Posted by: CeCe | May 10, 2012

Why I love our country but hate our government, part two

So in part one, I detailed some of the events leading up to my husband’s medical discharge.  But I’m just getting started.

The next couple of years were a roller-coaster of emotions.  Between October 2005 and December 2007, which was when Shawn was finally placed in the unit for wounded soldiers (acronym WTU, which stands for Warrior Transition Unit), there were more appointments with the neurologist at Landstuhl than I can count.  Shawn was put on one medication to control his seizures, which unfortunately had horrible side effects like causing him to gain nearly 40 pounds in two months amongst other things, which resulted in him being taken off of it, and put on another.  He began losing weight, but it was causing sleep issues amongst other problems, culminating in breakthrough seizures, so he was taken off of it, and put on something different.  He was still having breakthrough seizures, though fortunately only petit mal seizures, rather than grand mal (now known as tonic-clonic) seizures, so his dosage was increased.  Finally, it seemed that his seizures were under control.  Around that time, he was diagnosed officially as having a seizure disorder (epilepsy, basically), so we had some answers at least.

But things were still pretty horrible with his fellow soldiers.  A lot of them still had this idea that he was faking his seizures (how a person can fake a grand mal, who knows) to get out of deploying, and it was very apparent in how he was treated.  Instead of his weight gain being addressed as something caused by his medication (which it clearly was), he was treated like some scumbag soldier who just didn’t care about his career.  That really was not the case; I can attest to that.  First, Shawn fully intended to go the full twenty years, as I already stated.  Second, he worked his butt off in PT, and exercised when he got home too.  He rarely ate anything at all, apart from dinner.

The way he was treated was so terrible that he was always downcast.  He was extremely depressed, he wasn’t sleeping well, and he was having really horrible dreams.  He once confided in me that he had a feeling that if he went down range with his unit, he would definitely not come back alive, and his death would not be at the hands of the enemy.  I tried to assuage his fears, but at the same time, I was witness to some of it, so I didn’t think he was far off the mark.

When he was finally placed in WTU in December, we really thought that things were finally going to change for the better.  At first, WTU was amazing.  They worked with him on his fluctuating weight, they worked with him on his side effects from his medications, they allowed him time off for appointments… it was like a breath of fresh air.  However, over the next couple of years, things began changing for the negative.

First, they were taking their sweet time deciding what to do with him.  We were in limbo.  One week, they were saying that we would be sent back home (well, to Fort Lewis here in Washington) and eventually medically discharged from there.  The next, they were suggesting that he would be fine being returned to duty.  However, in October of 2008, he had a breakthrough tonic-clonic seizure, and that put an end to the idea of him being returned to duty.

Second, the soldiers were no longer allowed to make their own appointments.  Their appointments were made for them, and they had to hope they were told about them.  There were many times that we only found out about appointments when the clinic called to remind us.  It was absolutely ridiculous.

Third, Shawn’s case was given to a person who was basically a glorified nurse, whose word began to be taken over that of the same neurologist that had been taking care of Shawn since late 2007.  He insisted that all of Shawn’s problems, including the seizures, were “all in his head”, there was nothing wrong with him, the seizures were no big deal, and he should be returned to duty.  He’s the one who began the process of returning Shawn to duty, and it only fell apart when Shawn had the seizure I mentioned in October of 2008.

Fourth, we were supposed to be sent home.  They started the paperwork, and said that we should prepare to be home by the end of May 2008.  We were so excited; we’d been in Germany for over three years by that point, and I so badly wanted to be home with our family and friends.  Unfortunately, the paperwork sat on someone’s desk for too long, despite Shawn checking in with the people who were supposed to be pushing the paperwork through, and by the time what had happened was realized, they were no longer allowing anyone to be sent anywhere else to be medically discharged.  For any reason.  Even if they had terminal cancer, like a soldier in Shawn’s unit.  No, I’m not kidding.

So I think this is it for part two, because this is pretty long.

Link to part one:

Link to part three:


  1. […] Part two:… […]

  2. […] Posted in military | Tags: army, Army spouse, cardiac arrhythmia, epilepsy, medical discharge, sleep apnea, VA, WTU « Why I love our country but hate our government, part two […]

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