On March 21, 1970, I was in the fifth week of Army basic training. We had just had our bivouac. A bivouac is a miserably cold camping experience. The next day or so, in the morning (5:00 am), I went on sick call. Myself and the others on sick call traipsed over to the dispensary, had our temperatures taken, and described our symptoms.My temperature was high about 101 (but would get much, much higher).
My ankles ached and I felt stiffness all over.
Eventually I was told to get into some sort of vehicle with others headed to the Upper Respiratory Illness Ward (URI). There I again had my temperature taken with those who arrived with me.
I don’t remember eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner. But maybe one of those was brought to the ward (an old yellow barracks of WWII vintage).
At some point, we lined up and had our temperatures taken again. Mine was 105 degrees. I was told to take two aspirin and take a cold shower. This I did.
The next thing I remember was being in the “office” area where I had my temperature taken and recorded. There was no one there. I had a horrendous headache. I stood next to the wall and hit my head on the wall and moaned.
I did not stop hitting my head on the wall. At some point, my head “felt” better and someone told me to go back to bed. I said ok, but I did not move. Someone guided me back to bed, helped me lay down and covered me.
I vaguely…, or I have the impression of people coming and taking me to the hospital.
I remember being above and slightly to the side of myself, watching the “crew” tapping my spinal column for spinal fluid.
I went through a long dark tunnel toward a bright light. My impression was that Mary and Jesus were there in the light to meet me.
I remember a life review. I felt guilty about things. I was assured that the guilt was not mine to take or keep. My relationship with my parents had caused some of the guilt. I was loved.
I wanted to return in order to take care of my spouse. I was told ok, but you must continue to love her, even if there is a divorce. My second spouse would have a dog that nearly dies.
I did not remember the part about my second spouse until I had remarried. The woman had a Sheltie that had come very close to dying a month and one half before we had our first date. As a last measure, the veterinarian had prescribed a human medication for the dog's liver. The dog had to be hand fed for a time, but was nursed back to health.
I remember learning that all spirituality is good. Not one belief system was better than the other. I remember, people who have suffered injustice by others were generally more spiritual.
I remember meeting but not “seeing” someone's brother. I was to tell his sister that he was ok. “Well, how was I to know who to tell.” His name will not be on the Vietnam Memorial, but his name will be on the Vietnam Memorial. His sister is a twin, but not a twin.
In the mid eighties, I learned that one of the finance personnel working at the data processing center had a brother who was killed in Laos. His name was not on the actual Vietnam Memorial. However, an Illinois veteran’s organization had a scale model of the memorial. His name was included on the scale model. While traveling on business, I told her that her brother was ok. She was very relieved and said that she had always wondered. He had not been very religious, but had been spiritual. I told her that I was puzzled about her being a twin, but not being a twin. She replied with a smile that, “Oh of course, that’s true. As kid’s, the neighbors always commented about us as twins because of our looks. However, of course, we were not actually twins.”
It was time to return. I was afraid of the noise. I was told it would not do me any harm and I would be ok.
I was in a coma for three days. was bound to the bed so that I could not knock out any of the IV’s. I learned I had meningitis and had almost died. After two weeks in intensive care and a week or two in a regular room, I was given thirty days sick leave. At home I could not make it from the first floor to the second floor without resting twice while going up the stairs.
I returned to post after thirty days and was placed in a medical holding company. I met the man who had withdrawn the spinal fluid. “Oh, yes I remember you. Your spinal fluid was like milk. It is usually like water. We didn’t even do any of the other tests for meningitis. We started the IV. Didn’t think I'd ever see you again.”
Being on earth means being able to see, taste, smell, feel and hear the higher power through nature and people.