St. Louis, MO : San Francisco, CA : Norfolk, VA 1972-1976

As stated before, Barnes McMillan Eye Hospital was one of the most prestigious eye programs in the country.  Instead of having residents attend the world famous concentrated summer Lancaster basic science course at Colby College, Waterville, ME, Barnes has its own year-long instruction for which the PHS San Francisco first year resident is assigned to participate.  1 July, 1972, I moved from Staten Island, NY to St. Louis, MO to begin my one year out-of-service training in ophthalmology at Barnes Hospital, Washington University.  Additionally, on September 9, now just turned 29 years old, I married Susan Quackenbush, a PHS summer COSTEP, Commissioned Officer Summer Training Externship Program for nurses, whom I met and courted while at PHS Staten Island, New York.  She was a 22 year old senior RN student from DePauw University, IN.  Since my twin William and little brother Dan were already married and raising families, according to my ‘grand’ plan, I wanted and felt I should be married and a father before I turn 30 years old.  I felt the pressure, as #1 son, to be a husband and father.

1 July, 1973, I reported for duty as a second year ophthalmology resident to U.S. PHS San Francisco.  Our first child, Jennifer was born on August 23rd, 1973.  One and a half years later, March 31st, 1975, Catherine joined the family.  Even though I was working more than full-time, I enjoyed my role as a father and I helped as much as I could to take care of them.  My father-in-law, Daddo, was surprised that as a man I would be doing so much diapering and nurturing.

My residency was simply first-rate.  Our program was affiliated with UC San Francisco and the University of the Pacific.  I was mentored by some of the best ophthalmologists: among whom were Dr. Max Fine, world renown corneal transplant specialist; Wayne Fung, retinal specialist; John Hetherington, Jr. and H. Dunbar Hoskins, Jr., MD, authors of the text, Foundation for Glaucoma; and Howard Schatz, the first ophthalmologist to sub-specialize on just the ‘Macula.’  I completed my formal ophthalmic training 30 June, 1975.

In the U.S. PHS system, there was a well respected ophthalmologist named Dr. Edward Newby in Norfolk VA.  I made a request to be transferred there to work with him.  First, hoping I’d gain more practical experience under his tutorship and second, we’d be closer to our families in MI and IN.  Furthermore, the frequent warm weather was also appealing, (although I did not realize or anticipate the humid summer days and hurricane season.)  Again, the appointment came through Dr. Herington, PHS Headquarters, at Washington, DC.

Dr. Newby was indeed a gentleman and caring physician/ophthalmologist, one I’d like to emulate.  His patients all loved him.  He saved a few cases for me to demonstrate my expertise, including a lye burned patient readied for corneal transplant.  After having worked with him for just two months, Dr. Newby announced that he would retire in September, saying that he’d waited for some time, for someone to whom he could hand his patients over.  Now he trusted me to be that person.  What a surprise and shock!  Instead of having more time to work together, now I became the head of the department and ran the entire organization.

The Director of the hospital was a dentist named Frank Nelson who had little knowledge of medicine, let alone running a hospital.  Patients’ rooms were in dire need for repair with peeling plaster walls and leaking ceilings, and the hospital required essential supplies and equipments; instead, the year end appropriations were spent towards refurbishing his ‘mansion’ on the grounds on improvement for his personal comfort and enjoyment!  After Dr. Newby left, I had to keep up with the same patient load singularly and not keep the ‘expensive ophthalmic clinic instrumentations’ idle during clinic hours.  Most ophthalmic surgeries were elective and they were to be scheduled after clinic hours.  I worked practically 24/7 constantly and simply could not keep up.

My twin brother, William, suffered a massive stroke, the rupture of a ‘berry aneurysm,’ in May of 1976.  I requested leave and was summarily denied.  For the first time in my PHS career I went AWOL for ten days.  Life with Nelson became absolutely intolerable thereafter.  He was using me and treating me less than as a slave.   In my personal understanding of ‘duty,’ I felt committed to serve at least 2 years when granted special request assignments.  Morally, I had to fulfill my obligation and commit to my commission in Norfolk through 30, June, 1077, at least another 13 months!  I was trapped and at my wit’s end.

But, miracles do happen.  Stay tuned!!

Ophthalmology Residency San Francisco

The application for the ophthalmology position at San Francisco was not any slam-dunk.  Apparently there was another ‘super intern’ named Sandy who had been eyeing that position and had been buttering up the Chief, Dr. William Richards.  Sandy was an impressive intern, who had decided early to specialize in ophthalmology.  He knew about this special program at San Francisco U.S. Public Health Service, which is why he chose to intern there.

This was the scene I entered.  Dr. Richards knew nothing of me but he promised Dr. Dykstra that he would at least meet me for an interview.  I was told around Thanksgiving during my internal medicine rotation that I’d best fly out to San Francisco as soon as possible if I truly wanted to be competing.  I hopped on the next week-end flight and had a very cordial and candid dinner meeting with Dr. Richards.  He was impressed with all my recommendations and accolades.  Sometime in the conversation he informed me that he had multiple myeloma and asked what did I know about the disease.   Having spent time in internal medicine, I knew about the symptoms related to myeloma as described with the mnemonic CRAB: high blood Calcium, poor Renal or kidney function, Anemia, and Bone pain or bone lesions.  I asked how many of these were affecting him.  He was impressed.  Then he asked if I were Chinese?  I answered that I was a Communist Effected Refugee from China.  He confessed that he was quarter Chinese with a grandmother who had immigrated to HI.  As we parted he agreed not to make any definitive decision and instead punted the decision to the headquarters, (U.S. PHS in DC.)  Dr Herington was the decision maker, taking into account the best qualified, versus cost of transfers, and long term benefit for the PHS.  Drs Stein and Dykstra strongly advocated on my behalf citing my overall devotion to PHS and my patients.  They had reason to believe that I would be a career PHS officer.  This information convinced Dr. Herington to award the San Francisco program to me and he offered the Manhattan Eye program to Sandy.

Sandy finished his training and promptly left PHS.  I stayed with PHS until the government tried to close down the Seattle PHS in 1979 and wanted to transfer me to New Orleans to be the chief of the department there.  At the time, I did not feel I was qualified to be chief and felt a little foolish to accept the accelerated temporary rank of Captain, a 4-striper that accompanied the position.  Furthermore, I did not want to leave Seattle.  I resigned from the U.S. Public Health Service on 1 July 1979, having served from 1 July 1970, a career of nine years.

GP Metamorphosed to EyeMD

Warning: the following saga is very long, read leisurely.

Growing up in Springfield, OH, I was exceptionally impressed with our General Practitioner, Dr. Howard Ingling, a graduate of Case Western Reserve University, School of Medicine in Cleveland OH. He was available in his clinic to all patients, provided free medical care to needy people at a neighborhood church clinic which he instituted, and he was a pioneer in inter-racial medicine. After clinic he even made house calls, seeing me at our home at 10:30 when I had the German measles. Early on he encouraged me to study hard and he’d write me a letter of recommendation to Case Western.

Beginning my studies, I’ve previously related my acceptances to medical schools, and my decision to attend Johns Hopkins, School of Medicine. My goal was to become a good caring general practitioner like Dr. Ingling. But I soon became aware that our Hopkins staff had some distain for (local doctors) the GP’s. At hospital rounds and presentations the local referring doctors were always referred as LMD’s and often besmirched their treatment plans and presented our superior expertise paths. This attitude dissuaded me from being another ‘LMD.’

My first clinical rotation was Pediatrics. Hopkins has a huge 12 story building totally dedicated just for children. The head of the department was Dr. Robert E Cook, a world renowned Pediatrician who founded the Head Start Program and was the advisor to the President of the U.S. I was assigned to be tutored by Dr. Mary Ellen Avery, a pioneer in hyaline membrane disease of the newborn, the cause of death of President Kennedy’s infant son. My project was having received two Rhesus C -sectioned identical monkeys; one was placed in a regular incubator in room air and the other in an identical incubator in 100% oxygen. I documented their respiratory rates, oxygen saturation, and general viability. I also had a pair of human twins on varying levels of oxygen levels to maintain their ability to breathe unlabored. This was ‘cool’ stuff! Additionally I had clinic patients, one with carbon monoxide poisoning, one Arabian girl with growth hormone deficiency, who was normal in intellect and physical ability but at eight years old weighed 42 lb and was only 40 inches tall. For exercises, I played soccer and tennis with her and she was quite good at both. Then I had a 10 year old patient with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome, a condition in which there is an extra electrical pathway in the heart. This condition can lead to periods of rapid heart rate (tachycardia) and frequently she would pass out. I was hooked. I decided to pursue pediatrics and devoted all my spare time to this discipline. Then I talked to one of my friend’s father who was a practicing pediatrician in Baltimore. I asked to shadow him over a week-end. He was covering for his group and was very busy the entire time. But the cases were mostly kids with mild fever without other symptoms, kids crying without ceasing, some vomiting almost constantly, some with diarrhea. Some mothers were at wit’s end but couldn’t really describe their children’s symptoms. This went on all night, especially after dinner time, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There were none of the cases I was taking care of at the hospital. The pediatrician told me that was very typical of his career. I suddenly lost interest for I knew then that unless I wanted to stay in academia, general pediatric practice was not for me. My cases were all managed with good results. We discovered that premature babies lacked a substance called ‘surfactant’ to allow proper oxygen exchange at the air sac level. Hyaline membranes formed and further prevented proper oxygen exchange. Also, it was discovered that too much oxygen was detrimental (per my Rhesus monkey study.) My short statue patient was given the newly discovered molecular chain and formula now known as ‘growth hormone.’ My cardiac patient was monitored with Beta blockers. All were good. I stayed very much interested in pediatrics, but was ambivalent about my future.

I thought that my talents were in solving problems and also I liked using my hands in doing procedures and surgery. Consequently I thought perhaps OB/GYN would be of interest. My Auntie Liu, my mother’s eldest sister by 17 years, was the first female graduate from the OB/GYN department of the University of Pennsylvania and was practicing in Chinatown New York. She was extremely busy but leading a satisfying and seemingly happy life.

Accordingly when I inquired and signed up to join the U.S. Public Health, I was thrilled to discover that there was an opening for an OB/GYN internship at Staten Island, NY. As soon as I had an opportunity, I drove up for an interview. The Director of Medical Education, Dr. Emanuel Stein was super cordial and especially direct with me. He told me that he was thrilled that I was the first Hopkins applicant he interviewed. The Staten Island hospital would definitely place me as their first choice for that OB/GYN position. Accordingly, if I also choose U.S. Public Health, Staten Island as my top choice, the position would practically be guaranteed. But I informed Dr. Stein that I just recently selected this field and have had little experience except that I felt this specialty may allow me the use of medical knowledge and hand skills. I was committed to give it an honest try, but if that did not work, what other options might I have. He agreed that many doctors switch fields as they develop. But he assured me that I was so wanted by his educational program that after an honest and sincere trial if I really wanted to switch out, he’d do his best to make that happen. This was a verbal agreement and I placed my full trust in the agreement. I listed Staten Island U.S. Public Health as my first choice and was assigned to start July 1, 1970 after graduation in late May.

There was a low income government subsidized housing unit 3 blocks from the hospital. Since I had no salaried income Jan-June, I secured a one bedroom unit in that building.

I started my internship with a bang. My entire class had the same idea as I had, selecting to serve here instead of joining the armed forces. It was an excellent group of graduates from all corners of the U.S. OB/GYN was a very little department, run by a second year resident and me, the intern, and supervised by a chief resident of a nearby New York hospital. As a ‘super’ intern, a real doctor now, I eagerly ran the daily clinic, ran off to do deliveries when due, and checked on mother/child discharges every morning and after 5pm, I did circumcision on those requested at night after all duties were accomplished and all charts completed. Meanwhile, there were always interruptions for admissions and emergencies. My resident watched over all I was doing and only made suggestions or helped out when I was running behind. The work was hard, but rewarding. The hours were long but passed quickly. I ate as I could, but lost 10 lbs in the first month. I seldom interfaced with my fellow interns because my department was isolated from the rest of the hospital. But I found out that no one else was doing all that I was doing. Some were accusing me of setting an example no one else could or want to duplicate.

Internally, I was feeling a little prideful that indeed, Hopkins doctors were different from the best of the rest. Dr. Stein was aware of my diligence and sought me out to compliment me often. I continued the pace the second month and lost another 12 lbs. One day, I was called to assist an emergency D and C. It turned out to be to repair a botched abortion attempt. The fetus delivered ended up as 5 lbs stillborn, but broken in multiple segments. I was told that I’d be properly taught to do this procedure as a requirement of my training. But this event struck me deeply. I myself was less than 3 lbs when I was born as a seven-month preemie; I didn’t want to do abortions. I could not accept that I’d be expected and required to be doing abortions to be certified. Then I thought about being able to do OB at the time, but what happens after I become older, like what would my life be when I was 40 years old? For the first time in my life, a feeling of depression hit me. After working so hard to get to where I was, now I did not really know what I truly wanted to be!

I consulted with Dr. Stein and expressed my feelings, especially re: the abortion issue. I told him that I wanted to switch out of OB/GYN to Internal Medicine, reasoning that knowing more medicine will not harm any of my future choices. By now it was also time to commit to next year’s assignment. As a result, I committed to Dr. Stein that if he’d change my internship emphasis to Internal Medicine, I’d stay and do another year of internal medicine next year, allowing me more time to consider my ultimate interest. Keeping to his word, Dr. Stein made that change! The OB/GYN department had to create a new budget to hire outside civilians to do what I did. He added me onto the Internal Medicine internship roster, changing my two months of OB/GYN experience as my electives for the term. Life as an internist was much different. Instead of working 24/7, I was on from 6am to 6pm every day except taking 24 hour calls every fourth day.

I have had such little free time before that I had bought 30 sets of underwear, 30 Arrow white shirts, and 30 sets of black socks because I barely had time to do my laundry once a month after midnight at the local Laundromat, using 4 machines at the same time. No wonder my fellow interns were thinking foolish thoughts of me all that time!

Unexpectedly, sometime in February, the chair of the ophthalmology department, Dr. Fredrick Dykstra approached me and invited me to dinner just to chat. He said that he had observed me since my arrival in July, and that he knew I and the others were all ‘dodging the draft.’ But he was also aware through Dr. Stein that I was struggling trying to decide my future. Dr. Dykstra’s other role was as assistant Director of Medical Education. He had consulted with Dr. Stein and suggested that instead of doing a second rotation in Emergency Room, as scheduled for April that I should be allowed to do a rotation in Ophthalmology. Granted, ER would give me more new experiences, but Ophthalmology could provide me a new future. He said he envisioned me doing well in ophthalmology. I told him that I had keen interest in ophthalmology while going through my rotation at Hopkins , but when I asked how to apply to the program, I was told that at Wilmer (Hopkins) there was a waiting list of 5-7 years! (That thought left my consciousness instantly.) Dr. Dykstra laughed and said, that is Wilmer, the most sought after program, and others like Bascom Palmer in Miami, FL or Barnes in St. Louis, MO. But there are plenty of other good programs throughout the country that if I kept up my current work ethic, he’s sure he’d be able to me get into a good program somewhere. He was very persuasive and I was convinced beyond a doubt that he was thinking of my best interest. I concurred with the change in direction on the condition that this was totally agreed upon by Dr. Stein.

Dr. Dykstra served as the department chief. He was a Board Certified Ophthalmologist, but had been in administration and education area for many years. The program was run by the chief resident from Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital. He best second year assistant was his helper. The on-call back up was the rotating attendant physician at Manhattan Eye and Ear. The U.S. Public Health intern’s duties were to do the grub work during the day and watch over the inpatients at night while the chief and residents take their leave. The philosophy was by watching, asking questions, and “playing” with the intricate instruments, we gained and obtained some insight in the field.

April 1, first day on the rotation, there was a dock worker brought in with a painful swollen R eye, while scrapping the ship dock. The staff said, ‘here he is Dr. Chu, your first eye patient.’ I took him to a slit lamp machine which fortunately I had familiarized myself before, anesthetized his eye so he could let me touch him. On exam, I saw a globe which was indented and out of round. But under observation, it was filling itself! If the globe was gently touched, clear fluid was visibly egressing through a peripheral slit in the cornea. I know he had a penetration and needed surgical repair. I sought and found the resident busily doing something else, he briskly told me, “Well, do what you need to do to get him on the surgical schedule this afternoon.” I returned to the patient, applied topical anesthetic, washed the eye with sterile saline solution, and lavished copious layer of antibiotic ointment, and gently bandaged the eye and protected it with a metal shield. I figured the foreign body most likely was a metal fragment, thus X-ray may help us as to a location. I arranged an exam with my intern friend in radiology and he was all excited, asked me if I wanted a skull ‘Water’s View.’ I told him to do what he felt was necessary, but let’s try to locate an intraocular foreign body.

Mean while I drew blood for a multitude of tests, (in those days we always checked for serology), did a urinalysis, placed him on NPO and readied him to be admitted while I was arranging for a slot in surgery at 2PM. After all were accomplished I hunted down the chief resident and presented my case to him. All of a sudden he got excited and asked how come I waited til now to talk about it. Where was the resident in all this? I told him that he was busy and told me to handle it. So the chief said we got to get x-rays and get him to surgery. I related to him all I had done, and he immediate headed to x-ray department and was pleased to see a definite metallic foreign body in the inferior ciliary area. He applauded me for my insight and diligence and he began to treat me with more respect than just another Public Health Intern, and wanted me to shallow him whenever possible.

That night I read all I could about corneal injuries and penetrating foreign bodies (FB’s). The next day, a woman checked in with severe L eye pain with blurred vision and generalized red eye after having come out of a morning movie session. I determined that she was suffering from the condition known as ‘acute narrow angle closure glaucoma’ and needed urgent surgical peripheral iridectomy. I completed the usual admission and pre-op work, a notified the chief resident who asked me to be his first assistant at surgery. I was getting pumped!

The next day I had a patient with a “lye burn, alkaline’ splashed onto his whole face including one eye. While the others were treating his face, I had to maintain constant saline irrigation of his eye which was denuded of his entire corneal epithelium and was in constant pain. Imagine the severe pain one gets with a little scratch of the cornea his epithelium was totally burned off!! Saline irrigation was a feeble attempt at preventing further chemical penetration into the stroma and causing permanent scarring, requiring future corneal transplant for any possibility of regaining sight.

That week end, watching over all three of these admits, I also managed to read the entire Textbook of Ophthalmology by Adler. The second week was more routine but just as invigorating. I sought out Dr. Dykstra and stated, I’ve decided to devote my career to ophthalmology. I asked “What do I need to do?” He said he can make suggestions to the admission’s board, and the chief resident also had input and already singled me out as a candidate he’d recommend for the next year’s class starting in July, 1971. I thanked him but affirmed that for what the Public Health had done for me, and in particular how he and Dr. Stein had mentored me, I had to fulfill my promise to do another year of residency in Internal Medicine and could not accept the offer. But, I would appreciate his help in exploring other possibilities available for me. He told me that within the U.S. PHS system; the San Francisco Hospital had a residency program structured that the first year was spent completely as out of service training at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, MO. Then two years in San Francisco. This position was very competitive, but I certainly had a chance, though most candidates intern in San Francisco to gain an inside advantage. He would try his utmost to advocate for me if I was interested. I confirmed, and committed to pursue this course. Worst scenario could be that I try to take the position at Manhattan Eye and Ear the following year.

The month of April passed too rapidly, but my enthusiasm in/for medicine was totally rejuvenated. I decided to devote all my energy into becoming the best and most knowledgeable physician I could be. Choosing to limit my expertise to just the eye was most exciting, but I wanted to be more than just an eye doctor. I finished my second year residency in Internal Medicine in 1972 and became a Board eligible internist, before embarking full time in ophthalmology.

Medical Report 4/24/2017

Started the day at VM at 8 am.

1. Blood work all on path towards normalcy.

2. PET scan — liver hematoma resolved, capsular cyst markedly reduced to be a scar. Previously active Cancer rim lesions, one is picking up less sugar (less active) the other appeared to be ‘dormant.’

3. Previous colonic
questionable lesion seemed to have disappeared. Apparently it was not a metastatic site.

4. No new findings of fresh seeding.

5. R Pleural effusion persists, but I feel asymptotic, and breathing normally, O2 saturation 99%

ALL Good!!!

Only negative is that the nonspecific CA marker increased from 40 to 80 although still much lower than the 457 on Feb 6 when the lesions were first discovered.

Restarting Chemo today.

Praise & Thanks be to God Almighty!! And to all of you. I feel your love enveloping me constantly. With much gratitude to Everyone!! 💜💜💜

Selective Service Lottery Draft, 1970

All three of us Chu boys, I, William and Daniel, were registered for the Selective Service in Springfield, Ohio. William was called in for a physical. He failed and was classified as 4-F because of his asthma and flat feet. Daniel accidentally cut off two of his figures in his fine arts class, making wooden frames. He also was disqualified for service. I was the only one left and they were certainly keeping an eye on me. While attending college, I was annually deferred as 2-S. But after I started medical school, the Selective Service demanded a verification letter from my school registrar that I was truly enrolled as full time student each semester. Besides, at that time almost all doctors were drafted anyway. My last hope of not being called to fight in Vietnam was the national lottery held in 1970. The rule was the first called number were the first eligible to serve. My birthday number came up as the fourth number drawn. I was destined to join the Armed Forces. Then my fellow students told me that I could serve without having to carry arms by joining the Unites States Public Health Service. The next day I went to the U.S. Public Health Hospital in Baltimore and sighed up. I discovered that historically, during times of war, all merchant mariners were drafted to serve on the open sea. Thus sea power was so essential and necessary that most countries had hospitals to serve these folks. In the U.S., we had Public Health hospitals along our coast cities: Boston, New York, Baltimore, Norfolk, New Orleans, Galveston, San Francisco and Seattle. I could serve in any of these hospital settings instead of joining the armed forces and have to carry a firearm. I gladly joined the U.S. Public Health Service Corps and became a commissioned officer on July 1st, 1970.

4/17/2017 Clinic Visit

Again, we were greeted and treated cordially and expertly on this visit. First I was directed to get a CT scan. Then Dr Fotoohi, the Interventional Radiologist who had originally placed the liver drain, came and discussed the findings of the CT scan. He said that the liver capsular sack had reduced from containing 2.6 liters to now barely able to hold 5cc. He injected dye into that space and was able to immediately withdraw the same amount out. At home Linnea was flushing the drain with 10cc of saline every eight hours and the input/output had been about the same for 3 days. Though the channel did not directly communicate with what they all thought was the nidus spot of the infection, he felt good that that area is now most likely sterile. His decision was to remove the drain at this time and it was done in seconds.

The Infectious Disease, Doctor Woolston than came to my recovery room and discussed with Linnea and me concerning watching out for signs of recurrence of infection and that since the drain has been removed, I should stop my antibiotics. I told her that I’d only had a day or two of the medications left, and that I would feel safer to continue and finish the course. She did not object.

Then we met my surgeon, Dr. Scott Helton, and he asked me to carefully monitor the wound and that it should heal in 4 days.

All in all an efficient and good visit at the clinic.

We then met up with David and family at their new house. Catherine and family also arrived from Boston for the kids’ spring break. We toured the house, (90 % complete.) Then we went to a restaurant, ate and returned home. I was very tired, slept from leaving the restaurant until Linnea dropped me off at our door.

Today, I awoke energetic and ready to go. The kids are coming over this afternoon. I invited my sister to drive to Tacoma to bring Mom over for dinner. We will have a houseful.
Future plan is to visit Dr. Picozzi next Monday 4/24, and hopefully restart the chemo regimen again. I will keep you updated.

Thus far I am feeling good, getting stronger every day. (Got up today, shaved and showered myself without getting weary.)

Thanks to all for your much valued get well thoughts, prayers and kindness. I do feel all your LOVE enveloping me. I am sincerely grateful.

VW Bug

Since I am in a writing mood, I’ll relate another story.

During our third and fourth years at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, we had clinical rotations at various hospitals throughout Baltimore. I was taking public transportation to the assignments, but it was time consuming and at times at very awkward hours. Thus I decided that I needed/should get a car.

Dad had a parishioner couple who had a 30 year old entrepreneur son, seldom, but also have attended church. Thus Mom and Dad knew of this young man. Apparently among his several work employments, one was trading directly with Volkswagen Germany in importing the new ‘less than $2000 Volkswagen Bug.’ He told Dad that he could get me one for $1750. This could happen by Thanksgiving if I could get him the money right away. This sounded very good so we paid him in advance. I made plans to fly home on Thanksgiving, 1968, arranged to switch with classmates for coverage over the week end and I would drive back to Baltimore by Monday.

When I made the trip home, Dad said that the young man had been sick and that the car deal did not go smoothly, and the car never arrived. However, we were assured that it would be here by Christmas. I was not pleased, but accepted this explanation and anticipating the car by Christmas and continued my routine with the public transportation. I went home for Christmas; Dad again expressed regret and said that he had had no further word that we were getting a car. The young man had reported that his illness persisted and he was just not able to complete any work tasks.

As our whole family unit (William and family, Daniel and family and Elizabeth and I) were together at the Christmas dinner table, the door bell rang. It was the young man. Very agitated and distraught, he counted out $1800 and apologized for his inability to accomplish what he promised. The $50 was his gift/penalty. We said that was not necessary then he insisted that we put the $50 in the offering plate for Christmas. He left abruptly and we continued our dinner. Mom made a statement ‘how did he get all that cash; maybe he robbed a bank!’ Sure enough, no sooner than she finished her sentence, the door bell rang again. This time it was the police. There had been a bank robbery and they seized the $1800 as evidence.

Dad felt so badly for the entire situation that he took me to several used car dealers the next day and he purchased for me a used but pristine 1966 Sky Blue Buick Skylark which I drove back to school after New Year 1969. I learned to maintain that car including setting the timing light in tune-ups. I used that car trouble free and had it in San Francisco until 1974 when Jennifer arrived and William got me a Chevy van for the growing family.

Preakness, 1969

Continuing on during ‘confession’ week, I am relating another life experience.

Attending Johns Hopkins was an exhilarating and exciting adventure. Everyone in the class was a ‘Phi Beta Kappa.” All were top students of the best universities in the land. Many classmates came from medical families and they already had chosen specialty fields that they intended to pursue. Medical terminologies were conversed as common lingo. For me, the medical language was a totally brand new language, almost like learning English as a twelve year old when I immigrated! I was not intimidated, yet, studying 24/7 was just barely sufficient to keep up. No longer did I have the feeling of being able to master any subject and that I could overcome or conquer anything. We were assured that because Hopkins had such faith in her selection process, ALL of us will be physicians. If we cannot comprehend any topic, it would be the instructors’ inability to teach us. Consequently, no one in our class felt any need to ‘cut throat’ anyone else like some I experienced in college. Everyone was always a willing helper with everyone else in the class. Our philosophy was the worst student of our class is going to be the best amongst all physicians in the country.

Our year was divided into 5-10-week periods with one week break between Christmas and New Year, and the other week being the last week of June off to move on to post graduate careers. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had this experience because it prepared me to be the physician that I am, but I do not wish this type of academic schedule on anyone else.

Anyway, I was receiving $1800 dollars per semester as my scholarship. It happened that I was given this amount on Friday, May 16, 1969. I cashed the check and carried all $1800 to the 1969 Preakness Race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD on May 17th.

The favorite was Majestic Prince and the rider was the world famous Bill Hartack. Majestic Prince was a 0.6-1 favorite to win. Though other smaller races sometimes may be ‘fixed,’ the Preakness was/is a major event and surely can be trusted. Admittedly being a little greedy, I thought I could enhance my spending funds by placing all $1800 on Majestic Prince not to win or place, but just to show up at third and I’d get the pay out. Accordingly, I waited to monitor the odds until the last minute, Majestic Prince’s position never changed. I walked up to the counter and place all $1800 on Majestic Prince to show.

And they were off! Majestic Prince was in the middle position and was over taken by two horses right away. As they made their way across the straight stretch across the field, Majestic Prince was now 8 lengths behind. Suddenly, I felt my heart pounding as never before. But Bill Hartack maneuvered the horse along the middle and was slowly moving up. The two lead horses were running nicely and smoothly with no signs of slowing down. I felt like I was having a heart attack! As they made the final turn, heading home, Majestic Prince found an opening and squirted through a few horses and with Hartack using his whip/crop Majestic Prince responded and raced ahead and came in first by 1/2 length.

What excitement, and what a rush! Because Majestic Prince was such an overwhelming favorite, Show paid only $2.20. Risking all that for $180 gain? Monday morning I paid my tuition bill, kept $180 for myself. I learned my life lesson, and I vowed that day never to bet on horses again. That was my last bet, though playing the stock exchange is a different story.

Kroger Experience in Warren MI

Today is Good Friday, 2017. Even not having been brought up in the Catholic faith, I feel that today is a good time to make a public confession. Something I knew was wrong, yet I persisted and completed doing.

William, my twin, (though only minutes younger than I,) was an exemplary second little brother. He had total respect for me as his older brother; my responsibility was to help and watch out for him in all circumstances. We lived this relationship from birth until his unexpected tragic death from a ‘berry aneurysm’ in May of 1976.

After having committed to begin my medical career at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine on the day after Labor Day, 1962, I had a free summer to do as I wished. By this time, my Dad had accepted the position of parish pastor at a church in Mt Clemens, MI. Although I had a full tuition scholarship at Johns Hopkins, I still had to assume the cost of living expenses and books and supplies. I had worked at Springfield City Hospital in the pharmacy department, delivering medications to the floor nurses so I decided to apply for a similar position at a bigger hospital, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. I was hired, 9-5, but they paid only $1.00/hour. I accepted it to gain experience. Since I was used to working long hours of having two or three jobs simultaneously, I looked for a supplemental night position. Lo and behold, there was a Kroger Grocer in Warren, MI in need of a night stocker with experience. I had worked at Fulmer Grocer in Springfield for five years, so l was experienced. With five years experience, I would be paid $3.90 per hour, but if I had 5 years with Kroger, (like William had) the pay rate would be $5.75. Thus I filled out the form stating that my name was William Franklin Chu and used William’s Social Security and all other pertinent information. The manager asked if he could call Springfield Kroger; I gave him the number and the names of both the manager and his assistant. I informed William that I had done this and that he’d be paying more taxes. He was at this time working at Ford Motor as an extern, finishing his BS in Metallurgical Engineering at the OSU. He assured me that for the difference in pay, he would do the same, and not to worry about anything.

The manager called to see when I could start because my reference checked out glowingly saying that if he had 3 of those Chinese boys, he would have the entire store covered. I told him I was available to do 7pm to 7am Monday – Friday until the last week of August. He had me start right away.

At first, been keenly aware to listen for being called William caused no problem; and work was routine, tiresome, but hey, look at the financial reward. However, soon after I forgot my name was William and began ignoring being called to check this price of this or that item. So I fibbed, explaining that I was hard of hearing in one ear. But that back-fired because I was mixing them up!

One day, after a hard day at Henry Ford, I came home and took a power nap. Mom woke me at 6:20, fed me and I took a quick shower. It was also a hot and muggy night. I put on a tee shirt and a pair of shorts and ran out the door with only my keys. As I was driving William’s car to Kroger, there was a robbery of a local bank with the getaway car similar to his white Ford Falcon. The police asked for my ID and driver’s license. Of course I was caught empty handed. The information in the glove compartment were all registered to William, but I already told the policeman that I was Franklin. The rule as I understood it in MI was that driving without a license meant spending a night in jail.

After a prolonged discussion, the policeman discovered indeed that they had stopped the wrong car, and that I was expected at Kroger’s but my name was William, not Franklin. Then I explained that I am really William Franklin Chu, but I preferred to be called Franklin, but at the store I had told them to call me William. I stressed the fact that tomorrow, Saturday, was going to be a big shopping day, and that the customers are totally dependent on my working and stocking that night. I volunteered to check in at the county jail Saturday night for my punishment. To my surprise, the police agreed and commanded me to be at jail at 7 pm.

I went to work and was reprimanded for been late. I apologized and promised to make up the lost time. At about 5 am, the night manager came to me and told me that he was just told of a ‘surprised’ inspection next Monday. Since after Saturday, the store was going to look like a total mess, he would need me to work all Saturday night and possibly part of Sunday at double pay to get the store in shape for inspection. I begged to be excused because I had previous commitments, but he would have nothing of it. Basically he said show up or ‘You’re Fired.’

As I worked the rest of the shift, I was pondering that I really had only 3 more weeks of working, and I was getting very exhausted. Perhaps I’d just quit instead of getting fired. But due to loyalty, I also wanted the store to have an exceptional inspection score. Thus I planned to propose working from 5 pm Sunday until 7 am Monday and offered not to get overtime pay to complete the task. I sought out the manager to speak with him.

After I finished, suddenly the front door opened and in walked the policeman that stopped me with fresh coffee for the Kroger night manager. They are brothers!! The police asked his brother, so what other out-of the-box proposals did he come up with to get out of work tonight?

Because of my diligence and efficiency in stocking the shelves, making them look pleasing and appealing to customers, they let me finish working the rest of the summer and I checked in to the jail at 7 pm Saturday and was release 1 minute after midnight Sunday having served my time of driving without carrying my license with me.

Update: April 11, 2017

Prior to my scheduled discharge from Virginia Mason after an eleven-day stay, my pulmonologist, Dr Gerbino suggested that I have another thoracentesis done under ultrasound by the interventional radiologist. By his clinical evaluation he estimated that I still had up to one quart of pleural effusion in the right lung cavity. He felt that since the liver hematoma has reduced significantly that this procedure would make me breathe much easier. However, with assistance of ultrasound, the radiologist, after consultation with his colleague, advised me that he could not promise me that in doing the thoracentesis he may not puncture my right liver, which was still pushed upwards under the right rib cage. There was definitely fluid present, and the right lung is 50% collapsed, but with time, this could correct itself with deep inspirations/breathing exercise and avoidance of developing an infectious pneumonia. I chose doing less harm by denying the procedure. Here, I truly want to convey to all my friends, though I struggled with many possible life changing/altering decisions, each possibility was offered to Linnea and me and I had the right and authority (with Linnea’s input and concurrence) to say ‘go’ or ‘no go.’ The staff treated us with kindness, understanding and total respect. Team VM truly worked well for us. We left the hospital on Saturday April 1, 2017.

I felt well enough the next day to attend our Bethany Lutheran Church service, having awakened around 7, but took almost 2 hours to get washed, dressed and ready. To my total and absolute surprise, we were greeted by the entire congregation wearing ‘purple’ in support of me and my fight against this deadly disease. It was a very heart-felt and beautiful feeling witnessing all the love and sustaining care that surrounded me and Linnea.

Thank You Pastor Paul for your love and your thoughtfulness in spreading the Gospel of Love and Forgiveness. God indeed lives as ‘Word in Flesh’ dwelling among us.

We returned to VM for follow-up on Wednesday, 4/5. It was a very efficient day. Starting with the lab drawing blood works, (all heading back to normal, including the CA 19-9 from 187 to 44, norm is <37.). Then we were sent to get a CT scan which showed markedly decreased size of the R liver and the hematoma cavity with residual fluid which seemed to be draining well. The interventional Radiologist, Dr. Fotoohi easily manipulated the tube to where he wanted it to be without any pain or discomfort. Next stop was checking in with the surgery team and then we had an in-depth consultation with the Infectious Disease (ID) Dr. Woolston. A very busy but exceedingly productive day! Not surprisingly at all, Linnea has picked up ‘nursing’ duties as a pro! She flushes my drain and records my output diligently every eight hours. When she showed the doctors her record, they said, oh, all we wanted is the daily amount and that the pattern of output is decreasing, that’s good. The exudates started as very thick caramel colored fluid, now it is much less viscous and light lemon in color. On Saturday 4/8, I began developing a rash and raging itch, most likely a reaction to one of the antibiotics. The ID on-call doctor advised using Benadryl as well as a cortisone cream. While the Benadryl made me sleepy during the day, the itch continued to keep me awake at night. This worked only minimally, if at all. We had an appointment with Dr. Picozzi to ascertain my status re: the pancreatic cancer yesterday, Monday 4/10. He cannot do any treatment until my liver drain is removed, which hopefully will be 4/17. Then we start anew with Chemo treatment. Good news is that there is no discernible widening of the original disease or any ill effects or progression of the disease during this delay. We take this one day at a time. A follow-up call to Dr. Woolston, the ID resulted in switching me out of one of the antibiotics. The effect of the first is still lingering, but definitely the rash and itch are subsiding. I have enough breath and energy to work on this report today. Thanks be to God. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. Heartily and Truthfully, I do feel your LOVE in ways beyond words can express.