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I went into a local VA hospital for an exploratory catheterization to check on the condition of my heart after being told that it was the only way to know for sure what was going on in a male’s heart. I was awake for the first few minutes and then the next thing I know, I’m waking up in a hospital bed not being able to move or feeling anything on my left side. I found out that during the injection of the dye to check the last chamber of my heart, an air bubble somehow got into the line and as soon as it hit my heart it stopped it. As soon as the doctor saw the bubble in the injection line he knew what was going to happen and they injected me full of drugs to knock me out completely. That’s why when I woke up I couldn’t remember anything that happened after they started the procedure.

After the incident, they gave us the bad news that I had an Anoxic Brain Injury from lack of oxygen getting to my brain during the 90 minutes and 11 shocks that it took to bring me back to life.I spent almost 5 weeks in the CCU, a hospital room and a rehab unit re-learning how to do things such as eat, walk, wipe myself, get dressed, etc. I am now permanently disabled with Hemiplegia, semi-paralysis to my left side, all the mental and psychological issues that come with PTSD. They told me while I was in the hospital that because it happened at the VA that anything to do my issues would be taken care of by the VA.

It took me about a year before I was feeling good enough to think about needing to file a disability claim for a disability rating above the 0% that was on my VA benefits ID card. I am now waiting on my third request for a rating, but am now waiting for a live board to come here so I can have a hearing before real live folks. I was told I could be waiting a long time for the board to come around…maybe even three years.

It’s now October 2016 and I am still disabled with a 0% disability rating. I don’t have a great hope that it’s going to be taken care of anytime soon. I believe that they are doing the delay and denying me because they hope it takes so long that I’ll die before they have to give me a rating. I’m 66 years old now.  My wife and I are now living on her teacher’s salary and my very small SS monies. I was making very good money as a landscape gardener when this happened to me, and it has completely changed my life around. I cannot play guitar anymore or go hiking/backpacking with my wife and dogs… or just live the normal life I lived previous to the incident. All I want now is the Veterans Administration to own up to my reality of the damage they did to me and give me a 100% rating so that my wife and I can start living a better life than the struggle we’ve had to go through since 2008.