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faa medical deferred

seriously trying to start flying again - March usually gets us some nice weather so my plan was to start now.

I tried to get my FAA medical renewed this month and it didn't go right. It was related to my migraines - I'm a little nervous.

Apparently on my initial medical in 2009 I did not check the box saying I had "severe headaches" - I checked the box for "vision problems", and I attest that I definitely wrote in the comments that I had auras that were treated with migraine medication, but that was an old paper form that's not available to my new AME (Aviation Medical Examiner - basically a family doctor who's got an FAA authorization to determine who's a safe pilot).

Honestly in 2009, I don't know that I'd ever had the headaches associated with migraines. I checked in my notes because in 2010, when I was pregnant, I had 2-3 migraines with headaches, but wrote down that I hadn't had any before that since September 2006.

My AME showed me this paper for what the FAA says:

1) No ocular migraines. She interpreted this as meaning "you go totally blind" which is different from auras, so I might be okay.

2) They need to hear from primary care physician that your condition is under control. Shit, I haven't seen my primary care physician in YEARS. I've seen OBs for my baby-having, they'd renew my maxalt prescriptions with a shrug, didn't know anything about flying. They were not caring or monitoring me for migraines.

So my medical is "deferred". I posted on AOPA for some advice. Bottom line though... I can't fly until this gets worked out and it could take weeks if things go well, YEARS if it doesn't, because I have to establish a record with a physician who knows me and says these are under control.

Lesson learned if you want to be a pilot... have a primary care physician who you see every year. Probably one who's an AME too, that would make things really easy.

And maybe I need a reminder that my OB is not my primary care physician. it's just so annoying, when you're having babies, you go to see your doctor so many times, who wants another one?

LASTLY from what others said on AOPA, a lot of people renew their medicals 1-2 months before their current one expires, in case this crap comes up. since this is my first renewal I'd never even thought about that - I have to get one every five years so I'm not exactly going to be experienced at it. hell.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 12th, 2014 04:10 pm (UTC)
Ack! I am sorry to hear that, it sounds like a whole lot of no fun.

FYI, though, while it might be nice to have a primary care doc who is *an* AME, it's generally considered best not to have her be *your* AME; since your AME is under an obligation to report *everything* he hears from you to the FAA, it's nice to be able to discuss things with someone who isn't so obligated to get all your ducks in a row before you go talk to someone who is. Obviously, of course, I would never advocate not telling your AME the full and complete truth, but there's value is knowing what she does and doesn't need to hear and which version of the truth will and won't alarm her...
Mar. 12th, 2014 04:17 pm (UTC)
My experience...
I take medication for chronic migraines (I take Maxalt as needed also--it does wonders!). Despite letters of recommendation from two neurologists, two levels of FAA medical people (in OKC) said no—if I take either of these meds (paroxetine, divalproex) I'm disqualified from getting my medical (long-term deferral), and once I'm off any and all medication on their classified list for at least 90 days and am still somehow symptom-free for another 90 days after that, they'll reconsider. But since they won't provide a list of disallowed medications, my neurologist can't make any decision on what drugs might work that aren't on that list—it'd be trial and error, and not something you want to play with when brain chemistry is at issue.

I've since been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which I'm told is a permanent disqualifying condition, so I'll never be able to get my pilot's license unless the FAA changes its rules (and I don't think the thermometer in hell can hit absolute zero).

My experience, then, is very bad, but I truly hope things go better for you!
Mar. 22nd, 2014 05:45 pm (UTC)
Re: My experience...
Not that it matters to you (and my sympathies), but last time I checked only insulin-dependent diabetes is disqualifying, and most Type 2's aren't.
Mar. 12th, 2014 06:29 pm (UTC)
I haven't had a pcp in about 7 years since mine stopped practicing. I felt the same way, I see an OB, who willingly tests my thyroid to make sure my condition doesn't come back as long as I promise to see an endocrinologist the moment something is weird...now my workplace is on me to get one, so I probably should....I have a referral number so my workplace will even find me one. I keep having other things crowd it out of my head though.
Mar. 12th, 2014 08:38 pm (UTC)
Won't they take your OB as your primary care physician, on account of her providing your primary care?

Interestingly, my ocular migraines were diagnosed by my eye doctor at a routine eye check. I asked her about the "sparklies" I get on the edge of my vision sometimes (it never gets worse that that, and they're not distracting or anything). She said 'let me show you this video' and I was like OMG IT LOOKS JUST LIKE THAT WHOA.

That said, what about seeing a neurologist? I think they'd have a much better handle on what "under control" really means in your situation.

Is there any reason you can't ask the AME if that would be sufficient? The neurologist can talk to your OB and get information on trends etc.

Edited at 2014-03-12 08:39 pm (UTC)
Mar. 14th, 2014 05:31 am (UTC)
All good luck. I love reading what you say about flying, and I very much hope you can get back into the skies soon.
Mar. 16th, 2014 03:00 pm (UTC)
I can assure you that your OB doesn't want to be your PCP. We hate it when we have to treat things that we aren't sufficiently trained to take care of! My only experience with treating migraines, is the experience I have treating my OWN migraines!

Good luck getting all this sorted out!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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