Monday, July 30, 2007
The Morning News: News : Waiting To Die: 'Blue Water' Veterans Seek Help
The Morning News: News : Waiting To Die: 'Blue Water' Veterans Seek Help: "Waiting To Die: 'Blue Water' Veterans Seek HelpVietnam War Fighters Suspect Illnesses May Be Linked to Agent OrangeThis article was published on Saturday, July 21, 2007 10:32 PM CDT in NewsBy Scarlet SimsTHE MORNING NEWSEmail this story Print this story Comment on this story Related Photos Lloyd Patrick Elnicki never asked what the Circle of Life Hospice nurse wrote in her evaluations every day. Secretly, he knew.'I'm dying, aren't I?' he asked his wife, Sharon.'Well, Pat, you're not getting any better,' she said.Three years before, the Vietnam veteran was a robust man with pale skin, dark red hair and a goatee. He had a clover tattooed on his back -- for luck.Pat loved to go. He wore a St. Christopher's medallion, the patron saint of traveling, on a silver chain around his neck. He traveled to Colorado, South Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, Minnesota, Texas and New Mexico. He stuffed picture albums with photos of mountains and rocks, always urging his wife to take another snapshot from a new angle.'But it looks just like the last rock,' she would protest, taking the picture. The Elnickis filled their Bella Vista home with country decorations, the plush, blue-gray carpet smelling of smoke from the couple's cigarettes. Outside, beyond the sliding glass door, was a flagpole Pat installed, flying the U.S. flag.In 2004, doctors diagnosed Pat with lymph cancer of the neck. He went through surgery and radiation treatment and thought his cancer was in remission. But, at the end of last year, Pat got stomach cramps. Exploratory surgery revealed stomach cancer too widespread for surgery, and in March, he opt"