Iraq vet trying to maintain
Published 2:07 am Saturday, February 7, 2009
Jeremy Goodman returns from medical center in Florida
By GREG KATSKI
The pain strikes Jeremy Goodman often, rippling down his spine to damaged nerve endings. Anguish creases his face every time it hits.
But it could be worse, and would have been had the Washington native and U.S. Army veteran not spent the past four months in a Veterans Affairs hospital in Florida. In VA terms, Goodman is a “wounded warrior.” And the Wounded Warriors program at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa is there for him and others who have sacrificed for their country.
It’s been almost 3 1/2 years since Goodman sacrificed a portion of his life.
On Sept. 15, 2005, the Washington native was struck by a roadside bomb while stationed in Iraq with the U.S. Army 57th Calvary Division. Shrapnel from the explosion pierced his spine. Since then, he has undergone 45 to 50 operations/procedures to his spinal cord, but the pain persists.
But the pain has subsided about 30 to 40 percent, since doctors implanted a spinal cord stimulator into him on Dec. 1, Goodman said. The procedure was performed by Dr. Kristen Fisher while Goodman was in the Wounded Warriors facility.
He checked into the center on Sept. 17, 2008, as part of the WWP. The program is designed to help wounded soldiers manage their pain through physical therapy and other remedies. Goodman said the physical therapy proved ineffective, but the pain management helped.
A WWP case manager and another therapist with the medical center checked on him everyday between surgeries, procedures, pain management sessions and physical therapy.
When Goodman arrived at the medical center — in constant pain and bedridden — he was assigned to Dr. Mike Schwartz, a neurologist.
Schwartz, the medical center’s spinal cord injury outpatient medical director, put Goodman through several months of therapy.
The wounded warrior was eventually transferred to Fisher, who recommended implanting a nerve stimulator.
He describes the overall experience at the medical center as one big roller coaster ride.
Goodman and his family arrived home in Washington on Jan. 16 after four long months of setbacks and minor progress at the WWP.
Though Goodman’s wounds have healed, he still copes with major challenges. Atop the list, so far, has been his inability to find a local primary care doctor.
Through a program called Fee Basis, the Department of Veterans Affairs will pay for Goodman’s medical bills. But the effort that goes into filling out the program’s extensive paperwork has turned away every primary care provider the family has contacted.
Goodman’s mother said her son needs routine checkups for diabetes and other constant ailments. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after suffering his spinal cord injury in Iraq. To help cope, Goodman takes several prescribed pain medications that he takes three times a day.
The wounded warrior misses the days when he could play ball at the park and take a stroll down Main Street.
But he’s not ready to give up on a normal life just yet.
Goodman was one of 30,928 soldiers wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom, as of Dec. 31, 2008, according to the Web site www.icasualties.org.
For Goodman and his family, keeping a positive mind-set in the face of adversity is all they can do.
Corresponding Photo cutline: Jeremy Goodman recuperates in a courtyard at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The wounded soldier was shipped to the center after suffering a spinal cord injury from a roadside bomb in Iraq. (Contributed Photo)