U.S Navy Veteran with Eagle Syndrome

U.S Navy Veteran with Eagle Syndrome


(soft music) (intense music) – I figured out before the VA figured out that I have Eagle’s Syndrome. When I went to the VA, they weren’t concerned with
what I was showing them and I just kept fighting them for a while until I finally got some
traction got an ENT appointment. But what happened was the ENT
appointment was so far out like four months in the future, that it didn’t fly with me. And so, because it was
so far out in the future, the VA Choice allows me to get
an outside than the area ENT, I was able to find a online support group called Living With Eagles, which allowed me to find a doctor list. I found that there was one that happened to be in the
VA network here in Las Vegas. After he looked at my scans
and got his 3D reconstruction, he decided to call me up and say that, Shane this is the worst
Eagle’s syndrome I’ve ever seen and I won’t be able to treat you. – My name is Ryan Osborne. I trained as a head and neck surgeon in South Central Los Angeles, managing the most complex cancer and trauma patients in the country. I’m operating across the globe, in first and third world countries. My experiences have taught me the value of flexible and innovative thinking, but I realized that our healthcare system doesn’t always allow for that. So I started Osborne
Head and Neck Institute. I made it my mission to find the best, most creative surgeons around, and I gave them the space to excel. Together, we create a
new standard in medicine. These are our stories. – There’s also a promise
America makes to its troops. And that is, if you serve your country, when you come home, your
country will serve you. – Fox 13 investigates troubling
claims from local veterans. They say they are still,
still after all these years facing excessive wait times
for benefits and healthcare. – [Narrator] CBS News
investigations revealed widespread manipulation of appointment wait times. – The government ordered
a review of every hospital after reports that patients were dying while waiting and waiting
and waiting for care. – [Narrator] On Monday, the
department released an audit of VA hospitals and
clinics across the country. It shows 57,000 military veterans have been waiting more than
three months to see a doctor, and another 64,000 appear to
have fallen through the cracks. – They’re from a Veterans
Affairs hospital waiting room in Durham, North Carolina. A marine vet’s wife took the pics which of course as you can see show a vet slumped over in a chair, one other vets lying down on the floor. They claim they saw a
handful of older veterans ignored by hospital personnel during the seven hours
that they were there. – And we’re fighting to make
sure that you get the care that you so richly earned, and today’s legislation
is one more promise that the Trump administration is keeping. And we’ve done a lot of promises
and we’ve kept them all. – Hey, you’re okay. You’re a good boy. I’m Shane Figueroa, I’m 29 years old. I’m a US Navy veteran. And I’m from here, Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m not trying to disrespect any doctors that worked in the VA. I know I’ve had a lot of
great doctors in the VA and I’ve had a lot of
bad doctors in the VA. Some of them don’t want to really listen, but there are a lot of them that will take an hour
just to treat one patient. There are the doctors
that I see in the ER, just want to get me out of
there as fast as possible. I mean, I know that that’s
kind of the name of the game but when they see that
there’s this in my neck, they don’t recommend further treatment, they don’t recommend further scans, they just kind of like throw
their arms up in the air and go, well, there’s something there. Months go by with the VA, I’m still bugging them, asking, hey what’s going on what’s going on. And it turns out that the person who’s supposed to be finding me a surgery is kind of gave up trying
to find me a surgery and didn’t tell anybody. And so I found out that
the last thing he said was, I can’t think of anyone in the VA network that can perform the surgery. And so, at that point, I was feeling kind of lost
and hopeless and I was like, I’m just gonna write Sue from OHNI just kinda lay out
everything that was going on. – Sue, thank you for the reply you are actually 10 times
faster at replying than the VA. While Dr. Osborne doesn’t
think the risk is worth it, I definitely do. Because of my Eagle’s syndrome, my wife and I can’t be intimate. Every time we try my pain flares up worse. I can’t even study for my classes. I’m in such pain all the
time that I would rather die than live like this any longer. – Every day having to
wake up and like okay, I’m just going to be spending my day practically doing nothing
and feeling like a burden and a disappointment
to everyone around me. So, why should I be a burden to them? Why should I keep going this way? – Every day is a personal hell. I haven’t read this in a long time. – At that point every day, I’d have thoughts of suicide, where I just couldn’t handle the pain. So it took a long time for the VA to even give me pain
medications throughout the day. – Existence is not a life, every day I hope that it’s either my last or that I will finally get this surgery. – I told her about all of this and she rushed it over to Dr. Osborne who graciously gave me
another phone interview, who then at the end of it, decided to give me the
surgery and pay for it, which, it blew me away. I mean, I’m on the verge
of crying right now just thinking about it,
I did cry at the time. So, that’s what brought
me to OA generally. – I have a son who’s almost Shane’s age, and it just really hit home. So I thought, well, why not give it a try? I know Dr. Osborne’s an expert in this. And I thought, well, if
anybody can help this guy, it would be our team here. – So Eagle’s Syndrome,
to put it very simply, there are two ligaments that you have one on each side of your neck and these ligaments attach to the skull and they attach to what
we call the hyoid ball, which is sort of like the
wishbone of a human being. And sometimes those ligaments which are generally soft and mobile, jiust like a ligament that you
would find on a chicken leg, It turns hard and calcified like bone. So it becomes like this rigid rods that are stuck in your neck. And those rigid rods because
of where they’re located next to multiple cranial nerves, one that moves your tongue, one that moves your face. Also arteries and veins such as the jugular vein and the carotid artery. When there’s compression
on those structures, people can get a host
of different symptoms. That’s your facial nerve. This is your carotid artery, and that’s your jugular vein. That’s taking blood to your brain that’s taking blood away from the brain. This is that ligament, there’s a nerve. See, you see why no one
wants to go on that area. – [Brandyn] Oh, yeah. – Because it’s close to
everything that’s important. It’s in an area where
you can hurt the patient as quickly as you could help them. You have major nerves,
major arteries and veins all tucked in that little bitty space. And you’re really working within about a one inch square inch radius. If you you make the wrong move in one direction or another, you are gonna hurt that patient. – I’d take any risk,
honestly, at this point. I know that a doctor
wouldn’t take risks that, if there was a 90% chance that I die, they wouldn’t take the risk of doing it but, at this point in my life, I would, without a second doubt, and I can’t think of a better
doctor than Dr. Osborne, I mean, I’ve done my research and I’ve seen everything that he can do and if anyone’s gonna, if I’m gonna take this risk with anyone I’d want it to be with him. (soft music) I just want… I wanna get my life back. (upbeat music) – Shane, we’re ready for you. – Okay guys, I love you. – Love you too bro. – You got this. – I know. – See you in a few hours. – Yeah. (upbeat music) – Sedative ready to go? – Yes. (laughing) – Going into this surgery although he has the calcifications on both the left and the right side, it would be very risky to operate on both ligaments at the same time. So we’re gonna do the side that we believe to be causing him the most difficulty. If after that he recovers and
he gets enough improvement, that may be the only surgery we do. If it’s not, we’re going to go back and do the other side. (machine beeping) (speaking indistinctly) – We have to find the facial nerve, we have to find the jugular
vein and the carotid artery, as well as the hypoglossal nerve. Once we’ve identified those structures, we can move those out of the way and move towards actually cutting out the calcified ligament. (upbeat music) So, the surgery went well, it’s over and I was able to remove the entire ligament that was calcified. As far as how this is
going to work for Shane, we’re gonna have to wait and see. I still don’t know if I’ve helped him. (machine beeping) – [James] Alright, round
one, successfully done. (soft music) – [Ryan] There are 18.2 million veterans in the United States, more than 9 million of them
are called to serve each year. As these veterans risked their
lives to serve our country, it is up to us to take care
of them when they return home. However, sometimes this is not the case. Many of our veterans return home, finding the transition to civilian life to be rather difficult. Some of the problems they
face are psychological trauma, lack of affordable housing, and lack of adequate employment. This ultimately leads to depression. There are an average of 20 veterans who commit suicide every day. Many veterans, just like Shane, face staggering waiting times just to get an appointment at the VA. These veterans return home with unique and special ailments. For those of us in the
private sector of medicine, we have an opportunity, no, no wait a minute,
we have an obligation to care for these men and women, who have risked their
lives to serve our country. – I noticed a great deal
of freedom in my life, I didn’t feel like I was
caged in my own home, I was caged in my own body where I had all these desires
to go out and do things, but every time I would I would have some sort of physical ailment that would always be holding me back. I was always depressed about
that, I was always sad. You know, it’s kind of funny as it took me a while to think of the
word depressed cause I was. I was overly depressed 24/7, and now I don’t even think
about the word depression. It’s kind of a little
bit more foreign to me. I’m happier, I’m jovial. There’s been such a long time coming of me trying to find a
way for me to be happy and I didn’t realize how much that was tied to my physical ailments. I’ve been able to get back into doing the passions that I love, like TaeKwonDo and martial arts. It’s a nice feeling to be
able to make it through and know that I’m
keeping up with everybody that I should be able to keep up with. I feel like an older version of myself, a happier version of myself that I haven’t seen in a long, long time. – There’s two types of
healing with surgery, there’s the physical
healing from the incision, and potentially everyone’s
worried about having a scar. But there’s also the emotional healing of knowing that this big weight has been lifted off your shoulders, and that you can move forward, you know what was wrong with your body, it’s been addressed, and now
you can put that behind you. So, in that sense, I think
Shane’s gonna be really happy. He’s gonna live a great life. – There is a need for qualified physicians and there are a lot of veterans
that are left in the dust. – [Narrator] 40 veterans
died at this VA hospital while waiting up to 21
months to see a doctor. – All they have to rely on is the cheque that they get from the VA disability. And all they have to rely
on is their VA insurance. And their VA doctor is
basically telling them, I can’t serve you. I mean, for me they literally
didn’t have a surgeon at all that could perform
the surgery that I needed. No veteran is the same. They all have very
different medical problems and I feel like the VA
is giving them a general, one-size-fits-all band aid. – [Narrator] Veteran and Purple
Heart winner Ralph De Castro died after waiting months
for a specialist visit to diagnose the lump found in his neck after a routine checkup. – We need more specialized services, we need more opportunities
to go out into town and seek out more specialized care. Dr. Osborne wasn’t the
first ENT specialist that worked on Eagle’s syndrome that I have try and come in contact with, but they were the first ones to treat me as an actual individual. They were the first ones to not treat me as just another
symptom to get fixed. When I came at Sue with this pain and this despair and
agony that I came at her, she came at me with
just complete open arms and like, I’ma do what I can to help you. – It’s not just me, along the way, there’s so many people
here that facilitate every part of the patient experience. It was just my day to get that call. – It was like at that moment, God decided to answer my prayers
and put Sue in front of me. She was the call to my to my prayer, and I’m so thankful. – You never know what
you’re gonna come across, who you’re gonna come across and to have the opportunity
to have that kind of impact on a patient’s life is really amazing. – I love you Sue. Dr. Osborne, you’ve
been an angel in my life and you’ve taken my life from
where I was living in hell, and now I feel like I’m at least able to stand on the earth and pursue getting into heaven
if that makes sense in a way. I feel a bit redeemed physically, and it wouldn’t have happened
if not for Dr. Osborne. I’ll owe him for the rest of my life. I dunno what I’ll be able to do to repay him for everything that he’s done for me and my family. – Seeing Shane now after surgery and watching him do all the
things he couldn’t do before and just seeing his persona change, I see that surgery was not done in vain. And I’m glad that I was able
to help him in that situation. It’s scary being the patient, but sometimes it’s equally
scary being the surgeon. I wanna help, I don’t wanna hurt but when you’re in this gray zone and you don’t know which one
is gonna be the situation, it’s hard sometimes to pull the trigger, and I’m glad we did. (upbeat music)

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