My VA Won't Help Me!

"The Walking Veteran"

 

Symptoms

 


My problems began in mid-2010.  After repeated visits to the VA in Prescott, AZ it was determined I was suffering from an unknown episode of severe inflammation. I was eventually given steroid injections. I took a leave of absence from work and eventually had to quit, I never returned to work.


Please Note: It has been difficult to convince anyone I’m as ill as I claim, I have heard numerous times, “You don’t look sick!” it has also been suggested my physical claims are psychosomatic.


Initial Symptoms

•    Debilitating Fatigue.

•    Feeling Terrible 24/7 - (Flu Like Symptoms).

•    Balance/Coordination Problems – While little more than an annoyance, in the beginning, I now use a walker, grab bars, or a wheelchair when in motion.


My illness has gone into remittance three times since 2010. Since recurring in 2012 there has been no remittance, and it has progressively gotten worse to include the following additional symptoms:


•    Headaches.

•    Depression.

•    Mental Confusion.

•    Loss of Strength.

•    Blurred Vision.

•    Balance - Coordination Problems – Dizziness - Vertigo

•    Light Sensitivity.

•    Noise Sensitivity.

•    Loss of Dexterity.

•    Slurred Speech.

•    Loss of Mobility in Lower Extremities.

•    Increase in Fatigue to the point of Debilitation.

•    Left Ear Pain/Fullness.


In the last couple of months the following additional symptoms have arisen:


•    Greater Degree of Slurred Speech.

•    Inability to Pronounce Words - Loss of train of thought while speaking.


When my condition worsened in 2014, I was seen by Gait & Balance and neurology at the Malcom Randall VA MC, in Gainesville, FL. At that time it was determined my problems were vestibular and not neurological.  I was diagnosed with BPPV and Bilateral Vestibular Hypofunction.  I did balance exercises for three months during which time my condition worsened to the point I could no longer do the balance exercises without falling. I quit going to Gait & Balance.


Shortly after doing so I developed a pain/pressure in my left ear which persists to this day.  I experienced swelling of the left side of my face which lasted for months before the swelling subsided.  For the next several months I spent the majority of my time in bed due to extreme fatigue and feeling terrible.


I was seen by Dr. O’Malley at Hampton Oaks ENT.  The results of SOT testing on 4-26-16 by Dr. Griffiths were determined to be well below normal limits. After evaluating said SOT results, Dr. O’Malley decided my problems were not vestibular in nature but a dysfunction in the central nervous system.  He recommended I be re-evaluated by neurology at the VA; they again determined my problems were vestibular.


As my condition worsened, I researched the symptoms I was experiencing.  I came to believe MS could be the cause of my illness. I was again seen by neurology at the VA and for a second time told my problem was vestibular. I was sent to Gait & Balance.


Please Note: The prior testing neurology performed was nothing more than hitting my knee with a hammer, scratching the bottom of my feet, eye movement, and observing me try to walk.


I fell during an evaluation at G & B and was sent home with Balance Exercises.  I tried doing the exercises but determined it was too dangerous; I have not returned to G & B since. I requested another consult to neurology. This time I demanded extensive testing and shared my suspicion of MS.  All tests were negative. It was again suggested my problem is vestibular.


My condition is such that I spend 18 to 20 hours a day in bed.