downloadWho woulda thunk it? I’m immortal or so I thought. Saturday morning at 0400 I woke up and discovered I couldn’t breathe. Imagine being under water for several minutes and struggling to reach the surface to take a large, overdue breath. Now imagine not being able to reach the surface. Boy howdy, if that doesn’t get your undivided attention then you’re really out to lunch. 

Being the quintessential male, I got up and took a shower. Showers have immense therapeutic value to men. I’m almost positive that Mr. Einstein stumbled upon relativity in the rain locker. Standing also seemed to be the trick. Lying down was right out. Having learned back in 1996 about how delaying medical care sometimes makes you immeasurably worse, I decided to make coffee and analyze this. I let Cupcake sleep in because I correctly figured this might involve a meat wagon run.

At 0600, I spilled the beans. Females catastrophize everything. As men, we all know this and anticipate the downstream fallout. Thus it behooves you to make the coffee in advance and have the car warmed up before you hit the Claymore plunger. Wise I am, yessssssssssss. Born of many a ride in a meat wagon, I find sirens to be too ostentatious. I’m just not a parade kind of guy.

Therefore, due to my tardy announcement,  at 0614 Hours we proceeded to Saint Anthony’s Hospital at an unsafe speed.  I was chided quarter-hourly thereafter for delaying the inevitable expedition for two hours. As some of you know, I spent a year in the VAMC in Seattle with a few medical misadventures. That creates a bow wave of resistance to going near one. The flip side to tardiness is the endless recriminations I will suffer for the brief two-hour procrastination.

As expected, it’s ugly. Congestive heart failure with a side of pneumonia and a tentative diagnosis of Ischemic Heart Disease. The doctor asked me if I had any risk factors or a family history of this. Other than two years in-country with a breakfast diet heavy on  AO/ABlue, I told him I, too, was drawing a blank on risk. That’s when the doctor drew his blank. He had never heard of Agent Orange. Neither had the nurses.

download (1)I would never believe our country’s collective memory of Vietnam and all the attendant, subsequent fallout could fade into oblivion in one generation. Consider this. The true nature of  the rainbow defoliants didn’t even pop up on the radar of public opinion until a decade or more after the Vietnamese boundary dispute had been settled to everyone’s satisfaction in 1975. Beverly Nehmer’s 1989 class action lawsuit  was the culmination of years and years of  VA refusal to honor Congress’ unequivocal 1984  edict on the subject.¹

I had always considered myself lucky in some respects that I only suffered Porphyria Cutanea Tarda when all my fellow Vietnam Veteran friends were coming down with Parkinson’s, DM2, prostate cancer and worse. Somehow, I felt bulletproof. I’m an optimist in the truest sense of the word. Being physically active always seemed the panacea for avoiding the host of ills associated with AO. I’m not dumping on Vietnam Vets with DM2 when I say this but  honestly, when your body mass index is off the charts for your size, it might be appropriate to venture farther afield to consider other possible etiologies. This is why I never even considered I’d have corroded arteries.

So, goodbye to salt, Brad. You’re off the hook for smoking any more for us. If the ‘cardiac’ diet they have me on here in the hospital is any future indicator, life is going to have a boring menu. But that is minor. I feel lucky that I got the 0400 wake up call early on and not a full blown heart attack as the initial exclamation point. However, the suddenness of it all did take my breath away (pun intended).

So now we sit and wait, Cupcake and I. We’re on day 3 and have yet to see a designated Cardiologist of any stripe-let alone my regular one. Let this be a lesson. Never fall ill on a weekend in this new world of Obamacare. Nobody wants to sign off on a heavy diet of IV Lasix or Levaquin to nip this in the bud. Instead, caution is the watch word with a heavy dose of “Let’s wait for the cardio doctor.”  Waiting may have its own set of dangers. I have a hard time sleeping while standing up. Well, that and such an intense dislike of hospitals that I am half-tempted to blow this Popsicle stand and just make an appointment expressly to see the good doctor the old-fashioned way (by landline).

And yes. I did consider the idea that the VA’s Vocational Rehab counselor that came out last week might have salted the ILP forms with Ricin or Cesium 137.

News and film at six.



¹”Veterans’ Dioxin and Radiation Exposure Compensation Standards Act,” 98 Stat. 2725 (1984)

About asknod

VA claims blogger
This entry was posted in Agent Orange, AO, DM II, KP Veterans, Vietnam Disease Issues and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. WindTalker says:

    May your treatment and recovery be quick, fast, and in a hurry.

  2. SPrice says:

    Great, now Brad will think I’m trying to kill his friends with drama.

  3. dknees4 says:

    I can’t believe you lolly gagged around like some “hill billy” before getting Deb up and getting yourself to the hospital. I know you must be aware that some of these things that strike us at this age are time sensitive about getting medication in our body…….in other words the sooner you get the meds working the better chance you have of recovery and less damage to the heart. If I was there I would shake the stuffing out of you. DON’T DO THE DELAY TACTIC AGAIN..!! And don’t make me come up there cuz. I can’t afford to lose another blue blood family member. Prayers are going up……luv ya….& hang in there.

  4. Kiedove says:

    Crap. AO exposure is so bad. You’ve got a great family, friends and magic garden of health. You’ll be okay. Too much work to do to let AO stop you.

  5. Longfellow Rogoczy says:

    Its 2016 and this world would be a much darker place without you, brother. Please, stay well!

  6. john king says:

    IHD is presumptive for AO by itself now days. The magic DX is IHS and not heart failure or congestive heart disease. I think if you get DX of CAD that is what leads directly to heart attacks which means IHS. I got SC’ed for that via the DMII route. I am now older than either my father or grandfather obtained. If you went to the VA hospital they would not connect in their minds IHS with AO. The average PCP at the VA knows nothing about AO and civilian doctors just look at you like you are speaking Martian. Did you see an actual cardiac doctor for the DX? Are they doing a stent, by-pass or what? Just eating well is not going to fix it at this point. Forget the service connection for now and get the care you need. In your spare time you can file another claim for the IHS due to AO. AO exposure is going to get all of us in the end.

  7. woodguy11 says:

    Hang in there man I won’t have anyone to bug if you leave us. Praying for you bud

  8. david murphy says:

    Can you sleep in a elevated sitting position? Have friend and family with congestive heart problems and that was the only was he slept for quite a few years. Stay strong, we are with you

  9. cdneh says:

    Man. You don’t do things by halves, do you. I have had this ‘discussion’ with the husband several times. “NOW you are telling me you feel like home made crap? Hours after”? No matter how many times he still does it.
    The weekend is over. Where IS the cardiologist!?!
    Please get well soon, and keep us posted.

  10. I’m so sorry that this happened, and can well understand your wife’s reaction to a two hour delay in letting her know. I’ve threatened my husband yet again to never, ever even consider doing something similar (we have a very sensitive history over an issue just like this). My husband didn’t feel quite right a couple of years ago and saw his civilian GP who hooked him up to an electrocardiograph and told him he was fine, no problem. On advice of a friend, he then saw a cardiologist and found out he had a 75% blockage and got two cardiac stents for Christmas a few days later. Bye bye GP…. We use salt substitute, just put it in the shaker and forget about the real stuff. There are a lot more fat free and low fat food choices out there than there used to be. I like to cook and bake, so processed foods are not recommended. Please keep us posted.

  11. Sue says:

    Gone are the days when your doctor is your doctor. I made a run to ER in January due to heavy feeling in chest and low heart rate. I have a list of all meds, all medical history and family history. The first thing in said is I’m over medicated. Then he started asking questions about my medical history. I told him I couldn’t remember but it’s on the paper. After repeatingly telling him I finally told him if he would just look at the paper he would find all the answers. I was admitted and had nothing to eat for over 24 hours. Each day I saw a different doctor and all they did was ask more questions. After the 3rd day I was released. I went to see my Cardio and he ran some test, put me in hospital and put in pacemaker. In a follow up he said the pacemaker was taking over 50% of the time. I am not a Veteran, not on Obamacare. I think medical care has shifted in all realms. They no longer treat you as an individual but as just another case.

    • asknod says:

      I asked Mr. Holloway if he’d had any pool hoist requests a la ILP recently when he came to visit me re the greenhouse last week. His jaw hit the floor, Sue.

  12. M.S. Frank says:

    Get better, eh? (If not for Cupcake, if not for yourself, if not for your readers, then surely you’ll hang around longer to be a thorn in VA’s (back)side.)

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