10 years ago (3/98) we were hit by a drunk driver, she had no insurance so USAA settled for the limit of our policy (less than 1 years pay as a CNA).
I was transported to a local AF base where the EMT stated to the triage nurse that I was "fine" as she had seen me "run approximately 40 yards back to our vehicle without seeming defect". What she failed to tell them was that after doing so I was doubled up in the back of my demolished van with back spasms that hurt so badly I was throwing up. I waited on the back board and gurney, in the open hallway, ignored for almost 2 hours when my husband finally arrived and basically asked "what the ***l?". They did routine xrays and sent me home with a sheet for care of muscle spasms, a "look out for" symptoms sheet and a script for motrin and robaxin for 5 days.
That was the beginning of a nightmare that went something like this:
1> After going back in about a week later complaining of increased low back pain with "fire ants" in my left hip radiating to my knee I was told that I was fine, that all I wanted was the money (what money?) and to go home and work in the garden I was "just stiff". They gave me a script for lortab and flexeril and sent me home.
2> I went back in complaining of weakness in my left leg and no relief from the pain and spasms. They sent me to P/T and slightly increased the medications.
3> After going through the revolving doors of doctors, nurse practioners, and PA's I was sent to a pain management clinic for "better medications" and was put on morphine based medications, valium and Lyrica.
4> I was still not getting relief so I was still "complaining", which earned me a "drug seeking" notation in my medical history and referral to a "specialized pain management in-patient facility". Well, after checking in we discovered it was NOT what they said it was.. it was a drug and alcohol rehab facility! Unfortunately, by the ime I was done with "supervised withdrawal symptoms" (fun times!) I learned that if I checked out I would be responsible for the bill to that point! By the time I was released, these "counselors" had convinced me that I was a drug addict in denial AND being told repeatedly that my marriage was a "fantasy" because "no-one has a partner or relationship that good". My response.. "maybe yours wasn't, but mine is".
5> Still having the same problems I went back and was sent to the base neurologist. This doctor orders an MRI, sees nothing so he tells us I have permanent nerve damage (based on the radiating pain etc), that nothing can be done and I will be on medications the rest of my life, re-enter the morphine medications, valium and lyrica in ever increasing doses.
6> After 8 years of this I asked for an off-base PCM. After 1 1/2 months of waiting I finally had a GOOD dotor. He got me into a pain management specialist at a sports medicine specialty clinic near us, who got me a referral to an excellent neurosurgeon.
The surgeon ordered another MRI with and without contrast, and still couldn't find the answer so he ordered a discogram (oh my goodness this is PAINFUL!!) which finally gave him the answer, at this point I had been in bed for almost a year. A week later he had approval from Tricare to fuse my L5-S1 disc and flex-fuse L4-5. I spend 3 days in the hospital, 6 weeks in the brace and after 12 weeks was released pain free and OFF the medications. The surgeon told us he was sorry I had suffered so long, and that it was needless as the damage could have been repaired "long" ago.
I lost 10 years of employment, education possibilities, playing with our 12 grandchildren, and being a "productive" housewife and partner for my husband (of 20 years next month). I still have residual nerve damage and weakness in my left leg, but I have a life again, something I thought I would never have. In fact about 6 weeks before the surgery I had told my hubby "I don't want to be here anymore".. meaning alive. That is what living with horrible chronic pain and being told "nothing is wrong with you" for so long can do to a person.
I spoke with an attorney about a possible misdiagnosis/malpractice suit against the base, but was told I was "beyond Florida's 2/4 year statute of limitations". How was I supposed to know WHAT was actually wrong AND that I was misdiagnosed?? :rolleyes: Anyway, a moot point now.
*Word of advice to military members and their spouses, You CAN sue the military for medical malpractice/misdiagnosis without threat to your (or your spouses) career. Just be certain of your state's statute of limitations!!!!!
I hope this little bit of venting saves someone else from the same painful experience and gives them the option I didn't know about.
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