Student pilot: 21 year old DUI, sober for 19 years, active in recovery

Discussion in 'Medical Topics' started by allPrimes, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2020
    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Montana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    allPrimes
    Thanks for asking. Intellectually stimulating, to say the least. More waiting, of course, but the TL;DR is that ultimately, he saw only good things in the testing.

    In all, the testing took a little over 6 hours (not including a break for lunch), measuring a ton of stuff, many tests that must measure something relevant to cognition but I wasn't privvy to what all of them did measure. Others measured basic math and concentration (word problems, timed, no pencil and paper allowed), some measured concentration and reaction time (when the letter flashes momentarily on the black screen, click the space bar, but NOT when the letter is an "X"; close to 15 minutes of this, too!), motor skills (place your hand on the board and click the clicker as many time as possible in 10 seconds. Again. Again. Rest for 30 seconds. Again. Again. Repeat with your left hand.), vocabulary. Lots of stuff. As others have written elsewhere, if there weren't so much riding on it (for me, the realization of a life-long dream, for others a career), it would have actually been fun.

    Playing with blocks. Matching cards whose matching logic changes periodically. Identify what some pictures were. Identify what makes two words the same. Lots of interesting and frankly, mentally challenging tasks. My favorite, though, was doc reads a list of 20 or so random words. Which ones do you remember? They read the same list again. Which ones do you remember? They read it a third time. Which ones do you remember? Now they read a new list of 20 words. Which words do you remember from the new list but tell them no words from the first list. Now tell them which words you remember from first list but none from the second.

    There was also some symbol coding. Numbers 1-6 all have a random symbol associated with each. There are pages and pages of numbers and you have to match the correct symbol to the correct number. Do as many as you can in some time limit. One of the more challenging I found was listen to a recorded voice say a number followed by a second number. Add the two together and tell the doc. Recorded voice says another number. The numbers don't slow down. Add that to the second number and tell the doc. Not a running total but a + b = i, then b + c = j then c + d = k...n + nx. Damn hard. First round of that was at one speed and the second round was about twice as fast.

    The Cogsceen AE had some similar tests to the manually-administered tests and some that were completely different and some that tested "task saturation" (i.e., keep a thing centered with your non-dominant hand while also identifying if the two alphanumeric strings are the same or different with your right hand, and more). The suite of 13 sub-tests was a little over an hour of "GO AS FAST AS YOU CAN BUT MAKE NO MISTAKES." The last part of the day was completion of the 560+ question MMPI battery. Upon completion (because it's computerized, the test is scored automatically), the doc walked in to the office and said matter of factly "it looks like you have problems with authority."

    I asked the doc for a post-game analysis. Although he can't write the final report until he gets my medical file from the FAA (which he'll poke people in OKC about; apparently, he has "connections"), he said (to paraphrase) "you were above average in the general population, above average in the age-adjusted population, and above average in the pilot population. I don't see any aeromedically-significant cognitive issues that would prevent the FAA from allowing you to have a medical certificate." That's good! He mentioned that because the FAA only asked me to do this one portion of the HIMS protocol, he thinks it's a good sign that after his report (provided no surprises from my FAA medical record) and after my AME sends in my packet of stuff, that should be all they need to make a decision. He mentioned that only when he sees equivocal results in the cognitive screening does the FAA ask for anything more if they've already only asked for the neuropsych. Given he saw no issues, he's hopeful that they'll have all they need (provided my AME has a similar positive opinion after their exam).

    Hooray for me! Now it's just more waiting.
     
    PaulS, TCABM, KeepWatch and 4 others like this.
  2. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2020
    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Montana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    allPrimes
    After my HIMS neuropsyh mentioned that he had "connections" in OKC, I had hoped that the records would get out sooner rather than later. That did not, however, prevent me from calling to double check.

    I ended up chatting with Connie in the RFS office in Des Moines, WA to check to see whether or not my records had been sent out. She noted that we were in week 5 of them having been in receipt of the request and was able to get in touch via instant message with the records lady responsible for my records. RFS office inquired, OKC lady asked if she needed to put a "rush" order on it, and when I heard that I said to RFS "well, if it were up to me, yes! And I'd send her flowers if I could!" Connie IM'd OKC and said "airman would appreciate that and mentioned that he would send flowers if he could."

    The upshot is that Connie said "there's a rush order on getting your records out, considering your P&P is already done and they'll hopefully get them out this week."

    I'm hoping for the best but preparing for the "standard" FAA timeline.
     
    Palmpilot and KeepWatch like this.
  3. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2020
    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Montana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    allPrimes
    2020-10-27: Neuropsyhologist just informed me that he received my medical records from the FAA today and will be sending his report to my HIMS AME today. Apparently, the RFS involvement to help get a "rush" on my medical records being processed and sent out by CAMI in OKC worked.
     
  4. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2020
    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Montana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    allPrimes
    2020-11-09: Met with my HIMS AME this AM. After some pleasantries, the first words out of his mouth were "the whole medical certification process with the FAA is just silly." He'll submit my packet to the FAA today and has no idea how long it will take them to review it.

    I've done my part! I did the "hurry up." Now it's just the wait. And like Señor Petty once sang, "the waiting is the hardest part."
     
    KeepWatch and Palmpilot like this.
  5. KeepWatch

    KeepWatch Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2020
    Messages:
    104
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    KeepWatch
    The good news is that yours shouldn't take long to review IMO. It's getting to it in the stack that's the issue......
     
  6. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2020
    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Montana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    allPrimes
    2020-11-19: Spoke with Lawrence in the Des Moines, WA, RFS office this morning who let me know that OKC has received my package (I thought it was supposed to have gone to DC, but I'm assuming my HIMS AME knows best) and that yes, OKC is the right place for it to have been sent. It's in the "to be scanned in to my file" queue. That queue is currently scanning in items from 10/28, so about three weeks behind. After scanning, it'll go to someone in the Alcohol and Drug Office in which there are currently 1,700 cases to be reviewed by 3 people and a single doctor.
     
  7. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2020
    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Montana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    allPrimes
    2021-01-02: Lovely. Just received a letter that the FAA has received the reports submitted by my HIMS AME from November. The FAA then asks me, to paraphrase, "engage with a HIMS AME, random UA monitoring, peer support group monitoring" and then, after 3-4 months of the above, resubmit. The letter was CC'd to my original, local, non-HIMS AME.

    Seems like there has been a few crossed signals here. I started random UAs (all negative) and having an AA log signed in September, documentation of both having been submitted to the FAA in early-mid November 2020. Why the FAA has 1. asked me to engage with a HIMS AME (from whom they received all of the reports in mid Nov) and 2. starting the UA and AA log sheet (two months of which they've already received) is beyond me. I'm confused by this whole process. Notably, it seems that a lot of people are, including my HIMS AME, who authored this article for the AOPA: https://pilot-protection-services.a...program-for-alcohol-and-drug-dependent-pilots

    I've reached out to my HIMS AME for next steps. It seems like the FAA didn't even recognize that he is now my AME, not my local, regular, run-of-the-mill doc I started with.

    Regardless, more waiting abounds.
     
  8. KeepWatch

    KeepWatch Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2020
    Messages:
    104
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    KeepWatch
    Oh boy...... yeah sure sounds like they need to get straight on this. A possible upside of this is that your HIMS AME will likely be communicating directly with the FAA on your behalf to get this cleared up. Maybe the attention will produce a result sooner than it otherwise would have. Wishful thinking, I know.......
     
  9. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    19,868
    Location:
    Catawba, NC
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    FlyingRon
    Years ago, the regional flight surgeon and her pilot advocate helped me decipher the initials at the bottom of the letter so we could call and clear up what was obviously a misread of one of the submitted documents. If your HIMS AME can't awaked Joklahoma City through his normal channels, the RFS may be able to direct him to the person who is making the error.

    What was the date on the letter, by the way?
     
  10. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Messages:
    10,781
    Location:
    New England
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    PaulS
    Nothing to add here, except in line with what I said before, being a pilot under normal circumstances requires patience and perseverance. You seem to have both covered, it's always darkest before the dawn, keep plugging away.
     
    allPrimes likes this.
  11. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Messages:
    4,657
    Location:
    North Carolina once again.
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Tarheelpilot
    Because the FAA is a bureaucrat POS. Unfortunately they hold they keys to the kingdom regarding airspace for now. Good luck.
     
  12. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2020
    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Montana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    allPrimes
    Agreed. I've found that the RFS has been helpful in a number of ways. I'll wait to hear from my HIMS AME for their game plan before I reach out. It's nice knowing there's an additional resource out there.

    Date on the letter was 2020-12-22, postmark was 2020-12-28.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  13. ThatOtherGuy

    ThatOtherGuy Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2020
    Messages:
    38
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    ThatOtherGuy
    They're requesting things you've already been doing, and not some additional medical documentation or testing. This is good news. Take a breath and hang in there. I suspect this is the FAA's way of telling your HIMS AME that they're ready for him/her to request an SI and issue you if the AME is comfortable that your recovery (not just abstinence) is stable. Your HIMS AME will guide you once you provide him with the letter.

    They're CCing the non-HIMS AME because he was the one that performed the medical exam that began this process. Your HIMS AME isn't CC'd because he's not officially involved in the outcome of that medical exam. You can't declare a HIMS AME be involved in your case to prevent people from involving HIMS AMEs in cases they're not interested in taking up.

    The HIMS AME you're working with doesn't really become your "official" HIMS AME until they've requested a special issuance on your behalf, performed an exam, and you're issued a medical. After that, your fates are intertwined. The HIMS AME is rated on your compliance and you're subject to oversight and re-issuances at the discretion of the HIMS AME. Up until the granting of an SI and your first completed medical exam you're not really "in" the 3rd class medical equivalent of HIMS (it's really geared toward 2nd and 1st class 121 and 135 guys). Consider it your marriage ceremony.

    Sounds like you're good, but just realize that a change of HIMS AME requires approval of the FAS. Advice I will give is to make sure you have a good working relationship with your HIMS AME as you're going to be working together for some time.

    Do NOT stop or alter your recovery activities in any way. Continue to document your abstinence and recovery (if it ain't in the medical record it didn't happen). The old joke about the aircraft doesn't fly until the paper work weighs more than the airframe... your obstacles to flight reduce in proportion to the weight of hard documented evidence that you are in sustained remission and abstaining from mood altering substances.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
    allPrimes likes this.
  14. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2005
    Messages:
    11,222
    Location:
    Bolingbrook, IL
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Bruce C
    You got that Find a HIMS AME letter because of the dictive that all such cases need be initialed. Had you not done what you have, up through now you would have simply gotten the “denial without encouragement” letter.

    in the “ Find a HIMS AME” letter they have laid out the path. Also note: for this issue NO RFS has the chops to do this one. The last one was Dr. Goodman (western Pacific), and he’s now the deputy RFS.

    do what the letter sez. You will succeed.
     
  15. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2020
    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Montana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    allPrimes
    This is reassuring. Thanks to both of you.
     
    PaulS likes this.
  16. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2020
    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Montana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    allPrimes
    2021-01-21: Heard from HIMS AME the other day. Their words:

    Man. This is such a killer. I'm supposed to be flying today--and have been nearly every two weeks to keep skills/knowledge up--but this whole process is just killing my enthusiasm and desire. I'm tempted to just put everything on hold until there's a better idea on timeline. When I'm in the plane or even in the damn hangar talking about systems, I'm all about it but holy smokes; this waiting just ****ing sucks.
     
  17. SoCal 182 Driver

    SoCal 182 Driver Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2019
    Messages:
    366
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    SoCal 182 Driver
    Patience is a virtue. Hang in there.
     
    TCABM likes this.
  18. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Messages:
    10,781
    Location:
    New England
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    PaulS
    Hang in there, they are testing your commitment. Finish what you start.
     
  19. KeepWatch

    KeepWatch Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2020
    Messages:
    104
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    KeepWatch
    That phone call to the FAA doc may help things. Not all bad news here.
     
  20. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2020
    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Montana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    allPrimes
    I know it's not bad news and I plan on seeing through what I've started, but man, it's so demotivating. I feel like the money I'm spending on flying right now might be better saved and when there is a timeline on when the medical will come through, just blow through the remaining lessons/hours and bang it all out instead of trickling it out.
     
  21. RussS

    RussS Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2020
    Messages:
    98
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    rshermer
    I was in the same boat 1 year ago...ready to start training and couldn’t. I had many days where I questioned if I should continue. It took 7 months from contact with HIMS AME to special issuance. Nothing fun about it and I really feel your pain. Hang in there...it will be worth it in the end.
     
  22. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2018
    Messages:
    3,989
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Kenny Phillips
    Depending on the type of school, you can start training, you just can't fly solo, or take practical exams.
     
  23. RussS

    RussS Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2020
    Messages:
    98
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    rshermer
    depending on your planned path, that may not be a useful option. If you are ok with being a once every couple of weeks flyer, then maybe. But I think you’re largely throwing money away training so infrequently as you are tying up time and money re-learning what you already paid for in a previous lesson.
     
  24. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2020
    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Montana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    allPrimes
    Heard back from the HIMS AME this AM. FAA wants 3 months of meetings with the HIMS AME (that can be conducted via zoom as we are four hours away from each other in best conditions, 5-6hrs during winter driving conditions) and at the end of those 3 months, AME submits necessary reports and the medical should be granted.

    All in, if things proceed according to this schedule, maybe I'll have a medical by mid-to-late Spring? Early Summer?

    I'm still considering postponing all lessons until closer to the date, simply because I am concerned about just tossing money down the drain for training just to log some hours. Don't get me wrong, I know that general aviation as a "hobby" is a money pit to begin with, but the arguments for waiting on further lessons until medical is on its way or in hand are terribly convincing.
     
  25. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2020
    Messages:
    77
    Location:
    Montana
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    allPrimes
    On today's AME check-in, doc says (to paraphrase) "we'll do one more of these in March. After that, I'll be able to submit my report detailing your compliance and your SI will be on its way soon thereafter. If you're not interested in anything higher than a 3rd class, you should jump to Basic Med as soon as possible. The new FAS (Northrup) is more down to earth than the last one and that move should easy."

    We'll see. Still annoyed by the whole process. Excited to fly on Thursday, though.
     
    PaulS and KeepWatch like this.
  26. RV1890

    RV1890 Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2019
    Messages:
    8
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    RV1890
    In a similar situation here: Two DUI's in 2007. Successfully completed a rehab program in 2016.
    Approx. Jan of 2019 I reached out to THE doc, and started the process for 3rd class
    - I've been peeing in cup once a month since 3/19 - all negative. Started gathering all paperwork we knew they were going to ask for.
    - Received first letter back from OKC
    - Had to do a psych eval and a cognitive exam (not cheap!)
    - Got HIMS and sent my entire packet in.
    - Nine months later I get a letter saying they want an additional 3 months of monitoring with AA and aftercare attendance. (which I had already been doing)
    - Did what they asked and 3 months later sent the info.

    Currently waiting, but not holding my breath.

    Look, I've been sober since 3/16, don't crave a drink, yada yada yada....what everyone says here is true: FAA doesn't care. I'm just doing what they ask and hoping for the best outcome. I assumed by now I would at least have had an SI with continued monitoring, but no. It's very frustrating. Especially when I'm unable to get any updates, the crazy wait times, and the exorbitant cost associated thus far. Especially since I've been at this for nearly two years!

    Also, I'm sure we all have stories: "but that guy can fly and his offense was way worse". I had that mentality in the beginning, and although true, it doesn't matter. Gotta do what they say. It'll be worth it once that license is in my hand.