Where to from Here?

photo courtesy of history.com

In honor of the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, an excerpt from my old blog.

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September 20, 2005

Yellow police tape and orange cones restricted the entrances into the Convention Center. With our “Katrina Relief” badges hanging around our necks, a policeman acknowledged us and let us inside.

A city within a city. The main conference halls were transformed into living areas; evacuees slept on cots with their few belongings stored underneath. Various halls were designated to different services, each identified by hand written posters. “Food” in this area, “Medical Triage” in that area. “Housing” over here, “Transportation” over there.

“The shelter is closing in 3 days,” Continue reading


Upset Skies

photo courtesy of http://ethancrowley.com

“Do you know what we call this sky?” Mak asked, glancing up. Her hands clasped the steering wheel.

I peered through the windshield. Low lying storm clouds hovered above us, against a dark gray sky.

“During the Khmer Rouge, we called it, Maig Bee Bak Jet. Upset skies…”

“Why, Mak?” I turned towards the driver seat to look at my mom.

She bit her lip, paused for a moment. Then, her eyes began to water.

“Because during the Khmer Rouge, only when the sky looked like this- with dark clouds like it’s going to rain, that is the only time when I was free to cry.”

Her grief unleashed quiet, painful tears from the corner of her eyes.

Continue reading

Rise to the Occasion

New Orleans, post Katrina. Courtesy of USA Today.

August 2005.

Walking into the lecture hall, I slid into a row near the back. Dropped my faded, frayed backpack onto the tile floor.  I smiled at my classmates as I took my seat.

They grinned and waved back at me.  We were seniors, and it felt pretty good to be ‘near the end’ of the madness which I called nursing school.  I was ready to be done with writing papers, listening to lectures, and taking exams. I couldn’t wait to start working and contributing to society. It was the first week of our last semester. I had just submitted my RN licensure application. Took my senior composite photos. Ran my degree audit.

Our public health instructor cleared her throat.

“This is it. As future nurses, you shall rise to the occasion. It is your duty to meet the needs of the community. Our neighbors, from Lousiana, are now, in our backyard. So we will go to them…”

Continue reading

Don’t Abandon the Winding Road

Northeast Cambodia. (Photo courtesy of http://ethancrowley.com)

A few weeks ago.

“Hello?” I had missed Ba’s first call. Maybe it was urgent.

Koun (daughter). My ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) just shocked me.”

I gasped. “WHAT?!”

With a new diagnosis of heart failure, Ba recently received a ICD/pacemaker device. It was programmed to shock if he had a life threatening rhythm, or if it was too fast.

“I was jogging, felt a headache, and suddenly, I was on the ground… there was only a small amount of bleeding on my face and leg…”

“AGH! You fell and you hit your head?! Ba, you are on blood thinners, YOU NEED TO CALL 911!!”

Continue reading