Shutdown prevents worker based in Japan from getting ALS treatment

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

WHAS11.com

Posted on October 3, 2013 at 9:09 AM

A civilian employee diagnosed with ALS or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” says the government shutdown could cost him his life.

Jim Hashman, a music teacher at a school for military families in Japan, says life-saving treatment is waiting for him here at home.

Aside from being furloughed, Hashman’s medical retirement is delayed from being processed.

“The military hospital is set up to serve the military they aren’t set up with an ALS clinic,” said Hashman.

According to Hashman, military doctors in Japan only have the ability to treat his ALS symptoms, not stop them.

“Doctors have told me to get to the states as soon as possible,” said Jim Hashman.

Meanwhile, the disease is attacking his body fast.

“Last April I ran a half marathon now it’s difficult for me to walk sometimes without limping,” he said.

Hashman, a skilled pianist and fan of the outdoors, has already lost function of his left hand.

“It’s really hard to be over here waiting when we’re losing precious moments,” said Marcia Hashman, his wife.

The Hashmans have family in Edmonds and Bellingham and fear what will happen if Jim has to wait any longer.

“I don’t want to go home in a wheelchair,” said Jim Hashman.

“We’re supposed to be grandma and grandpa to our grandchildren, retire in Washington and be with family, we’re going to be robbed of all that,” said Marcia Hashman.

Anna Johansen, Marcia’s sister, keeps close communication with the Hashmans over SKYPE.

“I figured out he’d be on furlough but I didn’t have the understanding of the domino effect. To hear the depth and the different things that it affects, it’s just so sad,” said Johansen.

Jim has treatment lined up for his ALS at Virginia Mason Hospital & Medical Center in Seattle. But, with no end to the shutdown in sight, he isn’t sure if that’s days, weeks, even month’s away.

“We need assistance now,” said Jim Hashman.

 

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