YOUR Story – Veterans with Chronic Pain Fighting for Healthcare

YOUR Story – Veterans with Chronic Pain Fighting for Healthcare

By Staff.

National Pain Report recently ran a series of stories regarding one Veteran’s frustrating attempt to raise his voice for all Veterans.

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?

– Audrey

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.

– Keith

 


 

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!

– Ben

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Authored by: Staff

There are 13 comments for this article
  1. Randy at 12:58 am

    It is sad to so many stories which are alike. I have been on Hydrocodone for about 17 years. I have had a bad experience at the VA with my health care provider. I didn’t realize how much this care giver was against opioids after they took over my health care management. Previously, I had been influenced by the bad press that this medication has been given so I asked if there was something else I could use for pain. This was a mistake. You see I had finally found a balance in my life where I could obtain the most and best quality in daily activity. It took years to get there and it was far from perfect. But I was afraid of loosing rights and everything else if I continued this medication. So I asked for something else…This office tried me on TYL 3 tabs for a short time…It did not work, I don’t know if it was because the medication was just not right, to weak or that after years on Hydrocodone, the addictive process was to far along in my chemistry (Which of course I was willing to live with in order to have a life). I asked to return to my former pain management program and without regards to possible physical additive problems, suddenly I was denied all my former meds as they were now listed as dangerous to be taken together. Nothing was offered to replace my treatment except Acupuncture. (You wonder why we have 20 suicides a day in the parking lots of the VA’s. . .but that’s not me) I said well then at least continue the Tyl3 and was asked why? you said it did not work and that I needed to learn to live with some degree of pain. I said you are destroying all I have gained and placed me back at the beginning which started over twenty-five years ago. This person denied that, but that was the truth . . .
    I know pain, you train to ignore it, and later when physically compromised, and even with the medication of Hydrocodone 10mg 4 times a day I lived with pain. I was dealing with pain and fatigue when those at this office were still drawing with crayons, but of course age is not a factor. I switched VA treatment facilities, and doctors and I am back on a pain program and even though I was referred for consults under the VA Choice program I had to seek help outside the VA system. VA Choice has been contacting me now . . .apparently a missed consult. I am hoping the VA will pay for my recent procedure, which has been very helpful so far and that is a spinal cord simulator. I am hoping I will find a way to get off or reduce my pain medication intake….it looks good so far. …..But you doctors who are just taking away the pain medications because of the press are forgetting pain management is an important part of a real treatment program and it doesn’t come through acupuncture or physiological reevaluation every-time a patient says they need something to ease the pain. Chronic pain is humiliating and difficult without the extra hoops to jump through.
    Balance, professional empathetic evaluation, trail and error and unbiased history, trust all have to be rounded when looking at a patient. The biggest mistake with health care providers is preconceived notions before you even walk into the room with them, or lumping everyone together by several factors. . We all know medication in about every form has it’s dangers. We choose to live with those dangers when quality of life is important to us. When it’s taking the patient down, it’s time to change it. When it seems to balance life out then just tweak it.

  2. Joanna Pinne at 8:29 am

    We have the same problems in Canada – I am a patient advocate and am mostly disgusted by the DOCTORS who are so weak and cowardly when it comes to facing the regulatory bureaucracies…they need to man up. But there are a few doctors in Canada who have had the guts to speak out…the president of the Pain Physicians Society in my province stated publicly that the medical college in my province did NOT consult doctors or pain patients when drafting their legally enforceable opioid prescribing standards…and the medical college will not respond to his concerns. Total silence in their part. Which, of course, speaks louder than words. This doctor said the standards (based on the CDC) are NOT scientifically accurate, doing way more harm than good, and in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Also, there is a United Nations convention which states that witholding narcotic medication from patients is tantamount to torture. I am going to try with my local civil liberties association. When I distill the issue in my own mind, it is this: ITS ALL BS…patients are being deprived of their care for totally political reasons. It is a crime. It is state sanctioned torture and I have stated this to our our federal health minister. What have we got to loose for stating the truth. I am sick of seeing people I care about literally dying before my very eyes for lack of medicine. Fight on. God IS on our side.

  3. Pam at 4:28 pm

    First off, a huge thank you to all of you for serving our country. It infuristes me to know those who so selflessly served this country are being mistreated, neglected, discriminated against, lied to and being forced to exist in a torturous hell!! I too suffer from multiple debilitating incurable diseases that cause severe pain. I followed all the rules, did everything the medical community told me to do, YEARS of physical therapy, massage, chiro, accupuncture, tens, steriods, water therapy, heat, ice, exercise, herbal, discectomies, discographies, many epidurals that left me with adhesive arachnoiditis, hundreds and hundreds of facet injections, trigger point injections, si joint injections, two failed spinal fusions that left me worse off with severe nerve damage, all the otc and nsaids that tore my stomach and liver up, anti depressants that did nothing for my pain, opiods were the LAST RESORT! I was on the SAME STABLE DOSE FOR EIGHT YEARS WITH SUCCESS, Due to all this fictious opiod epidemic, corrupt government interference, Gov Christies new opiod restrictions here in NJ, my dr ABANDONED me back in April. I no longer have a QUALITY OF LIFE. I cannot find a dr to take over and prescribe the lifesaving pain medication I require to function and participate in life. I am now homebound, left to suffer and every dam day I beg God to take me. My kids deserve better, Myself and every pain pt deserve better! We have the right to pain relief, but our government continues to stomp on those rights, they clearly violate the HIPPA laws, they no more about me then I do FFS . This witchhunt is all about money and nothing to do with saving lives. I hope karma pays psychos like Andrew Kolodny aka killer kolodny aka suboxone pimp , a much needed painful visit. I hope all those responsible for denying legitimate pain pts our lifeline will know what existing in a torturous hell is like. But that will never happen, they have their private drs and pharmacies bought and paid for.

  4. DorothyMorris at 1:01 pm

    I am not a vet.but have had chronic pain since the 70’s.I too recently have had my medicine cut down to an unbearable pain now! Just trying to find some relieve some how! Our poor vets now live the same pain as I do.
    What is next for us?

  5. AngelOne at 7:34 pm

    I know exactly the frustration felt by untreated chronic pain and the hopelessness that comes with preventable disability from untreated pain. After spending my entire life on opioids from age 12 until now in my late 30’s for incurable complex neurological & inflammatory disease, I’ve been cut down so drastically on my medication I can no longer work and am selling my home. My medication was reduced for only 1 reason, state & federal laws. I have been forced into a 90% reduction of my medication. My diseases are progressive, I am experiencing increased pain & disease activity yet I have no hope. My husband suffers from EPP porphyria ontop of a host of medical problems, we met in a pain support group 12 years ago. He too has had to stop working and has suffered forced medication reduction, he is now completely home bound, unable to go in any UV without pain treatment even in full coverings. Why is our government doing this to us? Why? It’s inhumane and immoral I do not understand unless this is only about saving money casting off the disabled to die from the stress & complications of untreated pain in chronic disease states.

  6. Rick at 3:52 pm

    We MUST get our stories out to the media. I’m on week 2 no opies and active generalized RSD. I’m worn out.

    Didn’t think I had any more sadness left until Joe.

    Hang tuff Joe!!! We need u. We will organize and win…at least recapture some lost dignity.

  7. JoDawn at 1:56 pm

    God help us when we don’t even care for the people who voluntarily signed to serve this country.
    😢

  8. William Dorn at 12:18 pm

    I Thought torture was illegal in america.Then why is the CDC and FDA allowed to torture millions of law abiding americans by denying them legal pain medicines.Vets keep fighting for everyones right to these affordable pain medicines.My father was one of the survivors of the USS Dorchester.If he was alive today he would be ashamed of the way our goverment treats our vets and he loved this country.Leave our pain medicines alone.

  9. Joe Sinko at 12:04 pm

    discharged in 74 with 30% disability that was in March Received a check for mMarch thru September 74 since then have paid for all medical expenses by myself receiving NO VA help, no medical no nothing since 74 but have been told all records were destroyed in a fire/flood in St Louis or Kansas City. Va refuses to do anything about my condition after 17 rejections I have given up….They don’t care.

  10. Steven at 8:17 am

    Uncle Sam Wants You……
    Great slogan right……
    Sure, they want our young men and woman to fight the wars of the rich and powerful but when they come home they are cast aside like trash. This is an absolute travesty. For instance, the soldiers go to Afghanistan to guard the poppy fields so the heroin can easily flow into the US, for the select few to make even more money by poisoning our citizens. This is not an opioid problem, it is a heroin problem started in large part by the CIA in the 60’s as their way to fund their illegal activities and now that there is a severe heroin problem we are told that this problem stems from the doctors and patients who are prescribing, and needing, pain meds. That is a crock. Anyone who is curious, like me, will find that this FAKE OPIOID CRISIS is and always was caused from the heroin brought into this country by our own government. I will be void of opioids soon as a result of this crooked government’s action but I will not go down without a fight. I urge all of those suffering in pain to fight for the right to get the help needed to ease the suffering. It stinks to lay in bed all day because the pain is just to much to bare. That is not a life but merely a lousy existence. I do hope that our veterans will be the first to get releif when it is realized what is being done to those of us suffering in pain all day, everyday.

  11. jeffery crawford at 7:34 am

    i am disable. my right arm and hand i’m unable to use. my knees are gone. my left wrist is going. my left hand is numb now like my hole right arm and hand.something is wrong with my neck and right shoudler. i have very bad migraines .i am on tramadol for my pain and topiramate 200mg for my migraines oh i understand why people kill their . i pray for death myself yes i’m a veteran

  12. Lisa Hess at 6:53 am

    Hello All, Audrey, I feel for you as you not only served your country, THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE FOR US, but your country won’t serve you! I was permanently disabled in 2006 after 3 cervical surgeries and the last one had rods put in from the back. Fibromyalgia is caused by some sort of trauma to your body, however, that trauma could be pretty much anything. I found out about my case of it in January 2007 after, of course, the process of elimination of blood work. Well, my diagnosis for that came in from the rheumatologist who wanted to put me on Cymbalta or Lyrica. I was put on Lyrica right after my surgery for burning in my spinal cord and the side effects were horrible. Cymbalta had just come on the market and all the research at the time all the forums were so negative about it, especially it’s withdrawal issues should you miss one day, so I waited another year until I started to see positive feedback and went on it. After 28 days I still had no relief and called the PM, she said you have to wait at least 30 – 40 days for the medication (because it is an anti-depressant) to begin working. I couldn’t believe on that 30th day, it was working and I hadn’t felt that kind of relief in so long. Because FM is an autoimmune disorder and causes pain to the nerve endings, pain meds are not as effective if at all, so maybe you should call the doctor back who recommended the anti-depressant and ask for Cymbalta. It is a very good medication and all those I know who take it for depression love it. Just an FYI, if your chemical makeup is not depression, the Cymbalta may bring your dopamine levels down (which are your happy area), which happened to me, I was put on Wellbutrin because it goes well with Cymbalta and definitely did the trick. And, believe it or not, you may not think you are depressed (been there, done that), with all that is happening to you, you just might have situational depression which is what I have so when I’m in tangles of life that bring me so low that can last for months and then I’m great for months. Do your research, look inside your own thoughts and hopefully this info may help you.

    Ben, Have you had any epidurals after your surgery? I have a diseased spine from C1 to S1 and all my S1 nerves are shot due to herniations sitting on the nerve for so long, it did its damage. The epidural I’m talking about and hearing great things is called a Transforaminal instead of using steroids into the epidural space, it’s a different medication put directly into the nerves of your lumbar spine that are causing issues. A friend of mine is now into her 3rd month without pain in her back or legs. Unfortunately, I’m just too damaged and it didn’t work for me, but nothing has ever worked for me at any level of my spine, so don’t go by my experiences of injections. I hope things work out for both of you!

  13. Joe Newman at 6:43 am

    I know these stories so well because I live with chronic, severe, crippling pain which multiple surgeries have only made worse. Each guess the doctors make only leaves me with more pain.

    If you are a person with common sense and you see someone screaming in agony from pain and none of your other procedures have helped him then what do you do?

    Unless you are a heartless human being you give him PAIN MEDICINE because nothing else will allow him to live a normal life for at least a few hours per day.

    If you prefer to watch him writhe in pain for your amusement then you may as well put a loaded gun by his bed so that he can end his own pain since you will not help even though the cost of the medicine is very low.

    Don’t lie to the American people and tell them the life giving pain medicine will kill him in an overdose because it will not, but he may kill himself to escape the unbearable agony that his unrelieved pain has imprisoned him with.

    Take the overdose stories they like to put in the news and look deeper. Prince, for example, did not die from prescription medication. He bought a pill on the street which was 50 times more powerful than heroin.

    Why did he have to turn to the streets? Because his doctors were allowing themselves to be coerced by government agencies to deny him safe precription pain medicine.

    It is your choice: believe your eyes when you see these patients in agony which doctors do not know how to repair, or believe the lies you see or read in the news.

    One final thing you should consider: someday it could be you in that bed having undergone all the guesswork surgeries your doctors tried to ease your pain only to leave your body in a prison of pain from which there is no reprieve except from opioids. It is just medicine it is not the Devil.

    For the chronic pain sufferer opioids do not give them any “high”. At best it eases their pain so that they can feel human for a few hours.

    I have reached the end of my endurance of this agony which “modern medicine” has put me through, but ignore the bureaucrats and show mercy to those who are still suffering for no reason. Walk a mile in their shoes. Go to an emergency room in agony and let them treat you like a drug addict then send you away in even more agony until you receive their bill for thousands of dollars which only consisted of the interrogation they put you through.

    To my follow sufferers: best of luck. I hope you get the relief you deserve.

    To those who can help: do not allow yourselves to be coerced by government agencies into denying your patients the best medical treatment you know how to give. Be Doctors, be human, be merciful.

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