Monday, September 11, 2017

Hurricane Verti-go-go

What is Veritgo?  Something you likely will have to live with, if you live long enough.

When God gets bored he likes to go bowling. He lines up human beings like ten pins and then knocks them down with his Almighty bowling ball, or so it seems, at least to some.

The latest trick up his sleeve after giving me Diverticulitis and gout as well as allergy to pain medication which results in my breaking out in hives, is to bless me with vertigo - all at the same time, of course.

Vertigo, like hives, it's not necessarily life-threatening, but it is annoying as all hell. It is caused when your inner ear clogs up with calcium and thus your balancing mechanism doesn't respond quickly enough to your movements. If you lay down or get up suddenly it will seem like the entire world is jumping up and down or spinning around for several seconds.

For some people this can go on for as long as 20 minutes, which is quite nauseating. This could be result of something called Ménière's disease which fortunately is curable with a simple pill.  For others it is just a natural consequence of old age and not much can be done to stop from it occurring.

There is a procedure called the Epley maneuver in which you assume several positions to clear the gunk from your inner ear (Update, the Seamont maneuver is easier to do, and I tried it and my Vertigo seems to be going away, thank God!).  A doctor or chiropractor and put you through these positions and supposedly it miraculously curious the problem in a matter of hours or days. But if you are prone to vertigo it may come back later on.

Like I said it's more annoying than anything else, although people who have vertigo for extended periods of time end up getting nauseous and throwing up, which of course is not pleasant.   If you have extended vertigo, it could be the sign of Ménière's disease or something even more serious, so it would pay to get it checked out.  To me it is just annoying and I find myself getting angry for something like this to happen. I just wanted to go away and stop.

We are traveling in our RV and hope to do some fun things I kayaking and bicycling but vertigo has other ideas. However it's been pouring rain for the last few days so it doesn't seem like kayaking or bicycling would have been possible anyway.

And we are fortunate to be away during Hurricane Season. We've been following the track of hurricane Irma closely, and it seems like although the storm has weakened it still have a major impact on South Florida. What is unfortunate for one group of people is fortunate for another. Florida will take the brunt of the hurricane knocking it down from a category 4 to a three to a two and then to a tropical storm about the time it hits the Georgia border.

And it appears it'll hit the Georgia border far west from Jekyll Island which may be spared from the brunt of the storm. So it looks like we've managed to dodge a bullet here.

As I've noted before, hurricanes are a rather predictable event if you live in Florida or anywhere on the East Coast or Gulf coast of the United States. People get lulled into a false sense of security when years or even a decade go by without a major hurricane. But eventually they will come and strike and damage homes and buildings.

There has been some controversy of course as to whether people are overhyping this current hurricane. People on both the left and right are using the hurricane to justify their positions with regard to global warming. Those in the right argue that the media is overhyping the hurricane to sell a global warming narrative. I don't think this is the case, the media hypes everything pretty much equally in order to generate revenue from clicks and eyeballs.

And indeed some of the articles posted by the media are quite nonsensical. One article argues that an airplane was "outracing hurricane Irma" which is ludicrous as the hurricane travels at about 18 miles an hour and the airplane travels at hundreds of miles per hour. As it race, it was no contest.

But there is a nugget of truth In these warnings, however. This looks to be a fairly major storm and it will cause extensive damage as it comes ashore unless a miracle occurs and the storm loses strength substantially before making landfall which does not look likely.

Predicting storm paths and storm intensities is an uncertain science of course. It is better to have people evacuate and find out later it was unnecessary than to have people stay in place and be injured or killed. We evacuated last year for hurricane Matthew only to later find out that the damage was not that great. However in a few instances very large pine trees did fall over and crush people's houses which could have been fatal if somebody been in the path of the tree. So it is better safe than sorry.

And it is true there is a bit of a drum beat on the left every time there is a major storm to make the allegation that this storm is proof of global warming. And I think such claims maybe a little more extreme. The press is reporting that hurricane Irma is the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever, however that's based on the definition of the hurricane being in the Atlantic and not the Caribbean. And as you can see the Atlantic and the Caribbean are quite close together if in fact sort of overlap one another.

Again this is not to trivialize global warming or trivialize a hurricane, only to point out that it is impossible to draw a direct connection from any one storm or weather event to overall weather trends.

A reader asked what we would do if a category 5 hurricane hit our Island directly which has not happened in over a hundred years. If that did occur, the winds no doubt would rip the roof off our house and it is possible that water would wash over the entire island, destroying much, if not all, of the infrastructure.

If that were the case, we would have to hope that our insurance would cover us. Our flood insurance maxes out at $250,000, which is far less than the market value of the home at $440,000.

There literally is no way to buy additional coverage under the FEMA flood insurance program. Of course the lot is worth something which is what they're figuring into the equation, even if the house flooded, the land still exists. Also in most cases even a flooded house can be repaired even if it means removing all the sheetrock and insulation, spraying everything with Clorox and drying it out first.

We would have to hope that some combined wind and flood payout would equal the value of the home if we decided to start over. Or the cost of rebuilding would be less than the market value of the home at the present time.

If that were to happen I would have to sit down and think a long time as to whether to rebuild or move elsewhere. As I noted to before, I have no intention to live in my current home for the rest of my life, as it is not well suited for the elderly. We have no support or infrastructure for the elderly on our Island. I have seen firsthand how people struggle as they get older without any sort of infrastructure or way of getting around.

If we did rebuild, I would definitely build higher on stilts as permitted by local building codes and definitely reinforce the house with hurricane straps and other features to make it resistant to future storms. Of course much of this is now required by local building codes as we discovered when we built Mark Studio which indeed has these features.

And that is probably the irony, if we were hit by Hurricane directly, it might level the house but leave the studio standing, giving us a third option to just abandoned the house and live in the studio.

But regardless of what happened, I would move on in life and not sit around and whine and complain that I'm victim of a hurricane which is a predictable event which I have insured against. I would have no more right to complain than people in New York do after a severe snow storm or people in California after an earthquake - or wildfire. These are quite predictable events which have occurred with regularity over the years and we should be prepared for them.

And yes it is a tragedy when people lose their homes and possessions or worse yet, lose loved ones to a storm or tornado or other natural disaster. But these are not unexpected things, just as medical issues, aging, and inevitable death are not unexpected things.

So while vertigo does make me uncomfortable and indeed angry, it is not something that is unexpected in my life, much like weather events. I am getting older and can expect more of such things in the future. This is a telegraphing of how the rest of my life will be and I should cherish the remaining time I have when I'm healthy - rather than complain about the unfairness of it all.

And just as we saw the storm path of hurricane Irma and knew what to expect, years ago I saw the path of my life and knew what to expect in the coming years. And I'm happy to say I'm in a comfortable place where I can deal with these health issues and not have to worry about missing work or the cost of treatment.