Biographical Notes re

Charles A. (Chuck) Stone

Page 4 of 4 Pages, of Chapter 7,


When Les reported to the hospital, the hospital commander had assigned a new, just reassigned, doctor to his case. He was not allowed to see Les’s medical records. Within 30 minutes of his examination, the doctor said they would have to do a biopsy. Through tests, they quickly determined that Les had a massive, inoperable, cancerous tumor in his upper chest. Les received intensive treatment, from that point on, but was not long for this world. After spending time getting extreme radiation treatments at Scott AFB, he was returned to Offutt for his final days. The local doctor, that had been misled by his medical records history as a malingerer, came in to apologize. Les’s final comments to him were that with he, Les, was obviously a conscientious, dedicated career military man with impeccable performance records, and it seemed to him that the least they could done was to take him seriously when he begged for their attention. The doctor turned away and departed, shaking his head.

Recently, while confirming the above details with Les’s wife, Mary, she offered these final comments. “I might add that, in order not to meet a board, he flew when he couldn't even sit up straight because of the extreme pain. I remember his comment after that last flight— [If that was indeed my last flight, I made one of the smoothest landings of my career.]”

I could rehearse other stories of people who were plagued and maltreated by this same Flight Surgeon who must have had his own deep fear of flying, to the point that he could not comprehend that “flying was our life, our dream, our choice, our future, our honor and our pleasure”.

Moving on, the Base Surgeon arranged to have me admitted to the local Veterans Administration Hospital. There they began a careful analysis of my history and condition. As doctors at other hospitals had discovered, my case was complex, compounded by the unknown effects of old polio and a number of unknowns. The good news here is that they didn't just send me back to duty because they could not figure it out. The two orthopedic doctors, after extensive evaluations, concluded they would make the big cut, remove a few disks, take bone off the hip and fuse my lower spine. I was ready for anything. On the big day, they called in Doctor Gogela, the local neurosurgeon specialist, as an advisor and went to work.

When, in considerable discomfort, I began to come back to consciousness and could comprehend what was going on, one of the orthopedic doctors leaned over my bed and said to me “Stone, if you're not fixed, it is not our fault”. Groggy as I was, I could tell that he was angry. When doctor Gogela dropped by, I was more alert and asked him what was going on. He said “Chuck, we did get into a discussion about what it would take to fix you and the other doctors relented and let me do the repairs that I thought necessary. Using a nerve hook, I worked around some of the nerves coming out of your spine and removed calcium deposits that were periodically crushing down on nerve roots, causing your pain and back spasms. Your back is not fused. Take my word for it, your fixed!” Oh, what joy filled my heart! [Note: Without fail, I have written to Doctor Gogela every Christmas, since that date, to express my thanks for his skilled and caring ways. We remain in touch, still.]

From that point on, I determined that I would be just fine. The next day they fitted me with a steel brace. I had to have my clothing altered to accommodate the device. I asked for exercise equipment I could use while in bed. The following day, with help, I put my feet on the floor and pushed a rolling cart down the hall and back. The next day, I pushed the cart down to the elevator, rode it down to the first floor, rolled around there, back on the elevator and back up to bed. The next day I walked to the elevator, went down and walked around the building. The following day, I walked around the property limits of the VA Hospital and returned to my room. I was told later that, during the actual surgery, the doctors had been called by the 2nd AF Ground Training Officer, who inquired if I would be fit for further work and transfer to the 2nd AF Headquarters, Barksdale AFB, LA. The doctors had answered in the affirmative. By the time I had made it back to my duties on base, there were orders transferring me to Barksdale. Six weeks after the surgery, wearing a steel brace, we had closed out our affairs in Lincoln and I was driving my family south in a November ice storm that paced us every foot of the way to Louisiana. Our family was on the way to yet a new chapter of military life, for the present, with Dad in a non-flying status. I was just glad to be mobile and regaining control and direction for my own life and that of my family.

This looks like a good place to move on to the next chapter of this story.

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