On Passion, Swinging for the Fences, and Dr. Thomas A. Dooley

by Jaime A.B. Wilson, Ph.D., LP, ABN

I recently had the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the awe-inspiring story of Dr. Thomas A. Dooley.  Dr. Dooley’s story is told in Deliver Us from Evil and The Edge of Tomorrow.  In the 1950s and at just under 30-years-of-age, Dr. Dooley distinguished himself by caring for over 500,000 Vietnamese refugees within the confines of his small naval hospital based out of Yokosuka, Japan. 

Immediately after his Japan assignment, Dr. Dooley volunteered for duty aboard a navy ship transporting refugees to sanctuary in Saigon.  The intimate experiences of rampant malnutrition and disease that afflicted his passenger-patients spurred him on to continued and extraordinary selfless service.  He pitched in to help build shelters in Haiphong and stuck around to provide care for these residents until the city was besieged by the powerful Viet Minh forces.

By Ducksonthepond at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73877386

By Ducksonthepond at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73877386

Dr. Dooley later returned to Laos to set up a mobile medical unit.  He promptly resigned from the Navy when the Geneva Agreement attempted to bar him from entering the country due to his military affiliation.  Working as a civilian doctor, he traveled to remote villages, continuing to provide comfort to others.  Dr. Dooley persevered despite the many privations he suffered, including a growing pain within his chest and back.  The pain turned out to be malignant cancer that would take his life but leave a legacy of love and inspiration for generations.  He was awarded the U.S. Navy’s Legion of Merit and was selected by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as one of America’s ten most outstanding men.  

As I pondered the fantastic caliber of a man that was Thomas A. Dooley, it became clear to me that the ability to persevere despite almost continuous, excruciating pain is no doubt borne out of passion.  Although his average weight of 180 was cut in half and the prescribed analgesic medications ineffectual, Dr. Dooley recalled the lines of Robert Frost frequently during his fretful last days of life:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Ideally, service to others not only includes our patients but all those around us.  Service is a drive borne out of a love for our fellowmen.  It ignites within us a desire to see the growth, success, and well-being of others.     

Like the MEDICO organization that Dr. Dooley founded, AMPHL was borne on tangentially-related principles.  AMPHL’s principles entail mentorship, networking, and advocacy to individuals with hearing loss on a worldwide scale.  I – for one – have benefited tremendously from AMPHL’s mission.  AMPHL has instilled in me a hope for a better tomorrow.  I have also borne witness to the hope that AMPHL has inspired in many others with hearing loss. 

There is much excitement and enthusiasm to continue the principles upon which AMPHL was founded, especially as we convene at the next conference in Baltimore this upcoming June 1st through 4th, 2019.  Your 2017-19 AMPHL board has put an impressive amount of work into the upcoming conference.  The AMPHL board also recognizes that without the service-oriented initiatives of our general membership, we are nothing.  Thank you to those outside the board who have contributed so much and so willingly.  We are ecstatic to see you there!

  


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Jaime A.B. Wilson, Ph.D., LP, ABN is AMPHL’s 2017-19 President.  Dr. Wilson is a Board Certified Neuropsychologist.  As part of the work in his private practice (Wilson Clinical Services, PLLC.), Dr. Wilson conducts comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations.  The field of neuropsychology is dedicated to learning about and diagnosing conditions related to the brain and nervous system.