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04-19-17, 03:53 PM #1
Possible Condition not Disability discharge, or PEB?
To whom this may concern,
Let me start off by saying thank you for taking time out of your day to give me advice on this situation.
I'd like to also start off by saying that I'm still in Student Status awaiting to finish Infantry Training Battalion (ITB).
I'm a 23 year old, male. Arrived at MCRD San Diego on May 23rd, 2016 with an Infantry UH Contract. Upon my first week of training at boot camp, I noticed discharge on my white skivvies. We would have to do hygiene inspection every night and I would notice every night that I had blood and discharge coming from my anus. I at first thought it was hemorrhoids, and sucked it up for another week. Unfortunately it wasn't, it was a Pilonidal cyst and it had already begun getting infected. For that entire week that I sucked it up and kept my mouth shut I had experienced pain and would discharge and chafe really bad everytime we had PT. On Friday of my 2nd week at boot camp, we had to sit down "drop like a rock" and I happened to land straight on the pilonidal causing it to burst and inflict some pretty severe pain, my instructors immediately sent me to Medical, where they at first thought it was cellulitis and immediately sent me to the ER.
That same day, the ER Surgeon told me it wasn't going to be an easy night, and it wasn't. He proceeded to lance the cyst and draining it. Not the most pleasant experience, but definitely a feeling of relief the next day. I ended up getting dropped to a Medical Rehabilitation Platoon (MRP). Staying there for about a month and having dressing changes every day (Wound getting packed with silvercel and sterile gauze after being flushed daily). Eventually the incision closed up, and the cyst seemed to have gone away.
I picked up with Kilo Company after being cleared, within the first week I had already felt the pressure coming back from the build up, but once again wanting to go back home to my wife and son as soon as possible I sucked it up. I knew that the dirty training environment I was in, I was going to need a more complex procedure done. Eventually before swim qualification I had to inform my Drill Instructor that my cyst was once again infected, and I didn't think it was the best idea to go into a pool where hundreds of recruits go into to qualify. Immediately got dropped back to MRP.
My provider at MCRD scheduled me an appointment with General Surgery right away, where I might Retired Navy Captain Russo, he was a nurse practitioner at Balboa Navy Medical Center. He suggested having a Pilonidal Cystectomy done by Captain Benfield, a surgeon here at Balboa. The procedure would involve fully removing the pocket of the cyst, and having a wound vacuum on until it was shallow enough for wet to dry dressing changes.
The surgery was performed, spent 1 month at Balboa with a wound vacuum, which was for sure the most terrifying experience of my life. The dressing changes from the wound vacuum are by far the most painful thing I've experienced. No amount of delaudid helped relieve the pain.
Eventually I was discharged, and told that within a month of wet to dry dressing changes the wound would be fully closed and I would be cleared for full duty. Not the case at all. I spent 5 months at MRP, and the wound remained at 3.5cm long and 0.2cm deep for the ENTIRE 5 months. It made NO progress. My provider tried everything imaginable. Silvercel, aquacel, bedrest while laying on my stomach to let the wound breathe, NOTHING worked.
Sympathetic to the fact that I had missed my first born son's birth due to being stuck in boot camp, my provider eventually gave into my request to go back to training with an open wound because I REFUSED to get medically discharged and give up even though the offer was on the table. It was indeed a bad idea.
I went back to training, with an open wound on my tailbone. Going through puddles of mud, having 5 seconds to hygiene, the wound went probably thru the worst possible scenarios. Eventually it got infected again, resulting in high fevers. But I graduated, I sucked it up and finally went back home.
Upon arriving at ITB (SOI-West) I had to follow up with the BAS (Medical Center) at area 52. They immediately saw it and dropped me to Rehab in Lima Company with SOI-West. 8 months after my surgery, I'm here in Lima Company, being told that this will eventually close on it's own if we continue doing dressing changes with bacitracin.
Now I'm here in a dilemma and a mess that I would have never pictured myself in, my wife has been seperated from me for 10 months, dealt with a pregnancy pretty much on her own and now we have another one on the way, and I'm stuck on limited duty on student status away from her again for atleast another 6 months.
After seeing how all of this affected my family back at home (My wife mainly) I went into severe depression. I decided to finally give in and ask my surgeon if he could just recommend a medical discharge, so I could atleast be back with my family and have a much more reputable surgeon in San Francisco see me and treat me for this.
My surgeon regretfully declined, stating that he can't discharge me because it looks like it's closing and he can't discharge me for something that is healing. Little does he know, that multiple surgeons, nurse practitioners and corpsman have been telling me that it's closing up for the past 8 MONTHS.
I took matters into my own hand, and set up an appointment with the wound care clinic at Balboa, who took measurements and pictures of this wound back when I was in boot camp about 5 months ago. They immediately were shocked by the fact that I was back, and were even more shocked at the fact that last time they saw me it was 3.5cm long and 0.2cm deep, and now it's 3.0cm long and 0.7cm deep... they suggested that this won't close anytime soon, and that a cleft lift would most likely be needed, but also suggested that I should have an experienced surgeon perform this procedure, in other words, not a military surgeon...
My question to you guys is, do I have any say in this? If a pilonidal cyst is a disqualifying condition in the military, why won't they discharge me with a Condition Not Disability discharge? or better yet why haven't they PEB'd me yet?
I understand it's not a disability, but experienced surgeons should know that Pilonidal Cyst's haunt people for long periods of times in their lives.. I can only imagine that if they end up doing another procedure on me, or if it "heals up" on it's own, the likely hood of it coming back is existent.
My surgeon gave me 3 months of convalescent leave because he was sympathetic to the fact that I had been away from my family for a long time and also thought that having 3 dressing changes done and being able to freely hygiene at home was a better alternative and possibly the solution to closing this up. Unfortunately he said he couldn't give me anymore convalescent leave, and suggested me go to a provider at area 52 to see if they could give me more convalescent leave. But that's a short term solution to a long term problem.
I'm at a loss, and I wouldn't wish this upon my worst enemy. I don't really know my rights in the military, and my resources are pretty limited out here.
I'm just simply looking for some advice, and to see if there are any retired/active service members who've experienced the same situation.
04-19-17, 07:08 PM #2
I haven't personally experienced anything that you have, but I hope that for everyone concerned that a fair and equitable solution for everyone involved w, that this situation will be resolved quicker than the amount of time it has takes so far.
ORDO AD CHAO
04-19-17, 09:25 PM #3
All I can tell you from a personal standpoint is, I dealt with Naval surgeons on two separate occasions. Both times, they made accurate diagnosis, the surgeries/rehab were successful, and I was able to make a complete recovery and remain on active duty. I do know Marines who had bad experiences with Navy medicine as well including misdiagnosis and cases that did not respond to treatment. As a retired healthcare professional, I can tell you this happens in civilian medicine as well. Difference is, a civilian patient has control over their care and can refuse any procedure at any time. Don't really know what rights military patients have - if any.
Understand your concern and frustration as a husband, patient, and student at ITB. I do know what it's like being sidelined for medical reasons. Unfortunately, don't have any actual advice for you as it seems you're stuck in the system with no real way out. The area 52 chaplain should be available to you but all they can offer is moral support. Civilian hospitals have patient advocates but don't know if such a thing exists with Navy hospitals - maybe you can ask your corpsman.
Good luck Devil and please come back and let us know how this situation was resolved.
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