Saturday, July 13, 2019


Hurricanes were a way of life when I was growing up in New Orleans. My life has been touched by three major storms: Betsy (1964), Camille (1969), and to a lesser degree, Carmen (1974). I had left New Orleans by the time Katrina came along.

It’s an undisputed fact that hurricanes are getting bigger and stronger. The three storms I lived through fell during the “peak window” of hurricane season, from August 15 to September 15. Labor day weekend is the bulls-eye. Hurricanes are named alphabetically: this is significant when you consider that I survived Betsy, Camille, and Carmen during the same point in the season we’re now seeing storms named Katrina, Isaac, and Nate. Mathematically, that’s about a tenfold increase in hurricane activity in the last forty years. I’m just sayin’. Point it out to the next climate change denier you meet.

Right now we’ve all got our eyes on the Louisiana gulf coast, where Hurricane Barry is coming along somewhere south of Lafayette. My eldest brother and his wife are in its cross-hairs, as are my neice and her husband, but Lafayette’s pretty far inland. The scary part is the storm surge that’s going to be driven into New Orleans, which is already flooded from the rising Mississippi River and all the rain they’ve already gotten.

If any of y’all need an ark, I noah guy. 😬

Friday, July 12, 2019

Dancing With The Reaper

If there’s one thing I’ve gotten used to in the last twenty-seven years, it’d the fact that I’m dying. I’ve been dying for the last fifty eight years, and I don’t see any reason to stop now. I’ve come close more than a few times… from an operating table in 1992 while doctors sewed up a twelve-inch gash someone carved down my back with a box cutter, to pneumocystis in 2005 which sent my fever spiking to 104.6°, to lingering side effects from chemotherapy in 2014, causing me to waste away to 89½ pounds. I’ve rang the grim reaper’s doorbell more times than a Mormon missionary. I’ve fought a constant battle against AIDS since 1992 and gone two for two with cancer. I’ve even survived two major hurricanes and a tornado.

Now the diagnoses are starting to pile up. Something I brought home from Europe last year landed me in the hospital for ten days last September. They never did figure out what it was, until I flunked my pulmonary function tests last year and got diagnosed with COPD. It came as no surprise: after a forty-year smoking history and a relapse in Europe, where the cancer sticks are particularly nasty, it was a matter of when, not if. But something new popped up out of the blue. While starting respiratory therapy, a routine check of my vital signs showed that my blood pressure was 206/155. (Yeow!) That’s bad, like red alert bad. It’s “a stroke about to happen” bad. Fortunately this happened at physical therapy and there just happened to be a hospital attached to it, so they ran, not walked me to the Emergency Room where I spent six hours mainlining labetolol. They finally got me down to 177/117 before they gave me some blood pressure meds and sent me home. Now I’m monitoring my blood pressure several times daily and wondering if I even want to know what card the gods are going to deal me next.

There’s a lesson here, folks. Just because you feel fine, it doesn’t mean you are fine. See your doctor now and then, just to make sure.