Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Quit Coffee to Save My Husband's Life

My husband was about to start his senior year in college. The Vietnam war was raging.  He came from a middle class town where at least half the young men went to college.  He thought his draft board would at least let him finish. Confidently, he sent in the paperwork showing he had passed all his Junior Year classes and had enrolled for his Senior Year.

I had a dream that he was going to get a IA draft classification in the mail.  Not a student deferment. The dream was so vivid, it felt like a glimpse into the future.  I’d had glimpses before and they usually came true.  I went to the library to find out what other exemptions were available.  

Recent surgery could get you a postponement of up to 6 months.  A crippling disease could get you an exemption. And a child could get you an exemption.  That was something I could try.  I could try to get pregnant.  All I had to do was stop taking birth control pills.  And from my reading, I should stop drinking coffee if I wanted to become pregnant quickly.

Coffee was my one adult vice. I don’t drink alcohol, or smoke anything. I don’t wear make-up. I don’t consider sex to be a vice.  And I’d recently been given a lovely shiny new coffee machine.  Plus I worked at a restaurant where I could have all the delicious fresh coffee I wanted while I worked.  All of that was nothing compared to allowing my husband to be drafted and sent to Vietnam where I was sure he’d be killed.

I told my husband about my dream.  He didn’t believe me.  He was entitled to that student deferment. He had studied hard, he had paid his tuition for the next term.  He was sure he’d be allowed to graduate.  And maybe continue his deferment while he went to graduate school and worked on a Ph.D..  But he was interested in starting a family.

So, I quit drinking coffee.  Two months later, I was pregnant. And a week after that the letter from my husband’s draft board arrived.  1A.  We sent them a copy of my positive pregnancy lab test.  8 months after that we sent them a certificate of live birth.  My husband received a father’s exemption from the military draft.  

He helped with the middle-of-the-night screamies and diapers. We took on a lifetime commitment earlier than we had originally planned, in order to save his life.  It was literally a case of now or never.  But I seriously question why the government put pressure on draft-age young men to start families when they are in college. I fail to see where that serves the country. Then again, I fail to see where any of the wars the US has been in during my adulthood have served the country.

My husband continued drinking coffee. I never had the urge to pick up the habit again.  I’ve had a few cups socially over the years – but the addiction is gone.  I’d much rather have a cup of herbal tea.

When my husband was in the hospital recently they didn’t serve him coffee. He was amazed to see that his blood pressure was normal. And he wasn’t constipated.  When he got out of the hospital, he quit coffee.  He even quit caffeinated soda pops, which had never appealed to me.  He quit coffee to save his own life.

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