We then asked YOU to share YOUR stories, and here are a few of the stories that we have received so far.
I’m a recently retired Army Reserve Officer. In 2013 while working as a Nurse Case Manager for the Wounded Warriors in Fort Gordon, GA, I started having neck and shoulder pain. I attributed it to the 12 and 14 hour days, working six days behind a computer. We were short staffed and there was a surge in the injured, ill, and wounded Soldiers being evacuated for Iraq and Afghanistan.
I tolerated the pain for several months until I couldn’t, my PCP sent me to the pain management clinic. I was very well cared for by pain management. I was diagnosed with myofascial pain syndrome, cervicalgia, cervical disc degeneration, and shoulder joint pain. I was treated with trigger point injections and given Lortab for acute pain. This worked well and allowed me to continue to work the long hours taking care of Soldiers. Later, the pain returned and I was given PRP and I always had the Lortab, which I used sparingly as needed when the pain was severe.
When I finished Active Duty in March 2015, I went to see my VA doctor in Asheville, NC. I asked her for Lortab as I had run out and had been in pain while cleaning and unpacking from the move. The doctor refused and gave me a lecture on the dangers of narcotics. As a nurse I realized she thought I was drug seeking, I was very embarrassed and humiliated. I think most Soldiers have a difficult time asking for help and her lecture kept me from asking for help again for a year. Instead, I spent thousands of dollars on acupuncture, massages, OTC pain relievers, and creams and balms.
I took three months off after the three years of Active Duty, I was tired. The work I was doing was the most meaningful but the hardest work I’d ever done in my life. I didn’t enjoy the three months off because the pain kept me from resting and prevented me from doing all the work around the house I needed to do after being away for three years. After 3 months off, I returned to bedside nursing, working 12 hour shifts, three days a week. After a few months I realized the work was too much, lifting and moving patients, and pushing around a medication cart just hurt too much. I decided to work as a Nurse Case Manager part time with eight hour days until I could get some pain relief.
After a year, I returned to see the PCP at the VA. I told her again about the pain, how it had increased and now I was tired all the time, and didn’t feel rested after 8 or 9 hours sleep. She didn’t give me anything for pain but started me on an antidepressant and sent me to the VA pain clinic. I tried to tell her if I was depressed it was because of the pain and lack of sleep but she wouldn’t listen.
I was relieved she sent me to the pain clinic, I thought if I could have TPI or PRP again I would get enough relief to return to work full time. Working part time required me to draw from savings and my savings was getting low. So from July to February I visited the pain clinic and saw the psychologist and pharmacist. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I kept asking when I was going to see the MD, finally I had an appointment scheduled to see him in February. He told me during out next appointment in March we would talk about interventions next time. He had a family emergency in March and out next appointment was scheduled for May. At that appointment he told me there was nothing he could do for my pain. He asked me if I had to work. I’m crushed. It’s been almost 3 years now, I’ve been patient waiting for the VA to help me. I really need to return to full time work. I think if I’d just had a prescription for Lortab when I came home from Active Duty, I wouldn’t be in this painful mess right now.
I have to wait until January to start civilian health insurance, it’s very expensive when you work part time but it’s the only thing I can think of to do now. When I read about the Marine at the Mountain Home VA, I couldn’t believe it. Don’t they realize what pain does to a body?
I am a Camp Lejune US Marine. I was stationed at Camp Lejune NC, 79 to 81. After I got out I had mood swings and dizzy spells from time to time that would come and go. I was driving a tractor trailer, had a spell and crashed injuring my knee back and started having full blown seizures. My back was painful and I had 5 surgeries to stop the chronic pain. I knew that, generally, people in pain are looked down at. I have no idea why, except for the pain medication. I was tired of this game and found a doctor to implant a pain pump that uses tiny amounts of medicine on a targeted area of my spine. I knew there is a war on people in pain and hoped that the harassment would end – and I feel that it did, in a way.
I have seen civilian doctors. I am seeing the VA today because Camp Lejune Marines can get health care. That’s about all I can write.
I have CRPS type 2 from a gunshot wound I received in combat. I’ve been managed with opioids for years. However, they have always been unsatisfactory for my condition, and I am bedridden and in pain often. My quality of life is poor.
I have become aware of successful treatment with ketamine; however, my “Pain Dr” strongly refused it. I have petitioned the Veterans Choice” program but have not been approved even though I’ve found an experienced anesthesiologist outside the VA qualified to help me.
I’ve been a patient at the Pittsburgh VAMC for many years. I would be glad to provide any additional information.
– Greg, US Army, retired for permanent disability.
I have been a chronic pain sufferer for the past 15 years. I have a low back fusion at l5-s1 which has given me nothing but problems ever since I had it done. I also have permanent nerve damage going into my thighs from my fusion. I also have degenerative disc disease all thru my spine from neck, thoracic, and lumbar spine. I also suffer from intercystial cystitis which is very painful in itself. Yet the doctors feel the need to cut my pain medications back and back so now I am barely functioning.
I receive my medical treatment at the Walla Walla VA clinic. I am very unhappy about my treatment options since they do not wish to treat with pain medications now. I have done all the other things physical therapy, yoga, acupuncture, and core conditioning to strengthen my core muscles. Now my only other option is a spinal cord stimulator that costs about 30 to 50k.
I served my country in the United States Marine Corps for 12 years as a result I am 100% service connected – which means the VA is suppose to take care of all medical issues I may have for the rest of my life. The VA either gives you the run around, or just flat-out lies to you so that they do not have to take care of your medical needs. I suppose that’s what happens when the government gets involved in your health care.
It’s a sad thing to feel washed up at the age of 45 with no hope insight! This whole opioid epidemic is a sham…the doctors try to tell you that pain medications stop working overtime which is complete BS. They try to push suboxone on you, which is a medication for drug addicts….which is way marked up and used by a lot of rehabs around the country…Follow the MONEY!