Monday, January 20, 2014


Anatomy is finally over.

Actually, it’s been over for about a month now. We finished the week before Christmas, and then went on a two-week break. Glorious break.

My wife and I flew home for Christmas to the West Coast (the best coast, in my humble opinion…) to spend it with our families. The flight there and the time we spent with them was pleasantly uneventful and relaxing. Then the effects of a so-called polar vortex hit the Midwest, wreaking havoc with our travel plans.

Image politely stolen from here
We were supposed to return home on an early-morning Friday flight. We pre-packed our stuff the night before, woke up at the rather ungodly hour of around 3 am, made our way to the airport, got our bags inside, made it half-way through the line to check our bags in… and then one of the airline employees made her way towards the line and started calling out, “If you are flying to Chicago, Denver, or New York, your flight has been cancelled due to weather. Please call the 1-800 number to reschedule.”

Well, darn.

I dialed the number while we were standing in line – the first of many times we would call this number over the next few days, as we would soon find out. I was answered by a machine and quickly put into an ever-growing queue.  My wife tried calling as well, and actually ended up getting through first. We were able to reschedule, but due to the treacherous weather our destination was experiencing, the earliest flight we could get on wasn’t till Sunday.

So we hung out for a few more days – sort of a forced vacation. At least we were able to be with family, but we were both ready to get home. On Sunday morning, we repeated our get-up-way-too-early-get-to-the-airport-get-in-line-check-to-see-if-the-flight-is-canceled-for-the-upteenth-time routine. We checked in, checked the flight status board on the way to security, made it through security, and were walking to our gate when we checked one of the flight status boards again, just to be sure.

Cancelled. Again.

We walked down to the gate just to see what was going on – the flight had literally been cancelled in the time it took for us to walk through security. This time we had to somehow get our baggage back, and apparently the airline didn’t have any standard procedure for this – one of the airline employees literally took a vote among the would-be passengers that were present at the gate about how they wanted their baggage returned (they ended up carting it to some office somewhere in the airport where we could go pick it up).

We again tried calling the 1-800 number, and when we finally got through, the earliest we could be rescheduled for was Wednesday afternoon – three days away. Argh. Also, it turns out the airline we were flying on was the one airline that wasn’t able to put their passengers on the flights of other airlines in case of situations like this.

By this point, we just wanted to get home. We found a place with WiFi access, took out one of our laptops, and searched for the soonest flight heading back home on another airline. We would have pay a bit more to switch our tickets, but whatever. We wanted to get back. We made the switch, but now we had to figure out how to get our baggage. It turns out that, normally, if you made a last-minute switch between airlines like this when you were already past security, the airlines will just switch your baggage for you as well. But the airline we were flying originally was, of course, the one airline that didn’t do this. So, we walked back out, tracked down our baggage, got back in line to check in our bags, went through security – again – and finally arrived at our new gate, tired and slightly ruffled but happy to be finally heading home.

Of course, this is all still at around 6 or 7 am in the morning. Our new flight didn't leave till around 10 am, so we had a few hours to kill. We hung out, got some food, read, and waited. Around 9:30, we were told that our flight would be delayed for another hour. Ok, fine. We just wanted to get home at some point.

We waited around some more, and as the promised time drew near, another announcement was made: we were delayed again. We ended up being delayed four times, but after spending about nine hours in the airport we finally were able to board the plane and make it home. Just in time for record-breaking subzero temperatures. At least school was cancelled that Monday, which was nice.

Our first day back, it was around -15 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of around -30 to -40 degrees. We, of course, didn't get the memo and decided that we should go shopping before the week started. That was fun – particularly the part where I almost lost a couple of fingers (ok, not really, but I definitely reached the early stages of frostbite…) trying to uncover our buried cars, one of which didn't even start up for a couple of days (till it warmed up – relatively speaking – to around 25 degrees, anyway…). We had a pipe freeze, too, which thankfully didn't burst. That would have been a bummer.

School started up again that Tuesday. We started our physiology class, which will run for the rest of the semester. Now (a little over two weeks later), we've just finished our cardiac physiology section, which was really quite interesting. It’s quite the organ. We also learned how to interpret EKGs, and it’s amazing how much information can be derived from all of those bumps and squiggles. We also took our own EKGs, and apparently my heart is actually pointing almost straight down in my chest – most people’s hearts point down, left, and towards the front. The things we learn in medical school.

Oh, and apparently we have another cold front coming in tomorrow. Chicago, we love you too.