Hello, Lovelies! Thank your for joining us this week during this incredibly important episode featuring Large Male Tiffany. We want to thank you for tuning in this week. Below you’ll find a gallery of Large Male Tiffany and Tiny Female Earnie, Tiffany’s notes, and the poem Cigarettes In The Sky.
This week’s drink break is brought to you by Boston Harbor Horror! Coast Guard Petty Officer Alex Devereaux responded to a medical emergency on a small island in Boston Harbor. What he finds on that island is going take him on a journey into depths he never imagined…
Mortality can be an eye opener
I stand at my post like a good little soldier
When I find that my mind is beginning to wander
Back to a day three years in the past
When a few little words told my love it would last
We said I do, knowing that I would
Go into the Corps, it would do me good
They did as they promised, they put me through Hell
I prayed that I would always serve my country and Corps well
God, Country, Corps, and Family
In that order I will live by
For to step out-of-order at any time
One of my brothers will surely die
God is my comrade, my only friend
My country trust its lives for me to defend
My Corps is a brotherhood that teaches war as an art
My Family must understand why we must be apart
I have seen the world in just a few short years
From Hawaii to Wake Island, from Japan to here
In the middle of the desert just a quarter-mile square
My pets are now scorpions and the mites in my hair
Tonight is the night that we have been preparing for
All of the rest, was just a preface to war
Our fighters are loaded, our bombers stacked high
May God’s mercy be with you, and may you come back alive
The Scud alarms are deafening, as they shrill into the night
We rush out to the bunkers, and stare up at the sky
They look like simple cigarettes, just floating through the night
But if one of those blunts should happen to land, many Marines will die
That one was too close, just a few yards away
With the sand and metal raining down, it seems a good time to pray
God, my friend, protect me, but if it is my time to die
Please watch over my family, with your ever-loving eyes
Protect my precious baby girl, and comfort my darling wife
Allow them to remember, but to continue with their lives
And to the host of others, whose support has been so nice
Let them know that I am honored, to make this sacrifice
I pray that I have made you proud, my dear and honored friend
Protecting the values of our country and Corps, until this blessed end
Please comfort me in knowing, that I have served them well
I feel that I’ve done my best, in this desert excerpt of Hell
My head is clear, my heart is true, thank you for the ride
Be easy on my brothers, as well they’ve sacrificed
May your mercy be swift and you wisdom be true,
my honor be your guide
But now my friend it’s up to you, whatever you decide
February 2, 2019, while driving through Louisiana on the way to my grandmother’s house, I looked over and noticed that my dad’s hand was curled up in an unusual manner
My Papaw, his father, had a series of strokes when I was really young so my whole life, I had seen Papaw’s hands curled up like that and my heart sank.
I noticed him trying to casually rake his hand down his leg in hopes of straitening out his fingers. I asked him if he was okay and, being the man he is, I got a “Yeah, I just have a hand cramp. Nothing to worry about.”
There isn’t much in between my grandparent’s houses except cotton fields, an occasional Walmart, and a bunch of jacked up pickup trucks. But there is one ER. As I’m watching him, I notice tears in his eyes and a strained look on his face. I also notice the ER in the distance. Casually, so as to not alarm my 10-year old brother in the back seat, I ask him if we need to stop. “I’m fine. Please stop.”
Half an hour later, we make it to my grandma’s house and dad goes to the back bathroom. I frantically called my mom, who had had to stay home for work, and asked her to call him and talk some sense into him.
By this point, half of his face was experiencing paralysis and his speech was slurring. I asked my grandma to watch the baby and my brother and we were off to the ER.
We were both cracking jokes, as we do to cope with stress and fear, and avoiding talking about the fact that my relatively healthy 50-year-old father was having a stroke. I remember him telling me to slow down and I told him, “Hell no” which was quickly followed by a reprimand for cursing. That normalcy was our comfort.
My mom flew in from Georgia and spent the next two days at the hospital with him while I hung out with the kiddos. The doctors didn’t believe he had had a stroke, but they couldn’t tell us what had happened. The best they could offer was complex migraines.
After arriving home, his symptoms began to evolve. He would get debilitating migraines, partial paralysis, seizures, slurred speech, word loss (he text mom “words not right in head”)
Hemiplegic migraines became the front runner for possible diagnosis’. There is a lot to it but essentially, it’s migraines that cause stroke-like symptoms.
My dad was unable to work as paralysis, migraines, confusion, and randomly collapsing were our new normal for us. Then the scary stuff hit. In April, my mom was woken up by my dad informing her that she needed to get up or she would be late for work. When she was awake enough to focus, she saw my dad dressed in his slacks, button up, and tie getting ready to walk out the door. When she asked him what he was doing, he told her he was leaving for work. He had to get there early because he had a sales meeting to get to.
This threw my mom for a loop. They talked for a while and finally she asked him, “Earnie, what day is it?” “Oct. 18th.” Oof!
He had lost 6 months of memory. He didn’t remember being let go. He didn’t remember getting sick. He didn’t remember his mom moving out to Georgia to help care for him. He didn’t remember my daughter’s first birthday….
It was a tough time. I brought Adeline over to their house that day and when he saw her, he started to cry and kept saying, “She’s so big!”
Skip ahead to September 1 (his birthday). We were hanging out watching tv and he found a Netflix show called Diagnosis. Ep. 3 followed a gentleman who had a lot of the same symptoms my dad had. I had a really hard time watching it because it was like looking at my dad up on the screen. I could tell it was hard on you as well.
Quick aside: The show Diagnosis is based on a NYTimes article entitled Diagnosis. This doctor would post about rare case with no etiology and people reach out with their ideas of what it could be.
We follow Willy 46 Army Veteran who experiences seizures, memory loss, hearing loss, and mood swings
70% memory loss over a 2-year time frame
Willy went through: 2 spinal taps, Lab work, MRI – Brain lesions at the base of the brain with white mist stemming from it, 2 brain biopsy – unspecified brain inflammation
A year and a few months from retirement and was let go
Put in for disability and it got denied
No health insurance because of loss of job
When the article posted, more diagnosis than you can imagine came through – it’s a bit overwhelming
Eventually, they narrowed it down to GWI (Willy served in the Gulf War)
Before I go into what that is, we need a brief GW history.
I’m going to circle back to the show because it is really interesting but we’re switching gear really quick.
VERY BRIEF Gulf War background:
Persian Gulf War (Aug 2, 1990-Feb 28, 1991) (6 months, 3 weeks, 5 days)
Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait Aug. 2, 1990 – neighboring countries asked for help (Operation Desert Shield)
UN gave Iraq until Jan 15, 1991 to get out of Kuwait but when that didn’t happen, Operation Desert Storm began Jan. 17
Coalition forces (American, British, Canadian, Saudi Arabian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, French, Qatari) began bombing Iraq in a 5-week air campaign followed by a 5-day ground operation resulting in Kuwait’s liberation
700,000 US soldiers participated
US based but this affects all nationalities present
Iraq used chemical warfare against Iran before the Gulf War so there was a concern that they would do this against the Coalition (against the Geneva Convention)
To help with this, deployed forces were given a pill to counteract possible exposure to nerve gas
Iraq ended up not using but having said this…
An Iraqi ammunition storage facility stretching 15 ½ sq. miles was destroyed
Remember Iraq using chemical warfare?
Well the facility housed the chemical warfare used against Iran, so the explosion caused an obscene amount of chemicals to be released into the air.
You also had Iraq setting fire to Kuwait’s oil fields which definitely didn’t release any terrible toxins into the air…
New tanks used (M1). Ammunition used included depleted uranium. Radiation exposure for the win.
Like Willy, my dad served in the Gulf War. What can you tell us about it?
6 months in Japan – back for 4 months then off again
Aug. 21, 1990 left
Came back March 1991
Mention Bob Hope VHS Christmas
Cigarettes in the Sky
Willy remembers oil fills burning (smoke)
Alarms (button up rides and wait), told they are false alarms (but they weren’t) ask dad
So, what is GWS?
Symptoms: Persistent pains in arms, legs, back, shoulders, muscle and joint pain, numbness and tingling, skin conditions, rashes, body lesions, painful urination, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion and general stomach issues, sexual problems, hearing problems, blurred vision, dizziness, feeling of being in a haze (almost like you’re on drugs), confusion, loss of words, memory loss, lack of attention span, headaches, sweating without exercise, severe or explosive mood swings, fitful sleep, fatigue, neurological issues, terminal tumors, behavioral issues, and all of this obviously has an impact to personal relationships on top of everything else
No two cases are the same
Initially believe to be caused simply by PTSD but quickly debunked
Congress mandated the VA research these symptoms – 1998 these clusters became known as Gulf War Illness / Gulf War Syndrome
It wasn’t until 2008 that Gulf War Illness was officially classified as a real illness (17 years after the Gulf War ended!) there is still a lot of debate about that too. (but not by the VA)
What causes this?
In addition to the many physical and psychological issues involving any war zone deployment, Gulf War veterans were exposed to a unique mix of hazards not previously experienced during wartime. These included pyridostigmine bromide pills (given to protect troops from the effects of nerve agents), depleted uranium munitions, and multiple simultaneous vaccinations including anthrax and botulinum toxin vaccines. The oil and smoke that spewed for months from hundreds of burning oil wells presented another exposure hazard not previously encountered in a war zone. Military personnel also had to cope with swarms of insects, requiring the widespread use of pesticides. High-powered microwaves were used to disrupt Iraqi communications, and though it is unknown whether this might have contributed to the syndrome, research has suggested that safety limits for electromagnetic radiation are too lenient.
Not many studies
Nerve gas pills take every day in secret?
175,000-250,000 US Vets could be affected by GWS (Gulf War Illness) many remain unemployable
No treatment as of right now
No marker saying look for “this” and it will be GWS
No two cases are the same. So, what is GWS to you?
TIA (transient ischemic attack) – (couple a year) started ’91 kept going until THIS
Doctors said it’s all in your head
WRIISC – pronounced risk (War Related Illness and Injury Study Center)
Dad has lesions as well
Memory loss in November, Christmas, daily
Doesn’t remember going to school
I’m afraid to ask what you don’t remember
Dad’s symptoms that he updates and emails to my mom and grandma:
- Seizures on Left side mostly shoulders and hands but occasionally leg and foot (had to surrender my driver’s license)
- Memory lapses both short and long term lots of portions of days, 2 months, 6 months, just over a year, portions of previous years
- Forgetfulness (forget where I am, who I am with, where I am supposed to be going, constantly leaving phone, hearing aids, wallet, and cane at various establishments)
- Prostrating Migraines 5-6 times a month lasting 2-4 days
- Complete loss of eyesight followed immediately by migraine
- Sensitivity to lights and sounds
- Facial drooping
- Slurred speech
- Weakness on left side
- Balance issues – fall constantly
- Very slow reaction times
- Unable to find words to complete sentences
- Vocal (substitute words that don’t make sense)
- Visual disturbances (blurred vision)
- Trouble reading and writing some days
- Agitation and huge mood swings
- Erratic emotions (inappropriate emotions such as laughing when hurt, crying at any little thing)
- Muscle and joint pain
- Depth perception (going down the stairs looks like a long tunnel)
- Riding in a vehicle everything goes by extremely fast
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High cholesterol
- High Triglycerides
- High Blood Pressure
- Sleep Apnea
- White matter hyperintensities (WMH)
- Kidney issues (kidney stones)
- Pre-Cancerous Colon Polyps
- Erectile dysfunction
Healing with Dr. Daniels Podcast – Gulf War Syndrome
All Things Bad Podcast – Gulf War Syndrome
Netflix Diagnosis – The Wisdom of the Crowd