Ramblings of a Bedridden Evacuee

Last Saturday I was released from hospital, following my second hip replacement, sadly on the same hip.

It’s been a saga getting to this point, from indecision on whether or not to go ahead, questions rumbling around my head such as, is there really anything wrong with my new hip, to, WTF, this is the most painful thing I have ever gone through.

Amongst you reading this, their are many opinions and views, I have heard most of them. From just work through it, the pain will go away with exercise, or, it’s all about making money for the surgeons, to those who declare they were ready to climb Mount Everest or run a marathon as soon as they got released from hospital.

 

This is my story, no, I am not a marathon runner, sky diver or writer with any experience. I am just a mum, freshly released from orthopedic ward 5 at NCH hospital, downtown Naples, Florida. I mention orthopedics simply to assure you that I was of sound mind when I first decided to have my hip replacement operated on for the second time.

Oh, and did I mention that there is a category 4 hurricane hurtling my way?

 

I knew hurricane season was here, but chose to glibly ignore it! I never win the lottery right, so why would a hurricane probability worry me.

At the moment Hurricane Irma, which conjures up visions of Irma Barlow in Coronation Street, is hurtling across the Atlantic, aiming somewhat haphazardly towards my recovery bed in Golden Gate Estates. This is not something I am remotely happy about! The two legged variety of people, happily bobbing around me, seem not the slightest concerned, But knowing that I have approximately the same speed advantages as a Gopher Tortoise, but without it’s burrowing capabilities, is giving me some cause for concern!

My caregiver, who also happens to be the love of my life is telling me not to stress, even though he left the house over an hour ago to collect “hurricane supplies” just in case! I just put down my cell phone after a life or death decision concerning Graham Crackers and water supplies. Being slightly under the influence of my current medications I am not sure I should be the one making these extremely important lifesaving decisions.

I know I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by people who care and want to help, I am feeling the love, but not as yet the reassurance. My one friend who has the most common sense is herself incapable of doing much seeing as she just had major hip surgery herself, between us we would be eliminated from entering a three legged race, other friends are asking me over for a bbq!

 

The last couple of days have been a bit of a blur, seeing as I spent my last three days in high tech hospitalization, surrounded by highly sophisticated machines monitoring my every bodily function. Getting home has been a bit of a shock, to be met by an aged visiting nurse dressed in a bright red jump suit, whose only piece of recognizable equipment seems to be a stethoscope from the 1800’s! Her apparent total lack of interest about what should happen to people like me, who although not sick are obviously not capable of running a marathon or even going for a brisk walk anytime soon, should Irma eventually make it to Naples is extremely disconcerting. I was slightly reassured though when my physiotherapist mentioned that my nurse is actually just very old school and has an excellent success rate at confirming if patients are dead or alive with her stethoscope!

For anyone of you who has had major surgery, I am sure you all realize the absolute necessity for a good support team to make sure your recovery goes well.

There are reasons why most nurses are women! This morning is my second one at home in my own bed. A rude awakening, so far I have had a frozen ice pack leak all over my leg and back, because himself has decided the precautionary plastic bag is really unnecessary. Then a block of ice the size of a small house brick thrown at my foot, apparently in an attempt to break it into smaller pieces, although I have no idea why you would think throwing it at a rug would actually achieve the desired affect. Then just as I was about to doze off back to sleep, our two tiny dogs, which normally go out to the bathroom around 7 am are deposited in my room with slightly wet shitty feet, apparently they just couldn’t wait and hold it like they were told too. So himself is off single handedly managing a huge clean up project and we finally have proof that “they never go for me” just isn’t true, they all have to go sometime, somewhere!

Oh, did I mention the North Korea crisis?

 

 

 

Monday September 4th

No idea where that day went! Vague recollections but nothing worth mentioning.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Sept 5th

I had a dream, or two, I woke up this morning to find a cereal bowl sitting precariously on my chest, the contents slightly mushy, bran flakes and strawberries I think were in the original combination. The second time I opened my eyes, the bowl was ever so slightly off on it’s own little adventure, someone, thank goodness, had draped me in a very attractive orange beach towel which managed to soak up most of the pink stuff.

They say my pain meds are none addictive, I trust that some scientific studies have been done to validate this and they are not just guessing. I do however have to question taking pills every four hours like clockwork!

On the label it clearly states they may cause drowsiness and dizziness, it may also make these conditions worse and driving should be avoided, so my dream of driving a John Deere has been put on hold for the foreseeable future. They say they are none addictive and not to stop taking them suddenly unless under the advisement of a qualified physician. I think it maybe too late, the fact that I am setting an alarm every four hours, get panicky if I sleep through it and worry that I may have missed a dose, (although that is quite understandable if you consider that I have slept through breakfast twice) could all be construed as hooked! If not to the pills themselves, then at the very least to the graham crackers I consume with them! Himself believes this to be true because I have added them to the shopping list twice, left a voicemail and also texted him another reminder just in case, who knew Graham crackers were so yummy.

The main entertainment for the day still seems to be watching spaghetti on the tv screen, tracks that is of the hurricane variety! Yep Irma is still lurking, she has now exceeded all expectations is apparently, according to the extremely reliable and accurate news sources of twitter and facebook, the largest hurricane to be produced by the Atlantic this century! Yes, I think that 2000 was the start of the century, so in the last 17 years!

I am however being very well taken care of and did receive a massage this morning of my lower extremities, MY FEET! (To confirm, yes only my feet). It was interesting, himself is a Realtor, so always on the phone, to say that men cannot multi task is actually totally untrue, he managed to give me a foot massage, assist an agent in writing a contract, talk to two clients and one potential new realtor, at the same time as massaging a one inch square on the sole of my foot, the conversations lasted for over an hour, so yes, my foot is a little sore, I think I will plan on booking in the rest of my feet with a fully qualified masseuse!

According to facebook it is currently taking 40 hours to drive across the great state of Florida to the safety of Georgie or Carolina, this is obviously putting a lot of people off from joining the mass exodus. This coupled with the fact that the escapees could in fact actually be making the wrong decision and don’t want to do it alone, may be driving people to write false posts or at least to exaggerate on on exactly how long it is really taking to make their escape.

Today here in Collier County we are still under a voluntary evacuation order, a fact that I assume our local government has made based on some facts. However, I have read posts from various people, some who don’t even live anywhere near Florida, a beach or a river, who also do not appear to have any friends or relatives even remotely employed in the weather or rescue industry, taking it upon themselves to become the best authority on the situation and imploring locals to leave, telling them they are totally crazy, irresponsible and stupid to stay.

I do however understand those that have left with responsibilities, young children, horses, pets, the elderly, it’s a hard decision to make to head north with all your worldly belongings tied to the back of a pick up truck, but for some it’s something you just have to do. It’s even harder to travel for hours, run out of gas, break down, have nowhere to stay, or the fact the prices are being raised by unscrupulous people just to make money from another’s plight. But to do all of that then find the bloody thing actually misses you, would definitely make me want to move to another state.

National Geographic just released news that the sun has just belched out a monster solar flare, the largest in 12 years capable of causing blackouts, low frequency communication and starting a mass coronal ejection which could cause auras in Ohio and Indiana, if they were across Florida would they would probably go widely unnoticed.

Another thought to lull me off to sleep, thankfully, North Korea is having some kind of problem with its launching device.

 

 

 

Wednesday 6th

Last night was much like all the others before it, apart from the noise, normally we are surrounded by a cacophony of wildlife. During frog season, I have been known to wear earplugs. Last night however, was the solo performance of one small frog! I wonder if the others are already northbound on the I75 ?

Our early morning planning meeting with friends who are still on the fence about whether to leave or not went as normal. Some are concerned about how to protect their wine collections, others are having nightmares about what will become of their goats should they leave. Our particular situation is a little more difficult faced with the fact that we have four dogs, a huge German shepherd, one mid sized slightly overweight springer spaniel, a Yorkie (say no more) and a three legged, six toothed, ten year old, five pound beautiful mongrel who only has eyes for me. One person with a slight case of autism, two 90 year olds who both believe they are still capable of waterskiing and dancing until dawn (they actually start their evenings with the early happy hour at 4 to 5, dancing at 6 and tucked up in bed by 8, but in their minds they are living life on the wild side), they both think they are about to set off on a huge adventure and keep reminding us, they went through worse in the war, (they probably did) but their chances of happily surviving for the next two weeks with no gas, on love, peanut butter and chips is probably a little pie in the sky in spite of their faith in Trump and their “make America Great Again” sticker which will do them absolutely no good out on the road searching for gas.

I have ascertained we can easily sleep 16 people in our house, on actual bed like structures above the ground, we have four bedrooms all with double beds, so 8, four sofas, two actually only two seaters so I should count them as three and a half, or two and two children, I digress, keep it simple, four sofas, so 12 people, two outdoor sofas so 14 luxurious accommodations albeit it a little squished, then we have a blow up mattress so 16 and we would still have floor space for emergencies.

Earlier on the news I hears that hotel owners are gouging customers, charging ridiculous prices for rooms, we, the public have been encouraged to report all such offenders, I wonder if I would get reported for overcrowding.

As far as the hip thing, I am managing to get around surprisingly well, not up to the half mile yet, but I envisage getting there in a few months time. I am still slightly entertained by the breathing machine they sent me home with, not a machine as such, just a plastic box with a tube on one end and a smiley face in the middle, the idea is to keep the smiley face in the marked square for as long a possible. I have been practicing daily in an attempt to keep myself occupied, I am happy to announce that I can now keep it bobbing around in the area around 1500 for about 25 seconds, sadly I don’t know if that is good or bad.

Nothing else of interest came home with me, although seeing as I am here and this could be the last anyone ever hears from me, I can come clean! I admit, I did also take the drinking cup, it’s saved my life a few times, with it’s sturdy lid and huge straw I have adverted disaster and managed to keep 800 ml of liquids of various kinds off the bed twice now.

I also have in my possession a large three foot by three foot cloth pad, the blues padded ones you find yourself lying on when you first come out of the operating room. Himself took it, one can only wonder what was going through his mind when he stuffed it into my day bag. I on the other hand arrived home to find it spread neatly in my bed and knew instantly that my husband now thinks I am incontinent!

Amongst my other goodies are two tightly sealed packages of bed bath cloths, four small kidney shaped plastic dishes and a very attractive nightgown I have been wearing for the past five days, blue with flowers with a very attractive split up the back, no I am not going to even think about what I look like.

Sleeping a little erratically due to the fact a battery needs changing, one of the smoke alarms somewhere in the house, it’s chirping happy in the knowledge that I cannot reach it, even if I did know where in the house it was!

 

Another random shopping expedition/scavenger hunt this afternoon, himself came home with some random items that may be useful under certain circumstances. Top of the the list is a pair of men’s size 11 mud/fishing boots, the type you may have seen Brad Pitt using whilst fly fishing in the movie “a River Runs through it”, someone has been watching too much of the weather channel. Followed closely by two full wet weather gear sets including brightly colored yellow dungarees, matching jackets each with their own lifesaving whistle attached at the shoulder. I can with a stretch imagine circumstances when the aforesaid items may actually be useful, should for instance we suddenly be covered by high rising waters from the local canal, or if people on boats trying to navigate through the local flood waters suddenly find they have no oars or engines, having a properly dressed rescuer arrive at exactly the right time, wearing the appropriate gear, then all of these items would be money well spent.

I am however, at a loss to imagine under which circumstances 400 feet of parachute cord would come into play? Maybe I am not being imaginative enough, I will keep working on that thought.

It’s interesting that throughout the day since we announced to the world that we have 16 places for people to sleep in a relatively safe environment, our bookings have ebbed and flowed along with the latest report from the Weather Channel. This morning we had two definite and one a distinct “I am definitely staying with you” reservations and one possibly maybe. As I go to sleep we now have fourteen interested and no actually confirmed bookings, I imagine it will all change again in the morning.

 

I do have another interesting idea which may yet still come into play should the lovely Irma decide to take a turn back towards us and we don’t have enough time to make our escape. I am at the opportune moment going to take a long ladder and use the 400 feet of parachute cord to tie myself to the top of the strongest, highest tree, thereby ensuring that I am high dry and rescued.

 

Thursday 7th

I am sure most people think of me as the slightly odd English lady, everyone loves to emulate, but no one quite understands. Maybe because they are expecting me to call everyone governor or speak in rhyming slang, whatever the reason I often find myself standing in front of people looking perplexed as they try and decipher exactly what it is I am trying to say, when they fail their normal response is to start using their best English accent in an attempt to try and communicate with me.

This morning, himself who sometimes falls into the category of bemused, totally misunderstood when I said “why don’t you go out and have some fun” he thought I meant “why don’t you go out and have some fun”. What I really meant is stay here with me and let’s do something different, although different is difficult when every time you get off the bed a huge yellow square lump of styrofoam with a cut out for my foot to sit in, goes with me. Whatever the reason, I now find myself alone in bed, with the three legged dog growling at every small noise from outside, (it’s a huge responsibility having to defend the pack) and the other small hairy one frantically trying to dig herself out of the bathroom where she inadvertently got locked when himself left for his fun day out!

I just checked on our booking situation, today looks slightly different from yesterday, we now have the two 90 year olds, one slightly befuddledm autistic elderly adult, a young married couple from Miami and their baby, four adults, one young boy and a toddler with three cats, one young man who may just stay at the pub, two close friends, their dogs, cat and potentially two goats! They all come with bonuses of some sort or another, a few have their own supplies of water so we are not turning anyone away.

However, today the picture is far clearer on the hurricane front, if you’re watching the official Weather Channel, where all the reporters I am sure are taught to stand slightly sideways and instructed to wear wet weather gear even in the sunshine, this monster deadly storm is about crash into Florida where multiple deaths will be unavoidable, but don’t panic, there is no official call to evacuate Naples. The European forecast shows a path up the east side of Florida, where I have to admit if I lived, I would be leaving about now, then up into the Georgia and South Carolina where an increasingly large number of residents from South Florida are now headed for safety. The European track shows Naples as getting away with what would amount to a normal rainy season afternoon storm, place your bets ladies and gentlemen.

We have this wonderful doorbell system which jingles on your phone when someone approaches the front door, from my bed I can see their smiley faces and decide if I want to be in or out from anywhere in the world. Yesterday I used this wonderful system watching himself trying for change a lightbulb from the top of a 20 foot ladder without a safety net, I must say I was quite impressed at his balance and how ambidextrous he is. He battled on for a good 20 mins or so, but that last five inches broke him, our porch is still in darkness but it was the right outcome, happily I still have a husband, who is reportedly somewhere out on a gun range, in Naples enjoying himself due to a slight language misunderstanding, oblivious to millions of people transfixed to their cell phones and tv screens awaiting the next gripping installment of Irma meets Florida,

Loosing weight after a major operation seems to be entirely dependent on your caregiver! For once I am glad I am not married to a gourmet chef, I dream of eating entirely vegetarian clean organically grown food, so when I was offered an omelet with vegetables, you can imagine what I had in mind! One of the major food sellers should be shot for selling badly labeled pre packaged vegetables suspended in vinegar, the cleverly written instructions easily lull the amateur chef into thinking you can just stir them up in a pan with a few eggs and voila! I lost four pounds.

 

Just had an alarming automatic call from Florida Power and Light regarding outages. I imagine the panic level in the whole of Florida has just raised itself 20%, considering that the majority of our residents are all retired, have flip phones and are being instructed by a robotic voice to download an App by dialing 269375 # to report hurricane outages. I imagine that FPL’s phone system is about to be overloaded by bewildered people thinking the hurricane has come early.

It’s official, my phone is pinging and trilling like a canary, watches, alerts, power shortages, texts with lists of things to take with you when evacuating together with twirling maps showing Irmas current track.

The Weather Channel is getting into full swing, heart throb Jim Cannatori it is rumored, is headed our way, this is a clear sign to some who have been sitting on the fence that it’s time to evacuate. Our list of possible sheltering residents has started to drop. The young married couple from Miami and their baby daughter are headed to Tampa, the four adults, young boy and toddler with three cats are staying put after being encouraged by their neighbors that staying in a group gives them a far better chance of survival, I think that bit of rousing news would have had me grabbing the car keys and heading north in double quick time. Which leaves us with two adults with two dogs and an outside cat, (they still have to corner, it’s currently located under and shed and is refusing to move, the goats are being given sanctuary at an overcrowded animal lovers farm, the two 90 year olds a slightly mentally deficient sister, four dogs and a fish called Eric who I totally forgot to include in the head count until now.

Irma is behaving every erratically, she was once headed for the East coast which would have been a no brainer for many of the people in Naples as far as decision making is concerned, most would have stayed, but she’s fickle and is moving West as we speak, our weather forecasters are in conflict and no one seems to know exactly where she is going to go, plus I just heard the words Storm Surge, being almost 15 miles inland this should not affect us right? I just checked surge map, not something I am very familiar with, it seems although we are not in a flood zone, we are in fact in a surge zone up to 14ft!

Making the decision to leave your home is a very personal one, there is so much to consider, setting off knowing that your leaving a perfectly sound well built hurricane ready house, with supplies to last a few weeks, not knowing if there is enough gas to get you out of the state, or if the roads are blocked make rational decision making a little difficult. It only takes one negative or positive conversation and your mind flip flops back and forth until all you can do is switch off and wait for the next hurricane update, these occur every 12 hours and are based on the findings of two daring pilots who fly directly into the hurricane’s eye to monitor its progress, (not a job I suspect anyone dreamt of when they were younger).

Facebook at this time is full of interesting life saving techniques on what to do to survive a hurricane, their latest is to put everything of value inside a washing machine, this it seems is based solely on the fact that water stays inside the machine, so it probably would not be able to get into it either so everything will stay safe and dry inside. I imagine there are a lot of washing machines stuffed with valuable documents about now.

Himself has cleared the lani so our home is looking like it’s been hit by a hurricane before the event with everything piled in the living room. Tonight we head to bed still undecided on whether to stay or leave, luckily Korea is still having launch problems, Irma is totally being a woman so I guess all we can do at this point is sleep.

 

Friday 8th September

I probably forget to mention that for the past few days I have been politely suggesting that we pack a few things in preparation, just in case we do evacuate. Oh well, this morning like a pack of cards everything collapsed. Irma made up her mind and is hell bent on aiming straight at our house and a few thousand others, the point is she is headed towards Marco Island and Naples is next in line. The storm surge is going to be huge according to the Weather Channel, who are now in full swing emergency panic mode, they have presenters dressed accordingly in wet weather gear strategically placed in towns all along the Florida coast so their viewers will get a grandstand seat wherever Irma decides to land. I am looking at the plastic bag from Publix in which himself has placed a couple of toothbrushes, a bag of dog food and some random articles of clothing.

Decision made, we are picking up the sister and heading out, himself has started calling me Miss Daisy, I am trying to reassure him that I would rather be up and about packing things myself rather than lying on my bed barking out orders. The two 90 year olds have decided to stay and face the storm, they are however in a great location, a huge solid assisted living facility with emergency procedures in place, a team of highly trained hurricane personnel are moving into the ground floor taking charge and making arrangements for a bingo night and a midnight feast to distract them. We have no worries about their safety, unfortunately they will not take dogs so we cannot move in, we are also slightly outside of their age range.

We have all played those games or thought those thoughts, what would I take, what is the most important thing in the world the one thing I would choose if I was only allowed one thing, living things are at the top of the list so I am excluding dogs and people. My one thing it seems is a handbag filled with absolutely nothing of importance, although I also took a little silver cross given to me by my grandmother.

From my position in the front seat of the car it’s hard to turn around and look at exactly what is going on, I do know that we have enough water and crates of it are taking up one entire seat!I. I have two small dogs safely on my lap sitting on a huge feather cushion, the sister is wedged firmly in the seat behind me and somewhere underneath our suitcase, my walker, two huge bags of dog food and a rather large cooler there are two other dogs, I know they are there because I can hear them doing those muffled half barks that frightened squashed dogs do.

Traveling in a convoy with friends we speed out onto interstate 75, himself at this point has decided that rallying could become a passion, and should have been at the top of his list when asked what he wanted to do when he grew up. The muffled barks have now reached a crescendo and are obviously not going to stop, for those of you that have never parked on the hard shoulder of an interstate, I can tell you it’s very noisy and the car feels like its being blown around, however the barking stopped after the dogs were uncovered and could actually see out of the window.

Off we go with the rest of the population of Naples, the interstate is packed three lanes of slow moving traffic, all cars laden down with the things people couldn’t leave behind. Whilst on south bound lanes hummers, huge power and light trucks plus the National Guard head bravely south, I am touched.

Our traveling friends just informed me that they cannot get their sons to leave with them. The storm surge is going to be headed right for their building, but they are prepared. Their eldest son went out and bought a queen sized blow up mattress and he already has flippers, their escape plan, should it be necessary is to throw his new young wife onto the mattress, don the flippers and navigate to safety.

The facebook messages are now saying, forget the washing machine idea, it doesn’t work. About now we are probably surrounded on the road by some poor people who in fact did stuff their valuables inside a washer and are regretting it.

We aim to get as far North as we can in one day, we start making phone calls to try and find somewhere to stay, all the hotels in the north of Florida are booked solid, Disney is packed and overflowing, the east coast people who fled to the west are now fleeing once again, back to the east, the lines at gas stations are miles long and on the interstate we have been advised to use both the emergency lanes so there are now five lanes of traffic north bound.

Our autistic passenger is getting a little frantic and wants to get out of the car, all of the excitement is proving to be a little too much, so himself has engaged the child locks for the duration of our flight.

Friends in Huntsville Alabama having escaped a few days earlier are trying to book us a room anywhere in five states, with all the animals it’s provide extremely difficult.
We are now in a convoy of three having teamed up with another friend headed away from the mayhem. We are in luck, she has help on the outside looking to find a hotel, her mother it seems is an FBI Agent, if she can’t find a hotel for our merry little band of six, plus now 7 dogs and a cat, then no one can.

Our journey north is fraught, being sat in the passenger seat sat, for a brief break at a gas station, watching my friends walking their dogs right outside my window, but not being able to get out or attract their attention is one of the many pitfalls of using child locks and having hip surgery at the same time.

Americus!!! It’s a real place and we are headed right for it the FBI came through and we have a room booked.

We use a nifty little app called Waze, I was introduced to it a few years ago by my daugher (an EMT and dispatcher married to a paramedic). The dispatch mentality ensured that I had all my phone numbers handwritten on a piece of paper and not saved in my phone, at this point being assisted by the FBI and fire control is a very comforting feeling.

Before arriving in Americus via a rather interesting route put together by Waze, which took our car in one direction and our friends into what they thought was a hijack situation on some back street, we had a bit of bad news. The outside cat was dead, she was not moving and a rather strange smell permeated throughout their car, my friend was devastated, her son left behind reliant on a blow up mattress and flippers for survival and now the cat, this was not proving to be a good day.

We finally arrived at our hotel, all of us exhausted both mentally and physically after fourteen hours of driving I am probably the best off, at least I was drugged for a good majority of the trip. The hip is however, really stiff and finding out our room is on the second floor with no elevator brings tears to my eyes.

My friend is still in shock over her cat which she is clutching in its cage, himself takes the cage off her and drops it unceremoniously on the floor and give her a huge hug. After offering to bury the cat and being refused he does as asked and carries it up to their room where they put it in the bathtub so they can wash out the cage.

Standing in the bathroom something touches her foot, roaches have been spotted, but no, it’s the cat! Alive!! Maybe it was in totally shock or maybe throwing the crate to the floor shook it back to life, no matter the reason, the cat is alive and well!

One last phone call to the 90 year olds left in the path of Irma to make sure everything is ok, we are feeling guilty, we should have forced them into the car. The phone lines are a mess but we eventually get through only to be to told they are playing Bingo and would rather not talk right now in case they lose count.

Time for bed.

 

Saturday 9th

After very little sleep due not only to the largest hurricane ever to be produced by the Atlantic Ocean headed toward our home, but also due to the random roaches seen scurrying under the bed, we need to move hotels, partly voluntarily, but also because all the rooms are booked but also the sanitary conditions here are not good. After studying the “the cone of uncertainty” (something I am convinced the Weather Channel has made up just to keep viewers on their toes), we decide to head East, or West then after breakfast definitely East.

Himself walks four dogs, distributes prescribed medications to all those that need it then commences to try and squeeze all our belongings back into the car, which is proving to be more difficult that when we left. I am in the meantime, trying to convince the slightly disabled sister that we have not been stranded and he will be coming back at the same time as trying to get dressed on one leg whilst shouting at the dogs to be quiet. Looks like it’s going to be another relaxing day.

To help in my recovery process I set an alarm on my phone to remind me to take the right pills at the right time, every four hours, plus two other alarms one for 6pm and one for 8am for other daily only pills, I added my sister in laws pills to the alarm system, she takes them three times a day so it now goes off at 7am, 8 am, 11 am, 3pm, 6pm, 7pm, 9pm, 11pm and 3pm. Something is going to wrong I just know it is and sleep is definitively off the menu for now.

It’s about now that I realize I am THAT person, the one caught on the 10 o’clock news, the wild woman still dressed in her pjs caught on camera, the one that everyone watches and says “why on earth would you” I am dressed like a bag lady and after a quick examination of our belongings I realize that there are no two pieces of clothing that actually match, I am still wearing hospital socks and strange tennis shoes, I must remember to give a false name and not look at the camera if anything happens.

Great news, we found another hotel that will take us in the East. We are headed to Greenville South Carolina, a newly renovated hotel, that amazingly has enough rooms to accommodate not only us and all our pets, but also another five people with no animals that are just leaving Naples and are going to join us! Even more perfect, it’s only 8 hours away!

 

Sunday 10th

We made it to Greenville South Carolina, to and we are now settled into our new home for the next few days. Today we watched from afar as Naples received a direct hit, our home was right in the path of Irma. Our biggest worry was the storm surge, it’s a fact that people in America tend to worry if they see that Jim Canatorre from the weather channel is in your town, news is he is staying in Naples.

What is even more disconcerting is the fact that his outfit is more robust than the other weather men, he is wearing a helmet, protective goggles and body armor! I think Naples is doomed!

Watching the news the weather man is there, waves lashing at his feet holding on to his microphone for dear life, when he suddenly says “we have to move there is a tornado coming” he runs towards the camera, and steps up out of his puddle onto dry land!!!!!! The camera pans around and you can see everywhere is dry except when he’s standing, hmmmmm.

Good news! We just made contact with Joe’s dad and girlfriend, they are fine, no problem they slept through the night and are just making breakfast, they say it’s windy outside but very quiet! Thank god they are both stone deaf and their hearing aids are old.

Spent the entire day glued to the news channel.

Monday 11th onwards.

Needless to say we made it back to the Naples, I am sure that everyone who went through Irma will have stories to tell some happy some sad. It was a saga for sure and there are many many other things that happened that I haven’t even touched on. Trying to get gas and sitting in line for three hours, sleeping in the car in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hundreds of other people in cars doing exactly the same, frantic phone calls from friends spread around the country, stories of people losing their homes and their pets. Arriving home to no power and the worst mess imaginable, uprooted trees, power cables lying in the streets, so much water everywhere the list goes on and on.

But I am humbled, realizing that with no power, no water and surrounded by mess, we are actually rich, we are the lucky ones. There are so many people who had their homes ripped out and blown away what is left is standing in floods of water, they have nothing, no home, no clothes, no food, nothing. They started with far less than we have now, living in trailer parks, illegal immigrants who come here to work the farms, pick oranges and send all their money back to Mexico to their families. They are suffering and their families back home will also now be suffering.

We have no internet and our phones are only working sporadically, but it’s good, technology is great, it keeps us connected. But being without it for a while, talking to our neighbors and others working together to help each other is something that is missing in our society today. At the moment there is a great sense of camaraderie, everyone is talking to each other in lines, in stores, working together and helping each other. There is also the bad element, those that are trying to take advantage, con artists who drove from other states trying to charge thousands of dollars to help you clean up your yard, others with trucks full of generators selling them well over their normal value, Naples is under a curfew.

Every day it gets better, phones came back yesterday, we saw Florida Power and Light workers are two streets away, gas is available, fresh bread arrived at Publix, life goes on. The short back and sides Irma gave to Naples will grow back quickly.

 

 

 

 

APOLOGIES

 

My apologies for writing this and not informing people about the events in it before they happened. Those of you who were not informed know who they are, in particular I would like to mention my Daughter Joanna whose heart and medical knowledge always make perfect sense, I apologize for not always heeding your advice. My son Max, who whilst off on his travels throughout the universe with a brain the size of a planet, I try to spare from some of my decisions so he does not have to worry. My wonderful mother who would I think, have actually got on a plane after 20 years of managing to avoid flying, in order to take care of me, had she known what I was about to do.

I love you all – and my new hip is great !!!!

 

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