How to deal w potentially serious medical issue while at Academy?

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by Kanye's Dad's Sock Puppet, Sep 23, 2015.

  1. Kanye's Dad's Sock Puppet

    Kanye's Dad's Sock Puppet Banned

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    We have a child in and we sponsor so want to be very vague here.

    Lets say a child gets injured while at SA. Child has long history of extremely high pain tolerance and hatred of doctors and pushing beyond their (and PT) counsel. Academy initial diagnosis is mild joint injury. Immobilize for week and then should be fine. Start PT immediately.

    Child experiencing debilitating pain in PT. Thinks self indestructible and is likely minimizing the issue. SA orders an MRI but its a long way away and for variety of reasons (child not pushing and SA always slow I would guess) it has not happened more than a week out with no PT progress and significant pain if not immobilized. Given what I do/know, I suspect when finally fully diagnosed, this will be serious and maybe even surgery serious (compounded by delay and the PT).

    And now of course there is a government shut-down looming which I guess will make getting any medical care, diagnosis, or needed surgery even more of a problem if even possible at all? I don't know enough details but given the joint there is some possibility if further damaged this would be a go home and can't come back kinda thing.

    There is an expression we often hear used by military wives for how to deal w military... "shut up and color."

    Is that what we should be doing here?

    Curious what other parents or sponsor parents might do in this situation.
     
  2. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I would never say shut up and color regarding this issue. Health always should be 1st priority.

    Bullet has reset his own fingers and toes as a flier
    ~ I'll be damned if I go DNIF for a broken toe!

    However, he also was smart enough to know where the line was drawn medically.

    Our DS is a flier now and the advice Bullet gave him regarding a foot issue was this:
    This is not a sprain, and your Flight Commander./ADO/DO/CC will read you the riot act for not going to the flight doc., especially if it worsens.
    ~ DS followed his Dad's advice. He is going for an MRI soon, and if the results are bad, it may mean surgery, but will return to flying within a few months. This upsets him a lot, but he also now understands had he not gone, it could have risen to a level that he would have permanently DQd from flying.
    ~~ We of course are hoping that the MRI comes back and no surgery is needed. Yes, he is still flying. So at least from that aspect the Flight Doc believes he is good to go.

    As a sponsor I would give the same advice Bullet gave to our DS. Medically turned back is a much better option than medically DQd forever. Remove your pride and be smart for your own future.

    This is not the sniffles.
    ~ I think of the Shut up and color statement like I see myself as a professional. I will go to work feeling like death warmed over before I call out sick. I shut up and color while I am at work. I am not going to beaaccchh about how I feel while I am at work. I will complain to my family when I get home.

    Also, in the AF that statement usually is tied to debriefing in the flying world. Don't come in to your 1st op base right out of FTU and contradict the guy/gal that has been in the squadron for 2-3 years. Shut up and color...iows...listen
    ~ Off topic, but to prove my point about that comment. There is a guy with a call sign Tuna. Reason why is after his 1st operational flight during a debrief he tried to correct the IP with 2000 hours. 2 to None....tuna!
     
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  3. Boozebin

    Boozebin Member

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    Fortunately for us these young men and women are A-type, I'm going to push through anything that's thrown my way. It's one of the qualities that makes all the services capable of what they are capable of doing.

    The unfortunate part is that these young men and women have to know where the line is, like Pima said. They push past those injuries and tend to make them worse. It's a delicate balance because they don't want to seem "weak" or "giving up" so they keep their mouth shut and push on even when they don't have to.

    I was a young dumb enlisted guy back in the day and hurt my knee skiing. Hurt pretty bad too but I didn't say a word and went to work. My boss noticed I was walking a little funny and asked what's wrong and I said "nothing, I'm fine". Boy I've never regretted those words more than in my entire life. He said "Son are @#$@#^%$ lieing to me right now? You're one of my better Airman so I know you wouldn't #$%#$^# LIE to me, right? So lets try this again."

    Needless to say I was in the clinic getting it checked out within the hour after he chewed me out for a bit longer. Yes if there was something serious going on and he absolutely needed me he would have asked me if I could push past it if I could. Since it was an average day he told me to take care of it.
     
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  4. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I think we also need to realize that these kids are young, and many of them have been athletes playing at a high level.

    Nobody flame me, but....in part we created this mess/monster years ago.

    It has become part of our society to drill into our craniums they must have at least 1 sport to be deemed semi-competitive for this level. Our forums are littered with kids that have Varsity letters in not just 1 sport, but 2 or 3.
    ~ Think about it from the perspective when you were kid in HS, how many did you know that played sports year round? Now it feels like everybody has that on their resume. TKD didn't really exist in the 90s. Most HSs didn't have swim teams or pools in their HS. That is not today.

    Today is keep throwing a ball into your kids hand and tell them to work through the pain because college is insanely expensive. We start looking at scholarship chances before they are in 9th grade.
    ~ Look at how this site has changed in the past few years. Back in 07/08 you rarely, if ever, you saw a poster saying Hi, I am 13 or a parent of a 13 year old and looking for guidance to get an appointment 5 yrs from now. Now it is common.

    Hence, we created this as parents 5+ years earlier than the day they stepped foot on any SA grounds.
    ~ We joked about bubble wrapping from a DoDMERB perspective their entire senior year in HS.

    These are smart kids, but they are young. They think that they worked it off as an athlete, and they fear getting DoDMERB involved. It is what they were taught.
     
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  5. AROTC Parent

    AROTC Parent Member

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    Sock Puppet - Talk to the cadet about long term consequences of this type of injury and how it could impact their commission and completion at the SA. Encourage them to request to see an Orthopedic Dr at the clinic or hospital at West Point and to use the words 'debilitating pain'. The PT clinician could advocate for this but the cadet has to advocate for themselves too. They have Ortho residents available and a full staff of Ortho Dr's there. Many are active duty so a shutdown should have no impact.
     
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  6. Kanye's Dad's Sock Puppet

    Kanye's Dad's Sock Puppet Banned

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    Thank you all for the responses here and the PMs.

    I am guessing the big switch for most kids like this is that they are suddenly in charge of their own healthcare and need to advocate for themselves and think about seeking out treatment in a way they never ever have before. It did not really even occur to us before we sent our own off but that is a completely foreign concept for most kids. The day before they went in, if they got hurt, their parents likely noticed and dragged them kicking and screaming to the doctor who was likely one of the best in town and would be aggressive about treatment (over treat if anything to drive up billing), PT, and bringing them back slowly and carefully. The parent and the doctor/system essentially balances the child's I am indestructible attitude. The day after they go in, the switch is flipped. They need to advocate for their own care in a system where its (I am guessing) harder to get if nothing else based on the sheer numbers and bureaucracy.

    I am curious, does an SA reach out to parents in the case of injury? Strained bicep? Broken arm? Compound fracture needing surgery?
     
  7. Boozebin

    Boozebin Member

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    I know that the AFA has cadets sign forms if they want their parents notified or not.

    What I don't know if there is a line on the type of injury. If I had to guess I think if surgery is involved they will notify parents, if its sprains and even breaks I don't think they will. And please read into that my guess statement, it's a GUESS from a know nothing parent who has no personal experience to draw on.
     
  8. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    The academy will reach out to their emergency contact if in that situation. This is planned surgery, so wouldn't fall in that category. You can go with them while they have surgery (this is allowed). If you aren't there, then they can ask a nurse or Corpsman to phone you and say you made it through just fine. My sponsors were there for my surgery. They called my mom and dad for me. HIPPA laws are the same... If your DS has surgery and says it's fine to discuss his stuff in front of you, then it's fine. Until he says it's all good, they won't (or shouldn't is probably a better word).
     
  9. fifi5

    fifi5 Member

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    This is a very interesting post in that I think many of us wonder what happens if your child gets hurt at an SA. While visiting USNA we saw many mids hobbling around, some in boots, some limping, crutches, casts. Here is my question: I know it is recommended that we keep our child on our medical insurance for a certain amount of time after they are in an SA. How long I am not sure. Say you decide to keep them on your insurance for an extended time. If the child gets hurt at an SA, can that child use your (their own) insurance to seek private medical advice and care instead of going through the SA government doctors? Sorry if this is a silly question but as a parent I would like to know that care is available as soon as needed.
     
  10. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    If this were at USNA, and a sponsor mid of ours, we would have a grown-up to grown-up two-way conversation about taking responsibility for one's physical readiness to serve, that there is a time to "suck it up," and a time to take the long view and think about the goal of being commissioned with no physical roadblocks, and being candid about the situation with healthcare providers.

    So, I'd tell the mid if he/she was being roadblocked at Medical, to brief in the company senior enlisted advisor or company officer and ask for their help, possibly to call over to Brigade Medical Officer to see what expediting could be done. USNA is a factory that takes raw material and produces junior officers ready to serve in the Fleet or Corps. Everyone who has a hand in that production line - faculty, Commandant's staff, athletic department, counselors, even food service - has a responsibility to help move the mids through to that commission.

    When I was a BattO, I had many conversations with the Brigade Medical Officer about individual mids, and it was always focused on "are we doing everything we can to get Midn X back to being a fully up round." We have had several sponsor mids with various serious health issues, and once they sought chain of command support, the rough spots smoothed out.

    If a varsity sport is involved, the team doctor should already be involved to advocate.

    Hope it works out.
     
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  11. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    I think the point about learning how to navigate medical care on their own is spot on. Since I was a sports kid we were always asked, are you hurt or injured? I always pushed through the hurt, but didn't really learn the injured lesson until I hung up the sneakers and my body felt 50 at 24. Heck I went to the doctor a few months ago and had surgery the following day! So maybe I haven't learned my lesson... It sounds like your DS is definitely injured, and injured pretty badly. Capt MJ gave very sound advice on seeking assistance from his Company Senior Enlisted or Company Officer. Learning how to navigate military medicine when you are a brand new Plebe and the Doc is a Navy CDR can be challenging. Regardless of their rank, these guys are learning they are their best healthcare advocate. Seeking guidance or even a push from a Company Officer or SEL is key to learning how to advocate on their behalf.

    As to the question on insurance... that is debated alot. They are completely covered by Tri-Care. They get hurt or sick on leave, there are steps on how to do that. Its covered. They are briefed on this before their first leave (if things still follow normal patterns). Theoretically the military owns them and getting medical care outside their approval is usually frowned upon.
     
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  12. greentrees

    greentrees Member

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    DS dislocated shoulder snowboarding C4C year -- only needed PT, but had he needed surgery USAFA would have done it. Two years later he had a sports hernia and had the repair surgery at USAFA; wonderful sponsors took care of him for 3 days before he returned to the "hill"
    Other friends at USAFA had surgery -- one for a torn achilles, another for a torn labrum in shoulder, another ACL repair.
    Never was a question of any of them staying at USAFA or even being turned back.
    Did know of a gymnast that took a medical leave year to have special shoulder surgery; had to get approval from Supe and others, but came back the following year and then was in the class behind his original class.

    And won't go into the two females who left for a year to have babies...
     
  13. bookreader

    bookreader Member

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    Tell your cadet this - get medical care now because if you do not, you may end up injuring it beyond repair and you may have permanent damage. Permanent damage may limit or end your military career.

    My cadet was also injured but planned to just ignore the pain and not tell anyone. Thankfully his cadre noticed him limping (after the swim test - and no one should be limping after the swim test!). He spoke with my son - who denied any problem - and ordered him to see the medic 'anyway'. The medic examined him and ordered him to see the dr who ordered an MRI. The MRI took a week but he was on medical restriction during that time so no further damage could happen. Thankfully he was not allowed to continue to ignore the pain because he had a tear that was so large that it was almost unrepairable. Had that been the case, the damage would have been permanent. It never occured to my son that by not getting medical care he could end up with permanent damage. I think he was quite sobered when he got that news - after the surgery.

    They know that they have to 'suck it up' when it comes to some pain - esp the young men. Or the fear is that their fellow cadets will laugh at them for complaining about 'a little' pain. And they also have almost no experience deciding what is 'a little pain' and what is serious, get-medical-attention-now pain.

    I will also mention this about Keller (the hosp at WP which I have experience with) Hosp. They handle sports injuries on a daily basis so it's their specialty. It's best for a cadet to get medical care there for a sports injury rather than at a civilian hosp back home simply because the drs at Keller are better at it. It's their bread and butter. It's what they look at every day. And they really are excellent at what they do. Our drs at home looked at our son's injury/MRI and gave a very different opinion than the drs at Keller. The care he got at Keller was truely stellar.
    Even my son noticed the difference.
     
  14. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I'm a little confused:

    Are you worried that the MRI is scheduled too far off? That the PT he is doing is doing more damage? Or that his ability to hide the pain is causing misdiagnosis?

    An MRI in one week is pretty good. Those machines run pretty much 24/7 at most hospitals so unless someone has a life threatening problem an MRI doesn't usually happen ASAP in the military.

    Physical therapists are well versed in how much to push someone. In my experience they use other indicators other than pain/lack of pain to tell them how far to push. Range of motion or weakness are two that people really can't hide well.

    Most sports med type doctors I know don't really use the quantity of pain reported as people often will say "12" or something like that when asked to rate it between one and ten. (I changed my question many years ago to be "how bad is your pain 1-10 with 10 being a bear ripping your arm off in the middle of the woods"). The quality, location, and mitigating factors of the pain usually tell me much more than the pure quantity of it.

    Overall from an outsider looking in it looks like he is getting progressively advanced care as his situation warrants. My guess is the MRI will guide the rest of his treatment.

    As others have noted the military sports med docs are usually pretty good.
     
  15. MDDADD

    MDDADD Banned

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    I am also interested to understand what is normal. Our kid is at USNA and is D1 student athlete but in non-contact sport where the coaches rarely if ever deal with injuries. Our kid was injured on a morning training run that was not sports related and initially misdiagnosed as having mild ankle sprain.

    I took a week for them to realize the issue was something more, a second week to get the MRI done on order of the PT, and now it looks like it will be yet another full week (3 weeks in) before they get the MRI back and read at USNA.

    Is that normal?

    Kid not concerned but my wife and I took to wearing our Army gear and colors as a silent half-joking protest. Picking up the sponsor kids was fun and generated discussion... "Why are you wearing that!?!!" "I am wearing Army green till USNA reads the MRI and gives the kid a good diagnosis." "At least put the roof up!" "No way!!"

    They all still came out for the weekend and steak dinner LOL. Food always wins them over.

    :tank1:
     
  16. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    That's fairly normal. The vast, vast majority of muscoloskeletal injuries will recover with simple RICE (Rest/Ice/Compression/Elevation) treatment. Unless an injury warrants concern for an XRay or is an obvious fracture then usually the process is conservative treatment --> if conservative treatment fails then proceed to either further radiologic studies as indicated or referrals to specialists.

    Non urgent/emergent MRI's can take a few days to be read by a radiologist. A week is probably more than usual, but that was probably the PCM saying give them a week to make sure someone isn't calling them the day the MRI is done asking them what it shows. I blame professional sports for spreading the information that MRI's are needed for every single injury and done the day or day after injury and then the results are known that day and so forth. Reality is much different than what happens when a person/team has their own orthopedic surgeon (among several other physicians) standing on the side line. (Granted at USAFA/USNA/USMA if it's a football or basketball player or some other big sport they're going to get special treatment probably)
     

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