|Barbara with Grand-daughter|
Barbara Bourgeois is 43 years old, a lifelong Louisiana native who has such innocence in her story that she related in regard to the “Gulf Oil Disaster.” Before the disaster Barbie raised 5 children had 2 jobs; one as a dock hand at Myrtle Grove Marina and the other as a cook at the Riverside Restaurant. She made approximately $65,000 a year owned her land and her home. Life was good, she has worked hard and loves her family and children. Life was a celebration of births, eating seafood and she was part of a culture that she loves, this was her very existence. Barbara was colorful, sweet, respectful and charming.
When the Deepwater Horizon blew on that horrific day, she was in Gretna, Louisiana. Barbie, as she is known by friends and family, came back home to Venice on April 22, 2010. She felt guilty she told this writer because she wasn't “at home when this happened.“ She thought because she was not in Venice in the day of the blowout, that she was not due any compensation from the poisoning by BP and the constant barrage of Corexit dispersant that was in the water.
In the faded light of a local bar with a great jukebox, we sat as she relayed her story. The lines etched in her beautiful face told a story of struggle, hardship, loves lost and a life that she came to see as an everyday reality. There was a stillness in that dimly lit structure and a sadness that truly pervaded the people who met with me to be heard.
As I asked her questions she was so appreciative that someone cared and her words were “...you are the real deal” over and over again. I was humbled yet again, that she would share her story with someone that she did not even know. She had no idea how bad it would be and how it would effect her life; not only physically and emotionally but mentally and spiritually. Barbara began getting sick almost immediately after she returned to Venice, Louisiana.
“The first thing that I remembered was the smell,” Barbara stated, “something just was not right.” Barbie's symptoms mirrored so many of those that I have interviewed in the past 5 years. As a medical professional I was appalled at the treatment or lack thereof by my peers and by physicians. The audacity and prejudgment by the medical community was unbelievable and I wanted to apologize for every person in the field that had contact with her.
Never once was this sweet soul offered a VOC panel or any toxicity testing. Just another “Cajun” that fell through the cracks of a broken, uncommunicative
and glaringly inept medical system when it comes to environmental testing, toxin exposure and mainstream medicine.
* respiratory difficulties (Her capillary refill was poor and she is walking around every day with close to a 95% oxygen saturation. Barbie was diagnosed with asthma at 8 years old and had outgrown this condition. She was coughing and wheezing with rales and auditory wheezing when at rest.)
* skin rashes and spontaneous bruising
* chest pains and fluid buildup
* vomiting and nausea on a daily basis (when she coughs she vomits)
* inability to sleep
* agitation and depression
* an inability to perform her activities of daily living (ADL's) due to constant lack of sleep
* lethargy and weakness.
When we spoke she was on 3 medications: Albuterol for breathing, Clonazepam for anxiety and rest and Atenolol for her high blood pressure. Two weeks before my interview with her, Barbie was taken via ambulance for “chest pain” to a hospital where they tried to put her on mechanical ventilation. Barbie had been to the doctors numerous times with cardiac complaints and nothing was found. It was just “stress.” When mechanical ventilation was refused she was labeled a drug seeker but upon testing her for non prescribed or street drugs the blood tests came back with just the drugs that she was prescribed.
Barbara has no appetite, she is always afraid and has lost the connections with home and family that she once had. She had been isolated and very lonely. Barbie makes little money, has lost her home and property and has been left with so little, that she does not even need to file taxes. The stories of the Barbie's of the Gulf are endless and frightening and as a medical professional, I am having a really hard time constantly hearing the same stories when nothing is being done to make them whole. I feel the sadness that they feel and the pain that they suffer. I am also feeling a great deal of anger because this multinational corporation, the 4th largest corporation in the world took away their lives and their innocence.
All Copyrights attributed to the writer
It is glaringly apparent that when megalithic, all omniscient, corporations take over the hearts, safety, lives, health and the every day joys that these people do not take for granted, that something has got to change. Our children deserve to grow up free, healthy, whole and happy, it give them back some innocence. Try and jail the guilty so that we may find true justice against them. For all we ask for is compassion, health and decent jobs for the INNOCENT.