Six Thousand Days Since Normal
Page 7

All I remember is trying to get back to work, being sick a lot, and watching baseball at night. Then began the miniseries, "John Adams." I swear those two things—baseball and John Adams—saved my life.

The rest of the year, I barely ate, could not move about, and no one arrived. In fact, the very few people left in my life disappeared. I was alive, although badly beaten up, having also contracted mononucleosis and cytomegalovirus. My physician had sent me to his nurse's oncologist, a hematologist by training. He ran a local cancer treatment center and he treated other diseases as well. My gamma globulin levels had been abnormally low since I met my super doc in 1999. Gamma globulin infusions were the way to treat this potentially life-threatening problem.

That was another experience—spending half a day each month for several months being infused with gamma globulin. But it saved my life.


By March, I was starting to feel normal—or at least my version of normal—for the first time since 2006. Unfortunately, the organization for which I worked had acquired a new "leader" the previous year. He had been very insulted in 2008 that I had been unable to meet him for lunch. During the more than ten months I had spent going from bed to my home office and back to bed without seeing a human being, he was insulted I could not make it to lunch to meet him. Hello?

For the majority of 2009 I was getting pay-back for my apparent insult in the form of written threats from this guy’s HR person. After reaching out to another end of HR, the end in charge of "disability," I received even more threats. Early on, my physician, my quiet and kind doctor, my mentor in medicine, exploded. He told me bluntly that he had seen this happen too many times previously—this particular institution threatening and then firing disabled staff members.

My physician is no fool. Twenty-one years in the United States Navy. He retired as a Lt. Commander. And this man was enraged for all of the six months that I continued to receive threat after threat via FedEx.

I kept my head down and kept thinking about my Dad. Who was my Dad?

My father was a gentle, intelligent, and quiet man, not a man made for the military. But he served honorably in Okinawa, Manila, and at last in Luzon. As his only child, I inherited no money or material benefits but rather his memories in writing and photographs of his experiences during that most challenging time in our history. In a piece he titled "The Last Surrender," my father described the strange and frightening task of ending Japanese control over the Philippines. On September 3, 1945, the day after the surrender of the Emperor of Japan, my father was assigned as special aide to General Wainwright, that extraordinary American hero who survived captivity following Corregidor.

At the very last moment prior to the formal surrender ceremony, General Wainwright asked my father to approach General Yamashita and remove his sword. My father described his emotions, his fears, and his hopes that he conducted himself in the most proper military fashion as he followed through with the orders given to him.

Like so many of our veterans, my father never discussed his experiences after the war. However, he suffered greatly from the chemical exposures and the nightmares of having gone through that terrible time. He had been one of the many soldiers used for testing chemicals such as mustard gas and phosgene at Edgewood Arsenal and Camp Sibert. Go look them up. So I was not the first in my small family to deal with chemical exposures. Makes a person think.