I am new and my awful experience with my VA is a major reason for seeking out support through other avenues.
I returned home from Afghanistan in January 2012 with awful back and neck pain, numbness and tingling in my arms, headaches, and various other symptoms. I was seen in theatre twice for the pain and told I would need an MRI when I returned home, and I was able to continue my mission with the aid of ibuprofen, and occasional Torodol injections. I was told at Ft. Hood, my de-mob station, that my care would happen at the VA. Sure it would.
The VA refused to see me until I had a PCP assigned to me, and I would have to wait to and be seen by my PCP before I could be referred to any specialist. It took 3 months to get an appointment. Whenever I called to try and get an appointment earlier, I was given excuses such as,"we're too busy with so many of you coming home all the time now." It was all downhill from there. I would include all the details, but this forum is not appropriate as the story is a long one. I have received very little care, initially told my pain was caused by anxiety and depression (I was anxious and depressed because I was in pain, not the other way around), only given pain meds after an MRI that was only done after a middle of the night trip to the emergency room (after two useless visits to my PCP), and still told my pain was caused by depression even though I was given a 40% disability rating, which has nothing to do with any mental health issues. As far as any real anxiety or depression, I am not an anxious or depressed person by nature, and while I was experiencing some of both, it was in direct correlation to my pain, lack of sleep due to pain, and the rising frustration with the VA. My diagnoses: DJD, Arthritis, Bulging Discs, Radiculopathy, and Cervical Spondylosis.
I am still feeling very frustrated, not receiving any type of physical therapy or treatment other than pain meds that I do not want to take any more, and have not heard from my PCP for over 6 months. I am shopping around for a private doctor, but given my recent experience, I am very leery of physicians right now.
Last edited by Administrator; 02-09-2013 at 10:20 AM.
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Sorry you are having so much difficulty with the VA. I'm currently appealing a denial to upgrade my disability so understand what a pain the VA can be.
What state are you in? The VA runs slightly different state-to-state. Some are just not as good as other unfortunately.
You have the right to change your PCP at anytime. The process you are discussing sounds all to familiar. You do need a referral from the PCP prior to seeing any specialist,PT, and pretty much anything else. My PCP is a complete idiot, she refuses to assist or make a statement in regards to my issues. She claims she isn't qualified to do so... Sorry she is a doctor and should have some clue about the various parts or issues of the human body.
One thing you can do is to file a complaint with the Patient Advocate. There is one in every clinic or hospital just ask to see them. Additionally, if you still have issues I would suggest contacting your Congressman which is what I did and they are going to monitor my case. The VA is currently under congressional hearings for a multitude of issues like what is being done to me and you. If it is possible you may want to go to a clinic in a smaller town, the large VA hospitals do tend to be very busy. I went through about 4 years of just pills and some PT, now getting injections a few times a year and change of meds is allowing me some comfort.
Be glad you're receiving 40%. Looks like we have very similar issues and I'm only getting 10%... however my condition is secondary to my military service injury.
I will say some areas of a VA hospital can be utterly ridiculous while others are fantastic. I just had a double surgery in Cleveland last week and the nurses/docs in that area were amazing. But some of the pre-op clinics I sat for 2-4 hours after my scheduled time before I was even seen.
So Contact your Patient Advocate first and see if that helps. Then contact your Congressman or both it's up to you. Other than that just try and be patient, remember the hurry up and wait game--it seems to be part of the VA too
I've talked with the "patient advocate" several times, he was pretty useless. I'm in RI.
The best way I can describe me situation is this: imagine a person has fallen into a well and is trying to climb put, but they can't get out and now they haven't slept for days because, well, they're in a well, and now they're frustrated, and emotional because they're in pain, haven't slept, and the people who are supposed to help them are just standing at the top of the well talking about how emotional the person is instead of pulling them out of the well...then, instead of rescuing them from the well, which would cure the problem, they just throw a bunch of pills down to them, then document how upset the person was and how they haven't slept, and all but ignore the actual problem - that they're stuck in a damn well!
The well in this case is my back & neck pain and all the symptoms associated with my injury: headaches, dizziness, shoulder pain, chest pain (not cardiac, which I told them, yet they documented as me complaining of palpitations, which I specifically told them I was NOT having), numbness in my left arm & hand, & right hand, and muscle cramping through my upper back and down both arms.
A little info about me, I've been working as an EMT for 10 years, a paramedic for 6 years, and a flight medic for 4 years. I'm know what the signs & symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks, cardiac problems, etc., and I know the difference between muscle spasms and cramping (in my case, it could be described as tetany). I've never had a panic attack in my life. I have a known reaction to medications, such as Benadryl, muscle relaxers, etc., where my body initially reacts with an "epi surge" that starts about 20 min after I ingest the med, or immediately if given iv, and lasts about 20-30 min before the med starts working like its supposed to. I went to the VA ER one night because of chest pain when I would lie down, and back/shoulder/neck pain. I was not anxious, just tired and in pain. I told her about my "adverse reacti
Sorry you are going through such a tough time. Anyhow my body did take a beating both knees shot, lbp from previous and 2 surgeries following (which I would recommend a last resort), and many others I wish not to mention. You have to be diligent when it comes to the VA document everything keep copies of everything. I'm retired, ACDU or RES may be a different being nowadays. Make copies of your health records and kinkos or after hours if you can it does make a world of difference if you have the paper trail which is what If discovered. Whether you want to admit it or not you are having Anxiety borderline Panic attacks which should be clearly documented. Better the BS medications than the Narcs. I say that because I'm kicking that habit after 6 years... no fun. I really which you the best and wish I had more to offer. The payoff comes once you are released from ACDU. Failed to mention that keeping records of everything from your ACDU health record to you VA file if it becomes to where you can't work. There is SSDI and generally if you get that the VA gets the picture... speaking from experience. FYI I had to fight for two years and provide documentation upon documentation that the VA already had just to get my case solved. It was opend Feb2011 closed Feb2013. God Bless
Last edited by Administrator; 03-01-2013 at 03:44 AM.
If the PA isn't doing their job I'd suggest you contact a solid group like Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to act on your behalf. Essentially, a legal team for veterans that can direct you better. They are representing me on my case and have been for some time. Beyond that you need to contact your local Congressman's office http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ . They are our employees, we are not theirs. Use them.
It does take time, it's the government... So if you aren't patient yet you might learn to be when all is said and done. I've been dealing with my situation for about seven years now at least. At this point i'm along for the ride and plan to make it a bumpy arse road for anyone standing in my way.
Some states and cities in the US will do everything for their Veterans and others won't.
Last edited by Administrator; 03-07-2013 at 03:34 PM.
SSDI bases their findings on VA documentation too if that's your only source of care or documentation. Which is also my case and been denied multiple times (I've got enough credits with SS to retire since I was 35 too). Just don't get your hopes up with an SS claim. I decided to pursue the VA disability then I will go after SS. You can get both if it's military-service related condition.
Also I hope anyone who reads this doesn't abuse the system claiming PTSD, which is happening an awful lot. I lived with my dad long enough to see what real, true PTSD does to someone. It's not pretty. It's also total bull to be stealing from people who really need the help and aren't getting just so you could line your pockets with a few dollars. Makes every veteran look bad when that crap happens and some of us really are suffering. I don't have it, at least not from my military service-- dealing with my dad is a distinct possibility though. He did three tours in Vietnam.
Last edited by Administrator; 03-08-2013 at 04:44 AM.
Ft Hood, my old base,welcome back soldier , I too suffer from back problems ,loss my job do to an accident as a lone bread maker in the family I almost loss my mind;stress,depression,anxiety,anger issues,and insomnia and the back pain, unable to do any physical therapy and any normal walking or work will set my pain on the spot I have learn to lived with it and continue on,anger will just make the pain more profound.Is very common for me to spend a day at the VA hospital so I have learn to deal with it and make a day of it,after all living with three woman is not easy,so just find something that you like to do, go easy on VA issue drugs,after all you made it from that hell of Afghanistan.