One 'flu' over the...

Don Barone

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.

“The streets are always wet with rain…”

Dateline:  Home!

Take a moment,

maybe several moments,

and look hard at the woman in the big hat,

and oval frame.

I don’t know much about her, other than her name, Annabel.  Don’t know when this photo was taken, or where, I suspect Buffalo, NY, but not sure.

Look hard at the woman in the big hat, and oval frame.

Because, in her eyes,

her lips,

her nose,

her ears,

you will find a small part of my face in the woman in the big hat, and oval frame.

Because she is my father’s mother.

My paternal grandmother.

I never met Annabel, but beyond our shared DNA, but beyond our ancestry, we will now be forever linked.

Because this beautiful young lady, my father’s mother,

in 1920,

when my dad was only a couple of years old,

was already in her grave.

Just one big hat lady in an oval frame, just one of the estimated 675,000 people in America, just one big hat lady in an oval frame of the 30-50 MILLION people, some say 3-5% of the population of earth,

who died during the great “Flu” Pandemic of 1918-1920.

And 94 years later,

the same thing that killed my Grandmother,

almost killed me,


“…and I turned to you and I said…”

Here’s a direct quote from my doctor, John Rodgers, M.D. of Hartford, CT, he told this not only to me but to my good friend/fishing buddy, Dr. Mac which is certainly double confirmation in anyone’s book:

“If this was the flu pandemic of 1918, that’s the strain of flu you caught, you would have died and as it is you came very close to not making it with the virus you have, you may not realize it but you were in very grave condition, touch and go there for a couple of days.  This could have very easily had a very bad outcome, at the end of this outbreak you will be one of the lucky ones who got it, beat it, and survived.”

You want a wake up call in life, read that last paragraph again.

I’ll shorten it for you, somehow I caught a flu virus,

and it came real close to killing me.



“Scary, close.” Mac.

“…no guru, no method, no teacher…”

I want this to be a cautionary tale for you, working stiffs like me, I believe that if you go through life changing events in your life, and you don’t share them so others may learn something, you’ve wasted the event, but even more important, you’ve lost the opportunity to help someone.

And to me that is unforgivable.

Mac, who is an Orthopedic Surgeon at the hospital I was in, a huge Catholic Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut, would stop by my room often, sometimes with his wife Le Ann with him,

Mac became my patient advocate, and I truly believe that without him,

I would have become lost in a bureaucratic system out of control.

I’m not going to give my opinion of the care I got there, that means little because the bottom line is…I’m alive.

Thanks to the dedicated health care professionals, if you don’t think a nurse’s job, a nurse assistant’s job borders on what human beings were put on this planet to do, help each other, all you need to do is lay in a hospital bed for 18 days looking up at them as they do everything from give meds, give encouragement, and a couple times at night I could feel them come in, pull up the covers on me, and hold my hand.

I’m pretty sure, all nurses go to heaven,

as they deserve.

I arrived at the hospital the day after Christmas after my son Jimmy, and my wife Barb, found me passed out on our bedroom floor.  In the ER I also passed out again…twice.

My blood pressure was 60/40.

They pumped so much fluid into my body that I remember laying in bed one day watching my right hand blow up all swollen like with water leaking out of 4 parts of it.

I had been sick for a couple of days, was dehydrated, and that lead to something called “Adrenal Insufficiency,” which is related to the Pituitary Brain Tumor I had surgery for last year.

In the first few days, I was in the hospital a total of 18 days, I was seen by 27 Medical Professionals from specialists to interns and residents.