By Dr. Alfred J. Plechner, DVM
I was born on April 4th, 1938 in an area called, "Three Tree Point" on Puget Sound in the State of Washington. I can remember when I was four years old and received my first football. Since I didn't have any playmates, I played with Puget Sound. As a child I knew that Puget Sound had its tides coming in and going out, so I picked a good time to play ball with it. I knew if I threw my football into the Sound, it would surely come back. As you might imagine, I spent many waking moments waiting for my football to come floating back. Obviously, my football never came back, and I had my first taste of reality.
When I aged a couple of years, my parents allowed me to use an old rowboat to explore the wonders of Puget Sound, as long as I wore a life preserver and stayed within sight of the house. At times, the baby whales were all over Puget Sound. As a child, I did not realize that they were there because their mothers were giving birth to them. These baby whales were referred to as, "black fish". The baby whales played around my rowboat and actually let me pet them. I am lucky that their Mother never got upset with me. I felt great joy in touching these lovely creatures. Often in life, as you age, you realize how blessed you were to have experienced something like this.
When I was six years old, I worked very hard catching small frogs for the bass fishermen which I sold to them at a nickel a piece. I had hoped to make enough money to buy a radio controlled car. At about the same time, my Dad had read to me about little Japanese babies who were involved in the war and who didn't have any diapers, and that their parents had to use newspapers, instead. I had a baby sister at the time who I loved dearly and would not have wanted her in newspaper diapers, either. I spoke with my Dad and he helped me mail in my life savings to the Seattle Times in order to buy diapers for the Japanese babies. The Seattle Times was nice enough to do an article about my donation which also included a picture of my little sister and I.
As I continued my row boat adventures on Puget Sound, each year a very large White Whale would spend some time there, too. People called it, "Orca," but it really wasn't one. I remember its great size-it was three times larger than a Beluga Whale!
Soon thereafter we moved into town because my Dad had horrible allergies and severe asthma and was somewhat bedridden. He was a great fisherman when he was feeling well enough to go. I loved to go to Matthews Creek which was close to our house. The creek came directly out of Lake Washington. I would catch salmon and trout and bring them home to show my ailing Dad that I could be a great fisherman, too just like him.
One afternoon, when I was just seven years old, I was playing in the alley behind our house when a car came speeding up the alley and then ran over my four-year-old sister. The next door neighbors were both physicians and were home at the time. They rushed out and wrapped up my little sister in a blanket and headed straight to the nearest hospital. The interns and residents at the hospital were in a meeting at the time and were, "too busy" to attend to her massive head trauma. By the time we reached the next hospital, she had died .What a sad example for a seven-year-old child to suddenly realize that taking the, "Hippocratic Oath" must mean that you are a, HIPPOCRITE. Can you imagine what must have gone through my child's mind seeing a hospital who did not care if a little girl died or not? Soon thereafter, my Dad was too sick to have any more children, so my parents then adopted a little girl that we named, Cathy. Everything seemed to return to normal, as well as "normal" could be given the circumstances.
One afternoon, when I was eleven-years-old, my Dad had gone to the hospital for an injection of a bronchiole dialator for his asthma called, "Aminophyline". He suffered from a horrible allergic reaction and died within a few minutes. When I came home from school, I was then told that my Dad was dead. I soon became the man of the family. I did escape from reality by playing classical music on the piano. I eventually took fourteen years of instruction, and then played at many concerts, but like many other things my music became so personal that I really only wanted to play for myself without any audience.
I then worked very hard to get through school and to support myself. We then moved again from Seattle to Los Angeles so that my Mom could begin Real Estate School. I worked for Ralph's Market evenings and all day on Saturdays and Sundays. I spent my summers working at my Uncle's wholesale grocery warehouse in Portland Oregon. My weekends were spent in Seaside, Oregon. At the age of twelve, I worked for the Seaside Clam Company catching red-finned surf perch and salmon. I was paid 10 cents a pound for the perch and 25 cents a pound for the salmon.
Mom did get her real estate license, and I figured out another way for "the man of the family" to also help make money for our family. I raised orchids, three-hundred and sixty-five different species, and sold them as corsages to UCLA and USC for special events.
I also worked for the Osaki family training trees in small dishes called, "Bonsai". It was very relaxing to do and when I created a special Bonsai, I would show the Grandparents. They would admire the small tree and then would politely bow to me which meant they liked the results. I also did wet and dry gardens for people and created some neat Japanese gardens. I did this for my mom, too in her back yard. I built a large covered patio with the entire back of it as a skylight. On the entire east wall, I did the same. On that wall, I had huge boards covered in redwood bark and to this bark I attached outside orchids and many species of bromeliads. All were wrapped in sphagnum moss and attached to the bark walls. In the back of the patio were my other species of orchids. A transparent wall and door allowed people to view and enjoy the flowers without having to enter into the greenhouse. I built a large Coy pond for my Mom, and then built a bridge with Lotus Bud Knobs on the bridge into the patio. I also built a huge waterfall that created further peacefulness. Many people came to see the garden and patio. One day, the Los Angeles Times called my Mom and asked her if they might take some pictures. The entire garden and patio made two colored pages in the Home and Garden Section of the Sunday Edition of The LOS Angeles Times. My older son framed this for us as a keepsake for our family.
While working, I attended Los Angeles High School where I wrestled and played football. I became head of the Varsity Lettermen's Society as a Junior, and was elected to Boys Division President as a senior. I had been sent to Boys State in California as a junior which helped me to become a better Boys Division President. It was a wonderful experience that I really appreciated. I will also share with you yet another experience that I thought at the time was one that I could have lived without.
I needed a fine arts course in order to graduate, so being a football player and a wrestler, I signed up for a weaving class. Much to my surprise, the big looms and shuttles were wonderful to work with. My teacher showed me how to weave, and then she turned me loose to make beautiful towels with intricate patterns and elegant materials for suits and dresses. Little did I know at that time that my teacher had sent much of my woven products to the Carnegie Institute. My creations then took first place. An assembly was called in my honor but I received so much flak from my football and wrestling teammates that I didn't go.
After five years of hard work I then applied to medical school. I had hoped that just maybe I could help stop those unnecessary tragedies that befell my Dad and little sister.
When I was accepted to a medical school, my Mom did not want "the man of the family" to leave, but it was my time now. I enjoyed medical school for my first year and was looking forward to becoming a pediatrician. While attending medical school, my greatest pleasure was to walk a mile down to a little Italian fruit stand. Once there, I would buy a big, juicy, red apple and eat it on the way home.
At the end of my first year in medical school, I developed a horrible upset gut. The Dean of Men attributed my problem to, "freshman nerves". After losing forty pounds, and a lot of my hair, and after being given two weeks of Paragoric, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, "self, you are going to die". I went to see the Dean of Men the next morning, and I was so dehydrated that I spoke with a, "clicking sound". He said to me that I could go into Public Health because it would be much less stressful! I flew home the very next day and I will always picture in my mind how my Mother and Grandmother were hugging each other and quietly sobbing because I looked like I had just come from a Concentration Camp.
I went to see my physician who with serum titers and my clinical symptoms diagnosed me with typhoid fever. My physician was livid that this, "Third World" disease could have been missed in a "high powered medical school"? The Dean said to come on back and speak with my professors in order to figure out how to catch up with my classes. Most of my professors were Nobel Prize winners in their fields, so each professor told me that they each taught the best class in the country, and that I should take the other professors' classes during summer school. So when I went back to the Dean and related to him what was said to me, he told me to rest and come back next year, and then join in the February class. He also said that if I decided not to, then he would have an open acceptance for whenever I wanted to come back.
Now at home, and feeling better, I took my English Bulldog, "Moose" to see my veterinarian. When my vet saw me he said "I bet you hated medical school". I said I really didn't, but it was like getting a PhD in a basic science, and that I had always wanted to be a clinician. My vet disappeared for a few minutes and when he returned, he had a phone in his hand and said "there is someone on the phone who would like to speak with you." It was the Dean of Acceptance for the Veterinary Medical School at the University of California at Davis. He then asked me if I would like come up to UC Davis and speak with him? The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. The next day, I drove to Davis and it turned out that both he and I were doing similar research studies. He asked me if I would like to join his fall class, and to "think about it". I did, and two weeks later, I called and accepted his offer. I never even had to apply. I think the statement that comes to mind is that you can achieve anything you want, but it might not be right for you. I have run through many brick walls, but now I hope that I am a little wiser for it.
While a student at UC Davis, I came home for Christmas vacation and found out that my Mom had a lump in her left breast that had been discovered by a mobile cancer unit. She was to be rechecked in one month. I immediately called our family physician and had Mom in surgery the next day. At this time, she was 52 years old with no family history of any kind of cancer.
The surgeons removed my Mom's left breast, including her left axillary lymph node. Frozen sections of the mass, at the time of surgery, revealed the presence of a malignant mammary tumor. At the time, my Mom's cousin was the Assistant Director of the City of Hope, and all work was done there. The surgeons then took out both adrenal glands and irradiated both ovaries, to reduce the risk of an "estrogenic effect," which may have caused the original tumor, but also might cause its spread. While I watched closely, I remembered her physician replacing two types of adrenal hormones, "glucorticoid" and "mineral corticoid". Afterwards, she did well for four years.
Soon thereafter, as I was working on the cortisol, thyroid, and estrogen connection in Atypical Cortisol Estrogen Imbalance Syndrome (ACEIS) or as the public refers to it as Plechner’s Syndrome, my Mom began to seriously decalcify. She would be in bed, and cough or sneeze, and then fracture the bones in her spine and ribs. It was a horrible thing to witness! As her plight continued, I was researching the connection of thyroid imbalances that often, if not always, accompany a cortisol-estrogen imbalances. At this point in my research, I realized that her thyroid hormone was bound, and as the daily dose of adrenal steroids were given, there remained a residual of cortisol. So after a number of days, the regulatory amounts of controlling cortisol went from a physiological dose level to a harmful, pharmacological overdose! Besides the pathological fractures she sustained, Mom was cold all the time and began to lose her hair, too. Her axillary temperatures were subnormal, even though her thyroid hormone labs were normal, and she still continued to decalcify. I spoke to my mom's physician, who agreed that trying thyroid hormone on my Mom could not hurt. Mom felt better immediately upon taking the thyroid hormone. Her temperature started to rise and the decalcification stopped. Eventually, she began to recalcify. WITH THE COMBINATION OF ADRENAL AND THYROID REPLACEMENTS, my Mom lived until she was 88 years of age, CANCER FREE FOR THIRTY-SIX YEARS, and just "went to sleep" one day when she died.
To this day, TOTAL ESTROGEN is still not being done in 99% of human and veterinary laboratories. The lack of transference of thyroid hormone, due to imbalanced, deficient, or defective CORTISOL, also is not usually recognized. High TOTAL ESTROGEN is not only not being done, but the realization that high estrogen binds both thyroid hormones [T3 and T4] is not being practiced routinely by healthcare specialist for either humans or for animals. It will be up to you to ask for these tests to be done. If a laboratory cannot do these tests for you, then please ask your healthcare professional to find a lab that can do these tests, otherwise you will be wasting your money, but more importantly you may be wasting your life or the life of your pet.
Furthermore, I did spend much time Friday afternoons at the UCLA Immunology Forum, learning as much as I could, to not only understand what was happening with my patients, but how to help them. At the time, Dr. Fayhe was kind enough to let me attend the Forums, even though I was a veterinarian. I am sure that the insight that I received at UCLA Medical Center has helped me find a better overall way to treat my patients, and I am very grateful for the experience.
A SPECIAL NOTE FROM DR. PLECHNER...
A father's love for his boys led me to making one of the most difficult decisions of my entire life, but also to one of the greatest sacrifices as well. The world sometimes is extremely difficult, and sometimes it is hard to know what to do when you are trying to be the administrator of your family and only trying to make a decision that is in the best interest of your wife and of your children. Your feelings are important, but cannot be considered at that particular time, and that is our sacrifice. Being "head of the household" brings to you a tremendous responsibility to your wife and especially to your children that had never been asked if they wanted to be brought into this world. Unfortunately, there are times when a husband and a wife need to go their separate ways because of many different circumstances. This may be the "right thing to do", but what about the children? What is going to happen to them? Even though the relationship between you and your wife may have ended as husband and wife, there is a much more important need to continue on in the roles as a father and as a mother to your children, even though you and your wife have gone your separate ways, and oftentimes the children are wrongly told that this rearrangement may be to due their presence. Children need to be given an understanding of why they were created out of love, and how the "broken marriage" may still exist, but that Dad and Mom still love them no matter what and will do the best that they can to share loving and learning experiences with them in hopes of educating them. The hope is to teach the children that they can be happy with not only with themselves, but also with their lives and know they can leave more behind than they take, if they choose to do so. This is a very complex world to bring a child into, and we as parents, whether single, married, or divorced, have a real, moral obligation to make sure our children are of value to not only to themselves but also to society. These are the other hard lessons that I have learned along my way. Also, please remember to try to be the good parents, that your children, dog, cat and horse think you are.
Website content text, Copyright, Dr. Alfred J. Plechner, 2008, All Rights Reserved.