The following is a personal story submitted to Civilian Exposure and published as part of our new series: “Contamination Chronicles: Personal Stories of Exposure”. If you would like to submit your story, you may fill out our form here or send directly via email to share-@-civilianexposure.org.
Today, I decided to write my story here. Compelled to share, actually, to maybe get some feedback to what happened to me!
When I entered the Marines, I got a cleared medical report to enter the service. But when I departed the service, my medical report said I had a skin disease (actually two medical situations). Only I did not know of them until I got the Senator here in Oregon to help me get my records. And not until I decided to apply for benefits did I really pay attention. I signed on for medical in the VA back in 2003. I then moved to another area where I began to see the Primary assigned to me.
I became disabled with Social Security in 1999 at the age of 59. My life went downhill from there. I started out with bone spurs up and down my spine. I was scared that I could become disabled even more IF I did not retire! I was a trucker for 25 years. I had some blood clots that required four stents outside my heart in illiac arteries.
In 2010, my life began to change dramatically. My muscles were weakened with cramps unbelievable in my legs. A car wreck in 2005 caused me to have a leg bypass, I think! They said plaque was the cause. Then another leg bypass in 2012. From here, I got diabetes and now doing injections of insulin. Started with Type 2, taking Metaformin and aspirin. Then another clot formed under my right knee, to only get a synthetic loop so blood could pass through. I already had two leg bypasses to the third bypass.
By 2014, I had to revisit the first leg bypass. They took an artery out of my left arm for this one. I really didn’t have any arteries left for another bypass if another occurred! I started getting bad toes and ulcers that didn’t heal, to where I had to have amputations/debridement.
In 2017, I had a below-the-knee amputation in my right leg. Then my left foot started to get ulcers on toes and had to have them (what was left) amputated also. Two major surgeries for 2017. I was home-bound, to say the least. I’m still trying to heal from the below-the-knee amputation in order to wear a prosthetic, but cant yet! I’m also waiting on a “CUP” of some sort to fit left foot for balance, since I have no toes.
Shortly after last years surgeries, I started having a rash with a dramatic constant itching. I would get sores that would ooze blood, then scab over, only to reopen and start all over again. I have sought doctors outside the VA, because they do not seem to do a thing to cure this. I now found a doctor (an Army Doctor) who now has prescribed strong steroids for my skin. But, I may have melanoma now too! There’s dark, crusty, round dark spots on my skin. They did a skin test to know and I’m waiting for results now.
It just never stops!!! Where did I get all this?
I served back in 1957-1958, in Mare Island, California and Camp Pendleton. I have PTSD, tinnitus of ears and got 50 % disability for these two. Went on to get 100% after amputations. Now there’s no way to work again! I’m now almost 80, miserable, and depressed! I did hear that the two places I served at had CHEMICALS on grounds, in the ground, in the water, and a job I had where I worked there with exposure to chemicals! But how do I prove that these chemicals could have caused my medical problems all these years later? I heard that 30-40-50 years later, these chemicals can cause a lot of what happened to me. I only wish I knew.
GOD BLESS ALL VETERANS WHO SERVED!
Note from the Editor: The author currently resides in Oregon. The account/editorial is verbatim from the author without edit, with only the omission of their name to preserve anonymity.