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Entries in San Diego fires 2007 (3)

Thursday
Nov082007

Firey Sunset


This, along with twelve other shots as the sun went down on this one evening, was the only time I took pictures during the fires a couple weeks ago. In fact, this was several days after the majority of the fires were contained, but the air continued "unhealthy" for two more weeks where I stayed in a lot.

I did not manipulate the color in Photoshop.

Monday
Oct292007

Breathing Ash

I sat in the house for a week, leaving a couple of times to run to the store, but running right back home into the relative safety of recycled air. I coped with Cabin Fever by obsessively watching HGTV and thinking I needed to create a shrine of Disney memorabilia in two of our 8 foot bookcases. To complete my bizarre Disney project, I had to do 395 preliminary projects that are still strewn around my living room. Thank goodness you can't see it. It doesn't help that the vacuum cleaner is acting stupid and, instead of sucking the (black) dog hair up, it's spreading it around like so much frosting on a wedding cake. Yum. Oh, and we have white carpeting like all crazy Californians who still have carpeting.

I looked outside Saturday and wow! the air looked better, the day was cooler and I considered opening the house, but thought I should look up the air quality on-line first. Oops! Unhealthy. No go.

I have a new client and was meeting them Sunday at the office, so was excited to get out. The off-shore flow certainly swept some of the crap air away by then, right? It didn't look so bad out. I hopped in the car and zoomed up to the office where I had not been all week.

I am the cleaning lady at the office. I hadn't been there all week. Not a good thing. I needed to clean before the childbirth class started and clean up after the clients that had come once we re-opened on Wednesday. I empty the garbage, the linens, fill the paper towel holders, make sure TP is where it is supposed to be, blah blah... you know the office routine.

So, I get to the office at 9:20am and am blown away by the difference in air quality - 30 miles makes a world of difference! You know how when you swim underwater with your eyes open in an over-chlorinated pool for several hours and when you get out everything is hazy and grey and you can hardly see because your eyes are burning? THAT is what it was like at my office.

I got out of the car and stepped into the city's fireplace. Ashes were everywhere. Ash was smooshed up against the curbs, in the flower beds, all over the sidewalks, swirled everywhere in the parking lot. Everywhere.

I got into the office quickly, did the cleaning fast (cursory) and within 15 minutes, my lungs felt like I had razor blades inside them. I started to cry.

I had to take the trash out, skating through the ashes and knew I had to get out of the area.

Where the office is experienced mandatory evacuations. The fires were so close, my clients that live in the area are still out of state.

Besides going to clean, I was meeting new clients, giving them their paperwork and doing a first prenatal, despite their nearly being done. I had to think fast about what to do, where to go. I just couldn't see them there, now. I thought it best to meet them down south more and do the prenatal later in the week when I/we could all breathe better. They were coming for the childbirth class, so when they got there, I asked if we could meet at a local restaurant 30 miles south, they were very gracious and said, "Sure!"

I hightailed it outta there. My voice was scratchy, my lungs tight.

Once home, I sucked on my oxygen for awhile and that helped some, but I had to go out again to the restaurant, which was a hoot and a great time with my apprentice Donna and my new clients. I went back home again, breathed the O2 several times through the evening, considered going to the hospital, visualizing open lungs, clear lungs, easy breaths... and I slept upright that night, awakening to open and clear lungs and easy breaths. I was so, so relieved.

I look outside now and see some light haze. It's barely anything, but the air quality is "moderate" and there are particles floating everywhere. I'm scared to open the windows. I don't know if that is paranoia or self-protection. Because of the cocci, my lungs look like lace from the scar tissue, so it is probably protection, right? I almost feel agoraphobic from being so scared about the dust and crap floating around outside. It sounds so crazy when I say it outloud, but knowing my history, it really isn't.

I went to the movies last night. It was as surreal as going to the restaurant the other day. Getting out is odd.

When I was really sick with the DVT 2 years ago and stayed in the house for several weeks at a time, I would get dizzy going outside. It was strange. There were so many people, just living their lives, not thinking about my little tiny world and how hard it was for me to be outside. What an accomplishment it was. That's kind of how it feels right now. That I am so nervous about inhaling something I shouldn't lest I get sick again, I ration my outside visits.

They have to get more frequent. I have a lot to do!

So, the front of my house is clean as can be. I have nearly finished three blog posts. I've not done nearly enough work work that I was supposed to be doing. I've figured out my decorating styles are eclectic, bohemian and organic. I've laughed my head off watching Romie & Michelle again (that is the FUNNIEST movie!). I've marveled at the styles of the 80's in "Back to the Future." I decided I like "Dirty Dancing" a whole lot more on cable than on regular tv. I decided I want David Bromstad (Color Splash), Candice Olson (Divine Design) or Vern Yip (Deserving Design) to redo all of my house.

You'd be proud. I hardly watched the news at all.

Monday
Oct222007

San Diego Ablaze

Deja Vu.

It is so painful to be watching the fires rage through the county where I live again. We've been told this is at least twice as bad as it was 4 years ago.

Four years ago, the fires were across the street and the bulldozers carved gashes in the dirt, bringing the deadly coccidioides immitis spores up from the dirt and into the air where I breathed them and contracted Disseminated Coccidiomycosis and lived on fluconazole (Diflucan) for three years and Acyclovir for two years, dealing with incredible pain, spinal meningitis every 6 weeks for over a year (until the Acyclovir came on board), baldness from the fluconazole, skin sores that were the hallmark of disseminated cocci that wept and caused even my pillow case's pressure to make me cry.

I was pronounced "in remission" several months ago... I say I am cured.

These fires scare me.

I had to go out this morning and get gas, but I am back in the house, hunkered down with the puppies, house slammed shut, air on re-circulate, my oxygen tanks sitting next to me (I'm having a hard time breathing because of the smokiness, even in the closed up house) - I am doing everything in my power to stay away from bulldozers.

The fires are several miles from me, but they are on the streets of clients. One of the streets named is a client I helped have two babies; I can't reach her. Another client owns horses and they have been evacuated to the Del Mar Fairgrounds, which is now full. Another client has moved to her beach house. Others are going to family homes north, others, towards the coast.

My office is in the line of fire. My sister-in-law went in this morning and took the server, some important papers and irreplaceable pictures of the kids on the walls and is heading back home. I wish she hadn't gone in at all. I was on my way in, too, but Sarah stopped me. I wanted to grab the client's charts. She said, "If they burn, they burn... nothing we can do about it." I cried.

So, I'm watching the news sporatically. Enough to keep informed, but not enough to make me crazy. And I promise to stay away from bulldozers, take tokes off my oxygen periodically (thanking goodness they are full and I have two of them!) and do some writing. I'm keeping busy... doing laundry, the floors, reading... and working on work stuff.

Good thoughts are welcome.

Southern California needs them.