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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Agent Orange is Deadly.

Oh my!  Two posts in two days!  The world must be coming to an end! No, I'm just trying to keep the ball rolling, because if I don't, it will be months before I get back to my blog.

I did some reading of back posts, and I can see I need to catch my readers, all two of you, up on what has happened in the past few years.  

I did post that I had retired from nursing a little more than a year ago.  Difficulties in finding a job that I could do with my health issues, plus dealing with hubby's health issues and multiple surgeries convinced me that it was time for me to retire.  

Dennis had been having some chest pain issues, and at the urging of myself and our daughter, Becky, he finally agreed to go to the emergency room.  From there, within a few minutes, he was in an ambulance, heading for Stormont-Vail hospital in Topeka.  Soon after that, he began a series of surgeries.  

First it was a carotid bypass.  As a nurse, I've seen some pretty disgusting things, but when the surgeon brought a section of Dennis' carotid artery in a petrie dish, and proceeds to poke a paper clip tip inside it, I almost lost my lunch.  It wouldn't even begin to fit inside that artery, which should have housed several paper clips. It would have been fascinating, were it someone else's.  But my Dennis's?  Not cool at all. He was 100% blocked. Anyway, he survived that surgery.  But then we found out, there would be more surgeries.

The next surgery was five cardiac bypasses.  All at the same time. His cardiac arteries were over 90% blocked. He was a ticking time bomb. When he came out of recovery, and we went to see him in CICU, he had tubes sticking out of every orifice, a large one running down his throat helping him to breathe.  I saw a panicked look on his face, and tears running down his cheeks. I felt so helpless.  What could I do for him?  He couldn't talk, because of the tubes.  

Later, when all the tubes were out and he could talk, he told me that he was having such intense pain.  They "cracked" his chest and bone pain is so terrible.  He also said he had "Nurse Cratchet" who took care of him the first night, who wouldn't give him any pain medication.  He swore he would always watch his weight and diet, so he wouldn't have to go through that ever again.  He did pretty well..for a while.

Next, we found out he had prostate cancer. So the prostate came out. Unfortunately, the cancer had spread to the bladder, but just on the outside.  Frequent PSA tests have not shown any spread from there, thank God. He is in remission.

The next thing was his thyroid. He was having a lot of symptoms that looked like thyroid cancer.  He grew very anxious, and kept making cryptic remarks about what I should do after he was gone.
Depression set in to a point.  He often says, "I knew when I went to Vietnam that I might get killed, but I didn't know my own country would be the cause.  Agent Orange is killing me."

The bills kept coming in, he was trying to drive the truck, and yet he had doctor appointments every week, sometimes up to three times a week.  It was impossible for him to make a living. 

With the help of Becky, our daughter, and her husband, we applied for VA benefits.  After a ton of paperwork, and multiple trips to Junction City, and Topeka, and collecting doctor's signatures for over six months, he finally got 100% disability.  That has made such a difference in our lives. 

Not long ago, he had his right shoulder replaced.  After over 35 years of not being able to raise his arm up over shoulder height, his muscles are slowly beginning to limber up. A little.

Now, he is scheduled for bilateral cataract surgeries next month. That will be a piece of cake, compared to what he has already been through.

We still have money problems from time to time. But we are able to eat well, we can go to our grandkids' games, and we are planning a short vacation soon, something we haven't done since about 2005, when I had my own health crisis.  

But that's a different story.

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