Category Archives: Chronic Pain

The Kurdish Catastrophe


daveinhospRecently I have been in the hospital after having a series of mini-strokes or T.I.A.’s. They are brought on from high blood pressure and stress and my entire right side went numb. The good news is that there is no permanent damage, but it is a long recovery because I am still very weak. I am recovering in an assisted living facility. The bad news is that it could be the sign of a regular stroke coming or an underlying disease. I am hoping it’s neither. However, while in the hospital I met a woman who worked in housekeeping and she noticed I had a Desert Storm veteran hat and she said my brother was in that war and never came home. I am constantly reminded of the fact that no matter how low my depression may get, no matter how bad my pain, no matter how bad my problems – there is always someone else who either has it worse or is no longer with us.

The world is full of pain and suffering which lives next door to beauty and passion. It’s been hard for me to see the beauty and passion in things lately with some of the things I have gone through in recent months. It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and get caught up in self-pity, but I think that it’s important to try to find a way to rise above all that and do my very best to hold my head high even though it hurts, to smile in the face of adversity, and to laugh when I just feel like crying all day. I refuse to let the bastards who put me in this condition win. I will have my day in court and that day is coming in June – next month. I can hardly wait. My very first hearing with the VA in Detroit.

But getting back to the housekeeper in the hospital; her brother was in the Navy and he supposedly fell of the back of a jeep in Guam and was killed. Her family has always suspected this may have been a cover story for some foul play, but either way he is gone and it was during the war and he saw his share of the war. She gave me the following poem to publish and she said that General Colin Powell, Army (Retired), himself, read it and gave him an award for it posthumously. It is no wonder because it is truly inspiring.

The Kurdish Catastrophe
by CM2 Douglas Lanning, USN
May 1991
US Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 133
Zakho, Iraq

SADDAMI can’t explain all that I’ve seen, but I will do my best to say what I mean

The glow on their faces is almost enough, but you can still tell they’ve had it rough.

You look around, it seems so unreal, and you try to imagine how they must feel.

We came to provide comfort to the people here, they seem to trust us – it’s him they fear.

african american soldier in iraq_soldier_criesThe leader of so many – Saddam Hussein, has caused their suffering and their pain.

From the land mines that he placed all over the place, to the napalm burns and blisters on a young child’s face.

From the people living out in the street, to the ones in town without power and heat.

From the people washing clothes in the muddy waters, to the many who had to bury their own sons and daughters.

amputeeYou see a child selling whatever he can, all of this and more because of the man.

I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s all really all true, think about it a second, I’m not even through.

I’ve been to the hospital to visit a small boy, who picked up a hand grenade, thought it was a toy.

tankerYou cannot blame him, he’s just a curious kid, I can still remember vividly what his new toy did.

I really can’t believe they were able to save his hand, then I also can’t believe this was once all beautiful land.

The mountains from a distance, an eye-catching sight, they really are beautiful with their snow caps of white.

FE_DA_130319IraqIt’s just sad to think all of the people up there, a quarter million people, but he doesn’t seem to care.

When our operation is finally through, I cannot help but wonder what the people are gonna do.

Will they go on living the way they were before, or will the one man, their leader, kill even more?

I guess that is something only time will tell, from my observation, they’ve been through living hell.

 

Beware of Pain Clinics


painclinic2

 

 

About a year ago I went to the Emergency Room of a VA Hospital in Florida where I live. I was having severe pain in my sciatica. Despite the fact that I was taking Morphine or MS Contin and Oxycodone I was still in pain. The doctor did an MRI on me and they basically said there was nothing that could be done. They suggested I go to the Pain Clinic to ask about hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and other means of therapy. This sounded good so I said I would talk to my doctor. They also said I should be on some sort of muscle relaxer. I then went to my doctor and told her everything and she asked why I need a muscle relaxer (a non-narcotic) and made it sound like I was a drug addict. She agreed to send me to the Pain Clinic. What I didn’t know was that she had suggested I be taken off all narcotics to get the muscle relaxer.
When I first went into the Pain Clinic I was greeted by a doctor with broken english and a very young doctor who was supposed to be a pharmacist. I was confused by this because I thought I was there to talk about therapy, not my medicine.
Right away the focus was all on my pain medication. He said they were going to ween me off all narcotics because several veterans have overdosed. I said that I take them the way I am supposed to and that I have a family to live for. He then said that it was because of my sleep apnea. He maintained that I could fall asleep and not wake up. I said that I thought that was what my CPAP machine was for.
pillsNext he told me that I should stop taking Prednisone because that’s most likely the root of all my problems. This was the funniest excuse to me. I was prescribed Prednisone due to a condition called PMR that causes severe inflammations and pain in my left shoulder. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I naturally thought this guy was a quack so I did some research on him. He is not even a pain specialist, but an internal medicine doctor.
When I stated my objections over several more visits this doctor got real defensive about his service. He is an officer in the National Guard and has been to Iraq twice. I find that very commendable, but irrelevant. I told him it didn’t matter, but he continued to sing his praises and try to impress me with his war record. I could care less. He tried to say it was nothing personal, but it’s very personal. He has ruined my life by taking away the one thing that helps me hold on and get through the day. I’d say that it’s personal when it affects your sleep, your relationships, and your attitude.
painclinic3I then saw this doctor’s supervisor and he was a big jerk. He examined me and was very nice at first and then proceeded to call me fat, lazy, and uneducated. I was really insulted and wanted to smack him. I almost did. I had to get up and leave. I tried to go to a patient advocated, but anyone who has tried this route knows that they don’t get involved in this kind of thing and always take the side of the doctor. I also tried going to my Senator and that was no help. He wrote to the Administrator who then sided with the doc.
So, basically now I have been without pain meds for 8 months. In some ways I do like the fact that my head is more clear, but there are moments where I want to just scream and pull my hair out. Nights are the worst for me. I smoke cigarettes and wonder why I can’t be normal like everyone else. My wife is sound asleep, there’s absolutely nothing to do and nothing seems to help. I really have tried everything and there’s nothing that works. As time goes on unfortunately you learn to deal with it because you have to, but I really don’t think I should. I did my time and I didn’t ask for this. I think it should be up to the VA to fix this problem. I warn all of you to stay away from these Pain Clinics unless you have Cancer they will not help you. I am now red flagged and can’t get anything without an override. I am miserable most of the time and do things like write here to keep my mind off of the pain. Also, if you live in Florida I would especially keep an eye on your pain meds because they are really cracking down here on the label of the “drug capital of the world.” or the pill-mill state. Now it’s the “no pills at all” state. My wife is disabled also and she can’t get anything for pain either from a regular doctor. They tell her “tough luck.”

Alternative Medicine & Therapy


I am not a doctor, nor do I pretend to give medical advice so anything written below should be considered by you and your medical prokratom leavesvider. I am only stating what has or has not worked for me. I am listing many different options for anyone looking to try something new. I also have included several links for more information on the links page. Here you can find many useful links to websites and books and more.

kratom powderKratom: I have tried Kratom recently and found that the powder in tea or a hot drink like coffee works well to relax my muscles and my back. I use about a teaspoon and a half in my cup. There are different blends and strains of Kratom for different ailments such as anxiety, headaches, energy, and more. Do some research. For now this is legal and I buy mine at a smoke shop, but it can be bought online as well. I have not had any harmful side effe

cts from this, but check with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Marijuana: I have used marijuana if I can afford it. I’m not alone as many Americans are finally marijuanarealizing the benefits of marijuana medically. For years many Cancer patients have used to get through chemotherapy and to relax aching muscles and more. It can also relax you and aid in sleeping more regularly. I am not encouraging anyone to break the law at all. If you are lucky enough to live in a state where it is legal you really have a lot of benefits available in edible cannabis and better strains of this plant which holds so many possibilities of treatment. Personally, I don’t drink alcohol as it makes me very mean and for some reason I used to like to drive while drunk often so marijuana to me is much better than drinking as all I want to do is relax and watch a good movie instead of raising hell and getting into legal trouble.

Charlotte’s Web: This is a cannabinoid oil that can be smoked to relax muscles and has been effective for the use in children or those who benefit from the use of THC pain relieving qualities, but doesn’t give the euphoric feeling. It is legal in all states now.

pain3Chiropractor: I have used one of these and it didn’t help much for me, however I have friends who swear by their chiropractor. They work on your muscles and spine mostly to prevent further damage. They also help with joint pain. If you have a chance you might want to just meet with someone at the office of a chiropractor and see if you can discuss how this could benefit you.

Integrative Medicine: This type of treatment combines mainstream medicine with alternative remedies. It seems that some doctors feel compelled to find out about certain treatments that are just simply ridiculous and then those that may have acutal benefits toward the patient. This type of medicine also emphasizes a close relationship between the medical professional and his or her patient.

I have benefited from some other things that may or not be labeled. I know that some of you may not believe in God or practice religion for whatever reason, but I personally have found a lot of help from my spiritualism. I don’t think I’m extremely religious and I don’t go to church because I don’t care for crowds and when I have been involved with a church they seem to be hypocrites to me, but of course not everyone is like that. I just prefer to worship in my own way. I also enjoy just trying to improve myself in any way possible whether it be learning to speak French, reading a self-help book, or looking at a bible. I also have enjoyed some books by authors listed below that are about spiritualism or self-help. I also enjoy trying to meditate sometimes. I’m not really a meditation type of guy. Being a big, clumsy oaf looks funny when your wife walks in on you repeating “OHHHMMM.” I was really embarrassed, but my wife knows I’m certifiable most of the time anyway! But if you focus your breathing and your mind to a silent place it can do wonders. I have managed to block out hours of pain with this type of behavior and with the help of music. I usually put on some Neil Young or similar softer rock that I can sleep to. The Eagles are my favorite to chill. All the good times associated with my favorite music is the key for me. I dream of when I was younger and healthier and I also imagine that some day I  will be healthy again.

dogs3Hopefully we can all agree that there is a force in this universe that seems to somehow regulate karma and things like that. So if you can get behind a “higher power” you might want to try to work on being open to new things. Just try a book on self-help even if you swore off them forever years ago. Maybe Tony Robbins pissed you off as much as he did me. I just think there are some good books that everyone should read. I will list the ones I can think of below with some links. There are also fiction that deals with spiritual type plots. One of my favorite is:

I also recommend trying to lose all anger you may carry around. Think about your frustration and how it is ruining your life. You may also want to try to let go of all guilt, resentment, and any other negative feelings that will sure bring you down and affect your health. It especially doesn’t pay to just lose your temper. Believe me I have had to learn the hard way. Next time you feel yourself wanting to explode just take a walk, listen to music or anything to get your head straight. One thing that always freaks out a bully or somebody who is acting strangely is to be super kind back to them. They are caught off guard and may even start treating you with more respect. Smile as much as you can and you may find your body responds with a happy feeling. I know that this stuff may sound a little strange to some of you, but if you spend as much time as I do trying to deal with chronic pain you will try anything! Good luck, and I hope that you find a good place to start dealing with getting your life back on track as much as that’s possible.

Visit the links page for links to great books on all kinds of alternative medicine, herbal remedies, spiritual and self-help type books.

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Where to Start Getting Help for Gulf War Illness (or Syndrome)


gw18gw3If you are struggling with the various conditions associated with Gulf War Illness there is help at the VA although I have yet to see a primary care doctor who will help. You have to be persistent and explain to them that the VA website and the VA position has finally changed on this. You may have to fight to get benefits and you are entitled to service-connected disability for your problems. If you are struggling to get by and you feel that there is no hope you really need to talk to someone. Where do you start? Ask your Veteran’s Service Officer located in your county seat (usually the courthouse building). Check the yellow pages or look on the links section of this site for a complete list of all of them nationwide. Keep in mind, though, that although these representatives of the VA are there to help you and they will, they also work for the same institution that is not just going to hand you the key to the city. You will have to work hard and be prepared to wait a long time for actual benefits unless of course you do what I did and apply for a non-service connected pension first if you cannot work anymore like me. That’s not as much money, but it’s better than nothing and they give you more money for dependants. And, depending on the state you may qualify for food stamps and other benefits. This is just a precursor to getting service-connected for me and that’s something altogether different. Study the Federal Benefits Guide for more information.

gw4The VA website that is actually chalked full of information about how your medical team can treat you for gulf war illness, what all of the different chemical exposures are and how to find out if you might have them and what to do about it. The problems is to get your doctor to look at it. (at least in my case). But, check it out here:

http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/

I highly recommend you check this out. It is a fairly new thing for the VA and your health care team should be aware of it. Perhaps your veteran’s advocate or attorney, if you have one, can recommend a course of action based on the information on this page and coordinated with your healthcare and get you the tests you need. I also recommend you read this if you have been waiting a long time for a claim. The honorable Secretary of the V.A. Shinseki has ordered the VA to expedite these claims. More here:

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/9217/va-expediting-claims-decisions-for-veterans-waiting-a-year-or-more/

For PTSD counseling you can get help from the VA here: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/gen-treatment.asphttp://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/9217/va-expediting-claims-decisions-for-veterans-waiting-a-year-or-more/

Also there are some great magazines put out in both electronic and paper form and the VA one is called Vantage Point. The link is here: http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/9217/va-expediting-claims-decisions-for-veterans-waiting-a-year-or-more/a

There are also other similar magazines from most every veteran organization such as the V.F.W., the American Legion, Amvets, and more. Just do a google search. There’s almost too much to read in a month!

I also get e-mail alerts from the D.O.D., the C.D.C., the V.A., and many other government organizations. I’m not sure how I did this. But I can give you a link to the VA one: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USVHA/subscriber/new

And there are so many more veteran’s organizations that can help you. Wounded Warriors is a great one for the vets returning home recently and if you go on twitter and search for veterans organizations you can find a lot of them there.

ptsd3If any of you are thinking of suicide. I urge you to call the Suicide hotline here: 1-800-273-8255. There are people who do care about you whether you want to believe it or not. And you are better than that. Fight it! I know that we all have bad days, bad years and just crappy things happen, but that is no reason to end it all. Life is hard, but you can get help. These people will go out of there way to ensure you get the best help available. Please, I beg you don’t do anything until you at least give it a try. I beg of you don’t hurt yourself. We all care about you and not just because you are a veteran, but because you are a person who deserves to live!

If you have any questions about this article or just want to drop the administrator of the site, D.R. Dockery, a line you can use the form below.

Legion Claims “Man Has Conquered Gulf War Syndrome”


Read this story and then come back to my post and see why this really pisses me off!

http://www.legion.org/washingtonconference/214028/has-man-conquered-gulf-war-

I’m really happy that the “Great Conqueror” has no more tummy aches, but the rest of us in the real world have the real Gulf War Syndrome! It doesn’t have a darn thing to do with having a bad meal in Iraq for most of us. In fact if you read the Federal Benefits Handbook for the VA it does not even come up. I don’t know about you, but I was warned about not eating the local cuisine. Anyway, this is all about how he ate a bad meal and then figured out he had some rare stomach virus.
Now, I’m just going by what is in the story, maybe there’s more to it, but according to the story am I wrong in saying:
What on earth does that have to do with GULF WAR SYNDROME?? And thank god there’s a cure now – I guess I can go to the VA and get it? Oh, what’s that, NO? Why not??…. I’m confused!

hero

I believe the editors of this article and American Legion really were reaching when they talked about “conquering” and “cure” for gulf war syndrome knowing that those two words would come up in searches for those of us who are desperate for information about why we are all sick with things that have nothing to do with what this man has according to the article. I feel that the editors and the Legion should retract this headline and make a statement on behalf of the editor’s mistake in trying to pull readership with a cheap shot. I was an editor and a publisher for several years and I know how it works and I never stooped this low. They have a responsibility to their readers, veterans and members to publish the facts and use journalism for the good of this audience, not to sell magazines and get hits on the site. I am just going out on the limb here and I really hope I’m wrong about him “curing the disease” but I bet we never hear another word about this guy. This will just fade away just like the rest because all he did was for his own self-interest not for the good of us all in my opinion. But, hey, I’m not a Major in the Army and so I guess my opinion doesn’t matter.

I wonder if anyone at the legion has read the Federal Benefits VA Regulations on what the definition of Gulf War Illness is. Fibromyalgia, respiratory Disorders, Chronic Fatigue, Mental Disorders, Sleep Disorders etc.. I didn’t hear anything about that from him. Just that he had some bad chow. Wow, and then he figured how to cure himself and now he’s a big hero? Seems like he should either get a reward or a reprimand. You decide.