Sunday 25 Sep 2016

After Irene
Matt Seinberg

As all the loyal, faithful and regular readers know, my last column, “Sea Cruising,” ended with me mentioning Hurricane Irene and being sick. This is the rest of story.

Irene hit Long Island, with vengeance, on Saturday night, 28 August 2011. It tapered off Sunday afternoon. Luckily, Saturday night we didn’t lose power. I needed the air conditioning to stay cool, since I was feeling sick as a dog.

On Sunday morning, feeling even worse from whatever nasty bug I had, we lost power and the house was stifling. I couldn’t catch a breath. One moment I was hot. The next moment I was cold. Obviously, the antibiotic was not working. I needed something stronger.

The kids were in their rooms watching movies on their portable DVD players, reading or listening to music on their iPods. Sometimes they even were fighting, with each other, just to relieve the boredom of having no television. My poor children, with nothing to replace television.

All I wanted to do was lie in bed and not be bothered. When I’m sick, I don’t want to do anything except sleep, read and watch television. With screaming kids, that’s not easy to do. I had to lay down the law and threaten to bring out Derrick Jeter, my baseball bat, if they didn’t behave and be quiet.

My in-laws called later in the day. Taking pity on us, they invited us to dinner. Though that made me feel better, I still wanted to be alone and in my comfortable bed.

Finally, on Monday afternoon the power returned. By that time, I had called my physician to make an appointment. I needed to know what was wrong with me.

After not too long a wait, Nurse Debbie brought me in the exam room and did the usual workup. Then Dr. Robert came in. He looked at the chart, asked some questions, listened to my chest and proclaimed that I may have pneumonia.

Well, that certainly explains why I felt as if I wanted to crawl away and do nothing. He prescribed a stronger antibiotic and told me to get a chest x-ray just to see what was going on. I drove to the radiology office, where I wait a little while.

As I wait, I realize I’m in such distress I feel like I just want to close my eyes and pass out. Forget about sleeping at this time. The technician does her thing and tells me to call my doctor the next day.

I stop at my local CVS to pick up the new prescription. I rush home. I take the medication and get in bed.

Did I mention I had called my manager, my boss, on Sunday to tell him I wouldn’t be in that day and most likely the rest of the week? No? Well, I did and he said that the store had closed for Sunday. He was on vacation that week, but he would tell the other two managers that I would be away, sick, for a week.

There is only thing worse than being sick while actually on vacation. That’s getting sick when you return from vacation. Luckily, I had one vacation day and a couple of sick days left to use.

I’m now home with the new pills, which I gobble down and wait patiently to work. I crawl into bed, with the AC on, to take a nap.

Wouldn’t you know it; the power goes out for about two hours. Please understand that compared to most of Long Island, I was lucky. There were areas that didn’t have power for over a week, and they lost not only all their food, but their homes as well since their basements were flooded and they couldn’t pump them out.

The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) says they did their best to prepare and to get repairs done as soon as they could. They brought in extra repair crews from around the Northeast, but due to poor planning, it was too little and too late.

Yes, I understand that the rest of the region had to use these crews first and then lend them to LIPA. Why didn’t LIPA plan to use its own crews in a more efficient fashion? This isn’t the first time they planned poorly; I hope it will be the last.

Here’s an example of why LIPA failed in this exercise. Their phone system offers to call the customer, with an estimated time when to expect their power to return. I did that twice; neither time did I get any sort of return call. Both times, I had to input my phone number because the system puts in its own phone number. How many people didn’t realize that, and never got a call because of that little error?

I put in my number and it still didn’t work. I wonder how many people during that week kept trying to call LIPA to get an estimated time of when to expect their power to come back on, but never got an answer, be it automated or human.

I called the physician on Tuesday. He’s not sure if its pneumonia, but it’s definitely bronchitis and I should come back to see him on Friday. Meantime, I must take it easy and don’t go to work.

My DVR was over 85% full when I got home from the cruise and it is now less than 20% full. That’s a lot of watching television and that was just from summer shows like “Royal Pains,” “Covert Affairs,” “Franklin & Bash,” “Memphis Beat” and “Falling Skies.” Just think that the fall television season is almost upon us.

Friday comes and it’s time for the follow up appointment with Dr. Robert. He says my chest sounds better, but it’s going to take at least two weeks for me to recover, fully. Yes, I can go to work, but I have to expect to lose energy quickly and feel very tired.

If I get sweaty, very quickly and chilly, I have to sit down, have a drink and relax for a while. I had already told the manager I would be in on Saturday, but it wouldn’t be a full day. Working while sick is certainly not one of my favourite things, and co-workers aren’t thrilled about it either. If they get sick, who are they going to blame?

Here are some pearls of advice when dealing with such situations, in the future. One, buy a generator and gas. Two, make sure you have plenty of non-perishable items in the house to eat, along with bottled water. Three, have batteries and flashlights ready to go. Candles might look nice, but are dangerous.

Last, but not least, ensure your cell phone is charged and cuddle up with the ones you love. If all else fails, pray to whatever deity you believe in and hope for the best.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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