They were in the process of collecting bids for what would amount to a multi-million-dollar repair/renovation. But for some reason, this is just about three years after becoming aware of the damage; After the engineer brought the problems to the Champlain Towers’ Condo Association’s attention. Why the delay?
The city building official, Ross Prieto, denies seeing the 2018 engineers report. The same report could have possibly prevented the Champlain Towers’ deadly collapse in Surfside, Florida, last week. The inspection noted that failed waterproofing was causing significant structural damage. The concrete slab was in jeopardy. The engineer warned that if left uncorrected, the extent of the concrete deterioration would expand exponentially. To me, this would be alarming AF!
Telltale signs of devastation to come ignored
According to the Associated Press, Prieto allegedly instructed them at the time that the building was “in very good shape.”; But it wasn’t in good shape. If the building official had not seen the engineer’s report, why give kudos to the condition of the south tower? I get that construction might not be in the board members’ skillset. But this report was provided to them at this same time as well. What did they think ‘major structural damage’ meant?
In Six seconds the building violently levels itself. It entirely consumes the residents in the rubble of their 12-story high-rise home. The Miami Herald is reporting Cassie Stratton calling her husband. He is up in D.C., it is 1:30 AM Thursday morning. The first tremors have begun.
The swimming pool is missing!
The model was on the phone just long enough to tell him that the building was shaking. Then she notes a sinkhole appearing in place of the swimming pool. Suddenly, silence – the phone went dead, Mike Stratton, Cassie’s husband, told the paper. Can you imagine being on the other end of that call with your spouse or significant other?
Two days prior, a South Florida pool contractor was on-site to collect information to prepare a bid. The swimming pool is part of the significant overhaul plan for the condos. These repairs would have likely addressed the structural problems discovered three years prior. The unnamed contractor told the Miami Herald that cracking concrete and severely corroded rebar under the pool.
The search for survivors continues
We are now six days into the search, sifting through pulverized concrete and mangled steel. CBS News reports that only emergency personnel has pulled 11 bodies from the wreckage at this point; 150 people are still missing.
I’m usually one of the first people that will say don’t search Google for answers. The information you find on the internet is only as good as the person that put it there. Not that there isn’t great article, blog, and video content available – there absolutely is. But if your searching for answers or ‘How to’ instruction, you’ll have to sort through a lot of bullshit before you find something solid. The bigger problem is, do you know enough to separate fact from fiction on a topic your searching for on Dr. Google because you don’t know the answer?
Please Do Not Confuse Your Dr. Google Search With My Decades of Experience in the Pool Industry
Seriously, this is a problem. When you are out on the job, and a customer is up your ass telling you the ‘Guy’ on YouTube did it differently. It’s insulting that they even searched the internet for instruction when they know they had already hired you. WTF?! Honestly, I don’t care whose video they watched at this point; it’s disparaging.
I do have a story to share with you where I did the unthinkable and searched for answers
Most of you are already aware that I have walked with a cane for the last decade. For the past three years, I have had to be on painkillers so I could walk at all. I was suffering from undiagnosed pain that had caused a rapid loss of mobility. That’s a big part of why I sold my pool service company back in 2014 and started teaching. You can’t service swimming pools if you can’t walk. I used to track it with a Fitbit; it was somewhere between 10 and 14 miles each day.
Making sure I went to the doctor; I didn’t blow it off. There were years when I took off spans of three to four months to go to doctor appointment after doctor appointment. They ran the whole gamut of tests with all types of medical machines. Sadly, every time they thought they had something, the prognosis was death. That’s some hard news to take over and over again for a decade.
The prognosis was death
I saw the best of the best. I started with a private practice doc, but that came to a rapid demise as the insurance began to refuse the tests he would order. Ok, no problem. I’ll go to the VA. They have their own stuff, and no insurance is needed. From there, I went to the University Of Florida; I think they call it UF Health. And then off to the Mayo Clinic. After that, I was directed to the War-Related Injury & Illness center in DC, then back to Mayo again. My suspected list of illnesses included ALS, MS, Guillain-Barré syndrome, demyelinating polyneuropathy, and Gulf War Illness.
That’s the cliff noted detail of ten years, which, believe it or not, doesn’t seem to do justice to what was happening to me. In 2020, finally, the Mayo Clinic decided it was all in my head. They called it Conversion Disorder. My Neurologist had sent me to Psych, and they had recommended treatment in their PRC program.
Honestly, I had given up at this point and was not going to go, and it didn’t sound like this was for me. But, my wife told me that if I didn’t go every time I complain of pain, she’d remind me of how I didn’t participate in the only treatment option that anyone had ever been prescribed. So, obviously, I had no choice.
30 Days at Mayo at $40,000
Here my diagnosis went from conversion disorder to Central Sensitization Syndrome in about 3 seconds flat. I broke down – I mean tears and everything as they explained there’d be no cure and I’d have to learn to manage it. I did not go into this program with an open mind. The doctors and the nurses were fantastic people, but what really pulled me out of my hole were the folks in my group the were attending these sessions with me. Still, there were rules to follow.
We were not allowed to say the word pain. Instead, we could refer to it as ‘our symptoms.’ I had been told it would be an intense physical therapy program, but that’s not what it was at all. Each day consisted of 30 to 45 minutes of light stretching and then several hours later 30 to 45 minute of cardio on an exercise bike. I’m sure for some, it was more challenging for others, but I was extremely disappointed. There were several conversations with my wife about my plotted escape, all of which she discouraged.
Were we being brainwashed?
In between the ‘physical’ components of the day was classwork. We sat at a boardroom-style table surrounded by walls clad in dry erase panels. There we discussed this Central Sensitization Syndrome thing in great detail. Apparently, I was short-circuiting and needed a reboot. Don’t get me wrong, the people that ran this program were phenomenal and were extremely passionate about helping folks suffering from this affliction. But, to me, it felt like 6-hours of daily brainwashing.
My mood over time did change, and I owe that 110% to the group members I was in. Honestly, it was the first time I was around people like me. People with undiagnosed pain, although everybody’s was different, looking for help. We were able to lean on one another. It was uplifting. We became friends. Seriously, we all still talk – every one of us. But sadly, those that will admit it still hurt.
Pain & Depression
I left this 30-day thing, and within a month, I could hardly walk at all. Completely defeated, I quit. I just stopped everything. I was done, and it wasn’t just the medical stuff. When I say I stopped everything, I mean life. UF psych had me so jacked on depression meds at this point that I didn’t really notice it anyway.
Fast forward to November of that year. I have a regular check-up with my primary care at UF. Somebody new. My first thought is, “Great; now I’m going to have to tell the whole story all over again for the one-hundredth time.” But that’s not what happened, and it wasn’t a doctor. This time I would be seen by a PA, Sierra, who had actually read my file. This was the first time I did not have to bring someone in the medical field up to speed. She went on with the exam.
The PA gets to the part where she checks my reflexes with that rubber hammer-looking thing. I already know what she’ll find – I’ve had this done one hundred times as well. She hits my left knee with the mallet and nothing. The PA tries again and still the same – nothing. Sierra then shifts to my right knee, and again the results were the same. I had not had reflexes in my legs in the entire ten years of seeing doctors about this. The difference was that Sierra was alarmed. Everyone else just took it like, ‘Hey, look at that. Huh.’ and nothing else would ever come of it.
Well, that was new, and on the ride home, it got me thinking. So, when I got back to my house, I immediately went online and added the lack of reflexes to my other symptoms. BAM! The only thing that came up in my Google search was Peripheral Neuropathy page after page. I picked several articles that looked to be from the more reputable sources, and each tied peripheral neuropathy to a problem at L3 & L4 in the vertebrae. Again, this was completely new and different from any direction anyone had taken me in.
Self-diagnosis with Dr. Google
I called UF and made a follow-up appointment the next week with my PA, and that’s when I shared what I found on Google. She seemed excited that my Dr. Google self-diagnosis made sense and immediately scheduled me for an MRI. The results indicated that my vertebrae L3 through L5 were crushed and compressing my spinal cord and the nerves running down my leg.
An easy way to remember which nerves are L3 to the Knee, L4 to the Floor (My kick-ass massage therapist taught me that). Surgery was scheduled to repair the broken back that I had likely had for a bit longer than a decade but had progressively become worse in that time.
The Road to Recovery
I now walk without a cane. At this point, I am still in recovery from my surgery, and my nerves are relearning some things. In addition, some habits I acquired to lessen the pain of being on my feet need to be corrected. But I can honestly say that Dr. Google and a medical professional who would finally listen are the reason I can walk today.
A swimming pool podcast? This was definitely not on the list of things I thought I would be doing in 2021. Realistically, it’s not something I thought I would ever be involved in. I mean, sure, I have been interviewed on dozens of shows hosted by some really great people, but to actually take on the role of podcaster? Besides, that’s already a pretty saturated market. Do we really need another one?
In October, I had mentioned to some peers that I had some exciting news on the horizon. Every one of them immediately said Buzzsprout. I neither confirmed nor denied, but that wasn’t it. I referred to my book How to Get Rid of Swimming Pool Algae and, if a person chose, the accompanying certification class, Certified Algae Prevention & Eradication Specialist. But they got it, so the podcast thing remained a thought in the back of my mind.
Swimming Pool Podcast
I released my book in February 2021. Suddenly my inbox filled with emails from News stations, every journalist and producer wanting to talk about the chlorine tablet shortage. I spoke with nearly all the major networks from CNBC to NPR. This went on for three months. In that time, I released two DIY pool care books (DIY POOL CARE: THE POOL OWNER’S GUIDE TO SAVING MONEY & DIY POOL CARE: how to maintain a saltwater pool) with the thought that they could be of some help as the scarcity of the chlorine tablet supply grew.
A co-hosted commentary
Suddenly, the time felt right. But, if I was going to do this, I was going to do something different. I wasn’t interested in competing with the existing industry broadcasts. It was going to have to be unique. Like I said before, there were already quite a few great programs that were doing a bang-up job with the interview show format, no point in doing the same. Besides, a commentary seemed to be more my style anyway. But, I certainly didn’t want to sit and talk by myself. It definitely didn’t sound like that would be much fun.
Andrea Nannini, one of my friends, had mentioned back in September or October that she had wanted to start a podcast, so I gave her a call to see if she had begun to put something together. She had not, but she was still interested. With that, the idea of a swimming pool commentary became a co-hosted commentary.
Pool pros to pool owners and all listeners in-between
We agreed that we would not limit whatever we were doing to a single niche within the niche. Instead, we would do a show for people that take care of swimming pools, whether it was a pool professional with one hundred pools on their route, an aquatics director, waterpark staff, or a pool owner for their own backyard pool – that is the audience for the show. Besides, there are plenty of topics to discuss all of those folks and more.
What’s in a name?
Coming up with a name was the easy part. I already had a group for professionals on Facebook called Talking Pools, and I already owned the URL TalkingPools.com. It is a good name, so it was a no-brainer. This, of course, extended to Facebook & Pinterest pages that I had already in existence, and Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube (now in their infancy).