A U.S. veteran says after eight years of botched care from the VA, he is considering amputating his left foot.
Reddit user Jody C. Williams says he was returning to Fort Hood in Texas on August 27, 2005, when another soldier ran a stop sign and collided with his motorcycle. An investigation allegedly found him not at fault and designated the injury to his left foot as a “Service Related Injury.”
The first Army doctor he saw told him he had a bruised bone and to “walk it off.” Williams underwent months of excruciating pain before he was finally diagnosed with having most of the bones in his foot crushed – “microfractures everywhere” – and a dislocated Lisfranc complex.
“It has been 8 and 1/2 years since the original accident,” Williams wrote. “I've walked very funny ever since and have consequently suffered severe degradation of the joints in my ankles, knees and hips.”
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“I've had numerous VA doctors tell me that I have the knees of an 85 year old man, but that the VA doesn't typically perform knee surgeries on people under 55 because they'd have to be done a second time before the patient passes away,” he said. “I've been given numerous different treatment plans (injections, physical therapy, various prescription meds, at home exercises, special shoes [that have never arrived] & inserts [which have arrived incorrectly twice], etc.).
“I'm going through the VA process from scratch for perhaps the 4th time, as they find any reason they can to deny your referrals or refer you to someone else,” he said.
He claims he rescheduled two appointments after the death of a family member, and then the VA cancelled his referral for “missing appointments.”
“This also canceled my referrals, sending me back to my Primary Care Physician and starting the process over yet again,” he explained.
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“I believe that my bad left foot is the major contributing factor to all of the pain and joint degradation for everything above it,” he said.
“At what point do I request to have my left foot amputated?” he asked. “It feels like I'm walking on a flat, inflexible board with a nail going through the bottom of it and I believe it is causing more damage to other parts of my body anyhow. Should I keep it at all costs? Is it possibly too late for this to help me anyhow; has too much damage already been done?”
Another Reddit user told Williams he is a “left leg, below-the-knee amputee” and he felt like doctors would not have brought up the option of amputation if he had not broached the subject first.
“It hurts so much to think about how miserable I could have been had I kept my foot,” he wrote. “I'm at a loss for words when reading your story; I'm so sorry. You've spent most of a decade with dysfunctionality on something that won't heal and has never improved. I spent 3 weeks in the hospital, had 3 surgeries with no amputation even though I was pretty adamant about having it cut off after day 2.”
The user recommended amputation to save Williams' mobility.
“What really frightens me is the additional damage you've done to the rest of your leg,” he added. “I don't know what rules are different in the military, but in the private sector it seems like gross negligence on everyone's part from the driver that hit you to the care providers telling you to walk it off. Of course my advice is to amputate and save any remaining functionality.”
Williams told Business Insider, "The VA doesn't really want to treat their patients as much as they want to meet their metrics.
"They like to boast that they have more satisfied customers than anywhere in America," Williams said. "10 minutes in a VA will tell anyone this isn't true. Every VA patient I know is disgusted with the care they receive."