Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Between my trip to California and Lizzy's not sleeping for two weeks, we haven't updated much. I thought I'd recap the last few days.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting was in San Francisco this weekend. On the way to the airport, I realized I forgot an important lecture on a flash drive and tried to do a U-turn (at a very safe and low traffic area, Mom) on the highway. My front wheels immediately sank in median mud up to the axles. After realizing that spinning my wheels and sending mud hundreds of feet in front and behind me wasn't going to work, I had an idea that seemed really logical at the time (but much more irrational in hindsight). I got out of the car and tried to lift the front of it out of the mud like an adrenaline-powered mother lifting a car off a child. I made terrific weightlifter noises and lifted with all my might. Instead of lifting the car, I drove myself into the mud like a slow nail. The highway patrol came by and called a tow truck that winched me out of the muck. I made it to the airport, but by then I looked like I had just escaped from prison.

The academy meeting was fine. It is fun to hang out with the ophthalmology superstars from around the world, but I missed Lizzy and Luke a lot. It was the first meeting that Lizzy couldn't join me. Josh came to the last big meeting with me and that was also much better. All the ophthalmic sales people in the world come to prey on people like me when Josh isn't there. I won't go into details, but I'll just say that a lot of vendors for products that I'll never use have my email address now. That includes a salesman for an automated telemarketing system (really).

I'm home with my wife and boy again, and I am so glad. Luke grew 18 inches while I was gone and read all of The Grapes of Wrath. He says he didn't understand the symbolism, though. Alright, decreasing coherence in the last paragraph signals its time for my sign off. Lizzy is feeding Luke and I'm going to spend some family time before we all go to bed (for 20 minutes).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Parent-colored glasses

That is supposed to be a play on the term "rose-colored glasses," but it doesn't really work now that I see it written out. What would that even mean? That's not a color. There is no "parent" colored crayon even in the really big box. What a ridiculous digression to begin this blog. I am up later than I have been in a long time. Luke's a night owl.

The point is that we are realizing that being a parent endows you with a unique view of your child. Lizzy and I think it is obvious after one week of life that Luke is talented to a superhuman degree. It has a lot to do with us being his parents, since his main skill set at this point is wiggling. We were really hoping to get video of him smiling meaningfully tonight, or maybe saying a few wise words. We failed. Here is a video excerpt of him not smiling.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

less sleep


Pretty much, Lizzy doesn't sleep anymore. Luke wakes up in the middle of the night more than once and asks to eat. I roll over and incoherently ask if she wants me to drive him to Subway, and she dutifully gets up and goes and feeds him appropriate nutrition. I've never gotten to see my wife work this hard. I'm not sure I've ever gotten to see anyone work this hard. But she's done the whole deal with a smile on her face. I mean a literal smile. What a woman.

It's taken a while to write anything because our schedules are a wee bit different now. I hesitated to write even this, because I worried that Lizzy might get more advice on how raise Luke differently. People like to tell you child-rearing tips. "Oh, put him to bed with a live hamster" "Never let him sleep without adult-sized sunglasses on" "Put him in a large, open Bible each night." We don't know which tips are the right ones, so we just stick to the books we read.

We are so happy, though. Neither of us knew we could love anything the way we love this guy. This really is the best time of our entire lives. I can't wait to tell Lizzy about it later because I'm not sure she will be able to remember as much of it on six minutes of sleep a night.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh Happy Day

Somehow, Lizzy looks like this after surgery.

After a long night, daylight is starting to creep in through the window. Luke is taking another crack at trying to figure out how to eat and doing an amazing job. He is a genius. Yesterday his temperature was a little low, but he has persevered and gotten it to 98.2. Incredible. He is like Rocky Balboa. I couldn't possibly have imagined 24 hours ago that I would be this proud of a floppy 6-pound human, but I am. We love this young man more than we knew we could.

Look at how great it is when he yawns! What a boy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Luke is Here!!!

Guest Blogger: Brother, Brother in-law, Uncle etc... Josh Hunter

Lizzy did great! Luke is healthy...all is well. Joel and Lizzy are resting and the rest of the Hunter posse that is here in Kansas is just hanging out in various places around town. It's colder than an "I don't know what" here. Luke is awesome. He pretty much just sleeps and makes noises like a tree frog so far. Here are a few pics I am sure you would all like to see...

Lizzy loves her new boy...

Eyes wide open...

A family pic...

Pop and Grandma...

Family of 3!

All for now. Keep praying for Joel and Lizzy and baby Luke...the journey has just begun.

-Josh out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

4 AM wakeup

What our house looks like at 4am

I've been up since 4 thanks to the little man who decided to press on some nerve that causes acute pain. I guess I can't blame him since he doesn't really realize he's living inside another human being. Actually, he might. I expect that he is very intellectually advanced.

I can hear our next door neighbors' baby crying right now which gives me a sampling of what I'm trading for the freedom to sleep on my stomach. Although, I don't expect that Luke will cry much since he will probably be born fluent in 5 languages. I hope one of them is English.

Tomorrow's the great gettin' up morning. Also, it's our niece Ella's birthday. Happy Birthday Ella! (I'll say it again tomorrow) What a great day for our son to be born.

What I look like at 4am

Sunday, October 11, 2009

At home

These are our last few nights at home before Luke gets here. I used to think that maybe parents became parent-like after they had children, but it turns out that the metamorphosis begins before that. Lizzy and I make videos now with the new camera so that we can show Luke when he's old enough to understand them (3 months old). Our lives revolve around a kid we haven't met yet, as evidenced by this video.

Growing up, you never realize how cool your parents were before they were your parents. We decided to take video evidence of us pre-Luke to show him. I think we may have actually accomplished the opposite of our goal.

Friday, October 9, 2009

My life lately

I realize I have done a poor job of contributing to this blog lately and I will say it's mainly because I haven't done anything worth writing about. I have spent my days completing fairly mundane tasks. Many in preparation for Luke's arrival. Many because it's just good hygiene.

I washed and folded laundry. See, boring. I ate oatmeal for breakfast. See, boring. It was strawberry flavored. Slightly less boring. I put too much water in it. Boring again.

Tuesday Joel and I went to Babies'R'Us to go on a massive baby supply shopping spree. I would tell you what we purchased but some of their names are embarrassing to type/read. I have to say the shopping trip was less unpleasant than we had originally expected. I have often compared said store to purgatory so you can understand why we weren't looking forward it.

At the end of our shopping experience we were helped by a kind, grandmotherly woman named Marta. She was our favorite part of Babies'R'Us. We even considered asking her to be our new best friend. We ended up deciding against it because we both have a fear of rejection. Maybe next time.

Yesterday I had a car seat inspected. That was a sobering event. Generally my car contains lots of empty soda bottles and dog hair. Never anything that attaches me to real responsibility. I went to the Olathe Police Department to have it checked. I was a little scared since historically speaking, police officers have never been especially kind to me. I figured that the officers who inspect car seats would be in extra low spirits because somehow the job that trained them to correctly operate a fire arm had landed them in the rain, looking inside the cars of pregnant women. I just assumed they would write me a ticket as soon as I got there for unkempt hair or a wrinkly sweater. They are usually good at coming up with reasons to write those.

I was pleasantly surprised that the two officers were extremely nice to me. They didn't ask me if I knew how fast I was going or tell me that they have the authority to take me to jail. Nope, they just asked me when I was having the baby, told me that the car seat was secure, and wished me luck. I guess being pregnant is a some sort of mutant ability that makes people who aren't usually nice to you, nice to you. I think I'm going to start carrying a prosthetic belly in my car from next Wednesday on just as a precautionary measure.

In case you are wondering what the rest of my day holds, I am going to wash baby clothes in some sort of detergent that is supposed to keep them from breaking out in a rash. Then I might go to the dry cleaners or even vacuum. Who knows. The world is my oyster.

Our fireplace

But the fire is so delightful.

Our fireplace is working now. The apartment complex fix-it man came and jerry-rigged a flue opener with a wire hanger. Our fix-it guy is MacGyver. He also showed us a way that we can hang up our clothes using old flue openers.

We bought a few bundles of wood from the grocery store and we've had a fire every night for four nights now. We don't have any kindling, so I have been rolling up entire ophthalmology journals and using them instead. I'm pretty sure that the reason you're not supposed to do that is that it fills your entire fireplace with very tall piles of ash. The fire sits higher each night because I pile the journals and wood on top of the ash from the night before. It will just be in our chimney soon. I should clean it, but I am procrastinating because I don't think it will be fun at all, and I think I will come out of it looking like a cartoon cigar blew up in my face.

But it has all been well worth the hassle. It makes our home very peaceful in the evenings, and we know that peaceful nights are about to be in short supply when the little man gets here. While the fire is glowing and it is cold and dark outside, Lizzy and I enjoy the last few nights of quiet for us as parents, and Luke enjoys his last few nights of quiet as a baby. It's good family time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I panicked

You know part of why I think Hunter Vision will be great instead of just good? Division of labor. One of our key tenets going into this is to only let people do the job they were born to do, and try to keep the other stuff away from them. That means all medical decisions are mine, all business decisions are Josh's. He just said yesterday, "I would love it if you never had to talk to a sales person, but just told me what we needed and I handle it." I would love it too, because business conversations are as fun to me as watching The View or getting a calf cramp. I have no business sense.

Any doubt of that was shattered yesterday. At 5:30 pm, I got a phone call from an unknown number. I don't want to miss it if it is a patient, so I answer. I hear, "Hello Joel, it's Chad Blaine Maplethorpe (or some other businessy name), from the (funding company I can't remember). Can I talk to your for a moment?" Oh no, I thought. I hate these conversations. I hate them. I tried to bob and weave. "Sure, but let me give you a disclaimer at the beginning, my brother handles all the business stuff. I can fix eyes, but I really don't know anything about money." Well, I might as well have poured chum all around me. This man makes his living off pressuring people who don't know enough to make good choices. He can sense someone like me who tips 150% for a bad haircut just so he can stay friends with the Great Clips lady.

He asked me a series of pointed questions, and I finally said he really should talk to my brother because I wasn't going to be helpful, and I just want to help, and I think we really could be best friends if we'd met in a different life. "Oh sure, can I have your brother's number?" And I start thinking, "Oh man, I don't think Josh would want this guy to call him. This guy should just wait for Josh to call. I can't give him Josh's number." So I said, "Sure! Uhh, hmmm, oh wait, I don't have it." And he says, "You don't have your brother's cell phone number?" What a ludicrous lie to tell! Who would possibly believe that? But I say, "No, oh wait, let me look, oh, no I don't." Ridiculous.

In full panic and confusion, I had no idea what I was saying. I just started compulsively lying. I wondered during my morning prayers if you are allowed to plead insanity to God. Either way, it is clear to me that part of what will be great about Hunter Vision is that Josh and I are strong where the other is weak. I'd like to think he would panic if someone asked him to lift a 100 micron flap on a cornea and ablate the eye underneath it with a laser. Ask me to do that, and we're good. Ask me to buy the instrument to lift the flap, and I will likely tell you I would but I'm deaf and you should talk to my brother but he's on a space mission right now.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

new camera

Tonight, Lizzy and I got our new camera up and running in preparation for Luke getting here. This is the first movie I took with her. I said, "watch how we can do slow motion movies!" and started going, "blah bloo blah blee" without explaining to her what I was doing. She thought I was taking a picture. I am posting this purely for her reaction in the last second.

Lizzy's reaction to crazy

O frabjous day!

What a day yesterday was! My brother Josh, the great wizard, managed to get us the money that we need to start Hunter Vision. It has been months of work, and years of planning to get to this point, but my brother, the first man in space, has gotten us off the ground. I spent half my life dedicated to training for this clinic, but had no way on earth to see this through. That is until my brother, the inventor of mathematics, brought it all together. Without him, Hunter Vision would have been me with a laser pointer, making a buzzing sound with my mouth.

Then my wife, the queen of beauty, dropped a bombshell. (I mean a figurative bombshell. She wasn't literally carrying old artillery shells from my souvenir collection and then dropped one. I don't even have a collection like that. This is unnecessary parenthetical distraction, I realize now.) "Joel," she said, "Kaci is going to come to Kansas two weeks after the birth and I want you to go on the hunting trip with your brothers. You really need a vacation." An incomprehensible piece of news. What nine-month pregnant woman says something like that? No one has ever heard that without it being followed by, "and let me get a pillow for you. And bring you a drink. Comfortable? (smile disappears in a scary way) You are a jerk. I have a baby in me, and you are a stupid jerk who doesn't know how uncomfortable it is to be pregnant."

I got no follow up like that from my wife. She's seen that I'm all stressed out and genuinely offered for me to go on the annual Hunter brother hunting trip. What a lady. She is all that is kind and pure and right in the world. I am married to pure sunlight. I love her.

So Hunter Vision will be the wonderful place we hoped it would, and I will soon be in a tree stand soaking in a beautiful northern Ohio November. God is good. Josh already wrote about all this, but it is the type of news that deserves to be told twice. If you want to be in a great mood, read this blog and his back to back. If you want a secret message, read every other word of his blog alternating with every other word of mine.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Before the race. Mom: the beverage to my right belonged to the man taking this picture.

I went to my first NASCAR race this weekend, which as I understand it, stands for National American Sports Car American Racing. My boss Dr. Durrie asked if I wanted to go to the weekend NASCAR race with him. I idolize this man. To get an idea of what it was like to be invited to spend time with him outside of work, imagine being 12 years old and being invited to hang out with the Jonas brothers (if you are a girl) or Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter (if you are a boy) or Billy Ray Cyrus (if you are a NASCAR fan).

To get ready on Saturday morning, I put on jeans and a sweat shirt and a camo hat with a deer on it. I kind of worried I would look like I was trying too hard, until I got out of the car. I honestly saw men in full camo, as if they had just climbed down out of deer stands to attend this event. Walking into the speedway, there were huge trailers, each of them dedicated to a single driver. The trailers had huge, 10-foot pictures of these drivers looking very stern, with their arms on their hips. And NASCAR drivers are very light sensitive, so they wear sunglasses in every picture.

One of these is a real driver, and one is me.

The race itself was great. I sat next to Durrie for three hours. You can't really talk during the race because it is so loud that you have to wear big giant ear protectors like you would see at a shooting range. Every now and then, Durrie would tap me on the shoulder (I'd smile and wave hoping he wouldn't ask me to take off the headphones) then he'd motion for me take off the headphones (it was like getting punched in the ear by screaming engines), then he'd lean over and say what sounded like, "Bwar gaffen a stall bregner haddle!" It was too loud to have any idea what these words were supposed to be. I'd look to see if he was smiling or serious and then say "HA!" or "geez!" accordingly.

All in all, it was a fine day. Durrie and I filed out of the stands with 80,000 good people who love Jesus and love NASCAR, though not always in that order. On the drive home, he and I talked about Hunter Vision, and I was glad. Mostly because he is a better resource than anyone else I could ever find, but also because it is very possible that he was starting to think I was an idiot savant when he was sitting next to me at the race. I'd say I came out even on the day.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Throw Another Blog on the Fire

The morning mist is lifting and our house is just starting to warm past 40 degrees (fahrenheit, although 40 degrees celsius would be uncomfortable also). Last night did not go as planned.

As autumn in Kansas is settling in, the weather is cooling and it seemed like the perfect time to christen the fireplace in our apartment. Although it's not as cold as the locals love to tell me it is going to get, "You're from Florida?!" they say. "Good luck this winter!" Then I come back with something very clever and pithy. "Good luck every day!"

So last night we had weather that we would normally see in a Florida winter. We decided to go to the store and buy some bundles of fire wood and the makings for s'mores. It seemed like the perfect way to spend a Friday evening.

Joel, the veteran fire builder in our household found the perfect kindling (I believe it was the pages of a Foreign Affairs magazine) and prepared to ignite. Flue open, check. That's really all I know you check for when lighting a fire. Anyway he did and the flue was definitely open. As Joel proceeded to light the pages filled with information about the economic state of the Soviet Union (it was an old issue), our apartment proceeded to fill with smoke. Joel checked again. Flue open, check. It wasn't acting open, but either way we pushed the lever it produced the same result, smoke billowing into our apartment.

Within seconds we had a roaring fire going with the smoke detectors confirming its presence. Joel, with his super-human pain tolerance began pulling flaming logs off the fire as I turned on the stove fan, pulled my sweatshirt over my face and yelled, "My eyes, my eyes!" I then grabbed the dog and ran out onto the porch. I am not very cool-headed in a crisis. Joel dismembered the smoke detectors and finished extinguishing the fire.

As it was too cold for us Floridians to stay outside, we took refuge in our less smokey bedroom with the windows open and the fans blowing. Instead of a night of warming up to a cozy fire, there we sat on the floor of our room, shivering and feeding the dog the graham crackers intended for our s'mores (an effort to put meat on her bones before winter. I hear they are bad here. "Just wait," they tell me. "YOU just wait." That's what I say to them.) We had to sleep with the windows open and our house still smells like a camp fire. I woke up this morning to Joel covering our dog with blankets because she looked cold. It was very cute. Now I am going to call the apartment office and tell them there are some flaws with the engineering of our fireplace. They will probably tell me about how bad Kansas winters are.

Friday, October 2, 2009

slow morning

This is why Yosemite Sam never got anything done.

I got up at 5 this morning just like I was supposed to. I came to this dining room table an hour and a half ago and opened this MacBook to write a blog. The blog writing thing is supposed to gently transition me out of dead-to-the-world sleep Joel into ready-for-the-day morning Joel. But no thoughts would come to my head this morning. My brain was firing one, maybe two neurons a minute. If someone jumped out to scare me, I wouldn't have yelled and fallen out of my chair until a good two minutes afterward. Which would serve them right, because I bet that would scare them.

I think I blew myself out with yesterday's rage over sitting in an observation chair for nine hours. Rage might be a strong word, since mine is mainly cartoonish. I rarely get actually "ugly angry" except for when my sports teams are losing at their games of sports they are playing. But either way, it was a stupid way for me to expend my energy. Self-pity and/or self-righteousness (they are strikingly similar) make you both unhappy and ineffective. People should at least choose one or the other of those to be.

Finally, I watched "Private Practice" with Lizzy for the first time last night. In case you've never seen it, just imagine this line being said in a hundred different ways for an hour and you won't have missed a thing: "Don't you understand? I'm a doctor. I save people...(looks down at his hands pensively)...but I can't save her. But it's my job. I am a doctor. (takes off white coat)...But I'm a person, too. And a doctor." There, now you're all caught up.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


On Wednesday nights I volunteer helping out with something called Awana at my church. It's sort of like youth group for little kids. It makes me feel nostalgic because I myself used to attend Awana as a youth. Every Wednesday night I would say to my neighborhood friend(s), "Can't play tonight, I have to go to Awana." Then they would say, "What? You're going to marijuana?!" and laugh really hard. I would laugh too although I had no idea what they were talking about. I was home-schooled.

I help out with a group called the Cubbies. They range in age from 3 to 5. The name fits well because they are all cute as buttons. They come into the Cubby class to hear a story, play games and receive stickers for Bible verses they've memorized. Also, as of tonight they participate in a pretty lengthy name calling session (to me exclusively). I think I was berated as a "giggle belly," a "baseball hitter," and an "elephant." I try to pretend that last one was directed toward my lengthy eyelashes and not my girth.

My favorite part of the whole evening is when kids who haven't memorized their verse try to "wing it." I say, "Do you know your Bible verse?" Then they just stare. Then I say, "It's Genesis 1:1.... it starts with 'God created'...." This is when I see the light bulb go off in their head and they say, "God created toys and spiderman and my mom and dad...." I think that still deserves a sticker but I stick to the curriculum.

Spending time with these little ones has really made me thankful that we are getting our parenting feet wet with a little boy. Both Joel and I have grown up with brothers so we both feel more confident about raising a male human. I generally find that little boys are quite rambunctious while little girls tend to wear their emotions on their sleeves. I still haven't figured out how a child can go from happy in one moment to hysterically crying within the blink of an eye. I usually don't know what to do so I pretend I hear my name being called. "What?" I say. "Yeah, I'll be right there.....*to crying four-year-old* sorry, I've gotta go...someone needs me on the other side of the room." Usually a couple seconds later she returns to her euphoric little girl state so I don't feel too terrible about abandoning her during her crisis. As I am reading this, I realize I wont be writing a parenting book anytime soon.

I was not in the saddle

Just as an update, today was not what I thought it would be. It was a giant pile of what Ava was singing about (but not nearly as cheerful). I sat on a stool and was the official eye dropper holder for nine hours. I worked with a big shot surgeon today. I thought he would know I was ready to bring it Florida-style in the operating room. I forgot the first rule of medical training: "No one cares about your laurels, bozo. Old doctors can make you do whatever they want." So he said, "Today, I will do all the surgeries, and then you can do all the paperwork in between the cases, and also the dictations after each case." Then I said, "Hahaha!" And then he just looked at me and I realized he was serious. Then I told him he looked like Millard Fillmore and not in a good way.

You might be thinking, "I bet that bothers you a lot because you're such a big deal." And I'd like to tell you that humility is a wonderful gift if we learn to cultivate it and that I realized today that it is fulfilling to just help in even menial ways if it is for a worthy goal. I'd like to say those things, but Lizzy or Josh might write a blog and tell you all the things I really said on the phone on the way home. I used crazy, made up words that I haven't yelled since the last time I changed a tire. It was a terrible day. There have been hundreds of days like this since I started college. Going through the steps to open your own clinic is not like climbing a ladder as much as it is like standing on the bottom rung for 13 years and learning more and more, and then blinking and ending up at the top when it is done. I get to blink in nine months.

Back in the saddle

Tampa General

That was me a year ago at Tampa General. Today is my first day of cataract surgery since I moved to Kansas. I've been doing only LASIK at the Durrie Vision office until now. I don't know exactly how to get to the hospital, where the OR is once I get there, where my first patient is, or how to log in to the computer system once I find my first patient. I have worn the same "Durrie Vision outfit" every day to work for the last three months, which is a striped shirt that says Durrie Vision with black pants and shoes, so it is my first time wearing a tie in three months as well. Somehow, my neck grew since I started working out up here, so I can't even approximate buttoning my collar. For the first time since I was 14, my neck is bigger than 12 inches. Or maybe this shirt shrunk.

But it will all be alright once I get into the operating room. I know that place. It makes me happy. It is peaceful and calm there. I feel God's pleasure in the OR. Pray for the cataract surgery patients today if you think of it, I'll be doing the same thing.