We got to the motel and we said our round of hello's before heading off to the hospital in Logan. At the hospital, the poor guy entering our info in the ER was having lots and lots of trouble typing in names and numbers. Maybe it was just late or maybe he was just new, but poor Ethan was struggling. I should mention at this point that Jimmy from Delta baggage was phoning me on a regular basis giving me updates. None of them good. It appears that the bag went off of the grid in Philadelphia and he had no idea where it was or what had happened to it. He also wasn't very positive about being able to locate it's whereabouts until it was scanned again. Yippee.

We are at last admitted to the ER and I am getting myself mentally ready for the IV (Please see item 2) and an endoscopy. I was glad that Lisa was there, as well as my mom. We were all laughing because by this point we had reached the punch drunk exhaustion stage, where movies like Dumb & Dumber become funny for normal, mature people (I think that it's funny all of the time). When the ER doctor came in, I tried my best to talk him into skipping all of the tests that are usually run and jump straight to the endoscopy, after all, we now know that I have more than a little experience in this department. Well it turns out that the doctor had some experience as well, probably more than mine, and didn't listen to me. He said he thought that they could relax my throat and force some water down to clear the impaction site (sounds important). However, a lack of endoscopy didn't save me from a needle. The medicine was given through an IV, but that was OK, I had already mentally prepared for it. What I hadn't prepared for, was after the nurse said, "You'll feel a little pinch," I felt some digging as well. Because it helps me to look away, I was looking at my support group as they watched the nurse search for a vein. Their facial expressions let me know that the pain I was feeling in my arm wasn't normal (in Italian, hanno fatto una smorfia) and that the nurse was struggling. Mercifully a vein was found and the blessed drug was administered to relax my throat. I was also given a nitroglycerin pill to open arteries. After about eight minutes, they had me drink two big glasses of water, my throat opened up like the Red Sea and the impacted food made it to the promised land. Hallelujah!

We checked out, with a copy of exactly what the doctor had done (minus the needle digging in my arm part) so that as future battles against my throat occur, I will be better armed for combat. Jimmy called and said that our long lost and most beloved bag had just arrived in San Diego. We were told that after spending the night in the beautiful San Diego weather, our bag would catch the earliest flight into SLC and they would deliver it to the front desk of the motel in Logan, but no way would it be in time for the service. On the way back to the motel we decided that our best bet would be to seek out the blessings of retail giant Wal-Mart and purchase new clothes and bathroom essentials for the memorial service. That way we wouldn't look or smell too funny, especially as I going to be singing with my siblings in front of everyone. Finally arriving back at the motel around 1am LUT (having been up for 24 hours at this point) our fateful day was ended and we crash landed into slumberville.


In the end, it all turned out reasonably well. We got our luggage on Sunday morning at 9am LUT and we discovered a better treatment for my weird throat. It was also great to see family and be together. It was the first time since July 2005 that the entire Packer family was all in one place. I'll post some pics of us all later. Thanks for reading.


I Want To Talk About Me

My wife did this and has been telling me I need to do it as well. I'm not sure if I can come up with 100 things about me, but I'll try for some random things that most people probably don't know about me. For those of you who don't think that I can come up with 100 interesting things about myself. . . your probably right.

1. I have a slight obsession with the Wyoming Cowboys.
2. I have a more than slight fear of needles - especially for giving blood. It isn't about the pain, but just the thought of what is happening. It gives me the heeby-jeebies.
3. The last knuckle of my left pinkie finger doesn't bend.
4. I love being able to speak Italian.
5. I miss mountains.
6. I miss my dog Alex.
7. I have a minor fear of flying. But I guess if I was ever in a plane crash, it would probably be a fairly pain-free way to go.
8. I don't like bugs.
9. I pop my knuckles.
10. I used to have the best "horse" shot in basketball at the old Institute Building in Laramie. Off the wall, off the ceiling. . . nothing but net.
11. I like to sing along to songs that I know. I have a hard time just listening to music.
12. I like lazy Saturday mornings.
13. I like the number 13.
14. I'm lactose intolerant. Other than that, I think I'm fairly open minded.
15. I think that I'm funny when I tell dumb jokes or say dumb things.
16. I want to live in Lombardia.
17. When I was a little kid, I wasn't cute, but I had lots of "character". I've managed to increase that character over the years through good quality character building experiences.
18. I know all the words to "American Pie" - the song, not the movie.
19. I miss playing sports competitively.
20. I'm a bookworm. If you know me, you already knew that. It started out with Louis L'Amour westerns, then morphed into SciFi/Fantasy and has now moved on to anything that interests me. So if you have suggestions, I'm open to most everything.
21. I say funny things like "used to could" or "more funny" and it sounds right.
22. I can't ice skate at all. Not even a little.
23. I once told my wife that she has no hand-eye coordination, and she still loves me.
24. I don't really like board games. Just not my cup of tea. I think that I get too intense and a little too competitive when I play them anyway.
25. I think that I make better Italian food then most restaurants I've been in.
26. I'm married to Miss Congeniality. Really. I'm not lying. She was. Our friends the Kenyons have seen the video. If you don't believe me, ask Lisa. I'd offer to let you watch the video, but when I mentioned it to Lisa, she nixed the idea rather quickly.
27. I married up.
28. I think that because I have a needle phobia, I go to the hospital more than most people. I've had weird medical things happen to me, especially in the last five years. It's not my fault either, they just happen to me.
29. I read Pride and Prejudice and thought that it was really funny.
30. I don't think that I'm squeamish, but I don't like the sight of blood too terribly much. Every once in a while, we'll be watching TV and Lisa will pause on the Discovery Health Channel just as they are eviscerating some poor mother to get the baby out. I have to cover my eyes.
31. I'm glad I'm a guy. I'm not tough enough to be a girl.
32. I've had three concussions. . . I think.
33. I'm a homebody and have turned my wife into one as well.
34. I still think that I'm about 18-19 years old.
35. My body knows that it isn't 18-19 years old.
36. I have hand-stitched a quilt.
37. I like food. A lot. All different kinds of it.
38. I wish I could play the guitar.
39. I once ran down Grand Avenue in Laramie (at least for a few blocks) with my tennis shoes on. Try not to let your imaginations run too wild.
40. I like my job, most of the time.
41. I shot spit wads in Jr. High School gym class. Sorry Mr. Berg.
42. There is not much better in life than hitting the sweet spot on a bat, throwing a perfect spiral, or pulling up and hitting nothing but net on a jump shot.
43. I've learned that the secret to fishing is holding your mouth right.
44. I know you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
45. The only speeding ticket I ever got was with Brandon Ross, coming back from the temple.
46. I couldn't sell home security systems to save my life.
47. If given the choice between real food and dessert, I think I'd choose real food 90% of the time.
48. I carry on conversations with myself in my head, in Italian.
49. I wish I could read music. That would make piano playing so much easier. Right now I have to memorize everything that I play.
50. I'm proud to be from Wyoming.
51. I would like to learn to speak Mandarin Chinese and Farsi. Maybe Japanese as well. Arabic anyone?
52. I wish that I had the means and the time to travel wherever I so desire.
53. I really want to be a dad.
54. I'm rather proud and think highly of myself. I have this problem in that I always think that I'm right, except for once when I thought I was wrong, but I was actually right (another classic example of me thinking I'm funny).
55. I've thrown passes to a Belitnikoff award winner.
56. I think that I'm a quick learner.
57. I have mad ping-pong skills.
58. I once drove a golf ball 375 yards with a typical Laramie tail wind helping.
59. Speaking of golf, I once drove the green and eagled a par-5 on the back nine of the Lander golf course. It was during a warm spell in December about seven years ago, so there was no snow on the ground, but the pond was frozen over. I bounced the drive off of the ice and on to the green.
60. I come from a good family.
61. I've cried many times in my life, most of them because of some sort of sporting event.
62. I like Deep Thoughts.
63. I think that it is rather sad that I can quote random dumb movies better than I can quote scriptures.

64. I wish that Calvin & Hobbes was still going strong.

65. I think my wife is great. I also think it's great that she thinks I'm great.
66. My favorite holiday is Christmas.
67. I'm not a huge fan of eating fish, except for sushi. Weird.
68. Sometimes I think that I'm too laid back for my own good.
69. I'm allergic to animal dander.
70. I've never been cow-tipping. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the state-sponsored sport of Wyoming.
71. I'm not a fan of the authentic, Rochester-only garbage plate.
72. I'm not a big texter.
73. I'm somewhat scared of the dark.
74. One of the things I like best about owning a house is mowing the lawn.
75. I have a rock from the top of Wind River Peak that sits on my desk at work. It surprisingly is not a great conversation starter, mostly people look at it and then give me a funny look.
76. I know that I weigh more than I should, but I'm working on that.
77. It has taken me nearly three days to come up with this list so far.
78. I think that in general I am a happy, easy-going person. It is pretty rare that I really let something get to me. I think that I have been blessed with the ability to assume the best of people, even when they probably don't deserve it.
79. I think that I could talk for five days straight about Italy.
80. Tack on another three days if the conversation turns to Italian food.
81. I'm full of dumb sayings (gathered from Brandon Smith) that just tend to come out. When that happens at work, I get some weird looks. It seems like I get weird looks at work quite often. I guess I'm just the weird kid from Wyoming.
82. I might be the only person in Rochester that doesn't think winter is that bad. I mean, I spent five of them in Laramie. That should have prepared me well for anything, and not just education-wise.
83. When I get bored at church, I count things. Ceiling tiles, bald people. . . if it can be counted, then I have counted it.
84. My wife doesn't like it when I wink at her while I'm sitting up on the stand during church meetings. I think it's funny.
85. I like happy endings.
86. I wish that I had done a musical in high school.
87. I've had five endoscopies in the last six years. It's been 18 months since the last one. I'm due. Sorry Lisa. Maybe I could talk to the hospital and I could get a punch card, like buy nine and get the tenth for free.
88. I like to be in control, or at least feel like I have some grasp on any given situation. I have a hard time just letting myself go.
89. I think that I could still pick up a recorder and play "Hot Cross Buns".
90. One of the talents that I have been given is to be able to sleep on command. I know this drives Lisa nuts sometimes because I can just put everything out of my head and go to sleep at the drop of a hat. More than a few people have said that in this regard I am like a dog. I take that as a compliment.
91. Speaking of sleep, I can go from dead asleep to completely coherent in about .0001 seconds. This seems to mystify my wife. She can get up in the middle of the night with me snoring away (more like a bear at this point than a dog, at least that is what I've been told) and .0001 seconds later, I ask, sans sleepy voice, "Are you alright?"
92. In my office at work, I have a picture of Wyoming mountains, a picture of the 1996 Wyoming Cowboy Football Team, a Wyoming Cowboy Banner, a photo of my grandfather Packer's WWII bomber, and three pictures of different areas of Italy up on the walls.
93. I love learning Italian. I can sit down and read an Italian dictionary and count that as a good time. My wife would tell me at this point that I'm a dork.
94. I'm not the most organized person, but Lisa is. Don't worry, I'm slowly bringing her over to the dark side.
95. I have been snipe hunting. I have also been a guide for those hunting the elusive creature.
96. I think that I could write a book. In fact I've started several.
97. I've been accused by several people of liking the sound of my own voice. Alas, it is true.
98. I could easily spend an entire day doing nothing but reading a book.
99. I'd have to say that an insalata caprese is one of the most simple yet tasty treats in existence.
100. I occasionally have dreams that I'm still playing football. It is somewhat disappointing when I wake up and realize that I'm not.



Over the holidays, Lisa and I drove to Washington D.C. to visit our friends the Kenyons. It was great to see them, and even though it had been three years, it seemed as if no time had passed. We spent some marathon days being tourists in our nation's capital and catching up on life.

Here are the Kenyons and I with the Jefferson Memorial in the background. This was right after Michelle got some good quality bird fertilizer on her sister-in-laws nice leather coat.

Lisa at the base of the Washington Monument, looking towards the reflection pool.

After we got back to our beloved Rochester, we spent some good quality time in relaxation mode, not accomplishing too much. In all of our laziness, we did manage to paint our bedroom and start rearranging three other rooms. It's a work in progress, but it looks good. Happy New Year all.