Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blast From The Past

  While I was in active duty of the Air Force I was extremely lucky to be stationed at the largest base in the States. Eglin A.F.B., located in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, was the perfect home to hone my skills as a Medical Service Specialist. A medium size hospital afforded me the opportunity to work with some highly skilled medical professionals. My duties involved taking care of patients with orthopedic issues, post operative care, and the care of an occasional isolation patient, only because the unit I worked had one isolation room. I was trained in the art of orthopedic traction, believe me, it is an art. My duties also included starting IV's, insertion of naso-gastric tubes, foley catheters, and total patient care. A friend of mine that worked in the hospital's laboratory gave me the chance to learn how to start IV's. I spent 2 weeks working in the drawing room, where the tech draws blood for testing, and drew blood for 8 hours a day. Needless to say, I was very good at starting IV's. When a nurse had trouble with an IV I was called to complete the task. I became very popular among the nurses on my unit and the other unit on the second floor. A nurse hates to call a doctor at home, late in the evening to say that she could not get an ordered IV in a patient, so I was called, instead. I soaked up knowledge like a sponge. Life was good. The future looked so bright I had to wear shades. I stole that saying. While I was having so much fun I blew out a disc in my lumbar region of my spine. I was young enough to handle it without the need for the services of one of my friends in the orthopedic department. That was then, this is now.
  After I revealed my situation with the Col. and received in-patient treatment for my PTSD I made it to the point of being able to get back into the workforce. With back problems, aggravated by years of framing houses, my opportunities to work were limited. I came home one day and asked my girlfriend, who is now my wife, what she thought about seeing the country by means of an 18-wheeler. The money was very good and we could go to places that otherwise would be impossible. We started driver training in August, 2003, graduating in mid October. We signed on with a company out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, CRST,Van Expedited. Can you imagine living with your significant other for 24/7? We did every thing together. A team operation. We loved it. It is hard to believe that we seldom argued and had a great time all while getting paid for doing it. We got paid on Tuesday and Thursday and brought home about $1400 each, twice a week. I chose truck driving because there was no heavy lifting, manual labor, and climate controlled. I did not know that I chose the worse possible occupation for someone with a bad lower back. Almost three years of driving took a great toll on my health. I had ruined my back.
  The lumbar region of the back consist of 5 lumbar vertebrae that is used more than any part of your body. My disc, the area between each vertebrae, were mush in between 4 of my 5 lumbar vertebrae. The result was that my sciatic nerve, the large nerve branching off the spinal cord to each leg, was pinched causing excruciating pain and ultimately no feeling in my left leg. My primary care physician sent me to a chiropractor who, after 12 treatments, told my doctor that I had to have surgery to repair my mush before my leg is permanently useless. Introducing a Neurosurgeon to be my new and best friend, I had it surgically repaired by removing 3 disc and using bone grafts, rods and screws to fuse 4 vertebrae together. The master surgeon completed his task and I was to recover for the next year.Then it happened.
  I was wearing a hard brace that went from my neck down to just below my waist. This suit of armor had to be worn constantly with the exception of sleep. I was 4 months post op and I bent over to pick something up and felt a stabbing pain in my lower back. This was not good. With my past medical knowledge of medicine I knew I had to see the doctor pronto. My wife and I were in the process of moving into another home when this happened. What had happened? A titanium surgical screw that was mounting the base of a titanium rod to my sacrum broke. "Hold up, a minute." I told the doctor. "How can a screw, made of a metal stronger than steel, just break?" He had no explanation. His idea about how to fix it was disconcerting. He removed 2 rods and 7 and a half screws. The screw that broke he could not get it out. He gave me another back brace and instructed me to wear it and not to work. Four months was not long enough for the bone grafts to take. I lost my job, along with my insurance, and was forced into filing for my disability. I tried to see the surgeon in his office but could not afford the office visit. I talked with several attorneys about trying to recover damages and was told that the manufacture of the screw was the largest medical supply company in the United States. I requested a copy of my surgical notes because the label of any surgical implant is affixed to the device and peeled off to put on the notes. The label tells what company made the screw, when and where the screw was made, the lot number of the screw, and the batch of screws that were made that day. I researched the screw and found out that there were no recalls pertaining to that specific screw. Hell, if I am sitting on a jury hearing a case as this, those fuckers that made the screw are about to pay, big. The only problem was no attorney had the money that it would cost to try that case. The corporation that made the screw had dozens of lawyers on retainer just for this reason. I asked my lawyer how much money would it cost to try this case. He ask me if I had $50,000 dollars to spare, with no guarantee of winning. So, I suffer on. I did, after getting my disability and medicare, get my spinal fusion done, again. I am telling you this because I have been telling these true stories of my mental problems and you were getting half the story. This half is not much better. When you think you have it rough, I promise you will find someone that has got you beat. I feel the same. I complain about the pains in my back and left leg and I see someone that has no legs. I am a fighter. I will never stop fighting, either. If there is anyone out there who may benefit from something I may know or experienced I will gladly help them out. You would do it for me.     theblogmeister

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