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The contents of this website are for contemplative purposes only. No medical advice will be given, and emails asking for medical advice will be ignored.

Although patient vignettes are based on my experiences with real individuals, I liberally change details to maintain patient confidentiality.

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Katrina Blog Project
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Katrina #1

As some of you may realize, I lost my home and medical practice in Louisiana to Hurricane Katrina. Today is the first of what I expect will be a long series of articles on the subject.

I cannot say that I was deeply traumatized by Katrina. I have a medical degree and so was able to simply pull up stakes and move 100 miles further inland, then set up shop again. Even my financial setback was only slight. For me, Katrina was like being awakened in the middle of the night and dragged out of my house. Everything I had was left at home as it was, and by the time I returned, it had washed away. It was dreamlike, in the sense that everything that appeared absolutely permanent suddenly disappeared.

I am not a Buddhist, but I have always been partial to the Buddhist view of life as impermanent. Buddhism teaches that everything, absolutely everything, in our lives is temporary, and for us to assume anything is unchanging is foolish and a prescription for unhappiness. There is a foolhardiness in humans that compels them to acquire things, and then to act disappointed when these things slip away from them, as if such things can never happen.

Whatever we have, what ever we will ever have, is on loan to us. Eventually it will be taken away, if only at the moment of death. Katrina was like an early death for me. But in a way, it was luckier than death, because with this experience I have not lost anything that I cannot be happy without (my wife, children, health, and mind are still with me) and I can learn from the experience. Who else has the good fortune to learn from the experience of death?

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