I would like to thank you for your continued patronage and support of ONH Consulting. I realize that our newsletters are being published less frequently, and for that I apologize.
We are still very busy promoting the cause of the development of children with ONH. On Friday, July 20, I had the privilege of conducting a presentation at the 13th Annual Convention of the MAGIC Foundation. The MAGIC Foundation is the premier organization supporting children and adults with disorders of growth. For a number of years, The MAGIC Foundation has operated a division focused solely on concerns of people with ONH and counts Dr. Mark Borchert from Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles as one of its faculty. My mother also shared her experiences in raising me with the group of parents who attended the panel discussion on ONH, which included presentations by Dr. Borchert’s research team from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and a pediatric endocrinologist from Wisconsin working with one of our kids.
Our presentation was excellently received, but the real story of our trip actually involved simply getting to the conference.
My mother and I planned to arrive at our hotel mid morning on Thursday, the day before the workshop. Our plan was to visit some of the exhibits and meet with the organizers of the SOD /ONH Division before our workshop. As some of you might already know, I still have a real interest in geography, cities and area codes that stems from an old perseveration from my childhood. I also liked to check the airlines and weather conditions in advance before I go on trips, especially for business.
It turns out that Chicago was having severe weather, and there was also bad weather in the Northeast on that Wednesday. Local media outlets were predicting a beautiful day on Friday in the Chicago area with high temperatures in the low seventies, but that Thursday was another story. I knew things could possibly get interesting when I watched the weather report from a local Chicago TV station Wednesday night. The meteorologist was reporting the worst lightning he’d seen in years, and the area right near our hotel received an inch of rain in about a half-hour. I also heard that a car driving down the same road as our hotel in the middle of this storm was struck by lightning and caught fire. There were flash flood warnings everywhere, and they were predicting more of the same for Thursday morning. The MAGIC Foundation booked me on an American Airlines flight, and I was able to book my mother on the same flight.
Thursday morning started off smoothly enough. My mother and I arrived at the airport about an hour-and-a-half before we were scheduled to take off. We checked our bags, and the ticket agent told us that our flight to O’Hare, which was originally scheduled to depart at 9:25, was moved back to 10:35 due to weather. We had a huge breakfast at the American Airlines terminal and headed leisurely for security.
The fun started when the Homeland Security agent looked at our boarding passes and told us that our flight had been cancelled. We were booked onto a United flight leaving at the same time, but our ticket agent at United tore up our original boarding passes. When we checked our luggage at United, we were almost turned away because I didn’t have my original boarding pass from American. Then we were subjected to the high-risk security screening. For those of you with children with sensory integration difficulties, be forewarned. We not only had to take off our shoes, but they also put us through a device like a small booth. We had to walk into the booth one at a time. You walk in and step forward, and this device blows a huge blast of what felt like compressed air on you. The computerized voice tells you not to exit until you se the green light. Fortunately for me, whatever this system was also had a verbal prompt to exit, and there was an automatic door that slid open. The process was very unnerving, and I gave a little yelp the first time I went through it, as I was startled. We would ultimately have to go through this security screening two more times before we finally got on a plane. I thought I was through with sensory integration therapy years ago, but I ended up covering my ears going through that air compressor again and again.
We made it through security, and by this time, we only had about ten minutes to get to our gate. We almost made it, when we heard a cheerful flight attendant make an announcement saying that our plane would be delayed until 1:20 in the afternoon at the earliest. We found out there was a chance of making it on another flight at 12:35 and promptly get in one of the longest lines I’ve been in my life.
After about a half-hour or so in line, an agent told everyone who didn’t have a connecting flight at O’Hare to get out of line, as we would all be booked on the 12:35 flight.
Since my mother is a smoker, we left line, went back through the security area, and sat outside for a while. After being herded through the same high-risk security screening as before (with the air compressor), we reach our gate for the 12:35 flight. I was thinking that we would be able to take this flight or our original United flight, which was now estimated to leave at around 1:40 or so in the afternoon. The ticket agent announced the names of several passengers, but we weren’t among them.
After waiting for our gate agent (who kept disappearing) for almost an hour, we found out that the morning United Flight that we were booked on originally was cancelled, and we wouldn’t have a chance of making it off the ground until 4:15- at least on a plane going to O’Hare. By this time, it was almost 2:00 in the afternoon. The ironic part was that we only live about 300 miles from Chicago. Without the Chicago traffic situation to contend with, it would have only taken us about five and a half hours to drive to the conference. I actually put off making our flight and hotel reservations until almost the last minute, as we considered taking one of the daily Amtrak trains from Cincinnati to Chicago’s Union Station. Now we were still stuck at Greater Cincinnati /Northern Kentucky International Airport. If we’d decided not to fly, we’d just be arriving at our hotel in Chicago by now
We went outside again, while I called customer service and tried to have us booked on a Delta flight or perhaps an American flight to Milwaukee, which is only about an hour by car from the hotel. No luck. We went back through the dreaded high-risk security screening yet a third time, and proceeded to wait in the increasingly crowded United terminal. This time, the security agent actually looked through my mother’s wallet and personal address book. Can you picture a blind guy and a lady being this much of a threat to our national security?
After seriously considering packing it in and going home, we finally did find a plane. It was almost six O’clock by this time, and we were originally scheduled to depart at 9:25 that morning.
Once we finally arrived at our hotel, we were able to meet Diane Tamburrino, the Executive director of the MAGIC Foundation, who greeted us warmly and with open arms. We had an exquisite dinner at the steakhouse in the hotel and received a very richly deserved night’s sleep before our workshop on Friday morning. Thanks to Rachel Steen, Director of MAGIC’s SOD-ONH Division, Diane Tamburrino, and all who made this year’s conference such a wonderful event.
I had the pleasure of meeting Debbie Katzbeck, President of the One Small Voice Foundation. Debbie is the mother if a delightful child named Zach, who has ONH and Hydrocephalus. She and her foundation have worked tirelessly to promote and fund research into both conditions. The foundation is a primary financial supporter of Dr. Borchert’s research at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. For more information about One Small Voice Foundation and several important updates from Dr. Borchert, I encourage you to visit the “news and Updates” page on One Small Voice Foundation’s Web site by clicking here. You can also access the site from our Resources page.
We thank you again for your patronage and support of ONH Consulting and hope you continue to find our services useful in your journey of raising your children.
ONH Consulting, LLC