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  Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

Tuesday, 12 November, 2019
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Oh My God

Date: 27 August, 2019

By: Chief

Imageell friends and neighbors, guess what? No, you're wrong. I just got discharged from the Presbyterian Hospital in — Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was an in patient there for 3 - 3 1/2 weeks I am still not at all sure how long I was there. Now before I get into the grubby details I must state the hospital did a damned fine job. I must also admit ... hospital food is hospital food and is, well, disgusting. But you already knew that. Okay, on with the story.

The beginning of this fiasco

One day back in July of this year I started having difficulty breathing. I went and saw my doctor and he basically said:

"It feels like a growth [in my throat] and you should go to the ER."

Want to talk about putting a hitch in your giddy-up? That, I promise you, will do it. So I went home and had my son drive me to the ER where low and behold I was:

Where I would remain as a guest for the next 3 - 3 1/2 weeks. The real bad news is simply it was far too late to repair the damage. The cancer had already spread into my blood stream. Hence the next step is, lucky me, "palliative radiation" until I die. Oh joy. I can hardly wait.

Oh, I almost forgot — the surgeons did not remove the tumor. They did somehow get samples and some kind of blood work and so on and so forth. They did perform a tracheotomy on me and last but not least they installed a "Peg" tube into my stomach, where it remains to this day and probably for the rest of my life. I suppose it could be worse. So there you have it. I was also out cold for all but the last 4 - 5 days of my hospital stay.

Oops, before I continue on, I was not allowed out of my bed until about three days before discharge — hence I am having to learn how to walk again. It's true, my leg muscles were so weak after 3 plus weeks in bed that I could not walk five feet without the aide of a walker. Indeed, I am slightly better now ... but still must use a walker. It sucks.

The big thing that angers me is simply nobody and I mean nobody, until the VA doctor I saw today bothered to tell me, officially or unofficially, that I had been:

It is incredibly shocking

It really is. You get told that by your doctor and see how you feel afterwards. Believe me, you are changed. And not in a good way either. Indeed, I have been 'officially' diagnosed with both:

Both can be directly attributed to exposure to the dreaded Agent Orange. Not exactly the way I wanted my life to end.

Now what does the VA have to say? Here is a short tidbit:

"VA assumes that certain diseases can be related to a Veteran's qualifying military service. We call these 'presumptive diseases'.

"VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Veterans and their survivors may be eligible for benefits for these diseases."

Isn't that just peachy keen? And the federales won't volunteer the information until after you have been diagnosed. Hence, dear moms and dads, you may very well decide not to sign the papers allowing your son or daughter to commence a career in our military.

One final short quote for your edification:

"Records obtained from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency tasked with assisting former service members sickened in the line of duty, contain numerous assertions of exposure to Agent Orange at Kadena in the 1960s and '70s. In 2011, for example, a former Air Force mechanic stated that during the Vietnam War, there were 100 barrels of Agent Orange and other herbicides on the base where they were also sprayed 'freely and broadly'. The veteran claimed that he was suffering from illnesses related to his exposure but the VA denied him assistance citing 'the Department of Defense reported Agent Orange was not used, tested, stored, or transported in Okinawa'."

That last sentence I believe to be a complete crock of crap as Kadena Air Base was, at the time and continues to this very day to be quite possibly the most important air base in the entire Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Epilogue

So there is the short side of the story. I shall keep you updated from time to time, as best as I can.

Before I close this story out, folks, if any of you know somebody who served in Vietnam, ashore or afloat, or was stationed on Okinawa for God's good sake get them to go to the nearest VA clinic or hospital. Don't wait until it is too late — don't let them become another me. It is one thing to die in combat, it is quite another to die by the actions of your own government. Most important of all — fight to the bitter end. I am.

PS: Here are a couple of links which might serve you well:

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