Recap: Sean and I were at Ft. Riley at the end of January for an ophthalmology evaluation by Dr. B and an appointment with Dr. M at the Behavioral Health Clinic. When the ophthalmology appointment was finished, we reported to the Behavioral Health Clinic where we waited for an hour. During this time, we saw Dr. B come into the hallway to consult with Dr. M, Chief Consultation Psychiatry before sending an assistant out to tell us that Sean would not be able to be seen that day, despite his being scheduled for an appointment. Instead, he would be referred to Dr. G at Ft. Lewis, WA for a neuro ophthalmology evaluation and following that appointment he would need to return to Ft. Riley for his Behavioral Health appointment.
In her report Dr. G says we were accepting of her diagnosis of conversion disorder, but that was not the case. We were pointing out the deterioration of vision prior to his most significant episode, as well as what we have read and heard about TBI and vision loss. Dr. G did not have any of the VA records available. We told her about all the other doctors we have seen. We explained to her that when Dr. F at the VA suggested conversion disorder we did not accept it then and subsequently asked Dr. H(polytrauma) and Dr. Z (neurology) if they felt it was conversion disorder, and they both said it was not. Also, Dr. H who did Sean’s neuro psychological eval in April 2010 at the Black Hills VA states in her report that she does not believe Sean has a conversion disorder. Sean’s primary care provider, Dr. S, at the Aberdeen CBOC does not support the diagnosis of conversion disorder either.
Dr. G was describing conversion disorder to us no less than five minutes into the appointment with just the notes from Dr. B as her reference and before she had done any examination of Sean.
We have a strong suspicion the Army is going to try to write Sean’s vision loss off as conversion disorder/mental health. Sean’s vision was impacted after his injury in 2006. I have highlighted in his VA records where he complained of double vision, blurred vision, loss of night vision, and photophobia for a year prior to his most significant vision loss at the end of 2008.
In his report Dr. B wrote that MRI, ERG, and VEP testing results were not available. However, those results are indeed in Sean’s MEB file. We personally sent them to our PEBLO after receiving them.
He also wrote, “Review of available medical records failed to find any complaints of vision loss until December of 2008.” Not true. Sean has documented vision issues for well over a year preceding December 2008. Prior to December 2007 the VA was focusing on Sean’s abdominal pain and associating his dizziness, balance, and persistent nausea to residual trauma from his salmonella and c diff infections. It was not until December 2007 when Sean was asked a series of questions regarding blasts and falls that the VA routed him to polytrauma and he was finally diagnosed with TBI. Once he was being treated by a polytrauma doctor he was able to express his vision concerns.
In his report Dr. B states VA notes were “unavailable for review” however, a complete copy of Sean’s VA notes are in his MEB file. Perhaps the military doctors involved with the MEB/PEB process should take time to orient themselves with Sean’s case file.
When Sean was ordered to return to Ft. Riley at the end of April for a psychological evaluation, we requested assistance from Senator Johnson’s office. The response from Ft. Riley came on the Friday before we were to travel and said that the psychological evaluation was vital to Sean’s MEB case and they would not be able to proceed without it.
Of course I requested to fly. . . the best they could do for Sean’s 3-hour appointment was to fly us in on Sunday, fly Sean to Dallas Tuesday where he would spend the night. Fly Sean to Minneapolis on Wednesday, and fly me to Minneapolis on Wednesday to meet up with him and fly home together. Now, how does that help me to escort him? Good grief!
So on Easter Sunday Sean, Erin, and I hit the road for KS. We have found we can make that drive in exactly 9 1/2 hours if we only stop to refuel and eat in the car.
We arrived for Sean’s appointment and were greeted by Dr. RH, a new psychiatrist whom we had not met previously. (Due to Sean’s anger toward Dr. M it was agreed he should see someone else.) Dr. RH said to Sean, “What can I do for you today?”
Sean replied, “I’m here for my psych eval.”
Dr. RH asked, “Oh, so you scheduled this appointment?”
“No, I was required to come here.” Sean said.
Dr. RH asked, “Who required it?”
“How should I know? I just got a letter for an appointment and was told to come.” Sean answered
“Oh. Hold on a minute.” Dr. RH left the room.
30 minutes later (yes, I was timing him) Dr. RH returned. “I guess I’m just supposed to look your case over and get a new set of eyes on things.”
Sean explained he was unhappy with Dr. G’s and Dr. B’s reports. He told Dr. RH about the problem he has being labeled with a disorder when the doctors who work with him regularly do not agree. He explained how he would not be accepting a diagnosis of that type as the Army’s way of sweeping him under the rug.
Dr. RH took some notes and asked some basic questions about date of enlistment and deployments, type of service, and medications. He then asked for a phone number where we could be reached for further questions. He explained that due to his backlog it might be a while before he could write his report. It’s now been one month since his appointment, and no notes have been submitted by Dr. RH.
His appointment with Sean lasted a whopping 15 minutes.
We briefly met with Sean’s new PEBLO who told us that after reviewing Sean’s case (a good 18 inches of paperwork) he feels Sean is at the BEGINNING of the MEB process. My Lord!! More than a year after his first appointments! Funny thing is, for the testing we had done independently last year, Ft. Riley gave us a deadline of 30 days so we wouldn’t hold up the process. . .
We picked Erin up and drove 9 1/2 hours home.
This gives new meaning to the slogan, “An Army of One.” You really are left on your own. . . if they can’t use you, then they want to make sure you cost them as little as possible. “Be All You Can Be” until you’re injured, then you’re on your own.