Help - Medications, MEB, and fitness!

Discussion in 'Air Force Discussion' started by Libertina, Apr 8, 2010.

  1. Libertina

    Libertina PEB Forum Regular Member

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    I posted on here a few months ago about possibly having to go through an MEB after a Celexa-induced suicide attempt, followed by being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. First, thanks for those who commented and supported me :) I didn't reply, but I saw the comments and the reassurance helped.

    My MEB has officially been started, and I'm in that minimum-four-months limbo, rushing to finish my CCAF and all that.

    The problem for me is since I started taking lithium and zoloft when all this occurred in October, I have gained 40 pounds. I am not one of those who can sit still for very long, either, and I'm very active and work out at least five or six times a week. The weight is purely medical and is depressing just on its own. Now I have been counseled about my fitness several times (by different individuals) and have been told that I will receive a referral EPR if I don't pass my fitness. I have done all I physically can do. I pushed myself harder than ever at our last command run and almost ended up in the ER with lithium toxicity when I was done.

    If I am unable to pass my PT, will that hurt my MEB and make things worse for me? This is the main issue that has been plaguing me like none other, and because I've had adverse reactions to medications in the past, they're not willing to change them. Thank you in advance for your time.
  2. poisonpanik

    poisonpanik PEB Forum Regular Member

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    Do you have any PT restrictions? I hate that the AF has gone nuts with the PT thing. My advice would be to talk with your supervisor about this and see if he/she can't help you. At least this way it will show you are proactively trying to find a solution. I would also gather up paperwork to show your weight gain in such a short period. Not sure if talking to your PCM and maybe have them talk to your Commander about why you had the quick gain in weight would be useful but you can ask your supervisor that one and get their opinion.

    One failure isn't a huge deal unless your EPR will close out before you can retest. I don't see how this would negatively affect your MEB unless you are trying to stay in the AF.

    While you wait go get a copy of your medical records. You can always request the stuff you didn't get at a later date. I do this after every few visits. That way I only have to organize 5-10 pages instead of getting 500 pages at the end of my career.

    GOOD LUCK AND STAY POSITIVE!
  3. Libertina

    Libertina PEB Forum Regular Member

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    Poison -
    The only physical thing as far as my profile goes is I can't do push ups (because of a previous injury to the elbow). I've now talked to my NCOIC, my commander, the vice commander, the shirt, the NCOIC in the office I'm working in (they relocated me for now), and the clinic multiple times. Problem is, I can't seem to find a single damn doctor in our clinic who speaks English, which to me is completely unacceptable. Especially when one of them is is a LtCol!

    What I *could* get from the medical folks was that yes, my medications cause weight gain. The weight gain seems to have leveled off, but I'm having a hell of a time trying to lose it. I work out 5-6 times a week and burn a minimum of 300-600 calories a day, eat healthy, and stay active, and it's not going anywhere. I'll try to see if I can't get a doctor to contact the commander to inform him on what's going on. That's a pretty good idea, thanks! :) I'll do that once I find one who is coherent.

    I've been told by multiple doctors as well as the MEB folks that it is incredibly unlikely that I will be staying in the military. I'm completely torn by that knowledge, and it has been a huge stressor in my life as of late... From what I've researched, it seems I have a good chance of being medically retired, but that doesn't comfort me much... No point in fighting it if it'll only hurt my percentage in the long run, I guess, but I don't look forward to it.

    I'm just trying to avoid any extraneous stress right now, and my fitness is a huge issue for me. I used to be at the top, and just from meds fell right down to the bottom. It's a foreign, scary place. :(

    Thank you for your advice and patience, and for the encouragement.
  4. rebelblue

    rebelblue PEB Forum Regular Member

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    Suggestions. 1. Get a note added to your profile (handwritten and stamped/signed by doctor if necessary) stating that current meds cause weight gain and make waist measurement useless for PT test. 2. Take note to HAWC. 3. Listen politely as they tell you they can't do anything with note until July when PT reg changes
    4. Take note to either 1st Sgt, OIC, Commander, or whoever you are comfortable talking to in your chain of command who is somewhat aware of this situation. 5. Explain that you are on drugs that make you gain weight, you have done your best to prevent this but until you come off the drugs this is most likely not going to happen. Explain that you don't want to fail the PT test because of waist alone, but can't get an exemption due to current reg. New reg might or might not list your meds. It does allow for waist exemptions due to medications. Please realize though that the more components you become exempt from the more likely you are to fail unless you really excel at whatever ones are left. Since the Commander runs the PT program, he may be able to grant you an exemption to waist measurement based on your doctors note. Be sure to have the doctors phone number available unless he has any questions.

    I am working through this process now with the support of my OIC because I am currently testable waist only. This has led to my 2d consecutive fail...and I am due to test again this month. If I fail again, or maybe 2 more times, they are threatening to administratively demote me and administratively discharge me. This despite the fact that I have a medical condition that is currently uncontrolled that prevents me from passing the test. Due to failing I have received a referral EPR (which since I wasn't eligible for testing for the next 2 years wasn't a huge deal to me at the time anyway, and 2 LOR's...as well as the threats of demotion and administrative discharge). Trust me you don't want that. If getting a waist exemption will allow you to pass the test, do whatever you can to get it. According to my OIC the commander should be able to grant it based on your meds....but I dont know where he got that info....
  5. rebelblue

    rebelblue PEB Forum Regular Member

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    No I don't think one fail will hurt your MEB case. I think that if you are looking for an unfit finding it will help. However if you are looking for a fit finding, maybe it could hurt. but you could defend it by explaining the drug thing pretty easily I think. But if you get to the 3 consecutive fails or higher (in 24 months) which is where I will be sitting......That is BAD! Commanders and 1st Sgts start looking at administrative demotion. Current reg doesn't prevent administrative demotion for med reasons that I could find. New reg specifically states something about after 4th consecutive fail commander may administratively demote IF PCM determines there is no medical condition that is causing/contributing to the failure (this is not exact wording...but gist of meaning).

    I just don't want you to be in boat I'm in. It's become a race....which will come first.....MEB results or 4th PT fail.....I'm hoping for MEB...keep fingers crossed
  6. poisonpanik

    poisonpanik PEB Forum Regular Member

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    I know how you feel about the MEB. I fought VERY hard to be retained and in the end USAF just wants to get rid of people. The challenge for you is to become an expert on this process so you know what rights you have and how you can exercise those rights. Life after USAF isn't a bad thing. Research the minimum rating for the condition they MEB'd you for and know it well. If it is 30% then yeah, retirement is on the table. That's a good thing. Medical, base access, and all the good things that come with it! Start looking at schools if you want to finish a 4 year degree. If you haven't switched, start thinking about if the new post 9/11 GI Bill would be of more benefit for you and make the switch. Go to a TAP class and then go again. Put your mind in "I'm leaving the military" mode and plan for the worst. Anything less is good news :) You have a great start since you have already found this place!
  7. kmhknight

    kmhknight PEB Forum Regular Member

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    I am facing the same problem in the AF right now. I am on Zoloft and it has caused me to gain 32 lbs. Due to this I can hardly run, and have tremendous amounts of leg pain. I PT test this Friday and WILL fail due to waist measurement/run. I saw my PCM, a PA, and he told me it is my fault that I allowed myself to gain the weight, so I should continue to exercise regardless of doing so 5 days per week. I went to him about the leg pain and he did not even look at my legs. So I switch PCM's to get my legs looked at and hte new one's nurse tells me they looked at my last PCM's notes and that I should "stop trying to get out of the PT test." Wow...

    Anyhow, my psych doctor downtown tells me the Zoloft has caused the weight gain, and my dietician at the HAWC also noted it plays a huge role in my weight gain. My on-base therapist is as frustrated as I am right now with the whole situation. This might help Lbertina, but from what she told me, if you are undergoing an MEB you can't have administrative action taken against you for PT test failures. I will have to check the new reg to make sure that is correct.

    Regardless, I have beenunder so much pressure from this that I have become depressed towards my career. Here I am taking Zoloft for PTSD/Anxiety/Panic Disorder, and now I have to add depression to the list!

    So where the heck is the common sense in all this? I have given 14.5 good years to the Air Force, been shot at, blown up, and beat down. How does the PT test trump ALL of this?

    I feel the pain of each and everyone of you on this forum.
  8. poisonpanik

    poisonpanik PEB Forum Regular Member

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    If your PCMs aren't doing their job as doctors you should go speak with the patient advocate. Last resort would be to go to the ER after duty hours. I personally think the PT test is a retention tool. When they don't want to keep people they tighten the restrictions and when they need to keep people they loosen them. Just recently USAF "tweaked" their PT policy.

    GOOD LUCK!

    Air Force Tweaks New Fitness Policy
  9. yankin

    yankin PEB Forum Regular Member

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    I was in the exact situation as you. Three PT failures and could only test on the AC. Very limited on PT and on steroids for COPD. I had a line number for E-6 which I lost due to a referral EPR. My CC and Shirt fought like dogs to get the MDG to exempt me on the AC due to the drugs. MDG would not play ball. I have been in 15 years, kept my nose clean with firewall five EPR's. Everyone tells me I am a good troop but you cant have TSgt because your waist is over two inches. I am actually running the shop at the moment due to my boss being deployed. It does burn me that I am being told you cant have TSgt due to not maintaining standards but I am good enough to run the shop. Sorry to vent.

    All the above is for nothing unless you can pass the PT test. It is the most important thing to the AF at the moment.

    The most important thing you can do is to have your CC and Shirt and Supervisor in your corner. They are the only ones who can help you out in a situation like this. Mine have been patient awaiting the MEB findings, I was given a 10% rating with severance today. I will be sad to leave but don't like the direction the AF is going.

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