Happy Tuesday! I hope this post finds you well.
So, last Friday was another appointment with the VA, this time it was with a Physicians Assistant in the Claims office to see if my back needed to be added to my disability claim or not.
Last June (2015), I tried to have my back added to my disability claim once I was told that I have Thoracic Degenerative Disk Disease, but later on during the process, it was never added to my claim. I have degeneration of T5/T6 (this is the most noticeable area), T7/T8, and T9/T10 according to the MRI that I had done on my back last year.
The gentleman that I met with for my claim was pretty cool. He was an Army veteran, had spent several years as a Medic before he got out and started working with the VA. He kind of reminded me of a biker or something with his long silver hair tied back in a ponytail and a longish handlebar type mustache (not sure if that is the best way to describe his mustache but that is what I am going with).
As he was reviewing my claim he was highly incensed to realize that my Thoracic DDD was no where to be found on my ratings. They didn't agree with it, they didn't deny it, nothing... they just swept it under the rug. According to him, this is against regulations within the VA. There was even a proposed rating listed in my initial proposal before the claim just disappeared all together! I'm not even surprised that this happened, so I'm not even mad. I just asked him so what do we do from here?
He also said that my GERD (gastroesophogeal reflux disease) wasn't properly diagnosed or rated, so we needed to have a discussion about that. While it was listed as a service connected disability stemming from my deployment, they didn't give me a rating on it. He spent most of the appointment (which took about 3 hours) asking me questions and looking through digitized copy of my medical records from the Army. I had mixed feelings about the appointment as a whole. I wasn't sure if this appointment was going to work out in my favor or if he was going to be like some of the other doctors I'd met at that particular VA and not want to help me because he thinks I am faking it.
Turns out he was actually there to help me! He said that since there is documented proof that I have degeneration in my back, then he is advocating to get it placed on my disability claim simply because it exists. He said that it should've never been taken off in the first place, no matter what stage of my MEB I was in when it was diagnosed because up until the day I was discharged, I was still on active duty. The other good news was he was working on my GERD as well. He asked me some questions after reading the notes and determined that they didn't properly diagnose my GERD, while I have it, it's more severe then they listed in the diagnosis and on my disability claim.
It was refreshing to have someone in my favor, not just at this particular facility, but with my claim in general. The problem with the VA is that the doctors are overbooked, so you only get one scheduled appointment with them a year unless they tell you that you need to come back. I need to go get some labs done, I just hate blood draws, so I keep pushing that one off (bad Jenn... I know better). I need to start scheduling more appointments with the doctors there because I am not getting better and the medication that they prescribe me isn't helping. I've been using the excuse of a busy schedule (which is partially true) but I just need to get off my bum actually schedule some appointments. It doesn't help that the last time I tried to schedule an appointment with mental health they didn't have an availability for the next two months (good thing I am not one of those vets that are suicidal and need more attention than I do....)
I guess the moral of this story, my fellow spoonies, is to just keep at it with your doctors. Make sure they know that you aren't going away until you get the help you need, no matter what. Don't take a mediocre answer as the last one, there are always people out there that are more willing to help you, you just might need to find them! There is hope out there, and I understand how frustrating this life can be... but there is hope of help!