Monday, November 14, 2011

The Final Trip: Day 1 in Minneapolis

Waiting to spend the day at the University.
While the drive had it's moments with the weather through Wisconsin, Thursday had its tense moments as well. While the weather in Minneapolis was calm, there was enough concern about Rilley that Sara chose to fly into town to be present for his MRI the next day.  Despite this change in plans, the day was to progress as normal.  The girls and I were to get up, have breakfast and then head over to the University so that Rilley could spend the day with Dr. Pluhar.  This would allow her to do his final physical and neurological exams and collect the samples for his bloodwork over the course of the day.

As I mentioned, Sara was on her way and she caught a morning flight.  Her journey was to have three legs.  Toronto to Philadelphia, then on to Chicago (that toddlin' town!) and finally from Chicago to Minneapolis.  However, before leaving for the University, I got my first hint that things were not going as planned.  Her flight had been diverted to Pittsburgh due to fog in Philly.  This was putting her other connecting flights and planned arrival time of 4pm in jeopardy.

On the drive over to the Veterinary Medical Center Sara called to say that her flight was departing for Philadelphia.  This was good news as it made me feel like the day was back on track.  The girls and I dropped Rilley off and with him preoccupied for the day, I had promised the girls lunch followed by a few hours at the Mall of America, in particular the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park. While leaving the campus, I received a recorded message from the airline telling me that Sara's Philly to Chicago flight was being held to accommodate the delayed/diverted flight from Toronto.

Before lunch, I quickly popped into the hotel to check the status of her flight on the computer.  I soon realized that while it was good that her flight to Chicago was waiting for them, this would cause her to miss her last connecting flight into Minneapolis.  The major concern here was that her first two flights (three including the diversion) were with the same carrier, but the last leg was a different airline and they may not be sympathetic.  However, for the moment, there was nothing I could do.  Rilley was at the University and Sara was still in the air heading to Philadelphia.  So given that we only had a few hours of free time this entire trip, it was the perfect time for the kids to be entertained.
The Nickelodeon Universe wristbands, courtesy of the
Eagan Convention and Visitors Bureau.
At this point, I must thank Debbie Stirtz of the Eagan Convention and Visitors Bureau for providing the two free, unlimited ride wrist bands for the girls.  She had left a nice little welcome package at the hotel's front desk ahead of our arrival that was filled with goodies and coupon books for the area's businesses.  Debbie even went well above and beyond the call of duty when she found out the reason for our trip.  She went out of her way to leave Rilley a bag of Natural Choice Crunchy Treats!  Debbie, Rilley says thank you!  He loves them.
...and a special welcome treat for Rilley.
Thanks for thinking of him Debbie!
The amusement park was empty as it was a weekday (the local kids were in school) and the girls were having a great time.  Then, as if Sara's travel problems weren't enough, I got a call from Dr. Pluhar.  It seems that something had come up and they needed to do Rilley's MRI right away.  This was not something that I had anticipated as we already had a very specific schedule.  Now, you might say what's the big deal?  Well, the problem lay in the fact that Rilley has not had a good history with the anesthetic.  The last few times he had been in the MRI, he had woken up and extubated himself, that is to say he coughed up the breathing tube that keeps his airway open during the scan.  Back in May he even began to chew on the intubation tube resulting in the need to give him more anesthesia to put him back under.  I knew this would not sit well with Sara as she had wanted to speak with the anesthesiologist prior to Rilley being prepped for the MRI.  I sent Sara a text to call me at the first available opportunity.

A short while later, Sara landed in Chicago and as expected missing her connection to Minneapolis.  She managed to check her itinerary online using her iPod touch and noticed that someone (or something) had updated her itinerary and booked her on another flight out.  Awesome!  Being on the secure side of the terminal, there was no need to return to the check-in counter so she went to wait at the assigned gate for boarding.  When she approached the gate attendant she was informed that while her itinerary had been updated, there was no electronic ticket issued and the flight was full.  Sara then got on the phone to the airline and they rebooked her onto the next flight out.  Again, when she went to board there was no e-ticket.  At this point she was stranded so she called me and it quickly became evident that she didn't need the stress of the change in plans in Minneapolis on top of the fact that she seemed to have no way of getting there.

Determined, Sara got on the phone to the company that she had originally made her travel arrangements through.  While they claimed that the missing e-tickets were not their fault, Sara kept pressing them until they confirmed her onto a new flight that would arrive in Minneapolis at 9pm...a full five hours after she was to have originally arrived...before this entire ordeal began.

One added stress that we didn't account, or more to the point, budget for was a whole bunch of cell calls.  We had thought that the quick call to say Sara was fine and where to meet her at the Minneapolis airport would be all the calls we'd make.  You see, when roaming in the U.S. on a Canadian cellular plan each call costs $1.45 per minute.  That last call to the travel company lasted over 45 minutes!  I can honestly tell you that at this point I am afraid to open my next cell bill.  So afraid in fact that I am not ashamed to ask:

"Does anyone out there work for Rogers Mobile who has the power and the will to wipe out the roaming and long distance charges accrued on this trip?  In the name of science and cancer research?  Please?  Pretty please?  Pretty please with sugar on top?  I will even give you a shout-out on the blog!!!!"

Seriously, at this point I am really, really not ashamed to ask!

The day rounded out with the girls and I picking up Rilley from the University around 6pm and eventually, Sara did make it to Minneapolis.  Boy was Rilley happy to see her!  In the meantime I had contacted Dr. Pluhar and arranged an appointment for Friday to go over the results of the blood work and MRI.

More to come...Rilley's final day in Minneapolis.  Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment