Being the Military and being Diagnosed with Epilepsy

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thank you i really appreciated. it feel good to talk to others who can relate to what i'm going through. Thank You so much again!!!
 

mavric86

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While my post this time is more of a rant than replies to all you good people that have replied on this thread. I am actually glad to see that there are others in similar situations like me.

I have been a military policeman for the USAF for over 8 years, and in that time I have done three tours in the sandbox, been stationed at 4 different bases in that time. Nothing has ever been consistant, however I have done my job to the best of my abilities. Sacrifice. Thats what its all about. I will spare everyone the gruesome details, but any cop will tell you that there is always "that guy", I happen to be one of them. I just happen to get sent to some pretty bad crimes scenes, and it can really take a toll on you. But you develope a thick skin, and sometimes (yes I have had this habit in the past) you drink those bad images away. Sympathy isn't really something I look for from anyone, but since I started having seizures and being put on these crazy medications, life has become completely turned upside down.

SCOTT R, what AFSC are you in? I know being a cop, if you can't arm up, drive or deploy, you an admin troop, and unfortunately for me, I did not sign up for that. Nothing against admin troops, but I am more of a ground pounder. Like you, I am already supposed to be in the Green Zone as we speak. I volunteered for the slot, and although my fiance' back in the states (she's with OSI) is not happy about that or the current medical situation, I am more than likely on the verge of losing her. She is back in the states and I am in the UK. I can only imagine the hell you have been through, after 16 years of dedicated sesrvice.

ELAINE, thankyou for the support. I don't know much about the UK military, but the USA AF is more of a corrperation than a military. It comes down to money. Plain and simple. I, like others, am just a number. While my countrymen may agree or disagree with what our military is doing now, I have come to expect that that is their right, and I have risked my life to ensure they have that right. But the AF should quite frankly be a little more understanding to the plite that is our medical circumstances.

I intend to stay with this site. Hope the best to all of your.

Mav
 

haird18

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It has become painful for anyone who was in the military!

I had a grandfather in World War 2 and he was a POW and survived until he relived it by seeing Desert Storm! He could tell you some of the scariest times he went through he later died from Alzheimers but before that he was already dying inside from his experiences. And now so many military men and women are coming back with horror stories from Iraq! I see it in my own family and relatives and the government is not making it any easier for any of you coming home. And then learning to live with so many brain disorders and mental conditions. I think any of you who have served this country deserve so much more than what you are getting! We thank all of our military for what you have done!
God Bless!
David
 

mavric86

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You are right. Unless your actually going through it (and this is true about any experience or condition), you can't understand what is really going on.
 
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Canadian military

Hello sorry about your diagnosis, i am a flight engineer in the canadian air force, search and rescue in newfoundland canada.... I had my first siezure in sept 2006 and have been grounded ever since, my second came in sept 2007. After that i was put on tegretol, and have been seizure free.
I am in the process of being medically released, if i cant be deployed then i cant serve is the reason.. Presently putting in claim to VA for the problem. I gave them 20 years and they are giving no chance of flying on meds..
There are quite a few benifits to the med release, such as retraining in civilian sector, but not in the job i loved..
All the msds sheets i have looked at for working around jet fuel state that benzine , which is a component in all jet fuels, causes siezures. I am currently going that route with veterans. Dont know how it will work out but its worth a try...


Good luck
 

mavric86

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Hopefully you have someone to be there with you while your going through all this. There are days I see it as a possible blessing in disguise, but then you see the man you were, top of your game and loving every minute, to feeling worthless. Its almost as if I would rather they just boot me and get it over with. I am doing this on my own, and I can say that its no way to go through this. I am on Keppra and Lamictral, and the Keppra is kicking my a$$. According to USAF reg's, I shouldn't even be overseas anymore because of this. Has anyone been put on anti-depressants after being diagnosed??? I am seriously thinking about it. The majority of my anxiety comes from this disorder, and the med's only amplify it. I am wondering if a pill can cause the depression and anxiety, can another pill cure it? The worst part is I can't even sit back and have a beer anymore.
 
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navymom i am going through the same thing. not trying to get his business but what was the percentage the navy gave him
 
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i am also on keppra and lamictal. i am having problems with lamictal. it causing me to be depressed. i been on keppra for a while and it makes me very sleepy
 

Navymom

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Hi - my son was in the Navy for 2 years and started having seizures. He received a "temporary" medical retirement (good for 5 years, but then what?). He's 40% disabled. His condition is covered by the VA, but was told that the one neurologist who comes to our area is not taking new patients (!). He has no regular health insurance so he can't go to a civilian neurologist so now we're in limbo. He has an appointment at a vet center next week that will hopefully provide more guidance. Dealing with the VA is very discouraging. Steve's also supposed to get a monthly pension but we don't even know how to find out about that.
 
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So is he receiving medical treatment and medication in the military treatment facility? Another question did he waited till he got of the navy to file a claim with the VA? If so it can take up to a year to receive money from them. They told me once i get my seperation date to make sure i have at least 60 days in to file the claim. But if i were to go home then it would take a long time to receive it.
 
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Also did he talked to DAV rep? (disabled american veterans). They provide guidance to you to make sure the VA don't take advantage of us. Was he station here in Norfolk, VA? If so did he have Dr. Sawyer as his doctor? He should be receiving money from the navy and the VA, that's two different things.
 

Navymom

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Steve was stationed in Washington state. He's only been back home for a few weeks now so as yet has not been seen by any VA docs. He did put in his claim a couple of months ago - while still in the Navy. Right now he's not looking for work because we are trying neurofeedback treatment and if that works (it seems to be helping) then that will determine what type of work he can look for - and whether he has to report that he's on meds. I am hoping he can at least cut back on them (he takes Keppra and Topamax) because of the terrible side effects. He has has a meeting at a vet center this week so hopefully he'll learn more then.
 
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:noevil:Does anyone currently know the reg's or have info on what happens to a person diagnosed with Epilepsy as far as the United States Air Force is concerned? I have been in for 8 years and I am really getting tired of no one giving me a straight answer. I am a cop as well, so arming up is a no go. I feel so helpless being away from my fiance' (she's back in the states while I am in England.) To make matters worse, I have become quite depressed and I am not always handling it all that well. I am not sure if its a combination of a lot of things, or its because of the medication (I am on Keppra). If anyone has some answers, I sure could use the help. I am new to this site and this disability.
Hi mavric. I have been doing alot of research on this myself. from what I have heard it all depends on how severe it is. Being on medication is a definate no go but if you were diagnosed while in the service and you get discharged you can get honorable discharge for it. However to enlist if you have epilepsy you have to be medication and seizure free for six months.
 

crainla

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Newly diagnosed with epilepsy in the Air Force too

Hello, I found this website recently and read some of the posts on here about having epilepsy and being in the military. It's hard to find out information about this, or what to really expect. I was just recently diagnosed with complex partial seizure epilepsy about 2 months ago. I have also been in the Air Force for almost 15 years now, so it has been a huge shock ever since. What I still can't understand is how did I live my life for 32 years perfectly fine and then out of the blue develop epilepsy?!? Obviously, I'm still coming to terms with this.

My situation all started actually over 3 years ago. I was experiencing strange occurrances of what I have always called "mental pauses", where I would be in any random type of setting and would all of a sudden have this feeling coming on where I would sort of "space out", kind of staring or zoning out for 30 seconds to a few minutes max. I have always maintained total consiousness/awareness, but have been unable to interact and respond to people while it was happening. It only affects me mentally, and I am perfectly capable physically, just unable to speak at the time without uttering jiberish if I attempt to. Strangely enough, it always happens when I am very calm and relaxed. Usually at the computer at work, on the phone several times now, sitting at the table eating dinner, driving alone numerous times, etc. I have been trying to figure out what triggers the onset of these seizures, but I haven't been able to pinpoint it yet. It's never when I'm stressed or anything else that I can attribute it to.

When this started over 3 years ago, my wife and my mother talked me into going to the doctor to get seen for this on base at Lakenheath in the U.K. when I was stationed there at the time. I had a CT scan, an MRI of the brain, and a partial EEG at that time. All of the tests came back negative and I was given a clean bill of health. What's stange to me, looking back now, is how this was ignored and pushed under the rug after telling a neurologist all of the symptoms that I was having back then. It still makes me wonder if I didn't get a diagnosis of this at the time because the doctor knew what it could do to my career. Not making accusations, just curious. My episodes then were very spiratic and not very routine at all. After a while had passed, I actually made it about 18 months with nothing and out of nowhere I had a night terror that landed me in the ER one night.

By this time, I was here at Barksdale in Louisiana, and was referred to another neurologist who instantly knew what it was that I had, which is another reason for my suspision of the first doctor. I underwent a full EEG test this time and was diagnosed with complex partial seizure epilepsy. I was also started on Keppra that day and had felt like my whole world had been yanked out from under me on that day. I'll never forget it. Like I said, I have been in the Air Force for nearly 15 years now and also have a wife, who is a stay-at-home Mom and two young boys (3 1/2 yrs and 18 mos.) at home. I am the only source of income for our family, so it scared the hell out of me to hear this.

As some of you mentioned, I have an MEB (medical evaluation board) pending, which still hasn't been started yet, so I have been in search of answers on what I should expect to have come out of this when that day comes. That's what led me to this website. I've heard so many stories that all conflict themselves from different sources (not saying this website), where one person says everyone gets blanketly kicked out no matter what because of epilepsy, and I've heard I have nothing to worry about as well. I hope it's the later of the two.

So, I just wanted to share my story and say I appreciated reading everyone elses posts that have helped me learn some things and have given comfort in knowing that I am not alone with what I am going through. One thing that I still am curious about is, has anyone else out there ever had night terrors related to epilepsy? Is that common or normal? I have tried talking to my neurologist about this, but haven't gotten too much in response. I have only had one so far in my life and my wife had to call 911 to get me to the ER that night. I did lose consiousness that time and don't remember anything other that the medtechs in my bedroom trying to talk me into the ambulance, then later on in the hospital.

Also, with Keppra, I have heard the side effects of depression that it causes. I can definitely attest to that. I have experienced a lot of depression from all of this. I don't know how much can be blamed on the Keppra, or if it's just the coupling of this new diagnosis with my career's future in limbo at the moment with other problems at home and work. It's been stressful, whatever's to blame, to say the least. Thanks to everyone for the help.
 

epileric

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Welcome to the site crainla

I've never been in the military but I have been on keppra & I got its side-effects in full force. Something that some people use to help them is vitamine B6 or a B complex with extra B6.

I get the same seizures you do where you zone out and have trouble talking afterwards(as well as other kinds too). You do say they happen on the computer so I'd wonder if you could be photosensitive like people who have flashing lights for a trigger. You might want to keep track of what you do, when & what you eat, when you sleep or have insomnia & when you have seizures. Maybe it's something you do hours before or maybe it's low blood sugar (you do say it's when you're relaxed). Hopefully doing that will help you pinpoint your trigger.

In the meantime good luck with your MEB.
 

crainla

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Thanks. I'll talk to my doctor about the vitamin B6. As far as the trigger is concerned, my job is on the computer and I never had them every day. I don't think that I am photosensitive either. Maybe the low blood sugar could be a possibility. I'll bring that up with the doc as well. Thanks for the help.
 

Endless

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Crania,

I am so sorry to hear about your seizures, and your diagnosis.

I was on Keppra when I was first diagnosed. Everyone is different on each drug. Not everyone gets depressed, but it is definitely one of the side effects. Seizures themselves can cause depression, as can the situation you are in.

B-vitamins might help, as might 5-htp. If you do start a supplement, start one at a time so you can see how they are affecting you, positive or negative. Sometimes there are negative side effects from some supplements so you need to stop (I had to stop 5-htp, but B vitamins are a must.)

I agree with the other posts on here - it is important to keep a seizure diary. It helps pinpoint triggers. You may be photosensitive and not know it. If so, you can get blue polarized glasses that help, and a screen filter on the computer helps, too. In the meantime, how about a screen filter anyway? It's easier on the eyes and might be worth a try.
 

Nakamova

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Hi crainla, feel free to make a new thread with a separate post introducing yourself to the forum as well. As you've noted, there are a number of posts here by people with seizure disorders who are in in the military or who have been, and they'll respond to you soon, either on this thread, or if you create a new one.

Sometimes seizure triggers can be something small that puts you over the edge, especially if your seizure threshold has been lowered. It could be something gradual like a few minor head injuries, or a fever, or exposure over time to certain foods. It could be a combination of things like fatigue and dehydration and low blood sugar. Even positive stress (like getting ready for a party) can be a trigger. So keep looking.

Your night terrors are probably be themselves, or may be occurring immediately following a seizure. A number of folks experience them so you are definitely not alone.

Best,
Nakamova
 

douglas

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hi, sorry to hear of your situation. the depression might be the keppra.
 

Inaara

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Best bet in dealing with the military/VA:

1-File your claim throught DAV or AMVETS. Period. As a general rule, they're volunteers, not paid VA staff, and so they are generally more interested in going through your records with a fine tooth comb and they're usually looking out for your best interests, not the government's wallet.

2 -Before discharge, if possible, ensure that you have a full and complete copy of your records. This can be done by going to outpatient records, getting your military medical records, and photocopting them prior to outprocessing post.

3 - keep copies of EVERYTHING. Your paperwork will get lost. Probably more than once. Make sure it is stamped by the local VA that processes it through with the date/time that it was sent to the regional office or turned into the local VA and keep your copy with that stamp on it. You are likely to need that at a later date when it is lost to prove that you did, in fact, turn that paperwork in prior to the deadline.

4 - VA math does not now and will not ever make sense to anyone except tha VA. There are pretty strict regulations governing disability percentages, particularly for seizure disorders, both within the military and within the VA. Since the military and the VA operate under two separate budgets, the military will likely attempt to deny you a rating and pass the "problem" off to the VA to deal with. Try not to let them do this. Use your AKO account to pull uo the regs and educate yourself and appeal your MMRB rating (if applicable) and hold the military accountable for your injuries and illnesses sustained in service. Also educate yourself regarding the VA's regs for rating disability and, if necessary, appeal your rating decision. The VA will also generally attempt to rate veterans lower on the first try than the regs state the disability is worth in order to give themselves some "wiggle room" later.

Now, the trick to this and your responsibility in all this is that you must attend all of your appointments or cancel responsibly (24-48 hours in advance) and reschedule as soon as possible, you must follow your doctor's instructions or give a logical and well-reasoned argument as to why you choose not to (i.e., I won't take depakote because I was once prescribed it for migraines and gained nearly 100 lbs on the stuff and had other terrible side effects, and so now, when a doctor attempt to prescribe it for seizures and migraines, I politely but adamantly refuse, citing my previous experience) rather than simply being noncompliant because you can, and you must be completely honest with your doctors about what is gonig on (something no soldier is especially good at because it's drilled into us to "suck it up and drive on").
Also, don't be afraid to fire a doctor, even at the VA or at a military hospital (sorry, you can't fire the doctors on your MMRB or MEB and nope, none of those doctors will ever have examined you; they will only be looking at your medical records and relying on what other doctors have said in the chart notes) if they're not doing their job. The conversation in my sig is a direct quote from my firing my "neurologist" (as my friend likes to call her) at the VA in TX. If they're a bad doctor, fire them - and keep firing them - until you get a decent one.
 
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