When I was thirteen years old I was invited to view the igniting...

When I was thirteen years old I was invited to view the igniting of powder from a lot of unspent Fourth of July fireworks. When the blast came, however, I was too close and inhaled a large quantity of the poisonous fumes. Immediately I had difficulty breathing. Soon after, I consulted our family physician, who said that my bronchial tubes and upper lung tissues had been irreparably damaged and that there was no antidote for the injury. To ease my suffering, he recommended that I breathe as much dry, fresh air as possible. This, in time, he said might help.

In an effort to comply with the doctor's advice, my family and I spent vacations during my high-school years in high-altitude regions. I then studied at a Colorado college for mining engineering, which was located about a mile above sea level. When I got married and was working for a large copper mining company, we made our home for four years in an area that was 3,900 feet high. Throughout these years I seemed to be in good health. Every time I traveled to low altitudes, however, the breathing spasms reappeared.

March 9, 1981

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