Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Hulk Is A Mutation, Too!

I've just finished watching the Hulk movie on the USA channel. I enjoyed the old TV series better, but the movie does capture much of the comic book flavor, and there are plenty of images of the American desert, full of UFO's, ghost riders, etc.

As a young teenager, I preferred the science fiction of the Amazing Colossal Man, Rodan ( a star before Godzilla). The werewolves and vampires gave me nightmares.

The Hulk story is about a man who was exposed to gamma radiation. The movie captures the ancient military industrial complex but in today's world. Easy to accept and understand when we throw trillions of American dollars into a nebulous conflict in Iraq, while we underfund the genetic research that could help those who are presently dying and those who will suffer in coming years, because we have policies of not really caring about human beings.

The VA has caring doctors and nurses, but there is another side of the VA in which whose motto is "If they die waiting, we don't have to spend a dime on them."

Most people do not realize that veterans are not equal in the VA system. There are limits to what a particular veteran receives from VA medical care. The VA officials don't want you to know that. The Congressmen and Senators who had rather give dollars to Blackwater don't really want you to know it either. If we spend money to provide free unrestricted medical care to every veteran, we won't have those dollars to spend in Iraq.

I'm in my third year trying to get at least a 10 percent disability from VA. I have little hope of receiving it, although I'm due it. Unless more genetic diseases are considered presumptive for Agent Orange exposure or exposure to Ionizing Radiation I will never receive justice from the VA.

I met a veteran last week at the VA center in Dublin. He said that he has a throat cancer that requires "scraping" at times. He got 100% disability 21 years ago (which means full medical treatment by VA plus over $30,000 per year disability compensation). He said that the VA gave it to him because he was one of the 12,000 advisers in Vietnam in 1960, before JFK took office. It's doubtful that Agent Orange was used (or even invented) at that time. The arbitrary rules of VA allow him the benefit because he was actually in Vietnam.

I say, good for him, for that veteran, but there are countless other veterans who are denied benefits because of the arbitary rules and the failure of Congress to adequately fund the VA.

Last year I paid private doctors to examine my left ear, because VA denied my request for a VA exam. I have severe hearing loss due to otosclerosis. It is a genetic disease, one which does not run in my family. Although there are several genetic diseases on the VA presumptive lists, otosclerosis has not yet been declared presumptive. Pituitary tumors, thyroid deficiencies, hepatatic and biliary sclerosis, and many other genetic diseases are not considered presumptive by the VA.

Now, about that ugly picture up there: The pale white "butterbean" is a healthy kidney, about the size of a fist. I have a similar one implanted in my lower right abdomen. The other "boogerish" object is a Polycystic Kidney. It is loaded with cysts. No, don't look away! You need to see reality. The VA bureaucrats also need to see reality. I have two of those ugly, bleeding, over-size boogers still living inside of me. Think of that the next time you see me on the street. How can I live with such mutated organs inside my body? I don't know. It would be very major surgery for them to be removed.

High blood pressure and kidney disease are prime contibutors to my unhealthy cardiac situation: One heart attack, triple bypass, three strokes, and a new defibrillator paid for by me and Blue Cross, not by the VA.

In the past few years scientists and doctors have made strides on the human genome, but our government has provided only limited funding. The answers on my particular genetic diseases will be available in time, but not likely during MY time. If I could find even one blood relative who has PKD or otosclerosis or any of my other genetic diseases, I would give up my disability claim altogether. But it's reasonable that my Army service contributed to my medical problems, likely caused them, as surely as if I had been hit by a lead bullet.

The Hulk is a mutation. He's an important fictional figure. I am a muation, too. I'm a living human being, an injured Army veteran.

"A grateful nation thanks you for your service." How grateful are you? How much thanks are you willing to give during this special week? Enough to write your Congressman? No, I didn't think so.

Posted by Bill Ricks of Soperton

No comments: