Hold On, Little Girl

i don’t think i’ve actually written about any of my medical issues over the past 12 months or so.

the most consistent and annoying is that i seem to have developed asthma. well, i’ve also broken my ankle, had a wee bout with cancer, depression, migraines, mri’s, etc etc.

most importantly, asthma.

last year in the ‘stan, on the first big mission i went on, i couldn’t freaking breathe. i was gasping and aching and hyperventilating and it was terrifying. as the deployment continued i had misc other silly things go wrong with me, but i kept having massive shortness of breath. they started giving me inhalers in….November i think it was. i had the black lung for multiple months, kept being put on different antibiotics, and it just wouldn’t clear up. either way, the doc’s in the desert strongly suggested i get my lungs checked out.

so in Februaryish i did. told a doc on base i’d had breathing issues in the desert and that i needed some help. they gave me a little breathing thing on base, kind of traumatizing- a nurse yelled at me to exhale harder, while the more i exhaled the more stars i was seeing. that went on for about 30 minutes and at the end i pretty much collapsed. end result was that the doctors were unimpressed and referred me to a pulmonarist. Dr Yeh. who i happen to think is the bizbiz.

somewhere during that timeframe, Marchish was the last time i moved faster than a quick walk. we were doing circuits inside the gym and one of my friends challenged me to a race. so i did. and we had to call an ambulance. it was extremely scary for me: i had tunnel vision, as in, the edges of my eyes started to fuzz and my viewpoint started getting smaller and smaller. meanwhile, my lungs felt like they were the size of a small tube that was being plugged, from the bottom up. i could feel my intake getting shorter and shorter as my tube was collapsing. fml.

Dr Yeh sent me to get a me to get a methaclone challenge done at a local hospital. also scary. i sat in a very, very small cubicle not fun asthma test.while i had to breath from a tube that was being filled with different levels of medicine to induce asthma. Basically, they measured my lungs at a resting rate. Then they put a low dosage into the tube. Then i had to exhale as quickly as possible and it was charted. Repeat x 5 with increasing level of drugs. At first i was my normal chatty self, but by round 3 you could hear my lungs wheezing from across the room. i didn’t want to talk because i didn’t want to the stupid air that i was struggling to get into my lungs. (the napkin was in case i drooled on myself. hot, i know.)

anyways, apparently if your lung capacity drops by 20% of the starting point, you have asthma. or at least, your lungs are fucked up.

mine dropped by like, 20.4%, which i figured meant that it was a mild case of the assssmar (Lord of the Flies anyone?). ain’t no thing, right?

ha, wrong.

i was told that asthma is one of the things that the Air Force will automatically send you to an MEB (medical evaluation board) for. At first they tried to do a “fast track” which i believe means local area review only. It got sent back because I’ve only been in for <5 years. Next i was informed that i was being full MEB’d. ie, it was going to be reviewed by multiple doctors on base, letter of reccomendation by my commander, etc, and then it would be sent to AFPC (which runs AF manning and stuff) for additional review.

that package was supposed to be mailed on mid-June, (i know that because i had to leave Washington early so i could come back and sign some gd paperwork) and my contact told me that the earliest i’d hear anything back would be December.

The possible options are:

a) i’m perfect, somebody was wrong, and life would go on.
b) that they’d keep me in the AF, but Code C me, which means that i’d have limited assignments and probably never deploy again.
c) i’d get a pat on the shoulder, a severence check and be on my merry way as Ms Tracy or
d) that i’d be placed on TDRL (temporary disability retired list) which means i’d be a civilian, but that every few months i’d have to check in with doctors. if my condition improved then i’d be back in the AF. if after 5 years there was no change, then i’d be permanently retired.

anyways, imagine my surprise last week when i got a call saying that the package was finally ready to be mailed off and they  needed me to come sign some stuff. i immediately tacked on the extra months (June bumped to September, so December was bumped to March) and just figured…same as before, schoolschoolschoolschoolSAVINGMONEYschoolschoolschool.

so i went in today to sign my papers. and the lady told me that in her professional opinion i would be getting option C or D. like, for real. and that AFPC is all caught up on their shit so i should hear by the end of October and maybe even November. and that she doubts i’ll be in the military by my birthday next year.

wow. big.

i asked her if her thoughts were based on my case or what- she told me that the AF is just not happy with asthma cases right now. that the last asthma case she handled, the guys lungs were much better than mine. he consistently passed his pt tests with 90+, and ran everywhere. he got option C.

see, this whole time people have been asking me which i’d prefer. do i want to stay in, or get out? Airman or Ms?

i know without a doubt that i’d be happier not being in the military…but it’s so comfortable. it makes me so very nervous to think about getting out and trying to find a job and apartments… where would i go? what would i do?

i’m not quite as scared these days because i feel like i have friends that i can rely on, and i’m more comfortable with the GI Bill system. i would have enough to live on, and life paid for a bit. it’s just… nervous making.


~ by manjamanis on September 10, 2010.

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