Monday, September 11, 2017

First Irma Update & Good News

While we are not home yet to see the extent of the flooding, I do have some good news to share. First of all, thank you to everyone who has reached out to offer help in the coming weeks if we find extensive damage in the house, and thank you to those who offered good thoughts Sunday as we waited to see how the storm would turn out.

For us, Irma has passed. It is still going to bring dangerous weather to other cities, but I hope it peters out quickly and more damage is avoided.

A friend was able to get close enough to our intersection to get a photo of our house. It looks like the water is sitting just below our garage in front; we aren't sure how high the water got before receding to this level, but I am hopeful that if we had flooding, it only came in from the back into the sunken living room, which we emptied and prepped. Knowing how our backyard floods, that is still a possibility.
Our neighborhood has no power and the estimation is about two weeks before it comes back on. With temperatures in the 90s, we are not anxious to get back to an AC-less house, but we are anxious to see if there is interior damage. Our roof looks intact from the front view, at least.

We got lucky; the areas south of us took the hardest winds and the storm surge, and by the time the hurricane hit us it was a Category 3 instead of the anticipated 4. By the time it got to my parents' house, it was a 2. (They never even lost power!) My brother's apartment made it through; my sister is on her way home to see how hers did. My friends and colleagues are safe and most sustained minimal damage to their houses and yards, but the downed trees, debris, and downed power lines are a concern.
A colleague sent me this still shot of her house. All the houses are on personal islands due to flooding; she's not sure about internal damage  yet. 
I am honestly weak with relief. It could have been so much worse for us and millions of others. The path Irma ended up taking was very lucky because she lost power as she stayed inland.

I've seen quite a few heartwarming stories that remind me that we are all in this together, and we will be able to rebuild.
Click here for the whole story.
 I think Kristina's home got through the worst of it intact as well!

Thanks again for your support!


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Preparing for Irma

This past week has felt like it lasted a year. As Irma strengthened, Matt and I prepared the house.

After putting it off for years, Matt bought some hurricane shutters (he found them for $3 a shutter - they are usually $6 a foot) and spent Tuesday cutting them to size and fitting them on our house. I helped him finish up on Wednesday. The original shutters were plastic and the bolts were unevenly spaced, so it was quite a project.
He worked all night Tuesday to get the shutters ready.
He also put out all the sandbags we got from last week's storm, but the two layers of bags we have probably won't do much good against the projected storm surge. (Some of you may have seen the videos I posted of that flooding on Instagram last week.) Finally, we went to his studio and cleared out all the ceramics.
Wrapping a tarp around his kiln. We're not sure if the cabin will make it through the storm. His kiln, wheel, and slab roller may all be lost.
For awhile we were unsure what Matt's mom would do, as she lives in a mobile home and has a small dog, but eventually decided whatever we ended up doing, she would join us. So Thursday, as Irma's path turned ever more westward, we finally decided we would evacuate.

Our home almost flooded just the other weekend from a rainstorm that sat over us for awhile, so we were sure the house would flood from Irma. As we saw that the wind gusts would possibly be 150 MPH, we became worried that our roof wouldn't survive, so we had to evacuate.
We are in Fort Myers. My parents live in Sarasota, between Tampa and Fort Myers.
We were able to book an Airbnb up in the panhandle. We finished cleaning up the house and removing things from our sunken living room, and after taking a video of each room to document our belongings, we hit the road around 2am on Friday. Because of my surgery, I was told if I evacuated I should keep my foot elevated and my leg outstretched to avoid the risk of blood clots, so Matt drove the entire way to Tallahassee. He used backroads and we used Gas Buddy to find fuel along the route, and we made it to our first destination (Matt's cousin's house) around 8am. Traffic was heavy for the dead of night, but we didn't encounter any gridlock.

Saturday afternoon, we completed our journey out to Miramar Beach. The panhandle is unlikely to have more than a tropical storm, so we will be safe here. Once we arrived, my mind was finally able to start processing that we may not have a home to return to. Irma's eye is aimed directly at our city, and our house was built in the 1970s. It wasn't until after Hurricane Andrew (1992) that more stringent building codes were enacted. It is extremely likely that the 15 foot storm surge they are expecting will get into our house, and it's very likely that our roof won't hold out against category 4+ winds.
Road tripping. You'd never know a hurricane was looming based on the weather we're having.
I am relieved for my friends on the east coast, but devastated thinking of what the west coast is facing.

I keep thinking about the things I had to leave behind, most specifically my grandma's crystal, which she gave me as a wedding gift, and the handcrafted menorah Matt got me for my birthday two years ago. I took all my heirlooms/good jewelry. I am trying very hard to come to terms with possibly returning to utter destruction. (The Weather Channel predicts our area will suffer somewhere between "devastating" and "catastrophic" effects.) If I expect that the house will be totally destroyed, then I can be happily surprised if there is anything left at all.
The Waterford crystal only comes out for Passover.
After all the work we've put into it, I can't really explain the emotions I am going through right now, but I'm sure you can imagine.

Before they evacuated, Elizabeth went to my house to grab my A1A marathon medal for me.

My parents and siblings (and their pets) are all in Sarasota at my parents' house. Their house was built in 2007 so it should be safe, and Irma should be a little weaker when it hits Sarasota. I am anxious about them staying behind, but I'm sure they'll be fine.

There is still time for things to change, as Irma won't hit Fort Myers until Sunday night. There is time for it to slow down or weaken. There's time for it to curve. Hurricanes are tricky in how difficult their paths are to predict.

I have dozens of friends who either evacuated or have prepared their houses to weather the storm. Needless to say, I am anxious for my friends and family. I appreciate everyone who has reached out with well wishes and offers to help. I will need them.

So...yeah. I am trying to be objective about this, because I can't find it in me to be positive. We will survive and that's what matters. But the road ahead is sure to be difficult. Please keep Florida in your thoughts. I don't believe thoughts and prayers make any difference, but it helps to know people are thinking of us.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Surgery & Afterward

I am going to include photos in this post; nothing is gory or bloody, but there is one photo of inside my leg so if you think that might gross you out, you've been warned!


Matt and I arrived at Naples Day Surgery at 2pm for intake. I was feeling very calm; I don't think I got nervous once during the entire day, maybe because I was still in denial a little bit about actually having surgery. Let's call it survival mode!

After I changed into a gown and got settled in the pre-op area, Matt came back to wait with me. The nurse gave me an IV to start pushing some fluids because I hadn't had any since very early in the morning, and then the anesthesiologist team (there were three of them) came by to each check on me and get my medical history.
This is my new look; it's great for hiding bad hair days!
One of these team members had had an emergency fasciotomy in high school due to a football injury, and he showed me his scars. Everyone was so helpful and nice; I definitely give them all an A+ for bedside manner.

Dr. Guerra came by and marked my leg, and then I asked one of the nurses to help me to the bathroom. The IV had made me have to pee, and I was afraid I'd go on the operating table once I was under anesthesia!

Finally, it was time to go into the operating room. They pushed the first dose of...something...into my IV and I immediately started feeling loopy. I remember trying to tell them a story as they wheeled me into the OR, but I honestly don't know what I was telling them. (Okay, I think I was telling them about an Unsolved Mysteries case about a doctor who killed patients by putting bubbles in their IVs. What is wrong with me?)  I vaguely remember the nurse attaching the monitor wires to my chest, and I think I remember the oxygen mask.
A photo they printed of my surgery. I think the silver thing on top is the blade, the smooth pink at the bottom is the muscle, and the thin white/red thing is the fascia being cut.
The next thing I knew, I was hearing voices and being moved into a sitting position. I became aware that Matt was there talking to someone about my care, and I asked for something to drink. I felt dizzy from the anesthesia, so I asked for apple juice (I felt like I needed the sugar) and nursed that slowly while I woke up.
I was wheeled out to the car, and about halfway home I made Matt pull over so I could try to puke, but nothing came up. After that passed, I actually felt a lot better. Matt stopped at Publix to get me ice cream and soup (I remember telling him exactly what to get me, but it's all very foggy; all my memories from Thursday are), and then at home he made me dinner and was generally just the best caretaker I could ask for.
I do not remember taking this picture while I waited for Matt. I guess I was subconsciously thinking I need this for the blog.
I used my crutches the rest of the day Thursday. I really didn't want to take any of the narcotic painkillers I had been prescribed, so I stuck with Advil (Dr. Guerra said that was fine) and actually didn't have much pain. I was able to sleep pretty well!


I spent the day lounging around watching Jessica Jones with Matt. I was able to hobble around a bit without the crutches, and was still taking 600mg of Advil every 6 hours or so, but really my pain was very manageable.
The size of this bandage freaked me out but when I finally removed it, I saw I had very little swelling. The ace bandage was just packed with gauze and cushiony stuff.
I woke up around 3am Saturday morning with some burning in one incision, and I took Advil and went back to bed.


I was finally allowed to shower Saturday night! I did not have to take any Advil all day (besides the 3am wakeup) and was fully walking without crutches. Matt helped me unwind my leg and peel off the old dressings before my shower. After examining the incisions, we dressed them back up and I finally had a chance to shower. Afterward, my leg was a little sore from standing, but mostly I felt great.
They had me mark the leg they'd be operating on, and my initials are still there.
I had no swelling or bruising; my muscle was sore beneath my skin, but the surgical sites themselves were completely numb. I know this could last up to a couple months.
No swelling at all!

By Sunday, I had no pain at all. My ankle is a little sore where my anterior incision is, but the rest of my leg is painfree, if a little stiff. We even left the house Sunday so I could walk around a feel like a normal person.

I start PT on Tuesday and I am excited to get on with it! My post-op is September 11, and I hope at that time we can schedule my left leg, because I am bouncing back fast from the right and I am ready to be totally done with both! I'm hoping my fast recovery means I could get my right leg done on a "normal" long weekend. This time I had five days off but I think four would be plenty.

I am so grateful Kristina is going through this at the same time as me; it sucks to have this injury, but it's nice to not be alone. I am so ready to come back, to truly train, and to run again the way I used to.