Essays: On The Road And A Little Off

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Welcome to Amsterdam, Buffy

   Dear Y'All:
I've noticed lately that people who are starved for oxygen tend to be
more than somewhat impatient.
Thus it was that when I found myself flopping around like a flounder on
the floor of the Nashville VA Med Center, I finally caved in and gave up
Cigarettes, anyhow.
It's been a good run...I been smoking since before I could write the
alphabet, never had a moment of ill effect from it. Until, apparently,
just before I went to France back in August. That's how long I've been
walking around ill, the docs say. What I've taken to be a series of very
bad colds has in fact been rockin' pneumonia, and not the boogie-woogie
flu after all.
It's been about three weeks since I got my diagnosis...I know because I
have just finished the last antibiotic tablet, the ones that make me
throw up two hours after I take them.
But the x-rays don't lie: "flattened diaphragm shadow and hyper-inflation
consistent with COPD". Now I'm a medical acronym: Chronic Obstructive
Pulmonary Disease. It can only get worse. I also have the beginnings of
that most disgusting lung ailment emphysema. I remember its
characteristics from my x-ray tech days. Some of my alveoli, the little
sacs in the lungs across whose membrane good air passes into the
bloodstream and bad air back out, have gotten hyper-inflated and lost
their elasticity, so that now they remain filled with dead air from, who
knows? 1976 or sometime, never to function again, never to recover. It
is very sad.

And I looked so insouciant and jaunty with my ciggies, and debonair, too.
"Debonair". Means "of good air." Ironic, ne c'est pas?

This was the first morning since I quit smoking that I didn't think of
lighting up first thing I woke up. In fact it wasn't until I was
standing at the corner waiting to meet my granddaughter Roos that the
idea of having a ciggie occurred to me.

Hope the holiday season finds you and yours well. You'll probably get a
Christmas card late from us this year. But you'll get one. It's pretty
nifty, printed in China, and "Season" is mis-spelled.

All the best