Former Marine, served Desert Shield & Storm. In Dhahran 4 months, shipboard 4 months, at the Kuwait border 1 week under 1stMEF, supporting 1st & 2nd MARDIV during ground assault. VA service connected in 1998 for Migraines, IBS, & Asthma related to Gulf service. Also diagnosed with pleurisy, fibromyalgia, seronegative spondyloarthropathy, Reiter’s syndrome, CFS, and others. Malabsorption caused 90 lbs. weight loss in 17 months. Only regained 30 lbs. back in three years eating well over 5,000 calories per day. Skin problem diagnosed by VA as psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, discoid lupus erythematosus, “lesions“, and photosensitivity. (They don't know do they?) Annoying problems like muscle twitching, numbness & tingling, painful swollen glands, & night sweats for over 12 years.
I received NO inoculations prior to going to the Gulf. I did drink filthy water and was subjected to thousands of flies and unsanitary conditions in Dhahran. My gas mask filters were dated 1972. Unit’s MOPP gear was missing. While on ship was exposed to oil fire smoke in the northern Gulf. Was given immuno gamma-globulin routinely and took PB Pills. Back on land, at the border during ground war, was within sight of burning oil field and breathed in the smoke for a little over a week. Was within 3 to 5 kilometers of 3 known chemical detections. (One by MAG-26, circa 24 Feb 91). These included sarin, tabun, soman, mustard, and an unknown nerve agent. (Found this out 7 years after war). On 25 Feb 91, did view confidential communiqué reporting mustard gas used against 1st MEF during ground war. (Provided this testimony to congress in mid-90’s, so it‘s no secret). Upon returning from Gulf, suffered digestive and lung problems, migraines, and other ailments. Given an inoculation here in the States that was “to keep us all from getting sick.“
After discharge, began utilizing VA in 1993, and have consistently used the VA ever since regardless of their inadequate care. Several service connections, 3 of which related to Gulf War service. Also categorized as having experienced “environmental exposure”. Diagnosis with reference to “Gulf War Syndrome” appears in my records as early as 1994 and as late as 2003, but all C&P claims for undiagnosed illness denied. Fought hard with advice from the Desert Storm Justice Foundation (now National Gulf War Resource Center) in mid-90’s for quality treatment from VA. Provided testimony for the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses and am listed in the acknowledgements in rear of report. Appeared in local newspaper articles with other sick Desert Storm Veterans twice in last 8 years. Now, one of those veterans has throat cancer (service-connected to Gulf service) at a young age. Another local veteran died at the age of 39 because he was treated for the wrong disorder by the VA for 9 years. The disorder was service-connected to Gulf service. His story made national television.
Any other Desert Storm Vets with so many diagnoses or similar experience?
Anyone who routinely uses the VA notice a change in care since new war started such as VA canx of appts for no reason w/o reschedule and change of primary care appts from 6 mos to yearly now?
Last edited by ArcticTraveler; 11-27-2004 at 10:48 PM.
Reason: Added additional info & facts
I got effected after only 2 months of being in the U.S. Army! Now I have a whole list of ailments and I never even got a chance to deploy and couldn't for that matter. I didn't mess up in the military, the vaccines or whatever did that for me very quickly. My battlefield was fighting for my life in the hospital where I almost died! A black pill saved me from dyeing which I now believe it was the "last line of defense pill..." The most powerful antibiotic known to exist. Our doctor took off and abandoned us! 5 guards took over the scene and blocked all outsiders out! 2 other doctors tried to help us but were blocked and pushed onto the ground! and they were told that "what was going on is none of there business!" and "You are not allowed in here!"; I tried to get up to help but I was very incapacitated, I couldn't even help myself let alone anyone else! There was a lot of pushing and shoving going on where I was at! Man, we looked really bad!!! I believe the guards were there to control the situation or something? There were 9 of us in there and all had the same set of problems. I nearly died and barely lived and made it out of there. The new doctor we got after the other one ran away... did the best he could to try to save us from dyeing. The other doctor gave up before even trying! I don't know if any of the other soldiers lived or not? They didn't get the special black (large) pill that I got. I walked out of that hospital after 7 days because I wasn't getting any better and the antibiotics didn't do anything for us at all. It was like not taking any medicine at all! I believe they got worried that I was going to die and they gave me that special pill but no one else got one? I was the only one for some reason? I am really screwed up now but for now I am alive but don't know for how long? My health is deteriorating slowly over time so I don't know what I have got? I do know one thing though, it is bad!
Last edited by ShatteredLife2; 09-07-2004 at 04:11 PM.
I have tried with no results. It all comes back to my short time in the service which is less than 2 years-- this makes me automatically ineligible for help! That and the fact that my spouse makes too much money! I don't work and can't due to being disabled. My mind isn't right and is all messed up. My brain signals are being suppressed and everything is hazy. I have cognitive dysfunction and have problems doing the simplest of things. It could have been Nerve agent exposure that did this to us? Maybe terrorists? Whatever the cause it is not good. The reason I say the other 9 soldiers didn't make it out of the hospital is because they were there when I got there and were very bad off after I left. I don't even remember how I got to my hospital room from the Hospitals E.R.? I remember being in one hospital and then mysteriously in another? My cup said one hospital on it but then later said something else? I don't even know for sure how long I was in the hospital? I just don't remember for some reason? My mind is gone and I was denied SSA because I couldn't fill out all of the paperwork so I gave up! It was too much for me to handle so I was denied. Besides that, they used my own money against me to deny me from getting what I worked for, for so many years... I am not sure if I am even competent anymore but I do know I forget to eat, forget to take showers, forget everything... I don't believe I can competently take care of myself anymore and have no purpose in life. I feel 80 years old and am so slow that I can't even walk good. Old people can out walk me-- My illness is that bad! My wife always shoots ahead of me and I am always telling to slow down for me... I wouldn't be complaining but dang, this just isn't normal for a top fit soldier like I was and something adversely effected me physically and mentally! It is a serious problem and god forbid the public gets this stuff! It is sort of like rabies or something like that and it is very bad!!! For a while I thought I was going to jump someone for making me angry for really no reason at all, (This just isn't normal behavior.); I also feel like I am falling apart and hurt everywhere really bad. My body is numb from training so I don't feel much but what I do feel is very intense pains. I tried to go to a lawyer and tell them that my insides feel like they have been put into a blender but they don't believe me without the proper paperwork and proof which is next to impossible to obtain... and my requests for records have been faulty meaning I ask for one thing and something different is sent instead of what I requested... It is very frusterating...
Hello Artic Traveler. I am also a GW vet. Served in the Air Force at Dharan SA 90-91. I did receive the anthrax shot prior to deployment and first experienced symptoms in theatre. I was told I had the flu. As far as I know, ones joints do not swell, turn red and get painful from the flu. Since the GW I have been diagnosed and undiagnosed by VA doctors mostly and told that I have some type of autoimmune disorder but all are unable to provide me with a diagnosis (no lupus, lyme disease etc.,). As far as changes in the VA--yes I have noticed a difference. Slight difference. I am followed by the rheumatology dept in VA and am seen every 6 months to 1 year for blood draw to indicate any changes that would signal a disease with a name. At every appt, I am told that I have some kind of autoimmune dysfunction going on, except for the last appt I had just a bit ago. The same doctor that last year told me I have 'something' autoimmune now states that I must have misunderstood her, that she can not see anything autoimmune going on and is no longer taking a blood sample. This is a bit confusing so I am going outside of VA to see if I can have a doctor reevaluate my symptoms. I do like to use teh VA because the doctors there are not hearing anything new and are more 'familiar' with GW symptoms than are the civilian doctors. At least this has been my experience for the last 12 years or so.
It took me years to get a rheumatology referral. I ended up with a good doc. She diagnosed me with fibromyalgia and others. She put me on strong meds and told me I’d have to get blood work drawn every two weeks because my liver isn’t up to snuff (Non-Alcoholic Steatotic Hepatitis) and wanted to make sure I’m not damaging it anymore.
While having the blood labs, it was found that my anti-nuclear anti-bodies were positive. (It’s irrelevant now, because they somehow managed to go back to negative…..I don’t know if it’s the way the lab handles the tests, or if it was a false positive, but this happens a lot with other tests and the doc will always say, “I think we found your problem.” When they run the tests again, they’re normal and scratch their heads.
Eventually, my rheumatology doc disappeared, but I still continued to get the blood work drawn. After awhile, I got a new doc and started the whole routine over again. My rheumatology appointments went from every 3 months to every 6 months, then to every 9 months, then finally to being cancelled without reason and no reschedule. I quit worrying about getting the blood work drawn unless I’m there for an appointment because no one was or is monitoring the results anyway.
None of my tests ever showed inflammation. RF factor was negative. I have pain/bad stiffness in my joints, tendons, muscles, ligaments, spine, hip, etc. I don’t feel the anti-inflammatories I was given are really needed. Why? Because the VA has me on 15 current prescriptions and they’re mixing and not agreeing with me. Each time I go back, they either stop one and give me another or raise my dosages and give me another. I think they’re trying to anesthetize me.
I have a couple diagnoses that are of unknown etiology and origin. Primary care doctor sums it all up by telling me, “You have neuro-muscular, digestive, lung, kidney, musculo-skeletal problems and your quality of life is very poor, but there hasn’t been a life-threatening disease discovered yet. Until we find out what happened to you guys, all we can do is treat the symptoms.”
Recently, I asked my neuro doc why I still have (for 13 years) widespread numbness, tingling, and muscle twitches. She told me, “some things just can’t be diagnosed.” I’ll bet you she didn’t write that in the records!!!!
Dhahran! Aziz Air Base? The Mission Inn, Phase Docks, 122 degrees! I had the “flu” there also.
I hope that you have applied for service connected compensation from the nearest regional office. I did and have been gotten service connection for my joint swellings/pain due to undiagnosed illness. I have an appeal now that has been ongoing for almost 8 years now. Ugh. The process to get service connected is so long. I also have a high anti nuclear antibody count...........and then a normal count.........and then a high ANA. It used to be like a see-saw but now it is just 'high' I also have a high (double the normal reading) for c-reactive protein. I often wonder how many of us got the 'flu' shortly after our arrival in Saudi? I used to think that my physical symptoms stemmed from exposure to depleted uranium but am rethinking this as I am leaning more toward something in the anthrax shot, namely squalene. I am confident that we were exposed to something and hopefully we will find out at some point in our lifetime. I can remember when my squadon returned from Saudi--we soon looked like an advertisement for orthopedic devices for our joints. It was amazing how many of developed osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other joint problems--some were even medical boarded out of the service. I am not to good using this message board type of writing and only happened to find your last posting. I am becoming familiar with this but slowly!
Hey,I'am having the same trouble with this atuoimune thing.Have just resently done my C&P exam.Was told i have PTSD and then recieved a letter to go see my primary doc cause my blood work came back with an abnormality.When i asked my primary care doc what was up she stated that she didn't see anything wrong with my blood work. So I went and got my latest results and went back to the C&P clinic to talk with the doc who sent the letter and was notified thst she was on vaction and would return in a few days, they would have her call me thats been 6 days now so i'am calling her today.I've done a little research on the net but still i don't know what to think about this ANA stuff do alot of gulf vets have this problem?
Hi Dallton and welcome! I think that a lot of GW vets have high ANA readings. I was told that I do not have a specific illness but that the high ANA is an indicator that 'something autoimmune' is going on. In 1992 I was told that it may take a few years to turn into something with a name. Well, here it is 2005 and still no name. As far as the c-reactive protein--the rheumatoligst was going to submit my blood to some study going on at the Boston VAMC but then she said that because I was in the gulf--I would not be able to be a part of the study. I find this interesting--perhaps GW vets would skew the results? Do a lot of GW vets have a high c-reactive protein? Who knows. I also was very active before I went to the gulf and was not active when I returned. I was just to darn tired all the time. No more running--it became to painful. No more gymtime--to tired. So you make adjustments. You live with it. Instead of tackling a big project--break it down into little managable projects. I have learned to compromise and have had to limit my social life. Have you gone through the complete C&P process and gotten a decision on service connection? Just something to remember when dealing with a claim for compensation from VA--the department that grants service connection (s/c) is not the hospital, it is the Regional Office. So if you have told the doctors something important for your claim for s/c--you can be sure that the Regional Office did not hear it (unless it was at your C&P exam). The Regional office is supposed to get your medical info but most times they do not.
I filed initial claims late ‘92. 3 out of 5 granted were s/c to Gulf service. It took over 5 yrs for approval. One (IBS) eventually fell into the category of presumptive s/c in 2001, for other vets not already connected. In 2001, I was granted an increase on two that I pursued.
With the help of the former head of Desert Storm Justice Foundation (later absorbed by NGWRC) I filed for everything else that was bothering me in ‘95. (Joint pain due to an undiagnosed illness, chronic fatigue, neurological symptoms, etc.). All were denied by ‘98.
I also have had see-saw tests. Ferritin, parathyroid, CK, ALP, anemia, liver. I think some erratic tests are due to inept VA lab techs. Many times I’ve been surprised with a cholesterol test even though I told them I hadn’t fasted. I’ve had cholesterol results as high as 300 and as low as 174 a month apart!
I don’t know if I had an anthrax shot. (Not in my records). I really don’t know whether or not to blame vaccines. Here’s one reason. I provided this with my testimonial to Congress back in the mid-90’s.
Over there, my unit moved around. From Dhahran to ship to the border and back to the ship. When we left the region, I put all my combat gear into 2 seabags. The gear, I wore mostly at the border. It stayed in my seabags, even after I returned to the States. I kept those 2 bags under my rack (bunk) through 3 or 4 barracks moves never opening them. Since my unit “borrowed” the gear from the Army, none of us handed it in. I brought it home after discharge. I never washed the items in those bags until early 1993.
After rummaging through the bags & dumping out sand and forgotten items, I washed and stored everything. The next day, I was gravely ill. I developed the same type of diarrhea that I had in Dhahran (never ending). For 4 wks, I was going out one end and vomiting into the garbage can next to the toilet (very similar to what caused me to stop taking PB in Feb. ‘91).
I ran a fever up to 104. I didn‘t go to the VA because I didn‘t even know where it was. So, I rode the storm out and even after 4 weeks, the illness would return several times throughout ‘93. I even ran 103 fevers in mid-summer. (In the Spring of ’93, I would find the VA for my first C&P exams. At those exams I was asked about my health and I told the Dr. about how sick I had become. He angrily asked, “Are you sick now?” At the time I was ok, so I said no. He sharply said, “That’s all I need to know!” ).
It wasn’t until fall ‘93, when one of my “Gulf War Headaches” at work prompted me to go to the VA ER for the first time. Soon after, I was at the VA for my recurring pleurisy and lung problems. (No matter what I went to the VA for, I was always diagnosed either PTSD, stress, or viral syndrome). By ‘94, the VA had put in my records that my lung condition was “most likely caused by the oil fires, & fits the syndrome seen in others.”
I believe something bad was in the air over there.
By the way, my Registry Exam was started in mid-’94, but to this day, never completed!
Up to now, my health has steadily declined. I hurt so much! My muscles seem to be deteriorating as well as becoming very rigid. I want to file a claim for FM, CFS, & CMSI, but don’t know where to begin.
I wonder if my original “chronic fatigue” claim can be re-opened, or does the wording not meet their specs? Is the FM, CFS, CMSI presumptive s/c law (Public Law 107-103 Sec. 202) an “umbrella term” or can each be claimed separately? Does my blistering rash fall under CMSI?
My service officer claims there is no such thing as presumptive service-connection for FM/CFS/CMSI. He told me that I had to have shown I was treated for it over there. (Which I was treated for fatigue and myalgias). If that’s the case, how many ALS cases diagnosed 6 years after the war could’ve been treated in the Gulf?
You are right though about adapting. What once took 2 hrs (mowing lawn) now takes 6. If I accomplish one minor task per day and one major task per week, that’s great!
Last edited by ArcticTraveler; 02-03-2005 at 12:03 PM.
Regarding PTSD, Gulf Vets, and illness, have you read the following articles on the [ website not allowed - please read the posting rules ]
Or the Feb. 2005 issue of VFW Magazine, Pg. 8, "Toxins Tunneled Silently into the Bodies of Gulf War Veterans."
When one’s ANA goes positive, there are other specific tests to pinpoint the problem. My ANA tested positive in 1999. That was my only ANA test that the VA did until last year and now it’s negative. Between ‘99 & ‘03, I came pretty close to starving to death because my intestine wasn’t absorbing anything. Often, I asked the VA to test me specifically for something relating to the positive ANA. The VA never did. They would always tell me about how “it’s common for someone to have a positive ANA, but not have a disease.” Well, I’ll never know now.
I have read that autoimmune problems amongst PGW Vets are very common. As a matter-of-fact, Fibromyalgia, CFS, and even arthritis are thought to be autoimmune disorders. Everyone knows how rampant those problems are amongst PGW Vets!
Last edited by moderator2; 02-03-2005 at 12:06 PM.
Reason: website not allowed - please read the posting rules
Hello Artic Travler and Dalton!
I think that you should reopen a claim for s/c for your chronic fatigue. One thing to remember is that every time our Congress meets--laws change. Every year the VA must adjust to the changes that come out of the new congress so now there are presumptive conditions for GW service. They are fibromyalgia, IBS and I'm pretty sure the other is for chronic fatigue. The 'catch' that many regional offices use to do a quick denial is that the condition(s) must have manifested within one to two years of leaving the gulf. Some better regional offices do not enforce this two year clause. So much for the 'one hamburger' idea. I put in a claim for a presumptive condition of gulf war service (IBS) and for a non-presumptive condition and was quickly denied sc for both. I am going to appeal this decision because it is just plain wrong. I know that IBS comes on slowly and then 'gets ya' later on. To me this time limit is not correct and in my opinion it will probably be thrown out in a Court of Veterans Appeals (COVA) decision. As far as the umbrella, like putting joint pains, chronic fatigue, headaches together under one condition--yes the VA will do that, usually when they issue a denial. Claim them as seperate conditions--ALWAYS. That way if they do lump everything together and you have appealed your denial (assuming there is a denial of s/c for all conditions) you would have a better chance of overturning the denial of some conditions as compaired to all conditions. By the way, I have figured out the meaning of your acronyms--but got stuck on 'CMSI' --what is this??
Another thing to remember is that statements from people that you served with in the gulf are of great value. Also, statements from people (friends, family and spouses) who knew you before you went to the gulf and saw the changes in you upon your return can be enough to sway the evidence in your favor. One doctors negative statement can be overturned by one or two doctors with favorable statements. As an example, I had a compensation exam and the doctor diagnosed me with a condition that I knew I didn't have and went on the outside to another doctor who disputed the VA doctors opinion and gave the reasons why he disagreed and I was granted s/c for the condition that would have been denied. You are your best advocate and because many of our symptoms are just that--symptoms--that do not carry a firm diagnosis, opinions count. I was so mad with that VA doctor that after I left my comp exam I drove straight to a doctor that I picked out of phone book and made an appointment. (I get these dizzy spells with a high pitched ringing in my ear. The VA doctor told me I had water in my ear! Ugh. I was so mad! At the next appt I told the doctor why I was there and told him what the VA doctor diagnosed me with. He did a complete check and confirmed that there was no water in my ear and that he did not know what caused the dizzy spells and ringing.) My point is that you must be your own advocate. Your service rep is good to keep in the loop--but you must do the work yourself. And do file the claims that you need to file! Look how long it took the Vietnam vets to get the govt to admit that they were exposed to a highly toxic substance that will really screw you up in the long run. Now the vietnam Vets have presumptive conditions that are get service connected right off the bat. I know that someday we too will have an answer for what we were exposed to.
Regarding PTSD, Gulf Vets, and Illness; there are some news releases available by contacting the National Gulf War Resource Center in Silver Spring, MD. The National Gulf War Resource Center has been around since 1995 and not only do they deal with Gulf Vets, but also with Operation Iraqi Freedom Vets.
These news releases are entitled:
"The Department of Defense Lied For Years about Chemical Weapons Exposure"
"VA to seek non-stress causes of Gulf War Illnesses"
CMSI....."Chronic Multi-Symptom Illness" as mentioned in my March 2003 copy of Gulf War Review.
It's Public Law 107-103, Section 202, Gulf War Veterans' Chronic Disabilities. It explains how the definition of "qualifying chronic disability" includes not only a disability resulting from an undiagnosed illness as stated in previous laws, but also "a medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness (such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome) that is defined by a cluster of signs or symptoms."
It goes on to state, "The legislation now classifies fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome as disabilities for which compensation may be paid on a presumptive basis and extends the presumptive period through September 30, 2011."
Yes, I am my own advocate. The last time I applied for an increase, I handed 80 pages of supporting documentation over to my service-officer. My increases still took 6 months to get. This time around, I am confused over this law change and don't know if it's CMSI that I claim, or to file separate claims for FM and CFS. I have evidence that I was treated for both in the Gulf and for over a decade at the VA. My question is still whether or not the "Chronic Fatigue" claim of the mid-90's will be reopened. My guess is that the VA will deny it because I didn't claim "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome." They've done it to me before. Otherwise, I intend to claim FM and CFS separately.
Last edited by ArcticTraveler; 03-02-2005 at 02:52 AM.
my husband was over there as well,4 months after being home he complained about his knees being very painful we went to the hospital made an appointment they did a bone scan and come back and told him there is nothing wrong with him. he lives everyday with this pain now it is also in the muscles, i then noticed a rash in between his shoulder blades it has been there for 10 years not coming and going we just wrote it off as eczima. i rushed him to the hospital about 6 years ago he got this lump on his leg that got infected and he had to be given an antibiotic then redness went down before you knew it this happened on numerous occassions he would soak it and it would break open leaving scars all over his body they even reopen and ooze...is anyone else experiencing this. talk about cfs if he sits for more than 5 minutes and he isnt being talked to he falls asleep..would you say someones memory is affected when he goes into a store gets a bottle of soda and a bag of ice comes out and says i think they charged me to much but i dont know can you figure it out..i say how much did they charge you and he says 7.34 he couldnt figure that out at the counter. when i told him he had to go back in he began having anxiety although i forced him to go back in he was angry with me... his mood swings are worse than my most worse syptoms of pms..he complains sometimes that it feels his heart is jumping out of his chest and he gets a scared feeling. since he has been home he just isnt the same and it gets worse and worse he has no patients with our children at all. he thinks people dont like him why i dont know he is a very likable man. my youngest son now 4 wakes up at night complaining about leg pain i have to constantly have either cold or hot to put on his legs he screams as if you are takin his leg off.. myself i have no energy i have had 2 hernia's and now i believe i have an intenstinal problem which i am goin to have checked out ... when you all went into the military did you sign up as ginny pigs to put your family at risk. what else will pop up god only knows. all i know that my husband served his country proudly, he would have gone back if they took him in i just want to say thank you to all for all the sacrifices you have made and i hope that god will grace you all with everything you deserve