You've heard of March Madness? Well, I'd like to give it a new spin.
In March Sean officially began the process for his medical evaluation board (MEB) through the Army which would allow him to take a medical retirement . We have been waiting for this to proceed for almost two years.
Following our testimony and meetings in Washington, DC in January, there was some Congressional pressure applied to get people moving. Suddenly we had people calling and scheduling appointments. Great! However, a nurse would call and say they had an opening that afternoon (Um, no. We're 10 hours away.), oh can you be here at 10 tomorrow? (Seriously?) They were scrambling, but no organized plan in sight.
Fortunately we connected with a Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer (PEBLO) who worked dilligently to arrange all Sean's appointments with various departments within the same week at the end of March.
Orthopedics: examined his 1998 knee injury
Psychiatry: requested repeat neuro psychological evaluation
Ophthalmology: requested repeat evaluation by neuro ophthalmologist
The neuro ophthalmologist requested an MRA, MRI of orbits (eyes), and an electroretinography (ERG).
Neurology: requested repeat visual evoked potentials (VEP)
Physical: requested repeat MRI
With some difficulty, Sean was put on orders to fly us down for his week of appointments. Despite the push to have Sean's evaluations done in a timely manner, the job of issuing the orders was a "hot potato" with no one doing the job, and everyone denying it was their responsibility.
We were told at week's end that Sean needed to have the above testing requested by each department completed. . . at the military base. . . as schedules allowed. . . meaning mulitple trips back and forth. Sean requested that he be allowed to arrange the appointments closer to home to make it easier for him and for our family. It was agreed that we would work with Tricare to find providers and set up the appointments--and have it all completed within 30 days!
Little did I know what I was agreeing to do! I spent most of April on the phone with Tricare trying to get each test approved. I was on the internet searching for providers, then contacting each provider to ask if they were a Tricare provider, accepting new patients, and could see Sean within 30 days. In the meantime, Tricare was sending me letters with appointments they had arranged in places like Independence, MO, and Topeka, KS. I was calling and cancelling those appointments and making new ones closer to home. By close I mean within six hours driving distance. We travelled to Minot, ND, Sturgis, SD, and Minneapolis, MN, and Sioux Falls (3 times) in less than a month.
There was great confusion over the MRI as Tricare refused to approve it in Aberdeen, instead telling me every time I called that Sean could have it done on post--10 hours away. Ridiculous!
While it took longer than 30 days (we had to make multiple requests to the doctor on post to submit a request for an MRI in Aberdeen), we managed to have all testing completed and results submitted by mid-May.
Then, we waited for the doctors to write the NARSUM, or narrative summary, which will eventually go to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) for a final rating decision and discharge. We are still waiting.