Friday, February 4, 2011

Hanging On The Edge

  It is an appropriate title for me and the way my life has been going these past few weeks. Stress is my number one trigger for me having hellacious nightmares. I have been under a great amount of stress caused by dealing with the Veterans Administration., lately. I filed a claim for PTSD and the problems with my back because I believed, and still do, that these problems are caused by being in the military. After spending two months of a three month PTSD program,  in which I did not complete, I did not sit still while I was an inpatient. Most of my time was spent in the computer lab filing service-connected disability claims.. It did not take them long, at all, to rule against me in these two cases. The reasoning that I did not get 100% service-connected disability on my PTSD claim was short and and a little confusing. I had not served in a combat era. I had the psychiatrist's diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had the trigger point that goes along with all PTSD patients.  I received the same sleeping medication that is prescribed by all doctors treating this disorder. The one thing that the VA bureaucrats decided that I did not have this disorder because I had never been deployed to war; therefore, I must not have PTSD. It does not make sense. On to the second part of my claim. I claimed that I could  not work because of a service connected health problem. The VA agreed that I suffered from degenerative disc disease brought on by the repetition of lifting patients. I was given a 20% rating and received $243.00. Okay, no problem. Except that I am unable to find a job because of back problems. I had worked in 2003 to 2007 driving an 18-wheeler with my wife by my side. She, too, also drove. My wife came off the truck because of what was later diagnosed as fibromyalgia. I found a job driving a dedicated route from the Honda plant in Lincoln, Al. to a parts plant in Rockmart, Ga. I drove 3 loads a day that payed $75 dollars/load. Hell, that is over $200 dollars/day. It lasted about 2 years until my left thigh area felt as if I was being stabbed on the back of my leg. It came to a point that I had my wife drive about 40 miles to pick me up and the company made arrangements for the truck and its load. I consulted with my primary care doctor and he sent me to a chiropractor. I went 12 treatments and was told that I needed to see a neurosurgeon. I knew what that meant but I never knew it would be this hard. I met my surgeon and he showed me an x-ray telling me, as he pointed it out, that the only way I was to ever get relief was to surgically insert 2 titanium rods, using 8 titanium screws, putting my spine back to where it was supposed to be. I took his x-rays to my chiropractor and I showed them to him and the L-5 moved more than he could have imagined. He was startled. I asked him if I needed this or was the surgeon needing to buy another fancy car. He told me that I needed the surgery. That was enough for me.
  I had the surgery and felt like I had been hit by a train. I lasted 3 days in the hospital and I was home and miserable. I woke up one morning and noticed a pain that was new and unbearable. It was only 4 months post op, and something was seriously wrong. I could feel it. The doctor had told me that it would take up to a year for the bone grafts to take. I was to wear a cast from my naval to under my chin. He gave me strict instructions not to bend, pick anything up, do absolutely nothing. Except get tore up from all the drugs they gave me. When that morning came that I knew something was wrong I asked my wife to take me to the ER. She said that I must be in trouble to go to the ER. People with insurance rarely see the ER. You will mostly find the out of work or the out of mind. After a couple hours I saw the ER Physician. I told him I was 4 months post level 3 spinal fusion and was having a pain from hell coming from my lower back. Hell, he just gave me a shot and said go see my surgeon tomorrow. The ER Doc had called the surgeon after he viewed the film of my back, he saw it and told the surgeon. That's why the surgeon wanted to see me the next day.
  My wife and I walked into Dr. White's office the next morning around eleven.
  "I do not know how you did it but you broke a titanium screw." he said, as he was putting the film up on the light box. "You must be one bad dude,"he said, jokingly. His PA said that my back muscles, the latissimus dorsi, were the thickest back muscles he has ever seen on someone in their late forties.
  "Was that what caused the screw to break?" I asked, as we were staring at the screw.
  "Doubt it," is all he said.
  "What do we do, now?" I was looking back and forth from Dr. White to his PA.
  "We have to take it all out. You see how much the L-5 has slipped? When do you want to do it?" Boy, that was quick. I guess he wants to get it done while I still have my insurance from Osborn Trucking. Damn good insurance, too.
  "As soon as possible." I told him. I had not got it out of my mouth good when he was on the phone with his scheduling nurse. "Wednesday morning, first case?" He was looking at me when he said that. I just nodded my head up and down. "OK, put him down for my first case on Wednesday. Riley, David M. Thanks" He turned to me and Lorri and said he would see us Wednesday morning, and out the door they went.
  He took out all the hardware that was supposed to stay in there for a year and basically kicked me to the curb. I lost my job because I used all my FMLA. Drew my unemployment, applied for disability, then damn dear starved to death the next 21/2 years. That was back in '06. I had to wait after I got my disability from social security, not the VA, to get my medicare and wouldn't you know it. Dr. White does not accept medicare or medicaid. Must be nice. That first operation cost $95,000 Dr. White got $75,000. He must do 12 spinal fusions a week. That's $900,000 dollars a week that dude is knocking down. Anyway, I will resume my escapades with the US Gov't later.     theblogmeister