‘I can’t take the pain’: B.C. vet fights Veterans Affairs over PTSD, chronic pain treatment

Click to play video: 'B.C. veteran fears for life without help from Veterans Affairs'
B.C. veteran fears for life without help from Veterans Affairs
WATCH ABOVE: A B.C. veteran is fighting Veterans Affairs for treatment that she says is helping her chronic pain and PTSD. Robin Gill reports – Feb 29, 2016

VANCOUVER — Angel Kibble spent seven years with the Canadian Forces in Esquimalt on Vancouver Island. But during that time, she claims she suffered a knee injury in basic training and was harassed by her peers.

She’s been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex regional pain syndrome — a chronic pain condition affecting a limb usually after an injury.

“It feels like my body has been emptied of its blood, filled with gasoline, and I’ve been lit with fire,” says the 37-year-old.

READ MORE: How Canadian vets struggle to transition from combat to civilian life

In 2015, Corporal Kibble was given a medical discharge and she thought Veterans Affairs would take care of her.

Her doctors were trying all kinds of treatments. Finally, they found ketamine was treating both her chronic pain and PTSD.

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“It’s pretty much control, alt, delete for your computer, ” says Kibble. “That’s what it does for your nervous system.”

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Ketamine is a powerful anesthetic. This past December – Christmas Eve to be exact – Veterans Affairs cut her off from the treatment saying she doesn’t qualify for it.
She’s pleaded her case with Minister Kent Hehr in two letters. The stress is getting to her.

“It just sets me back.”

Dr. Greg Passey, Kibble’s psychiatrist, can’t talk about her case because of patient confidentiality.

But, he spent 22 years in the military and says that veterans often have trouble navigating the bureaucracy.

“My worst fear is that someone would end their life because they’re not getting adequate treatment,” says the psychiatrist.

Dr. Brenda Lau, a pain specialist and researcher who runs the Change Pain clinic in Vancouver, believes any delay in treatment can result in a relapse.

“Undertreated pain and undertreated mental health is always a set up for danger for that person,” says Dr. Lau.

READ MORE: Cost of veterans’ mental illness will eclipse other injuries by 2017, PBO report says

Global News contacted the Department of Veterans Affairs about Kibble’s situation.

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A spokesperson for Minister Kent Hehr issued a statement that reads:

“For privacy reasons, I am not able to comment on a specific case, however, I can assure you that the care and well-being of Veterans and their families is a priority for this government.”

Kibble’s fight with Veterans Affairs has left her exhausted.

“Veterans Affairs has a mandate to take care of their members. They’re not doing that.”

She feels the country she serves has now abandoned her. She’s sinking into deeper despair.

“I don’t want to die,” says an emotional Kibble. “I can’t take the pain.”

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