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#203132 - 03/31/11 02:52 AM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: jgm]  
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sjelliott40 Offline
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I just started the MEB process for AS. When the packet went to the board they decided not to foreward my packet to the PEB because the MEB wants me to take Humira for 3 to 6 months first to seee if the pain improves. This makes no sense to me. I know Humria can help with pain but the AS will never go away. Can the MEB make me take it. If not what can I do to proceed with the PEB. Any advice would be appreciated.

Steve

#203136 - 03/31/11 03:36 AM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: sjelliott40]  
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In many cases TNF blockers like Humira or Enbrel are almost a "cure", in the sense that as long as you keep taking it, it is as if you don't have AS. In other words, many AS patients on TNF blockers have no disability at all, so a retirement on medical grounds would not be appropriate. I would guess that this is the thinking behind their actions.

Last edited by seekonk; 03/31/11 03:38 AM.

Spondylitis since '08, finally diagnosed Feb '11.
Enbrel 50mg/week.
#203147 - 03/31/11 09:19 AM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: seekonk]  
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Can I refuse the Humira? What would be the negative? Can they make me take Humira? I would rather just take Motrin. AR 40-501 states AS as a condition that would not allow me to be retained so whats the difference if I'm the drug or not? Any suggestions?

Steve

#203149 - 03/31/11 12:17 PM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: sjelliott40]  
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Why would you want to refuse the Humira? It doesn't just help with the pain - in many cases Humira alters the severity of the disease much more than Motrin. Don't you want to be better? Or are you just fed up with your work and want out? I'm not trying to judge you, but I can guarantee you that this is what the adjudicator of your case is going to think if you refuse treatment.

Last edited by seekonk; 03/31/11 01:06 PM.

Spondylitis since '08, finally diagnosed Feb '11.
Enbrel 50mg/week.
#203275 - 04/01/11 09:56 AM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: seekonk]  
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mmparker Offline
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Virginia
Please send me a PM on this. You need to be aware of some complicated considerations in terms of your MEB/PEB process which will have a lifetime impact on your benefits.
Mike

#246060 - 12/31/12 08:56 PM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: 60Driver]  
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I thank you all for your input. So, during my last flight physical and shortly after another experience with iritis, my flight surgeon insisted on ruling out or confirming the presence of AS. So, off to the labs and radiology I went with a culminating appointment with a rhuematologist. And, no surprise, I received a diagnosis of AS. Now, he's having me take an MRI to see how active it is, and start a workup (TB test, Hep profile) to possible start me on a TNF inhibitor.

Since it seems like there are several of us in the same boat, and more unfortunately who will appear in the future, I'll keep updating as I go.

I have 7 and a half years of service at this point; but I'm not afraid of an MEB or separation. I am simply seeing this as an opportunity to possibly start a different (albeit difficult) chapter in life. My strategy moving through this process is honesty (no more hiding the pain), and ensuring primarily that I get the treatment I need to be able to live as painless a life (military or not) as possible. If I don't get a high disability rating on separation, I believe I'll be able to work or use my GI Bill for an advanced degree. As long as I get my AS service connected so that I can get the pricey medications I'll feel like I met my goal.

Thankfully, my AS has been relatively mild to the point where as a commander I've been able to do PT with my Soldiers and go on runs and such (not as fast as I'd like sometimes, but I hang with all but the fastest young guys). But I have that feeling in my bones (no pun intended) that I won't be able to keep up for much longer.

#246215 - 01/03/13 11:14 PM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: 60Driver]  
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Hey 60Driver, Sorry to hear about the bouts with iritis. I am just starting the IDES (MEB) process for HLA-B27+ spondyloarthropathy in the AF Reserves. In my limited knowledge of this process and disease I believe the drugs are the big issue. I am currently on methotrexate, humira, and meloxicam which permanently ground me from flying and make me un-deployable in the military. I would think that if you are not on any TNF inhibitors and are able to still do PT you should be OK to continue to serve. I know Mike Parker has some excellent info on this subject that would be very helpful to you. You should be able to find it on this site or over on the pebforum. Good luck, hopefully this info helps some from a hawg driver. BTW, always loved working with the -60s.
Snap

#246225 - 01/04/13 05:01 AM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: 60Driver]  
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60Driver Offline
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Snap,

Yes, it was explained to me that it's the drugs that are the kicker. Kind of a catch 22: go down the long painful path of fusion and range of motion restrictions, or start a drug that should make me better but forces me out of my dream job.

Right now, I'm just having a back and forth with my flight doc and the rheumie about TNFis, and alternate treatment options. I'm concerned about TNFis because I get an ear infection about every other year. One thought I have is that if it's the TNFi that makes one non-deployable, can't we stop the TNFi during deployments and training?

Another thing that occurred to me was that when I was on doxycycline (anti malaria application) during my deployment, I was asymptomatic. I did a bit of research and found that doxycycline has shown to have positive results when used in treating early onset of arthritis.

#246244 - 01/04/13 01:27 PM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: 60Driver]  
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I held off on the drugs as long as I possibly could which let me fly in the military for 14 years. When it got to the point where I couldn't sleep, function, or even move during flare ups then I had to start on the meds. I was able to start flying again in the civilian world as the FAA will allow you to fly on these meds as long as you don't have any adverse side effects after a trial period. As far as infections on the meds, I do get more colds/etc now than I did before. I haven't heard that before about the doxycycline but do remember taking it on all my deployments, interesting. Have any of your flt docs looked into what triggered your condition? Walter Reed did a causality assessment on my condition and found that it was most likely triggered on my last deployment by a bacterial trigger in Afghan land or even possibly by my last Anthrax booster which led to my LOD as service aggravated.

#246247 - 01/04/13 02:12 PM Re: Looking for advice for Active Duty Army [Re: 60Driver]  
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60Driver Offline
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No casualty assessment for me, yet. My pain started about seven years ago, first year in the Army, when I was in flight school. I can't think of anything specific that would have triggered it. For me, since I'll have eight years of active federal service in a few months, I'm less concerned about service connection / aggravation as my understanding is that once you're past eight, it doesn't matter.

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