'20/20' to look at ailments of gulf war

August 14, 1992|By Chicago Tribune

The casualties of war are not always obvious.

"My bones been hurting a lot," says a man named John. "Sometimes I have shortness of breath, you know, just dizziness, just constantly going. Can't be explained by nobody."

Others are suffering those syptoms and more: aching joints, wart-like growths, rashes on arms and hands, bleeding gums, memory loss.

These symptoms are being suffered by a number of those men and women who did duty in the Persian Gulf war, and no one seems able to explain why.

This story, which appeared in the Chicago Tribune last week, gets further exposure tonight on "20/20" (10 p.m., Channel 13) as correspondent Lynn Sherr travels to Indiana to meet with some members of the 425th, a fuel-handling Army company; interviews Nick Kresch who, since returning from service in the gulf war aboard an aircraft carrier, has been in and out of Chicago's Hines V.A. hospital with some of the familiar symptoms, as well as internal bleeding; and talks with San Diego Navy man Ruben Negrette, whose joints are so inflamed that it is difficult for him to walk.

The armed forces doctors have been focusing on stress as a cause -- and explanation -- for the medical problems. But many of those afflicted don't swallow that. They cite exposure to diesel fuel as a possible cause or even suggest that Saddam Hussein might have used some chemical agent in the air or water.

Until there is an explanation, this remains a sad story.

"Whatever is eating me," says Mr. Kresch, "I'm going to have to fight it. It's a never-ending battle. There's no difference between the battle I'm fighting in the hospital and the Iraqis we were fighting in Kuwait."

*

Garry Shandling's new television show ("The show is a slap at the hypocrisy of the talk show genre") is called "The Larry Sanders Show."

It begins its 13-week run on HBO at 10:30 p.m. tomorrow, full of satirical sting and, with Jay and Arsenio engaged in some weird verbal warfare, topical takes on the talk-show world.

Mr. Shandling is no talk-show novice. At one point considered Mr. Leno's equal in the race to replace Johnny Carson, he has used his experiences well, molding the first three installments available for screening with a knowing wickedness and getting exceptionally shrewd performances by Rip Torn as Sanders' cheerleading producer, Jeffrey Tambor as Sanders' sycophantish sidekick and Megan Gallagher as the talk-show host's wife.

Sanders has two distinct faces. Onstage, he's self-assured and funny; off, he's a bundle of nerves, insecurities and occasional nastiness.

As he did on the award-winning "It's Garry Shandling's Show," Mr. Shandling adeptly bends the line between reality and TV's make-believe.

"The Larry Sanders Show" will welcome such real stars as Dana Carvey, Richard Simmons, Carol Burnett and Dana Delaney and take you backstage for a feast of sniping, backstabbing and other shrewd and clever observations.

*

For a talk show of a completely different stripe, "The Full Wax" p.m. Saturdays, A&E cable) offers Chicago-born comic Ruby Wax as perhaps the most outlandish interviewer on the air.

A hit in England -- "one of the most entertaining new shows on the box for a long time," said one Fleet Street scribe -- "The Full Wax" provides surprising treats as the comic encounters such celebs as Grace Jones, Teri Garr, Jackie Mason, Joan Rivers and Jim Belushi during the show's four-week run.

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