Catching a Break After Hurricane Irma: Battered and a Little Broken

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Hurricane Palms Downed from Hurricane Irma, Sept. 2017.

Hurricane Palms Downed from Hurricane Irma, Sept. 2017.

 

Hurricane Irma ripped through Florida three weeks ago and I’m still finding my normalcy. Except for a few fallen palm fronds and a wind-blown bougainvillea, this devastating storm spared my home and property yet, I’m still feeling unsettled as I transition from surviving to living.

Survival Mode vs. Living Mode
I was without power for six nights. Since my home’s water source is through a well, when the bit of reserve in the tank was out, I was out of water other than what I had in bottles and jugs. If you’ve been in Southwest Florida during September then you know it’s still hot, as in 90-some degrees hot.

Throw in some humidity and you have some icky grossness. Air conditioning was invented for Florida summer days and nights and existing without it was annoying. Add the lack of running water and it was dang frustrating. (Fun fact: Sarasota, Fla., once called itself “The Air Conditioned City.”)

During the days I was working in my community’s emergency operations center, a requirement of my “day job.” Although I could not get my house in order, it did mean I had a place to sit in air conditioning, charge my electronic devices, access a toilet I did not have to fill to flush, and food to munch on. At night, I ate my Omeals (tasty prepackaged meals perfect for camping, fishing and surviving a hurricane; think MRE) by my iPhone light, figuring out the best ways to keep my dog and two cats cool.

I’m extremely grateful for friends who set me up with a battery and power inverter (in which I had no idea this miracle device even existed), which allowed me to plug in a fan at night to keep somewhat cool.

Communities I’m familiar with did not fare so well. Some, almost completely destroyed.

“You will have a little PTSD. Look it up. Read about it,” my friend Janet texted after I told her what I’ve been feeling, and that was about a week after the storm.

Three weeks later, I’m still having feelings that I can only describe as loneliness, sadness, and fearfulness and still feel a bit in survivor vs. living mode.

Plot Twist
For months I had planned a road trip to attend the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, a bucket-list event, and had a cool campervan reserved through Outdoorsy (think of it as AirBnB for RVs, motorhomes and campervans). That trip was to begin this week, but, after Hurricane Irma, I decided to cancel the Albuquerque portion and head straight to Kentucky to rest, write and hike in state and national parks, then attend the work conference. My decision was based on knowing I was/am not mentally prepared to deal with crowds of people and the demands of producing content of the event.

And then, about 10 days ago, I was walking my dog in the rain. He’s been having skin itchy skin issues and I’m guessing rain aggravates it because as soon as he was done with his business, he turned around and began running home.

“Hmm. I haven’t exercised in two weeks because of Hurricane Irma. Running would be good for me,” I said to myself and began running with my dog.

The thing is, the soles on my shoes were worn down and when I turned onto my concrete driveway, I knew what was going to happen.

I slipped.

And fell.

My iPhone flew out of my hand.

I cussed.

Then, I hoped my neighbor had not seen what I had done because a December day in 10th grade flashed back.

I was 15 and the bus arrived late to school because of the snow. The first period warning bell rang and I was worried about being late (things don’t change) so I rushed to class but slipped on a puddle on the hallway floor, probably from melted snow. I was more embarrassed about falling in front of everyone than actually breaking my ankle. I’m grateful for the friends who were there to help me hobble to the nurse’s office when I realized I couldn’t walk. It felt like walking on Jello.

At 47 years old, I sat on my wet driveway in the rain thinking, “Sh!t! I’m that ‘I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up Woman.'”

But, I did get up and hobbled into my house with a scraped up leg and swollen ankle. I iced my ankle and the next morning I walked my dog and went to the health clinic. Long story short, yup, I broke my ankle and need to be in a monster-boot cast for 4 – 6 weeks and as of now, I’m supposed to keep off it for 2 weeks, but being alone, that hasn’t quite happened.

It also means my road trip has been cancelled all together because I can’t drive and I can’t think of anyone who would want to spend two weeks on the road with me and my dog.

To make my life a bit easier, friends found crutches for me – because the health clinic was out and I didn’t want to drive around finding a pharmacy that dispenses them, since CVS doesn’t. Also, I had the rude awakening that my health insurance provider does not cover my monster-boot cast. Totally illogical and I’ll fight it. That’s ridiculous!

I have mobility issues, in that I’m supposed to be immobile, and basically drive to work and back (not with the monster-boot cast because that is illegal). My parents purchased this nifty knee scooter for me which comes in handy when I need to walk the dog. Using the crutches, my whole body aches and I look forward to going to bed and slathering on an essential oils lotion.

What’s the Plan?
And yes, I’ve been feeling sorry for myself. I’ve been wondering what the heck is wrong with me. My life isn’t perfect (right now is an example of it NOT being perfect) but I have many awesome opportunities I’d love to share with someone but he doesn’t seem to exist. I’ve been wracking my brain, going over and over and questioning, “How did I get to this point that I’m alone and don’t have a significant other to help me get through this?”

Is it all part of a bigger plan? Guess I just need to keep enjoying the journey, or at least, look for the positive in this part of the journey.

I’m grateful for those who have reached out and helped because it’s difficult for me to ask for help. I don’t want people to go out of their way for me. I suppose part of me is still in survival mode from the hurricane and know the only person I can truly rely on is myself. And, in the condition I’m in, I’m not sure how reliable to myself I can be.

But, I know. “This too shall pass.”

Amazingly, I have not missed any work. I’m still planning on taking my scheduled vacation time but obviously, I won’t be traveling anywhere. Hopefully, I’ll have the energy and ability to focus on getting some blog posts up.

As always, thanks for being here.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links to support this blog, my traveling habit and my special-needs dog.

 

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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