Monday, September 30, 2019

Florida Wildflower Art & Haiku (Senryu), Marsh Rose Gentian, Sabatia dodecandra

Florida Wildflower Art & Haiku (Senryu), Marsh Rose Gentian, Sabatia dodecandra
Florida Wildflower Haiku, Marsh Rose Gentian, Sabatia dodecandra by Kevin Songer
limestone rock croppings
bees butterflies skipper art
rose gentian drawn

Tarkiln Bayou State Park, Marsh Rose Gentian, Sabatia dodecandra by Kevin Songer

Rose gentian has about a dozen different species found throughout Florida (Sabatia spp.). 

Tarkiln Bayou State Park, Marsh Rose Gentian, Sabatia dodecandra by Kevin Songer
Rose gentian’s flowers are rich in purple and pink hues. When in full summer bloom, Sabatia can fill a roadside drainage swale with incredible swaths of pink and purple. 

Tarkiln Bayou State Park, Marsh Rose Gentian, Sabatia dodecandra by Kevin Songer

Some accounts may exist where early settlers dried Sabatia root and then brewed a chicory-like coffee with the plant parts. This may be a historical carry over from traditions in Europe where the same was practiced with great yellow gentian, Gentiana lutea.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Florida Wildflower Haiku - Short Verse for Sunday, Wild petunia, Ruellia caroliniensis

Florida Wildflower Haiku - Short Verse for Sunday, Wild petunia, Ruellia caroliniensis

Florida Wildflower Haiku - Short Verse & Art, Wild Petunia, Ruellia caroliniensis by Kevin Songer
purple bloom nectar
attracts pollinators all,
far into scrub woods

Wild petunia is always a surprise to discover growing in the woods as the plant and flower brings an aura of nice-neat cultivation to rough and ramble undergrowth. Wild petunia is a cousin of the more invasive Mexican petunia yet wild petunia is a prized Florida native wildflower and does not grow in an invasive manner. The common buckeye and white peacock butterflies seek out wild petunia as larval host plant.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Florida haiku - senryu for first fall Saturday morning; Seaside goldenrod and Mangrove buckeye.

Florida haiku - senryu for first fall Saturday morning; Seaside goldenrod and Mangrove buckeye.
Florida Nature Poetry, Seaside Goldenrod, Mangrove Buckeye by Kevin Songer
harvest goldenrod
mangrove buckeye both bargain,
anticipate first frost

Friday, September 27, 2019

Florida Nature Poetry - Senryu for Friday! Snowy Egrets & Sanibel

Florida Nature Poetry - Senryu for Friday! Snowy Egrets & Sanibel
Florida Poetry, Haiku - Senryu, Sanibel & Snowy Egrets by Kevin Songer 
sanibel traffic
hit the causeway early for
best picnic table

Florida Native Plant Art & Poetry (Green Roof Plant too!), Shiny Blueberry, Vaccinium myrsinites

Florida Nature Haiku for Friday morning, Shiny blueberry, Vaccinium myrsinites
Florida Haiku, Shiny blueberry, Vaccinium myrsinites by Kevin Songer


I always wondered
bout shiny blueberry’s taste,
rabbit got there first
Shiny blueberry is a diminutive member of the blueberry family offering winter seasonal beauty with its namesake bright and shiny red and green leaves. During the growing season shiny blueberry is usually obscured by taller growing plants. Shiny blueberry produces large amounts of fruits sought after by small mammals, birds and other foragers. I see shiny blueberry growing along most trails hiked.

Shiny blueberry makes a good evergreen & salt tolerant green roof & landscape plant too!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Florida Nature Haiku, Gulf Seashore

gulf seashore haiku
Florida haiku, Gulf seashore by Kevin Songer...

gulf's cool waters crash
drowning out all other sounds
but for seagull's cry

Florida Nature Art & Poetry, Annona glabra, Pond Apple

Florida nature poetry and art; Pond apple, Annona glabra.

alligator grunts
gobbling down a couple
meh tasting green fruits

Pond apple trees, like pop ash and black gum grow up out of the deep and dark swamp depths, producing apple-like fruits eaten by alligators and other wildlife. I would describe pond apple fruit’s taste as more ‘blah-bland’ than tasty, but some do make jellies and jams from the fruit. Pond apple provides habitat for wildlife, birds, orchids and bromeliads. Fort Myers' Six Mile Cypress boardwalk is a great place to experience pond apple up close.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Florida Nature Poetry & Art, Candyroot, Polygala nana

Florida nature senryu - haiku for mid week, Candyroot, Polygala nana.
Florida Wildflower Poetry, Haiku, Senryu, Candyroot, Polygala nana by Kevin Songer
I know I shouldn’t
pull plant and sniff candyroot,
but no one’s looking

Candyroot calls to everyone who has ever pulled up the plant to experience the strong aromatic spicy scent of the roots. Interestingly, candyroot requires ants to collect the plant’s seeds for the
 food value of the seed's coating. Once underground, the seeds then germinate up through the ant's bed. Candyroot’s yellow flowers sit atop stalks rising from a basal rosette of succulent-like leaves.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Florida Green Roof and Living Wall Plants, Salt Tolerance Lessons from Mother Nature Ferns

One of the greatest learning centers of #greenroof and #livingwall knowledge can be found on and across the buildings in any local downtown, urban core area.

Ferns growing unattended on old brick adjacent downtown ocean pier, Kevin Songer 
Every living wall and green roof designer, as well as landscape designers and botanists should carry a 'found plant' journal to record information when they come across such resilient plants as those growing in the cracks and crevices of building walls and roofs, without soil media or added irrigation.

Ferns growing unattended on old brick adjacent downtown ocean pier, Kevin Songer 
Looking back across the decades, this is how I learned what I did concerning shallow root growing systems, nature irrigation and plants suitable for hot, windy, salty environs.

Ferns growing unattended on old brick adjacent downtown ocean pier, Kevin Songer 
These ferns are growing on a wall adjacent the downtown pier in Pensacola, exposed to desiccating winds and a barrage of salty mist.  And they seem to be thriving.

Always keep an eye out for those free lessons from Mother Nature about living wall and green roof plants!

Florida Nature Poetry, Senryu, Haiku, Paths of Lover's Key

Florida nature haiku - short verse for Tuesday, another verse about 'paths'.
Florida Nature Poetry, Haiku, Senryu, Lover's Key by Kevin Songer
today's trail was full
of ancient stardust turned to
sand, leaves and me
Lover's Key, Fort Myers, Florida

Florida Nature Haiku, Senryu, Perdido Key

Florida nature senryu for Tuesday, Perdido Key Beach and Life Paths,
Perdido Key, Kevin Songer
sometimes backward path
is our path forward, yet wind
and waves erase both

Monday, September 23, 2019

Florida Poetry, Bunche Beach, Mullet and Sand Gnats, Haiku, Senryu

Florida Nature Senryu for Monday, Sand Gnats and Bunche Beach,
Bunche Beach Flats at Sunset, Kevin Songer
gonna go fishing
bunche beach mullet schools
sand gnats chase us home

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Florida Wildflower Haiku & Nature Art, Asclepias humistrata, Sandhill Milkweed

Florida Nature Poetry for Sunday, Sandhill Milkweed, Asclepias humistrata
Florida Wildflower Haiku, Sandhill Milkweed, Asclepias humistrata by Kevin Songer
dunes' brilliant hot white
blooms adorn blinding sands
pollinators feast

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saturday Morning Florida Nature Haiku, 'Hummer Across the Dunes'

Wildflower Haiku for Florida Saturday morn.  'Hummer Across Beach Dunes'.
Florida Wildflower and Wildlife Haiku by Kevin Songer
Gaillardia, Helianthus, Coral Bean & wayward Green Violetear on the dunes


peaceful sand dunes
bees buzz, gulls cry, waves crash and 
hummer’s roar startles

Friday, September 20, 2019

Inspiration Found; Ginkgo Walks, Wildflowers, Haiku and Green Roofs

Inspiration found is always welcomed, and today there are so many sources of insight and revelation. One though outshines all others for insight and illumination.  That source is Nature. 

Florida Green Roof and Wildflower Haiku plant, Coral Bean, Erythrina herbacea
Drought, salt and heat tolerant.  Hummingbird plant
Hands down Nature teaches me more about color, texture, geometry, sustainability, art, music, light, green roofs, haiku, life and the cosmos than any YouTube video, internet site, book or podcast.

Florida Green Roof and Wildflower Haiku plant, Prickly Pear Cactus, Opuntia humifusa
Very drought tolerant, great coastal green roof plant for habitat and pollinators
For millennia, haiku poets have used the term 'Ginkgo Walks' for inspiration found when walking with Nature.

Florida Green Roof and Wildflower Haiku plant, Fleabane, Erigeron app.
Tolerates wet and dry soils, wind and heat tolerant, excellent pollinator plant
A Ginkgo Walk is a stroll through the yard or local park.  A Ginkgo Walk can be a hike into the swamp, forest, glades, beach or even along a landscaped avenue.   The point of a Ginkgo Walk is open our ears, eyes and senses to ever changing muses Mother Nature is sharing with us.

Florida Green Roof and Wildflower Haiku plant, Blanketflower, Gaillardia puchella
Amazing hardy green roof plant, tolerating salt, wind, heat and other environmental challenges
I've designed successful drought and salt tolerant green roofs around the world and the reference I first turn to for plant selection are local Ginkgo Walks around the construction site and surrounding landscapes.
Florida Green Roof and Wildflower Haiku plant, Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea
Hardy, drought tolerant green roof plant that pollinators LOVE!
Ginkgo Walks are also my primary haiku, senryu and poetry inspiration.  Mother Nature, acompained by breezes, bees and birds, sweetly sings out verse as I walk under sun and clouds.

Ginkgo Walks are not only valuable for inspiration but too provide mental and physical healing, clearing clutter from our minds and muscles.

Looking for inspiration for a sustainability project, poem or whatever your life needs?  Ginkgo Walks can provide you with amazing awakenings!

Florida Green Roof and Wildflower Haiku plant, Black Eye Susan, Rudbeckia hirta
Stunning rooftop bloomer that will flower all summer and call pollinators for miles around

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Haiku - Senryu Poetry, Florida Wildflowers, Purple False Foxglove, Agalinis purpurea

Florida Wildflower Poetry, False Foxglove Senryu, Agalinis purpurea
Florida Wildflower Haiku - Senryu Short Verse Art, False Foxglove by Kevin Songer

false foxglove marsh
ruby throated hummingbird charm
break sonic sound barrier

False foxglove's mauve blooms in mass covering a wet field are truly a spectacular sight in color and texture.  

False foxglove (Agalinis spp.) can be seen growing along roadsides, in cleared or disturbed lots and pastures or fields.  The plant prefers slightly damp, sandy soils.

 As with other trumpet shaped flowers, False foxglove’s blooms are sought out by hummingbirds.  Did you know a group of hummingbirds is called a 'charm'.  Charming!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wednesday Native Plant & Wildflower Poetry - Haiku (Senryu), Smilax spp.

Wednesday Florida native plant & wildflower haiku (short verse), Smilax spp.
Florida Haiku, Wildflowers & Native Plant Art, Smilax spp.
by Kevin Songer

wily cat brier
scampers up tall long leaf pine
hold tight sharp tip thorns

Catbrier provides the hungry hiker a quick energizing snack with its tender, tasty vine tips. Some sauté the green vine ends in butter and say the flavor resembles asparagus. 

Catbrier’s vines are loaded with thorns, making the mature, thickly vining plant a veritable evergreen barrier and providing wildlife with protected communal habitat.

Though a bit on the rambling side, many Smilax species make great green roof and living wall plants as they are drought tolerant and grow well in full sun (think of the beach dunes where they grow lush and thick).

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tuesday Florida Native Plant & Wildflower Poetry, Purple Muhly Grass

Tuesday morning Florida native plant and wildflower haiku, Purple Muhly Grass
Florida Wildflower Poetry & Art, Purple Muhly grass, Mulenbergia spp. by Kevin Songer

sweetgrass baskets
muhly and pine needles weave
art of carrying rice

Purple muhly grass lines the median of many native plant landscaped downtown streets in Florida. During late summer the blooms form a cloud-like top to the grass in brilliant white, purple and pink shades. This grass gives important communal habitat to birds and small mammals and once established is extremely drought tolerant. Muhly grass has a long history of ethnobotanical uses by native Americans and early settlers.  Woven from plant leaf blades, early plantation workers carried rice and other goods up from the fields in muhly grass baskets and satchels.

Muhly grass is a great green roof plant choice too (think C4 photosynthesis).

Monday, September 16, 2019

Florida Native Plant Haiku, Gallberry (aka Inkberry), Ilex glabra for Monday

Gallberry-Inkberry, Ilex glabra
Gallberry (aka Inkberry) Ilex glabra by Kevin Songer

munch inkberry drupes

old turkey, possum and deer sport

smeared purple lips

Gallberry is also known as inkberry, and its dark black juice filled berries have been used by peoples over generations as ink. Birds and wildlife relish the berries for forage. Early settlers and indigenous peoples have made a tea similar to yaupon tea from gallberry’s leaves (see Appalachian tea). Interestingly, gallbladder is a holly like yaupon however gallberry’s leaves do not contain the significant amount of caffeine that yaupon leaves possess. Gallberry’s flowers attract bees from afar. Gallberry honey is highly prized by many.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday Wildflower Art & Short Verse, Rayless Sunflower, Helianthus radula

Wildflower Haiku, Rayless sunflower, Helianthus radula
Floria Wildflower Haiku Art, Rayless Sunflower, Helianthus radula by Kevin Songer

wet ditch oddity
deep maroon pyres reach high
swallowtails alight

Rayless sunflower is a bit of an oddity standing erect like black eyed Susans and echinacea but lacking petals. Rayless sunflower’s head is composed of a collection of small brown florets and the plant is a member of the Helianthus (sunflower) genus. I usually see rayless sunflower growing alongside of wet drainage ditches and along the margins of shallow sloping ponds. Despite a lack of petals, rayless sunflower attracts many different pollinators.  I find the plant’s stark structural appearance to be an interesting addition to a wet area landscape and an inspiration for nature art.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Wildflowers, Haiku and Impermanence (Change)

Always too much of a hurry I'm in.  The rush towards finish line and next project contributed largely in part to my aortic dissection (along with genetic tendencies).

Haiku and Wildflowers, both are forever evolving, Kevin Songer
Being present in the moment and Zen are practices I am still learning of, wanting to tap into their health benefits.  Health practitioners speak of cardiovascular, mental and life quality gains to be had through focusing on breathing and the here and now.

And so writing short verse opens doors leading to an understanding of life's meaning.  Being still and knowing the cosmos are magically penultimate. 

I use the word 'magically' to mean 'ever changing, not-constant and unknowable.

Life is refined daily through natural selection processes.  Nature does this.  Humans do this too with hybrid crops and domestic animals.

Perfection doesn't exist.  There is always an unfolding.

My haiku, or short verse also teaches me about constant change.  It is hard to imagine seventeen syllables would have any relation to infinity, eternity and constant change.  But they do.

First of all my wildflower short verse poems have deep roots.  I generally spend a couple days researching each plant's botany, medicinal uses, growing requirements, wildlife value and historical references.  This is after I've familiarized myself with the plant while out on my nature hikes.  I mean how can I seriously write about something I'm not truly familiar with?

Once I've assembled several pages of research scribble summaries the wildflower information can be distilled into a number of 'tags'.  Simply put 'tags' are phrases describing interesting wildflower thoughts.

Tags form the basis of each haiku line.  Some are suitable for five syllable lines, others for seven syllable patterns.

Once seventeen syllables (plus or minus) are compiled the natural selection process begins.  As I read and reread the short verse I am also constantly substituting and rearranging words to refine the one breath poetry into the meaning I am trying to convey.

When the haiku sounds 'ok' it is set aside until the next day.  Day two sees more changes as do all the days over the next weeks, months and years.

It is so interesting to see how short verse grows in beauty with time and reflection.  Like plant and wildflower natural selection, haiku's existence blooms in charm over time through refinement.

And like life, my haiku never reaches perfection.

Heraclitus' saying, 'there is nothing permanent but change', perfectly describes the birth, life and transformation of my haiku, wildflowers, life and the cosmos.

I can read a haiku written two years ago and experience the lightbulb moment where a new word or phrase seems to best convey meaning.  Then the next day another phrase appears to be more suitable.  Over time and with change the verse reads smoother and conveys vivid thoughts. 

Wildflowers (and all life) evolve in the same way.  One gaillardia seed may randomly produce a color array with more attraction qualities to pollinators.  With the seasons this hybrid is more suitable for continued existence.

But neither haiku nor wildflower stay as they are.  They always change.  And this is life.  And this is good because it is.

There is no permanence.  There is only change.

And so when I read my haiku, poetry and short verse I don't flinch when I see a need for change.

For this is my verse following the ways of the cosmos.

Florida Wildflower Haiku, Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa

Florida wildflower haiku for Thursday; Butterflyweed, Asclepias tuberosa
Florida wildflower haiku, Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa by Kevin Songer

milkweeds toxin sap
eaten by Monarch larvae
hungry birds disdain

Butterfly weed (also known as 'milkweed') provides nectar for many pollinators, including butterflies and hummingbirds. Butterfly weed likes to grow in sandy soils and is a larval host plant for the Queen and Monarch butterflies. Interestingly, milkweed contains sap substances that are sometimes toxic to birds. Some butterflies have taken advantage of this toxicity by laying eggs on milkweed in order for the hungry larvae to ingest leaves full of these toxins, which fill their body with a taste predator birds disdain ultimately providing the larvae and young butterflies with much needed protection.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Florida Nature Poetry, Sea Oats

Florida native plant short verse for Wednesday. Sea oats, Uniola paniculata

Florida Nature Haiku, Sea Oats, Kevin Songer
mice, birds and bunnies
tasty seeds eat, summer grub
when no chips are around

Sea oats are a protected grass found growing along the Gulf and Atlantic seashores, primarily across the sand dunes. Sea oats provide important forage for beach mice and shorebirds as well as shelter. Their roots help stabilize dunes, preventing erosion. As a child I always possessed a strong desire to grab a handful of seeds off the plant and I’m not sure if this was because I was always told not to pick them or because it looked like a fun thing to do. Sea oats are some of the only native plants to grow in the harsh salt laden environment, close to water's edge and as such provide important communal and foraging habitat to wildlife.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Florida Short Verse Poetry, Winged Sumac

Winged sumac, Rhus copallinum

pucker up those lips
Florida lemonade stand
sour cracker cool-aide 
Luna moth prefers winged sumac as a larval host plant, Kevin Songer, Florida Nature Art
Winged sumac is also known as Florida lemonade due to the sour berries found growing in clusters on the shrub.  Traditionally these berries, high in vitamin C, were used to make a tasty drink.  Late summer winged sumac turn a green roadside to flaming orange and red.  Luna moths use winged sumac as a larval host plant.  Winged sumac is a fast growing native shrub great for landscaping and wildlife habitat.

Life Betterment Through Beauty, Wildflowers, Garden Foods, Green Roofs and Rambling Sunday Morning Words

Watching wildflowers grow in the garden and on Green Roofs can be pure bliss, not only to my senses but to wildlife, pollinators and local environmental health.

Rosemary in our coastal front yard garden, mandala by Kevin Songer
Some life forms are evolving in ways I call, 'Betterment Through Beauty'.

Many times we are told survival of the fittest involves the concept of 'eat or be eaten'; trample on your competition, subdue your enemies, just be a general, overall jerk.

What I've learned from nature and years of botany work is another maxim.  Wildflowers teach bootstrap through beauty and quid pro quo.

Organic produce from Judy's garden
One of the ways I manage aortic dissection is through foods Judy grows in our yard.  The basil and okra are among the many blooming and fruiting plants out front, each packed full of healthy phytochemicals. So yesterday I admired their lovely blooms (both have lovely flowers), shooing away the bees and pollinators as I harvested a basket of okra pods and broad, bright green basil leaves.

Chopping okra for tuna burgers
In the kitchen the organic yummy was washed, chopped and mixed with walnuts, tuna, stone ground mustard, farmer's market eggs and a couple jalapeños then pressed into tuna burgers for grilling.  Chopped lemon added a bit of tasty zest to the tuna burger mix.

Zest for tuna burgers
We tend to the plants for the bounty they provide.  Flowers attract pollinators through beauty of senses and once fertilized make seeds.  This is survival through the good for the whole.  Same way with green roofs and living walls; we tend the plants and they provide cooling, cleaning, purification, habitat and beauty functions.

Slow organic cooking, tuna burgers ready to be made into patties
Wildflowers have refined beneficial quid pro quo techniques to an amazing art.  Their essence, aura, color, hues, tastes and nutritive qualities seduce other life forms into a symbiotic union.
Plant Quid Pro Quo, tuna burgers on the grill

In other words, it really is easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar.

Wouldn't the world be an awesome place if, like most wildflowers, humans had evolved into life beings who practiced 'quid pulchrun pro quo'.

Nothing earth shattering, just a wildflower observation for Sunday morning.

'Betterment Through Beauty', I like it.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Saturday Wildflower Poetry, Catesby Lily Haiku

Weekend Catesby Lily Short Verse
Pineland lily, Lilium catesbaei, Kevin Songer
flames in the flatwoods
fire in the wiregrass
wet soil quenches not

Damp soil pine flatwoods are such a special place and this is where I usually see Catesby lily growing en masse.  Catesby lily flower is one of the largest lily flowers native to North America.  Brilliant hues of orange, yellow and red attract a number of pollinators to the top of stems reaching up above wiregrass below.  Pineland lily is truly an amazing Florida native wildflower.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Our Amazing Bodies (Overcoming Chronic Disease)

Friday morning short verse:
Each morning I wake
another day is gifted,
surprise life party!

Hand of Fatima, Hamsa by Kevin
and also I totally love Natalie Merchant's lyrics to her song 'Wonder':

"Doctors have come from distant cities, just to see me
Stand over my bed, disbelieving what they're seeing
They say I must be one of the wonders 
Of God's own creation
And as far as they see, they can offer
No explanation"
Hope your Friday is amazing.  We have another day.

Florida Haiku, Senryu Wildflower Poetry, Railroad Vine

Florida Wildflower Poetry, Railroad Vine, Kevin Songer

Railroad Vine

bright nectar filled cups
moths, wasps, ants and bees seek
oceanfront diner

Railroad vine, Ipomoea pes-caprae is also known as 'beach morning glory' and 'goat's foot', the latter name deriving from goat-foot shaped leaves on the vine.

Salt tolerant railroad vine is an amazing native wildflower growing in primary dunes, often straight down the beach towards the surf.  Look closely and you may see thousands of pollinators buzzing about railroad vine's luminescent purple flowers.  This vine is an important beach-side insect, butterfly, small mammal and bird food source.

Railroad vine's common name probably arose from the vine's long straight reaches, with leaves and flowers jutting out to each side much like a long straight run of railroad tracks, helping stabilize primary and beachfront sand dunes.  Drought and salt tolerant, this native wildflower makes a great seashore landscape plant, just give the vine plenty of room to grow!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Florida Short Poetry, Wildflowers and Haiku

Sea beans
prickly liana
spiny pods nest lustrous beans,
wait for sea pearls' fall
Gray Nickerbean, Caesalpina bonduc,
Kevin Songer Florida Nature Artist

Rare Miami Blue and Nickerbean Blue butterfly larvae feed heavily of the foliage of Gray Nickerbean whose seed pods are as outrageously beautiful as the lustrous seeds nested inside.  The maritime loving Gray Nickerbean liana aggressively grows into a rambling, impenetrable hedge before flowering and dropping its gray beans onto the seashore.  With the seasons, tides and sargassum flotsam, Gray Nickerbeans travel around the world, carried hence by La Mar.  Sea Beans, also know as Sea Pearls have been used by peoples for jewelry, medicine and artisan wood inlays for millennia. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Best Medical Advocate, We Must Be Our Own and Know How To Take Good Blood Pressure Readings!

This post is about the journey of becoming our own best health care advocate, and also how to take blood pressure readings.
American Heart Association Publishes How To Take Blood Pressure Directions,
Here is my home cuff reading today

I am forever grateful for the Memorial Hospital ER surgeon who fixed me the night my stretched aorta tore.  Thankful also for the St. Vincent's primary care physician I had post surgery who worked with me to understand my number one priority in life was to stay alive.

There have been some great doctors who helped me along recovery's path.  To these health care professionals I am grateful for their artisan healing touches.

There too have been many doctors and nurses though who were actually afraid of me.  It is so easy to see the lack confidence in a health care professional's face despite their efforts to hide their fear of not knowing what they are dealing with in me.  I love them too for they have taught me to be my own best health care advocate.

Lately my systolic blood pressure readings have been quite a bit higher when I visit a medical facility.  Aware of 'white coat syndrome' I brushed these anomalies off as just a result of the doctor's office stress.  But the 160+ systolic readings the nurses were measuring were disturbing to both them and especially to me with my descending dissection.

Back at home the readings on my arm cuff unit were normal (110/60).  My pulse usually hovers around 50 beats per minute or about one per second.  My home unit has been previously calibrated.

Either my home blood pressure cuff was incorrectly calibrated or the health care professional's understanding of how to use a stethoscope to obtain a blood pressure reading (auscultation) was flawed.

On the next visit to my primary care my systolic was high again, in the 160s.  The stress of wondering why I was being diagnosed with high systolic led to even higher blood pressure readings as my adrenaline kicked in.

What was going on?  I was asymptomatic with respect to normal high blood pressure symptoms and my home cuff was reading much lower.

My first thought centered around arm position.  Perhaps the practice of reading blood pressure when the arm was hanging down vertically instead of horizontal was the culprit.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the cuff should be level with the heart while the arms rests on a flat surface.  Could my vertically hanging arm make a difference?  Read here for the AHA's guidelines.

Back at home I tried taking blood pressure readings with my arm resting in many different directions.  What I found was it really did not make a significant amount of difference how my arm was positioned with variances of ten points or so being the maximum.

Next I suggested to my health care professional they rest my arm per AHA protocol just to be consistent.  Ultimately though, arm positioning did not provide an answer to the 30 point or more differences between my home cuff and the health care professional's auscultation method.

In the auscultation method, the health care professional inflates the cuff to a pressure that stops blood flow with compression of the arm's brachial artery.  As pressure is released the brachial artery blood flow resumes and produces an audible sound known as a 'Korotkoff' sound (K-sound).  The pressure at which the Korotkoff sound is heard translates into the systolic blood pressure reading.

As additional cuff pressure is released the restriction in the brachial arterial decreases until finally there is no more audible tapping or k-sounds.  The pressure which no additional Korotkoff sounds are heard is the diastolic blood pressure reading.

Finally I asked the nurse to use a cart-based 'doctor-on-a-stick' unit to measure my blood pressure, just to see if there was a difference.  Perhaps the 'doc-on-a-stick' would exclude the heart valve noise.

The computerized cart based unit came back with a systolic reading significantly lower than the nurse's auscultatory method.  The nurse shrugged and suggested the variance was due to my 'white coat syndrome' or doctor visit stress levels.

Unfortunately, the medical clinic's high systolic readings were taking their toll on me.  Not only was I stressing over the worry what high systolic blood pressure could do to my existing descending aortic dissection, but my health care professionals were now suggesting changes to my medications to further manage my alleged hypertension.

Last thing I was interested in was higher doses of blood pressure medications.  Metoprolol already had me feeling like a tall, red headed zombie.

Back on the internet I searched on a few more specific term combinations.

One search returned a helpful article entitled, "Antecubital Transmission of Mechanical Valve Closure Sounds; Recognition of a Potential Source of Error During Blood Pressure Measurement".  The link here opens the article in a new window.

I had to read the article about five times.  Pumphead masks simplicity.

What I understood the paper discussion to propose was, because mechanical valve sounds travel through extravascular tissue they may be heard even when the cuff is inflated at high pressures.  Unless the health care professional is substantially familiar with what a mechanical valve sounds like through a stethoscope, a heart valve click could be mistaken for the first k-sound and a false systolic reading obtained.

One may ask, 'is this a big deal, really?'

Yes.  Patient worry about hypertension that may not exist is unnecessary.   Too, I have a St. Jude mechanical valve.  Maybe my health care professionals were hearing my valve clicks rather than Korotkoff sounds. Perhaps my systolic was not really that high.

More importantly, prescribing a patient additional hypertension medicines unnecessarily could have significant impact and perhaps even create damaging hypotension.

The most important take away is not blood pressure measurement procedure.  The most important takeaway I am learning from all this is I must be my own best health care advocate.

Trust in the health care system is so much better when I learn about, verify, confirm, obtain a second opinion and most of all trust my own instincts.  When in doubt step back then verify.

After all, our number one priority in life is to stay alive.  My doctor told me that.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Florida Green Roof Wildflowers and Native Plants

Florida Green Roof Wildflowers, Breaking Ground Green Roof
Looking back over some of the Breaking Ground Green Roof (Jacksonville) photographs, I came across this lovely wildflower shot.  Wildflowers on the roof! Gaillardia, Echinacea, Rudbeckia & much more...

Florida Short Verse, Coontie, Zamia spp. #haiku

cones and leaves nourish
rare atala larvae host,
butterfly bitters
Coontie, Zamia spp.; Florida Native plant and Wildflower Haiku by Kevin

So much to say about coontie, a marvelous Florida native cycad.  Look for more coontie short verse in my upcoming second volume of Florida Short Verse!

I Ripped (and survived) #aortic #dissection

"I Ripped - and survived"
I Ripped and survived Aortic Dissection

Came across this rad Tag Font by Andy Panchenko & added a splash of aortic dissection.
#aorta #dissection