Today I am grateful for the generosity of the Florida Veterans Foundation. I had the opportunity to have a brain SPECT scan which explains the last ten years of my life and my fight with the VA and my diagnosis.
The worst day of your life is not the day you decide to kill yourself or the horrible days leading up to it, it’s the day after when you wake up ALIVE!
My journey with the VA has been long and exhausting. June 22, 2007, I woke up ALIVE missing a limb, after a failed suicide attempt due to PTSD.
I was air lifted to Lee Memorial Hospital for life saving measures and put me in a medication induced coma as the pain was so severe. The VA took charge of my care approximately 3 weeks later. I would undergo 22 surgeries under the care of Dr. Wyatt Payne. I slowly graduated to physical therapy with Dr. Vasquez. In a wheelchair and on so many narcotics that my blood level was toxic. My body became addicted to all the drugs the VA prescribed to me. Now the VA has me flagged as an addict and I have no help with pain management, yet they have me on 20-25 pills a day for psychiatric treatment. I’ve been on a downward spiral for the past 10 years in and out of PTSD and substance abuse programs. I’ve had negative results.
My latest encounter with the VA was at Bay Pines. Begging for pain relief, I asked for a stump revision, hoping for relief and the ability to walk again. (I’ve had no success with prosthetics and been wheel chair bound for most of the last ten years). After this last surgery, I begged, along with my Mother, for the VA to keep me inpatient and meet my medical and mental health needs. Instead, I was sent back to Substance Abuse Classes the day after surgery and back to the Spir House, which is not ADA compliant and very unsafe for a wheel chair bound patient post-op. I repeatedly went to case managers to include Dr. Sarah Barron, and asked to be moved to the community living center, which they denied. During all the confusion, I had a relapse with cocaine and drinking that lasted about two weeks. The VA kicked me out of the program stating that my complaints were noted and I obviously wasn’t a fit for their program.
The VA did not take the stitches from surgery out of my stump. Left in for weeks, my mother had this task. It’s a shame. I ended up being
transported by ambulance to Saint Pete General from the Spir House with an infection in my stump, my white blood cell count was elevated and they had to get me stabilized. By that time, I was fed up with everything and went with my mother to demand different tre
atment in regards to this last go round with the VA. My mother was so upset (being an OR nurse for 30 years) that she raised hell on my behalf about the poor medical care I received. Instead of sitting down and addressing the serious issues at hand with myself and my mother, they called VA police and had my mother with me in tow, escorted out of Bay Pines. Bay Pines denied my CHOICE Program request for HBOT treatments for PTSD although they could have, or should have recommended “Medicare approved wound care” HBOT treatments for my cyanotic stump wound.
Exhausted mentally and physically, I reached out to Colonel Washington Sanchez, who immediately got me in contact with Ray Cralle for HBOT treatments at Oxygen Rescue Centers of America (ORCCA) where it’s been discovered through SPECT brain imaging that I have numerous TBI’s and more than just a PTSD diagnosis.
Why doesn’t the VA offer these scans to combat veterans
so a proper diagnosis can be made and the proper treatments administered? The misdiagnosis and poor treatment of United States Combat Vets is the reason we are losing 22 a day to suicide. For every 22 a day, there must be at least 22 attempted suicides…vets that live on handfuls of psych meds a day, labeled as PTSD monsters and flagged as junkies by these VA treatment teams. They give us no hope. We are just a number to them. We don’t ‘live’; we just exist.
I, along with many others, served our country well and deserve more from our government! I hope I never to find myself in the care of the VA again. Ten years has been ten years too many!
Jamie Eli Reese, CPL, United States Marine Corps