I have been living with chronic back pain for over 30 years. It started when I was injured in service, and it never went away. Some days, it is so bad that I can barely get out of bed. I feel like an old man, even though I am only in my 50s.
My back pain affects every aspect of my life. It makes me weak in my legs, and sometimes I lose sensation or feel tingling. It prevents me from doing the things I love, like taking walks with my wife or helping my friends when they have work to be done. It makes me depressed and anxious, wondering if I will ever get better.
I have tried everything to manage my pain. I have taken opioids, but they only make me feel drowsy and I do not want to become addicted. I have had steroid injections and epidural injections, but they only provide temporary relief. I have done physical therapy, but it is hard to keep up with the exercises due to the pain and also the time it takes away from work. Nothing seems to work for me.
I know I’m not alone in this struggle. Millions of Americans suffer from chronic back pain, and many of them are veterans like me. We deserve better treatment and support from our government and society. We deserve to live without pain and enjoy our lives.
The VA has been giving me the runaround for years, saying that my back pain is not connected to my service. They say that it could be caused by anything, like aging, genetics, or lifestyle factors. They say that I need more evidence to show that my back pain is disabling and affects my daily life.
Of course, all of this is ridiculous and unfair. I have been suffering from chronic back pain since that day in 1986 when I was initially injured, and it has affected every aspect of my life. It cut short what was meant to have been a military career, I can’t work at my full capacity, I can’t sleep, I can’t enjoy hobbies or activities that I used to love. I have had to take strong painkillers every day, which had side effects and risks of addiction. I have to deal with depression and anxiety because of the constant pain and stress. And on top of all that, I have to fight with the VA to get the benefits that I deserve.
I know that I am not alone in this struggle. Many veterans face similar challenges when they try to get service-connected disability compensation from the VA. They have to deal with long delays, denials, appeals, and bureaucracy. They have to prove their injuries and illnesses over and over again, even when they have clear evidence. They have to endure the frustration and humiliation of being ignored or dismissed by the VA.
This is not how we should treat veterans. Veterans should be honored, and their service and sacrifice acknowledged. The care and support that they need and deserve should be made readily available to them without all of the bureaucracy. We should make the VA more accountable and responsive to veterans’ needs and claims. We should not make them suffer more than they already have.
That is why I decided to write this blog post. I want to share my story and raise awareness about chronic back pain. I want to connect with other people who are going through the same thing. I want to find hope and solutions for this condition.
If you are reading this and you have chronic back pain, or you know someone who does, please leave a comment below. Tell me your story, your challenges, your successes. Let’s help each other and make a difference.