"Move or Die!" The doctor pointed his finger straight into Tom's face for emphasis. "Move or die," he said. "I can keep you alive until you graduate, but after that you have to move to the desert if you want to continue to stay alive. The side effects from your allergies are overwhelming your immune system. You cannot go on forever being kept alive by intravenous treatments twice a week. You need to live in a place that is hot and dry in order to minimize your symptoms. You must move to the desert. In the desert, the allergens are fewer and the hot dry climate will help keep your lungs clear of the constant drainage caused by your allergens. If you move to the desert," the doctor continued, " you will still wind up your life as an invalid and never live to see 40. But that is better than dying in your mid twenties." This was 1957. Tom was 21 years old and finishing his senior year at Notre Dame University.
The doctor's point was well taken. Soon after graduation, Tom married and moved away from South Bend, Indiana and all the people he loved so dearly. Through a series of moves, Tom wound up in the Coachella Valley in 1963 and has lived here ever since. Through persistent, careful study, careful living habits, and new medical understandings of allergies and the immune system, Tom is still alive and functioning very well today at the age of 85.
Tom recently celebrated 58 years of being exiled in the Coachella Valley. He remembers when the Coachella Valley really looked like a desert with rolling sand dunes covering houses from time to time. In those days the railroad had to maintain a permanent full-time crew just for the purpose of keeping the constantly rolling sand dunes from covering the railroad tracks. The only air-conditioning was swamp coolers. In addition to frequent face-stinging sandstorms, the valley was also plagued with swarms of gnats and swarming crickets. Gradually the valley has changed to a beautiful, comfortable, vacation land covered with golf courses and beautiful homes.
Tom says, "What a great place to be exiled in for 58 years!"
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