This week’s Here’s To Your Health is a continuation of Steve C.’s story.
My second daughter was born on January 30, 1971. She is currently married and has four children and still lives in Pueblo, Colorado. Her third son was born with a multitude of birth defects, he is six years old, but only has the mental capacity of a three year old. His speech is barely audible, his right eyelid droops, his right leg has been amputated and he uses a prosthetic device. His right arm is a tangled mess and his hand is severely abnormal. As of this writing he has just returned from Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado where they broke his arm in two places and put a steel rod in it to straighten it. The doctors at Children’s Hospital also have other surgeries scheduled for him, they’re going to take a finger from his left hand and transfer it to his right so he can grasp things.
In the beginning the doctors warned us to plan for his funeral, but so far, he has proved to be a survivor. He remains on heart medication and he has a large scar on his throat where a breathing tube was implanted.
We are Christian people and we’ve done our best to deal with this in an admirable way, and only by the help and support of our church, friends and family have we been able to endure.
My third daughter was born on April 3, 1972. She also has birth defects and although the doctors never made a positive diagnosis for the cause of her defects one civilian specialist stopped just short of blaming Agent Orange because I was continuously exposed to it during two tours in Vietnam? The whole left side of her body is smaller than the right and she has had approximately 15 operations to reconstruct her ear drum, hammer, and anvil. On her right foot, the bone grew out the end of her great toe on its own accord, and, just recently she had the other four toes on her right foot broken and reset because they were curling under her foot. She has two children and one stepson. Being daddy’s girl she didn’t want to stay in Colorado so she moved to Indiana with us and now works for our local newspaper.
In an email concerning this week’s “Here’s To Your Health,” Barleycorn’s mentor, a South Bend professor said, “There is an old Buddhist proverb that says, if a man is taken to the doctor with an arrow sticking out of his chest, the ER doctor does not first ask “who shot the arrow.” The arrow is a life-threatening injury, and his first priority must be finding someone who knows how to treat an arrow stuck in a chest cavity and get it removed. The arrow stuck in Steve’s chest was festering anger, resentment, fear, remorse, guilt and shame. The thing that makes Steve’s story difficult to write, is that we must give a full account of all the arrows that had been stuck in him before he came to the A.A. program. This is what makes Steve’s recovery so obviously a true miracle, only God has the power to heal wounds like that and there’s no earthly power that could have saved his life. But we need to remember that when it comes to chronic alcohol and drug addicts, we are the doctors whose job it is to remove the arrows of anger, shame, remorse, guilt, and resentment that are killing them. Or what would be a better thing to say would be, we need to show these people the path to the Great Physician who knows best how to remove these kinds of arrows, and how to heal those types of emotional wounds causing their spiritual malady. And we need to get the message across to millions of alcohol addicts who are still out there suffering, “You do not have to die cursing the world.” And there is also a message of hope for their families too. Steve’s wife Louise realized how people were treating him when he first came back from Vietnam, she too was bleeding inside as she watched him suffer, especially knowing how unfair it was. Louise always knew who the real Steve was, the good Steve; he was the man she had always loved.
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