Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Agent Orange -The gift that keeps on giving.

Haven't written anything since September but I'll try to do better now. Starting early last year I began to have problems walking. Heavy cramps in both legs would cause me to fall and actually grunt from the pain. :) Having been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes I figured that was the cause but I went out to the VA in Orlando any to get it checked out. Good think I did as my Aorta and major veins in both legs were clogged and blood was only getting through by collateral veins.

The doc was real straight with me. Seems that both diabetes and ischemic heart heard disease are caused by exposure to Agent Orange. So I could either wait for my legs to turn purple from lack of blood and have them amputated or I could get an Aortic Femoral by pass but it would be iffy because of my heart condition. The first thing that crossed my mind was how ironic it would be to die from something I was exposed to over 40 years ago when I had survived that war. Well, maybe a couple of zigs when I should have zagged. But they were not serious and I was back in the fun in no time.

Back to the story. I went in at Tampa VA on September 13. I woke up 8 days later. The operation was a success but the patient wouldn't wake up. Seems I wouldn't breathe when they tried to remove my oxygen. Soooo my wife, son and daughter were called to the hospital to say good bye in case I wouldn't breath when the removed me from the respirator for good. I later learned my 16 yr. old daughter had stood by my bed taping my forehead repeating breath Daddy breath with every tap. But the story has a happy ending. Within minutes after being taken off the respirator I began to breathe on my own.

Just like any other good old southern boy I must have figured why do something yourself when you can get a machine to do it for you.

They let me go home on September 27th with 3 months of R&R. By the way I had lost 20 lbs in the hospital but the R&R put 25 back on me.

I had minimal exposure so you guys who were doused with it need to get checked out for both. During the week I recuperated in the hospital I learned how lucky I was to have been unconscious the first week after the operation. Other guys were brought into the room straight from their operations. They had drain tubes up thru their nose, were restricted in movement because of monitors, hoses and cords plus they only got ice to suck on. They were miserable and a couple was close to breaking. Did I tell you that those who smoked were the most miserable? I was lucky that I got over my cravings while I was under.

I want to thank my family and friends for the prayers because they helped. Also my brothers and sisters at Rolling Thunder florida Chapter 8. http://www.rollingthunderfl8.com/
I would also like to thank my friends over at the Florida Veterans net for linking my blog. Please visit them at Florida Veteran's Network (FL Vet-Net).

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69 years old married 20 YEARS. Have a boy 21 and girl 19 plus two grown daughters and 3 Grandchildren. Served in Vietman. Combat wounded.In country 3 times. longest tour 8 months. Rated as totally disabled from injuries and PTSD. Friend of Bill W.

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