Here is something interesting. I
served aboard the USS Independence CV62 forward-deployed
in Yokosuka, Japan from 1991-1993. I was not in the Gulf
during Desert Storm, but I was there in the summer of
1992, omitting exact dates of course. My job was
aviation ordnance, because for the most part the Navy on
a ship at 19 was that, a job, and the worst job I have
ever had, other than a collection agency. I enlisted
under the 2 year active, 6 year inactive contract I
signed early Feb, 1991. I turned down a 6 year
enlistment as a nuclear technician, so I am no idiot. My
ASVAB was 94.
Roughly a month ago I sought an exam from the VA
regarding some skin lesions and moles rapidly appearing
on my skin within the past couple of months. After
researching melanoma skin cancer I decided it had better
be checked out. I do not have skin cancer (according to
the VA), but I do finally have an explanation for a
strange diagnosis of fibromyalgia in the late 90's while
being treated for injuries sustained in a rear-end collision. It's suspected of being GWI and tomorrow I
get to talk to the doctor whom examined me. I
waiting to see my primary care physician. See, its not
just the over-all body pain, but also the on-and-off
diarrhea, migraines, tremors, poor
memory, fatigue, insomnia, body weight up and
down, hot flashes at night, tinnitus, and this is what I can write for now because I
do not like focusing on what is wrong. In the past 10
years I have essentially been told I am crazy given a
variety of anti-depressants, and that the constant pain
is 'in my head' and 'imagined' and that 'healthy men in
their twenties do not have fibromyalgia, old women do',
and that all I want is pain medication. Of course, and I
couldn't have GWI* because I wasn't there until 1992!
But I do want pain medication, in lieu of a cure. It was
the only time, in 1999, that I was really able to
achieve something, which was a 3.2 GPA at the
Then a doctor took me off of it citing I was
addicted and abusing it and that I wasn't really in
pain, and that all I wanted to do is get high.
Afterwards I had to drop out and my marriage failed, my
wife's family assumed I was an addict incapable of being
a father, that I was mental and unfit to be a father.
Then I moved 1000 miles west convinced a change of
scenery would help. To be blunt, since no one will help
with the pain, I have been self-medicating using
marijuana for the past two years (I can't drink enough
without vomiting). It helped, but I have stopped because
I hate the smell, the paranoia and stigma, and the filth
that sells it.
Does this admission sound familiar to any sick vets out
there? The VA made me wait over a year just to get a
doctor. The exam was done last week and the doctor
didn't dispute the FM and 'irritable bowel', in fact he
said that wasn't the only thing he was worried about. A
few days ago I checked up on the blood-work and was told
everything was normal except my ketones are 40+ and I
was told this is common for people with muscle problems
and/or type 1 diabetes. I am not diabetic, and no one in
my direct family is either.
My job has fired me because once again, I am exhausted
and missed too many days since I began working for them
6 months ago. I don't know how else to explain to people
that when I get up in the morning I am exhausted and
feel as if I was beaten, and my head always feels like
it's going to explode the headaches are so bad. Usually
after 3-6 cups of coffee I can get myself moving (no
surprise I was told my coffee use is likely the cause of
the 'irritable bowel'), after the toilet of course.
This is not a sob story to gain sympathy. To be honest,
I honored my word giving the Navy 2 years of my life
honorably. I served this nation. I was paid for it, and
it did make a better man out of me. This isn't about
money and compensation, it's about keeping my sanity, my
dignity, and getting some freaking answers, and some
treatment. I can't believe for 10 years I have been told
this is in my head only now to know it is real, not
imagined. In ten years I have not even made $100,000.
What little I own I have because I eat maybe twice a day
if I am lucky, and my clothing is ... point made. I am
having trouble accepting how different my life could be
had someone simply helped me even 7 years ago when the
FM was recognized.
One other thing, where did all the Gulf War vets
disappear to? Here in the west, I have met one very sick
veteran from Alaska. Are they like me seeking help from
foreign governments like Canada, Australia and Britain?
I still can't find the job that allows for time off for
medical care and still pay my crummy rent.
I know this, I cannot accept another bout of
homelessness and starvation. If I cannot get help, than
an accident may happen and my car may be found as a
twisted mass of steel off a mountain pass. At least this
way my child will only know it was an accident and not
consider any other reason, which it would be. The
multiple drug overdoses seem to always fail. And I am
tired of the slander of being labeled "nuts".
I believe it was the vaccines and I believe it makes
sense they were contaminated by bacteria. I believe the
company that makes the Anthrax vaccine in Michigan, the
only one, which was not under FDA regulations in 1991,
has knowledge. I hate conspiracy theories, but something
smells, and the one and only thing that matters is
answers so my child doesn't have to ask why. Never mind
me, I am a wash now. This is my illness, and my honesty publicly
writing this likely mirrors that of others.
really hope the VA helps me, because emergency rooms
turn me away, and it's my only hope. I really don't want
to be wrapped up in a steel mass formerly a car, but I
won't suffer the indignity of homelessness ever
because I am going to need it.
*note: GWI = Gulf War Illness