We sat by a crackling radio listening to the draft lottery, which could determine the status of the rest of our lives. The numbers moved very slowly. We were anti-war and had participated in the student protests, some of which became violent. It was a very exciting time. We thought it was possibly the beginning of the change to the world we had sought.
The numbers came painfully slowly. And when they reached No. 7, Mickey Mantle’s uniform, a lucky number in most respects, my birth date was announced. The world would not change. My future was in grave doubt. Was I prepared to go to Canada? I was definitely not prepared to go to Vietnam.
That fall I was admitted to the University of Wisconsin hospital with pneumonia. The hospital interns had a ball with me. They tested me for everything in the process of learning their trade. One day I was placed in what appeared to be an electric chair. It measured blood pressure, heart rate and other vital stats.
Upon release several days later, I was ushered into a private office. The doctor had bad news. He told me that I had a first degree A-V heart block. I asked what it was and would it compromise my health. He did not know. The prognosis for heart blocks was uncertain. I needed to be monitored for the rest of my life.
Forty years later, I am still alive, have two healthy children and a 20 year marriage. I have kept current with being monitored. The heart block had two outcomes. First, it had no adverse effect on the quality of my life and second, and most important, it got me deferred from that awful and illegal war in Vietnam.