While most Georgians were paying attention to the solar eclipse, I was observing another darkness. There’s an old joke: “Do you know the difference between major and minor surgery? Minor is when you are going under the knife. Major is when I’m having surgery.”
On Aug. 21, my upper-abdomen surgery was tagged a minor procedure. A robot would puncture a few holes, navigate my midsection, tie together some torn muscles and repair a hernia. And that’s what happened. I was home in early afternoon in time to join a bank-board meeting by phone. After all, it was just minor surgery.
The last thing I remember was dialing the conference line, announcing my presence and standing up. Apparently, my descent was in slow motion. I made a soft landing about the time the moon blocked the sun. I don’t know how long I studied the backside of my eyelids, but I did wake up when Pam told Eric, “Call 911.”
Within 15 minutes, the siren’s wail rattled the countryside. My first ambulance ride was slow. It was to take me home after being born at Ritch-Leaphart Hospital in 1948. My second was a mad dash to the emergency room 16 miles away. And by that time, I was wide awake, wondering, “Why all the fuss?”
During an overnight hospital stay, they pumped in nine bags of fluids. Perhaps it was dehydration, plummeting blood pressure or a reaction to the anesthesia. Whatever. I’ve been alert ever since, but I have—for the most part—stayed away from the office, and I gave up driving for two weeks.
I was supposed to be resting, and I have relaxed the best I can. But with the unresolved issues at Broadhurst Environmental Landfill, nighttime continues to be a challenge. Since January 2016, I still sleep with one eye open. If Wayne County fails to protect our natural resources, you and I won’t be the only one plagued by restless nights. These nightmares will stretch into generations beyond our great-great-grandchildren.
While I was supposed to be in neutral, my mind was in overdrive:
*My pain and suffering was miniscule to the torment Hurricane Harvey caused to Houston and other places. When others hurt, I hurt, too. The uplifting sides of this tragedy are seeing Texans stand tall and Americans rallying to help.
*I couldn’t help but wonder what if that torrent of wind and water hit Georgia’s coast? Would those previously stored 800,000 tons of toxic coal ash in Broadhurst withstand Harvey-like destruction?
*I read the news that the Georgia General Assembly is considering further strengthening rules for storing toxic coal ash. That would be a noble endeavor, considering our state has become a dumping ground for Florida and the Carolina’s waste—the waste that they don’t want, toxic coal ash. Georgians should be screaming, “Whhhhaaat?”
*I refuse to accept our current situation with Republic Services as a conundrum. There has to be a solution, and Wayne County must come together to advise our officials what we will and won’t agree to. I keep reminding myself: “It ain’t the size of the dogs in the fight. It’s the size of fight in the dog that counts.” And I’ll be dogged if we shouldn’t keep on fighting for what is right.
When the sun came up yesterday, I was back behind the wheel and ready to go, albeit a little slower for now. Still, I’m standing with you against Republic’s notion that our ultrasensitive ecosystem is a safe place to store toxic waste. Republic feels the risks are minor.
Now, that really is a major joke.