Have you ever read something about yourself in your own medical notes that shocked you?
That would be an understatement.
In 1989 the military did a surgery that they should not have even attempted and they left me mutilated, but it wasn’t visible. And then came the cover-up and gaslighting.
The doctors told me I was fine and totally put back together and, when I complained, they brushed me off and blamed it on allergies, sinuses and me just being silly.
Then, as my condition worsened both physically and mentally, they put me on psychotropic drugs and eventually threw me in a mental hospital. From there they diagnosed me with a personality disorder and booted me.
After being discharged I was enrolled in the VA system. And talk about gaslighting: they dismissed any of my complaints as I was just crazy. They diagnosed me with all kinds of mental issues and dismissed any complaints I had.
It was nothing short of cruel and inhumane torture. And they did such a good job of gaslighting me that I was just crazy that any awareness I had that the surgery might be the cause was gone — cause they said I was fine and all good.
Almost three decades of torture, including ending up on the streets, having mental episode after episode (you don’t want to know), and being sick all the time, I finally went to a civilian doctor. It was arranged via help from the Veteran Homeless program and that was only because I lucked out on a very aggressive social worker. There are a lot of great workers in the program, but she stood out and I called her my muscles. You didn’t mess with her and she got things done.
Again, I was unaware of what they actually did to me. So, seeing a civilian doctor, I thought I was just going to get standard treatment for a regular condition. Maybe get some sinus relief.
And note: lots of doctors and medical professionals in the military and VA throughout the years took scans of my skull and never said a word. In fact, they would go quiet and redirect me to mental health. Again, I was clueless about what I was about to find out.
And I couldn’t read about what was wrong with me in my military and VA records because the standard practice was not to put it in there when the various facilities over the decades found out. Everybody just gets silent.
Although I did have one VA ENT almost tell me 2013 — but that got smashed real quick and I never was allowed to see him again to find out what he meant, saying it looked like WWIII inside my head. I thought he meant my sinuses. Boy, was I wrong.
The VA played “kick the appointment down the road” for three years and no one would answer my questions. The more I asked, the more they pushed back to avoid giving me an appointment. Hence, when I got a new caseworker in 2016, she went to work and I was able to get a civilian to see me.
In 2016 I saw a civilian ENT and I got to watch the civilian ENT’s response when he had a look at my CT scan — he was floored and flew back three feet in shock when he first looked at it on the computer. He immediately called the staff and other ENT doctors to come to look and they were all horrified.
He made a print out of one of the scan sections and walked into the room I was sitting in, watching them. He got real close to my face and looked it up and down and side to side and then asked: “What’s holding your face together?”
When I finally saw the full scan and the extent of damage in my skull, I was in shock…horrified.
It would be two years of horror from there because the civilian ENT never dealt with such a case or the conditions caused by the injuries.
Finally, in 2018 — nearly three decades later — the VA issued me partial disability, service connected (not full service connected), but they got it started.
I am still fighting them now for other reasons. It is a nightmare dealing with the VA in many ways. Not hating on the military or the VA, but this has been horrific.
When the VA sent the approval package, they included in it that I had to go to SAMMC to see the ENT doctors there. I was horrified and scared to go. But I had no choice.
Over the decades, i was laughed at when I complained of the symptoms. Mocked, been told straight to my face that I am crazy, told I am just talking crazy, dismissed, misdiagnosed (which only made things worse) and much more.
So, in 2018, here I was going to see military doctors. Had to bring friends along to support me. The combat ENTs had a scan done and inspected my sinuses with a camera. They were in shock. After the review of the scan and my sinuses they told me: “You have serious injuries like we see in combat soldiers, and you have serious conditions from those injuries like we see in combat soldiers.”
They went on to give me their diagnosis and, for the first time in nearly three decades, I was finally properly diagnosed — and finally on the way to finally getting proper treatment. Nearly three decades of not having my injury and conditions addressed, on top of the misdiagnoses, I was finally pointed in the right direction.
It doesn’t take back all the damage that has been done, but I take it one day at a time.
Oh, and the amazing part: I should have been dead a long time ago from this. But I’m still kicking and I got one thing to say…my turn. 😉
I had a little skin tag on my bumhole. It was apparently caused by pregnancy. It bled a little sometimes and it was a pain in the ass, quite literally. I was sent to a colorectal surgeon to have it removed.
I assumed this would be a quick in and out procedure, one snip then done. Imagine my surprise when he took an entire medical history. He asked about my IBS for a long time. He was very interested to find out that I have a rectocele and told me he’s a specialist on surgery for that. He asked about everything except the tag on my butt.
He then told me that I had to have a colonoscopy right away. That he couldn’t in good conscience remove the skin tag without one. Okay? Sure? Like I have a clue. I went for the colonoscopy. It was awful, painful, horrible and expensive. My little $200 snip turned into a $3100 medical bill.
And the result? Everything was normal. The worst part? He didn’t snip off the skin tag while he had me sedated and ass-up on the table. In fact, he told me that I’d have to schedule a new appointment for that. I was livid. I still had my damned tail, and I was putting off needed medical procedures so I could pay that bill.
I found out later through a doctor who saw my charts and felt bad for me that the surgeon had written in my chart that I had “coffee grounds” blood in my stool. This would indicate that I had bleeding in my GI tract, which is how he justified the colonoscopy. I have never had this kind of blood in my stool. I had told him that I had small amounts of bright red bleeding from the skin tag when it got irritated. That’s it. Bastard put lies in my chart to justify a procedure I didn’t need.
I did get my little tail removed, finally. The doctor who felt bad for me snipped it off at no charge. Took literally two minutes, and didn’t even require a stitch.
At work, a 120-pound panel fell on me. It was meant to cut the wind, but the wind was so strong that it toppled the panel. So, 120 pounds plus wind pressure. I was crushed between it and the counter.
I didn’t feel any pain at that time. I felt numb, but not in pain. The customer I was serving at the time was a nurse, and she insisted with my supervisor that I be sent to the hospital.
I made an incident report, but decided I didn’t need an ambulance (couldn’t afford it, and just felt bruised).
On the morrow, I tried to get up, and felt a shooting pain up my back. Had to go to the clinic. The doctor who saw me didn’t believe I was in pain. He thought it was to be a bogus insurance claim. (I grew up with a father who would “give me a reason to cry”, when I was in pain. I hid pain pretty well.) He refused to send me to get X-rays. Over two months later, my back was killing me enough for me to cry out at the doctor’s office. The doctor was not there, it was another one who saw me that day. He told me I didn’t have a choice but to get X-rays, at this point, for them to help me.
Doctor wrote that I refused X-rays, that visual and touch inspection of my back showed nothing displaced. And all his advice was about helping with sore muscles (hot bath and so on).
Turns out I had two vertebrae that were displaced. I should never have put anything hot on it. The doctor was amazed that I could function as well as I did. The physiotherapist I finally saw told me that it would have totally come back, would I have seen him right away.
Complaints gave nothing, as he wrote that I refused X-rays, that my description of the pain areas and feelings of pain were changing, and so on. Pile of bullshit to protect himself.
Patients should have to periodically sign off in their file. Or there should be some other protection mechanisms…
Oh yeah!! And it almost cost me everything. In 2003 I was in a serious car crash and my right knee was badly damaged. I had five surgeries on it and had hardware in my leg. Fast forward to 2005 and I had a botched c-section that caused e. Coli sepsis. As in blood infection. Nearly killed me. Unfortunately the bacteria sealed around the metal in my leg. Fast forward again to 2008 when the infection rears it’s ugly head. I had to battle sepsis all over again as well as the insane amount of pain in my leg. In the ER they kinda freaked out (my knee was so swollen it was actually bigger than my own head and it was a dark purple with bright orange spots all over and stank to high heaven) and had the ortho cone straight in. He aspirated my knee (big needle jammed into the space of the joint between the bones to suck out the ickies) and what came out was a thick greenish brown stuff that smelled worse than the worst toilet. It was so bad. He got half a litre out of there. Over the next 26 months I had more than thirty surgeries trying to get rid of the infection. I had six PICC lines (they don’t last forever) and was on IV antibiotics 24/7 during that time. We could never control the infection. They removed the hardware from my leg but still couldn’t control the infection. I was dying and it was horribly painful. I suffered very severe nerve damage in my leg due to the infection. I was told the leg would forever be useless because the nerves and bones had been so severely damaged that there would be no coming back from that. Armed with that information and being told I needed yet another surgery due to u controlled infection I begged them to just amputate. Keep in mind that I’m anaphylactic to ALL narcotics so the only pain medication I can take is ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). That’s it. I really couldn’t take much more of the pain or how sick I was. I risked losing my children permanently because I couldn’t care for them. I saw amputation as a way to save my family from being torn apart and a way to finally be healthy again.
What did this charming doctor write in my file? “Patient displays classic symptoms of Münchhausen Syndrome. Strongly recommend against further treatment.”
I didn’t see that until I changed doctors. He ignored it and amputated. I was FINALLY healthy again the day of the amputation. Just removing that dead, rotting, leg helped me feel human again by the time i left recovery to go to the ward. I haven’t looked back. The nerve damage was so severe that i cannot wear a prosthesis (i e tried over and over again) but I don’t really care anymore. I’m healthy and active and still have my kids. We have built a new life and i have an amazing husband who loves me for me. He’s never known me with a leg and he doesn’t care. Unfortunately the whole infection and everything was, at the end of the day, because of the car crash and i had to sue to cover extra expenses. If the insurance company had seen that quote they wouldn’t have paid anything and we would have ended up homeless. I got lucky and the new doctor struck that from my file so we ended up okay.