Last week was a crazy week for me, bouncing back and forth between my home in Charleston, SC, to Dallas, TX, back to Charleston, then to Chicago, IL and back home again!
I never have to travel for work as a typical part of my job – my commute to the office is 10 minutes from my house, and since we don’t have many different office locations (just a couple of small ones and I don’t have any associates I work within those offices), my need for travel is limited. While I would have loved traveling for work back when I first moved to Charleston and started my job in HR — before my dog, my house, and boyfriend came into the picture to fill my time. But now, with all of those things, I hate spending any time away from them.
But this year, I was invited to attend my company’s sales conference in Dallas, staying at the Gaylord Texan Hotel, which is probably the craziest hotel I’ve ever seen. Ummm I’m talking there was a decked out Christmas wonderland in the atrium of the hotel. It was pretty incredible.
So my week last week started by flying out Monday morning to the sales conference (which both of my flights were delayed due to crazy fog in Charlotte, joy) with a half day of conferences Monday, full day on Tuesday followed by live music and line dancing at the Rustic in Dallas (soo cool by the way!) and a half day on Wednesday, flying out Wednesday evening back to Charleston.
Jon and Stella missed me terribly while I was gone – in fact – Stella wrote an adorable post about it on her blog! But I think I missed them more, if even possible.
After arriving in Charleston at 9:30 Wednesday night after an exhausting week so far… in just a few short hours Jon and I would be hitting the road for Chicago- only a 14-hour drive without stops or traffic, no biggie. (Jon won’t fly, so alas, the car must be our friend.)
To get a start on the long drive ahead, we left at 3 a.m. at Jon’s request. I slept in a makeshift bed of pillows and blankets in the back of my Subaru Forester while Jon drove the first leg — after traveling to Dallas, I got better sleep in the car than my most recent trip!
I woke up at around 7:30 from my back seat slumber as we were nearing the Tennessee border outside of Asheville, North Carolina. We still had a good 10 hours to go if traffic stayed on our side. We would be in downtown Chicago for the meal I’ve been dreaming about for weeks… deep dish pizza.
Now, I’ll back up a bit on why we went to Chicago because it wasn’t just for the pizza.
Back in June this year, after coming home to have lunch on a random Thursday, Jon was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about a new study the army is testing as a possible treatment for PTSD, the Stellate Ganglion Block. Jon, a veteran of the Army with eight years of service and two tours in Afghanistan, has PTSD like far too many veterans do.
In thinking about PTSD as an injury rather than a disorder, the Stellate Ganglion Block treats damage incurred to the “flight or fight” nerve, which may be hyperactive from PTSD. While it is still in its infancy for testing the treatment of PTSD, the block is used today for pain management for shingles, back pain, and other conditions. Dr. Eugene Lipov in Chicago first began using this as a treatment for veterans.
With such incredible testimonials, we at least needed to try this. I contacted several doctors, friends, any connections to see who would be willing to refer or do the shot. After months of failed attempts, I reached out to Dr. Lipov’s office directly. It turns out; they have a foundation at healinghero.org to help veterans and others suffering from PTSD get the shot. Just days after reaching out, Jon’s appointment was scheduled.
Jon certainly earned his deep dish pizza, and I was along for the ride. I booked a hotel across the street from the surgical center, did research on the top pizza joints in town and mapped their proximity to the hotel. It seemed like from my research that the Art of Pizza was the #1 place to go. We didn’t necessarily need #1, and would undoubtedly settle for within the top #10 of deep dish pizzas. I decided on Giordano’s – even though it was a chain, it was close AND delivered, two essential factors especially after a 16-hour drive including stops and traffic.
After a particularly harrowing drive during the last hour bearing through downtown Chicago near Navy Pier, we checked in around 6 PM Chicago time. By 6:15, the pies were ordered.
I haven’t had too much experience with deep dish pizza outside of Uno’s restaurants and Uno’s frozen pizza. I love a thin crust, and especially pan pizza – Lynnwood and Town Spa Pizza in my neck of the woods in Massachusetts will always be my favorites of all time. But ever since we booked the appointment, I was drooling over the thought of thick crust with gooey cheese and bubbling sauce on top.
Since I usually don’t eat pizza (the wheat, the sugar in the sauce, the dairy in the cheese), this was a real Treat Yo Self moment.
I ordered a small plain cheese, Jon ordered the small Chicago special – peppers, onions, mushroom, and pepperoni. While the sizes were small, I wish we would have known we only needed one! I didn’t realize how big the pizza would be in comparison to a regular one!
Eating half of my pizza with ease, I only wished my stomach could expand for more on this one night only. The crust was bread-like, the cheese was PILED on – I love a cheesy pizza, and this was a LOT of cheese, with a nice perfect layer of sauce on top. It was… perfection.
Our tummies were full and brought us to deep carb-induced sleep.
We attempted to save our pizza leftovers, but unfortunately, due to the long day at the clinic ahead, it was un-refrigerated for too long, and there was not enough time to get another pie on our way home departing Chicago. We were able to get past that disappointment pretty quickly though when we realized not only were we on our way back to see Stella, but because of the Stellate Ganglion Block, according to Jon, definitely worked, finally feeling relief. 🙂
I cannot thank Dr. Lipov, Greg, and everyone else who made the trip and procedure possible. Visit their website if you know of someone who might benefit from the team doing some incredible things for our vets.