Airborne Operation Gone Bad

I was an active duty paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina for the past four and a half years up until my honorable discharge in December of 2008. In March of 2006 I had a typical "Hollywood" jump which means no combat equipment. Anyways, everything was going normal until I exited the plane a little weak and found myself smacking headfirst into the side of the C-130. As a result of all of this my chute didn't deploy 100% which sent me soaring towards the ground faster than normal. By the time I came to I was only able to look up to see a half open chute and then I looked down and saw I was about 100 feet off the ground. I tried my best to bicycle kick my chute open as I was trained to do but it wasn't fast enough. I slammed into the earth but the adrenaline allowed me to feel no pain at the time. After about an hour or so, my legs were shaking and I was having severe back pain. I was taken to Walter Reed hospital and got some x-rays that showed that nothing was broken...but that was just the beginning.

Years went by after this. I complained and complained about back pain and the horrible medical attention I got was beyond pathetic. At one point I was just told to stretch by our Battalion medics. Well I dealt with and dealt with it and finally during my second and last deployment to Iraq I just couldn't take it anymore. I finally got a much needed MRI to find out that I had three herniated discs, eight bone spurs that were putting pressure on my spinal cord and my spine was severely curved. I then did the wrong thing and listened to my Battalion physicians assistant and he advised me to extend my contract and "get fixed" while I was still in. What a mistake that was! I completed a month of painful physical therapy that in my opinion made things worse. Maybe because they had me hooked up to the traction machine the wrong way for two weeks.

I am now back home and trying desperately to not complain every day just by doing the simplest of tasks. I take tramadol a few times a day but it doesn't help me completely. The VA hospital has been helping me way more than anyone else has so far. I guess I am kind of stuck right now. This thing has completely changed me. I used to run 40-50 miles a week and now that is just a fond memory. Does anyone out there have any advice for me? - Dustin



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