Well, it's been a while since I've updated.
I'll try not to make this a novel.
After 2 years of trying to figure out why Derek's hands/arms are swelling, we finally have some answers. Dr. Herbst confirmed that his lymph system was damaged in the first surgery. The VA has been denying treatment, saying he's had enough. Their denied care is causing long-term damage....
His neurosurgeon says that he is ready, whenever Derek is, to do a second surgery to repair the first surgery, and to add a fusion to the cervical disc just above the first one – fusion from C5-C7.
The surgeon also said that he thought it was crazy that the VA was willing to pay for neurosurgery but not physical therapy – I agree.
So, Derek has decided to do everything he can to postpone the second surgery. Which means a lot of pain and PT.
Thank God for the WWP Independence program. They have given him a membership and a trainer for a local facility (Ability 360) that caters to people with disabilities.
I'll be working on helping Derek control the lymphedema, which is now also damaging his feet/ankles. Cookbooks and educational material on order.
Half of me is happy to know what we are dealing with, and the other half is mad that this would not be an issue if the military had taken care of him.
I'm so grateful that Derek was able to save the other guy in the blast, but I'm so mad that the military functions on the premise that the only soldier hurt is the one that is bleeding.
We build vehicle armor, tank armor, body armor... to make sure our guys don't die, and we treat them like action heroes when they survive with little-to-no visible bloodshed, then we get angry at them when they can't perform.
And, still no word back from the military on our appeal, asking that they recognize that Derek should have had a medical discharge.
The title of the video is "We Are All OK". Well, no, they weren't. Both Adams and Derek were hurt, but Derek wasn't bleeding. He and Adams were in the blast, but Derek was able to shake himself off, get up, and save Adams.
The video became all about Sgt. Grizzle because a few months after returning from deployment, when National Geographic came to interview the Wolfhounds (2-27, A-co), there was no Derek to interview. Derek's new commanders had already decided that Derek's problems were legal; all medical issues were ignored.
Last week I had an appointment with the director of the Phoenix VA... at least I was told I did. I put in the request to speak with her over a year ago and have asked multiple times throughout the year why no meeting had been scheduled. I wanted to discuss problems we have had and get feedback on what they are doing to address those problems - not specifically for Derek but for all Vets.
I showed up at the directors office and her secretary said, "The director is in DC, you... don't have a meeting with her, you have one with the chief of staff". Not what I've asked for, but I'm not going to turn it down.
So, we had a nice, productive meeting on what has gone wrong and what needs to be done to insure Derek's medical issues are addressed properly.
After the meeting, I wrote another request to the director, copying the chief of staff and my congressman's Vet rep. The director sent a note back saying she would be happy to discuss the issues. I have an appointment in 2 weeks. We'll see if it actually comes through.
I continue to say that the major problem with the military and the VA is poor documentation and communication. My hypothesis has not been proven wrong so far.