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Hurricanes, Anxiety, Sarcasm

I'm feeling a bit anxious right now. OK, a lot anxious. I don't have a clinical diagnosis of anxiety, but watching Hurricane Irma inch toward Florida is making me anxious. I've turned off the Weather Channel and I'm limiting my peeks at Facebook and the news.

I grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida, but I managed to find an 18 year period where the most severe storm was Hurricane David, a hurricane that we watched while sitting on our back porch. Nonetheless, I have great respect for hurricanes. I grew up hearing the stories of how my parents rode out Hurricane Betsy in New Orleans with my aunt and uncle. And then, of course, there were the stories of Hurricane Camille. Hurricane parties? Really?

When I was in medical school, Patrick and I rode out Hurricane Andrew in New Orleans. My parents were in West Palm Beach, but sustained very little damage, although a friend in medical school had parents in Miami who lost part of their roof.

Katrina probably affected me the most, even though I was living here in Wisconsin at the time. I lived in New Orleans for the four years of medical school at Tulane. Studying medicine in a city is more than just living there. You become part of it. For two years, I lived and breathed downtown New Orleans. I spent full days and nights at "Big Charity" downtown. The Superdome was part of my daily life. The food, the people, everything. It all gets into your skin and becomes part of you. You don't leave New Orleans as the same person you came there.

Hurricane Katrina is inextricably tied in with my near-death experience. I was listening to coverage about Katrina during my workday and then I went to a medical conference in Door County on Friday night. Saturday morning, I had a bad migraine again, so one of my partners admitted me to the hospital to try another treatment. I vividly remember watching on TV doctors transferring patients from the ER door at the back of Big Charity (which was 8-10 feet off the ground) into boats. That night, I got an overdose of a medication and had to be resuscitated (long story) and spend a day in the ICU. That was the beginning of my three month medical leave (which is now 12 years long.) So, Katrina and my near-death experience are always in my mind together. And big, bad hurricanes make me anxious. For good reason.

Watching the craziness today has my anxiety meter pegged. I've been doing all the "right" things to do for anxiety. Plus, the medication I'm using for my migraine today is also used for anxiety! Score! It's still a crappy day.

I'm not sure if I'm trying to write an encouraging post or what. I should probably be telling you what scriptures to read if you are feeling anxious, but you probably already know. If you don't have a migraine, take a walk outside. Unless you are in Florida, in which case you should be getting everything ready for the hurricane or evacuating (and not your bowels - unless you are in a socially and hygienically appropriate location!).

Wow. This went right into sarcasm land pretty quickly, but, you know what? I think this works. Venting my anxiety into sarcasm is probably as good a coping technique as any. And, I think Patrick is going to get me ice cream later. Also a decent way to handle the world falling apart.

Other ways I have been coping with my anxiety are to check on all my friends and family in Florida. You will be pleased to know that they are all reasonably intelligent and are either evacuating or making very good preparations. No one is planning hurricane parties. What was up with that anyway?? Granted, it was 1969, so there was likely some recreational pharmaceutical usage, but, still. Staying in a beach house with a Category 5 hurricane coming at you?

What is your coping technique of choice today?


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