Part of the Collection:
Experiences (Peculiar, Unusual, Humorous)
During 24 YearsIn The U. S. Marine Band
By Art Lehman 3-18-2009

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The entire year of 2008 was a total disaster for me. First it was a 4 week cold I caught in the first week of February. Then, that cold lasted for 4 weeks. I never did get back to feeling normal. Finally, about 3 weeks before last of June I began to notice a shortness of breath whenever I went up the stairs from the rec room to the first floor. My heart is just fine, so what was causing that? Finally I went to see my family physician and he examined me, stood up afterwards, and proclaimed to the world his diagnosis (very accurate, too): “Double pneumonia, bronchitis, and a possible partially collapsed lung”.

Now, that isn’t what I expected for while in the hospital being treated for above ailments, they took chest x-rays which revealed a very serious problem, an incurable malady called: “Pulmonary fibrosis.” Most people are diagnosed with this disease between 45 and 55 years of age. I was 90! Wow! How did I escape scrutiny for so long?

At the hospital a steady stream of physicians came by, each one dressed more richly and beautifully than the first. These were physicians, “Just checking in on you, Mr. Lehman. How do you feel? Good. See you tomorrow.” They should have added “That’ll be $187.50 thankyouverymuch”! Now if you stopped one of these men, whom Frieda and I had never seen before, and asked him a direct question, all you got was “gobble-de-gook” when, when translated amounted to this - “yes, no, and maybe”.

However, one day I was informed that a “pulmonary man” would be here today or tomorrow to see me. Didn’t come that day but did arrive the next. This one big, strapping man came in and just stood in front of the bed. He had a very pleasant face and a half smile was lighting up his countenance. I told him, “I’m waiting for the pulmonary man to visit me.” He replied with a laugh, “I am the pulmonary man.” And that was one nice man, I can tell you.

He was candid, made lots of sense, told the entire story to Frieda with no fancy gloss or icing. Just the bitter truth. She never did tell me all he said. He did speak to me, too and informed me that having anyone diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 90 was unheard of. However, he also told me that the reason I had no lung problems for so long is because I had extremely strong and healthy lungs. “Had you not been blowing a big brass instrument for so long and had not had such strong lungs, you would have been dead decades ago. When even your strong lungs could no longer resist the fibrosis, you broke down and would up in this hospital.” At last, an honest man who had some facts and if he got $187.50 for that bedside visit, he really earned it. Really a nice man and well informed. Never saw him again.


So, if you want your children to have very strong and healthy lungs, start them on euphonium or tuba, and make them stick to playing one of those big brass instruments; it will make them live longer, count on it!

Written by Arthur Lehman for Keith Barton, March 18, 2009


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