Marine veteran undergoes brain surgery, eliminating symptoms of - FOX34 Lubbock

Marine veteran undergoes brain surgery, eliminating symptoms of Parkinson's

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

In May, we introduced you to Jim Blacketer, the founder of the organization, Color Me Agent Orange. Blacketer is suffering from Ischemic Heart Disease and Parkinson's, both on the VA's hefty list of diseases caused by the deadly defoliant used during the Vietnam War. 

For year, Blacketer thought there really was not much he could so about his tremors. However, a trip to the VA in Houston has changed that. 

"I've been at deaths door a lot of times, but it keeps knocking and I keep running,"Blacketer said. "So that's what I plan on doing."

At age 70, Blacketer's been through more challenged than anyone should have to bear. The Marine veteran has been dealing with symptoms of Parkinson's for some time now. About six years ago, his tremors escalated in intensity. 

"For awhile, he thought that was the end of him with not being able to do what he likes to do in his life," Blanca Blacketer said. 

As much as he kept pushing through that pain, his medicine just was not doing enough. 

"I was taking Carbidopa-Levodopa," Blacketer said. "Which is, almost anyone on Parkinson's they're taking that, in some form."

After a visit to the VA in Houston, Blacketer learned he was an ideal candidate for DBS, a deep brain stimulator. DBS is a neurosurgical procedure, involving the plantation of a nuerostimulator or brain pacemaker. It sends electron impulses through implanted electrodes to specific targets in the brain. 

"There use to only be one company that provided this particular unit like this," Blacketer said. "Now there's three of them,  two of them just got approved at the first of the year. I actually went with one of the new ones because the battery life is about 15 years."

In august, Blacketer underwent surgery to have the device implanted. Six weeks later, he returned to Houston to have it activated. 

For his wife, Blanca, joy comes from seeing her husband of 33 years accomplish even the simple things. 

"A couple of days ago, he went to the doctor because he was fighting a cold and it was probably the first time he's filling out papers," Blanca said. "He did his signature and almost tears came out of my eyes, seeing him, that he was able to sign his own name."

As strong as Blacketer is, he relies on his wife. 

"She just rolled her sleeves up and said, let's go and she's there with me every second," Blacketer said. "I know that she'll be there for the long run and she's always there, she's got my back, otherwise I couldn't do it." 

Blacketer said it is going to take a few weeks to tweak the levels on the stimulator, but he is already feeling stronger. 

"Never quit, keep going," Blacketer said. "When I get finished, I wanna slide into God and say, what a ride."

Blacketer adds, now that his treatment is working, he hopes to continue growing his organization, Color Me Agent Orange and help as many veterans as he can.

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