Thursday, October 1, 2009

An End in Sight?

In my last post,I talked about Rick's knee appt being changed and our disappointment. Well, guess what?
It's been changed again!!!
Rick called Fort Drum,NY (where the med board is) to let them know that the appointment for his knees had been changed. When he told them what date it was,they informed him that he would have to reschedule it. He has to go to back Fort Drum that week.
Let me give a bit of history here. Rick has been to the med board three times. For those who are not aware of what the med board is,the med board is a process that those in the military go through when there is question regarding their fitness for duty. It can be a physical or mental problem. Because we live in NH,we go to Fort Drum,NY. Whatever is in question ( sight,mental problems,range of motion,etc) is examined by doctors. They then make their assessment, and write up what is called a NARSUM ( Narrative Summary),which the solider reads,and if they agree with the diagnosis,the NARSUM is sent to Walter Reed Hospital to go before the rating board. Doctors there read the NARSUM,and decide what percentage of disability to give to the solider. The rating is based on how the injury affects how well they can do their job in the military.
When Rick first got back in 2005,he was sent to the med board while he was in Fort Gordon. At that point, he had not been diagnosed with TBI,but chronic PTSD. While his paperwork was in the process of being sent,he received orders cutting him from active duty and sending him back home. The process stopped.
Then, in 2007,he went to the med board again,this time to Fort Drum. It was there that he was told he was testing positive for TBI. On the last day of his appts,he was told that his paperwork was not in order,so they said he would have to come back.
I am Rick's advocate,because of his memory problems,so when we got the word that he was going back to the med board in March of this year,I went with him. We were assured that this would be his last med board,and that what had happened to him in the past was not acceptable.
We went through all the tests that was required-psych,range of motion ( for his back and legs),optometry and hearing. When we went for the TBI testing,the Dr (who was not military) told us that since in his VA records he had tested positive for TBI,there really wasn't any need to have the testing again. That sounded fine to us. We went home and waited.
Then Fort Drum notified us that they wanted more details regarding the TBI,and we needed to schedule a Neuro Psych eval through the VA. Now,in 2007,Rick had attempted to have this test done,but because his PTSD was not under control ( the proper medication and dose were not discovered yet) he could not complete the test. His attention span was too poor. However, on the basic test,he did screen positive for TBI. Well, alrighty then. I scheduled the test. He completed the three hour test in May. We then waited for the Drs notes and diagnosis to be sent to Fort Drum.
In the meantime,the Dr that examined him for Behavioral Health (Ie-psych) at Fort Drum was being rotated ( shipped) out to another unit. By the time the paperwork reached Fort Drum,he was gone,so this part of the NARSUM was left incomplete.That meant we would have to go back to Fort Drum.
Now, since March, there has been more problems with Rick's health. Not only has the TBI affected his memory,but it has affected him physically. After the Neuro Psych eval,Rick had an appt with a Neuro TBI Dr,who checks for any physical problems related to the TBI. He sent Rick for Sleep Apnea testing,since Rick now snores loud enough to rattle the windows (which he never did before he went to Iraq)and for an appointment with the endocrinologist to check his pituitary gland function. A red flag went up because Rick's thyroid barely works,and his primary Dr put him on meds for it ( again, no issues before Iraq). Rick's strength level is also low,as well as his stamina. ( another red flag,no issues before Iraq).
Now the TBI is responsible for his cognitive problems,memory loss,pituitary gland problems (poor functioning thyroid,low testosterone,and borderline cortisol levels),and sleep apnea. We just got the results of this test yesterday. He stops breathing 9 times an hour,and his oxygen levels go down to 88%. We were told if they were that level all the time,he would be on oxygen.
So now,and rightly so,the folks at Fort Drum want to do an update on all these things,because they were not known in March. His knees are also worse,and we have been told that his double vision will not go away.
So he will have to see Behavioral Health, possibly TBI,range of motion for his knees,optomology,and audiology. We go the week of October 12.
The following week we see the knee referral Dr at the Boston VA.

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