Will I Ever Fly?

Discussion in 'Medical Topics' started by SkyHope, Dec 25, 2016.

  1. SkyHope

    SkyHope Guest

    So, I have some medical issues...

    First, ulcerative colitis has made me need a few surgeries, but, to summarize the physical side really succintly; ulcerative colitis with conditions I can manage, but a history that might concern someone - though all events were slowly oncoming, and nothing happened very quickly that would be a danger for flying private aviation.

    But the real thing I'm concerned about is the mental. It was quite a number of years ago, but I ended up being on Zoloft (Sertaline) for 2 years, and Wellbyutren (Bupropion) for a year for anxiety.

    I've tapered down and am off the Bupropion these last few months, though these last few days have me somewhat questioning that decision - but if meds will keep me grounded, then heck with them, I've been wanting to learn meditation, anyways.

    I've already taken a few flight lessons and I'm quite good at it - and that's one of the things that upset me most. I'm a good pilot. A great pilot. And I'm brilliant. And I spent most of my high school years just looking forward to the day when I'd finally fly, and many years after that excitedly in anticipation for the money to pay for lessons, only for all that crap to come along later.

    But do those conditions keep me from ever flying under the FAA's rules? I can learn to live without, I must fly that badly, but is taking a medication like that for years an absolutely unpardonable sin in their eyes?
     
  2. JCranford

    JCranford En-Route

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    And you already have a pilot ego. You'll do great!
     
  3. rtk11

    rtk11 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    You've got a couple of choices... try to work with a DME (Dr. Bruce?) that will help you with a Special Issuance with the FAA for a 3rd class medical, or you can pursue a Sport Pilot's license which only requires that you have a driver's license. Of course, this does not absolve you of understanding if you're physically, mentally and emotionally cleared to fly... you still are responsible for determining those conditions under Sport Pilot rules.

    Here's a website from the FAA that advises about antidepressants and the "case-by-case" basis for approval:

    https://www.faa.gov/about/office_or...process/exam_tech/item47/amd/antidepressants/
     
  4. JoseCuervo

    JoseCuervo En-Route

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    I'm a good pilot, and I can fly. You can, too.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. N659HB

    N659HB Pattern Altitude

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    Sport pilot is a good solution. You can always get a private glider rating. No medical needed.
     
  6. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    I'm pretty sure the UC will be a special issuance (SI), given that even IBS-C is, but I'm also pretty sure there are pilots flying on SIs for every kind of IBD there is. You need to talk to an AME - a good one - Dr. Bruce Chien has already been mentioned, he is in Peoria, IL but there are others, scattered around the country. (BTW you want an AME, an Aviation Medical Examiner, not a DME which is Distance Measuring Equipment. ;))

    The antidepressant usage by all accounts will be more difficult. Hopefully Bruce will be along to give you the straight skinny on that. There is an SI for simple depression treated with certain specific SSRIs, but I don't recall which ones exactly and I don't know what the FAA's policy is on anxiety.
     
  7. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If you are willing:

    The first question is did the Sertraline and Wellbutrin overlap- and if so by how many months.
    Second is you approxmate age
    Third was you age when the meds began- and
    Fourth- is this your one and only exposure to the SSRI/antidepressives or is there another.
    Fit you need not share- the actual diagnosis. Just know that bipolar is NEVER certificatilbe.
    It would also help to know if only a family doc is involved or if there is a psychiatrist.

    That would shorten the essay a whole lot. (It's also a check on your ability to answer questions directly...a lot of follows can't do that and it tells a lot). :( :(
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
    Nsconductor likes this.
  8. rtk11

    rtk11 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    D'OH! I need to follow Sac and grab some coffee this morning! Meant to write "AME" and not "DME." Much like I meant to say, "Merry Christmas!" to my wife instead of, "What's for breakfast?" :p
     
  9. SkyHope

    SkyHope Guest

    Thanks for all the support and advice.

    I should be more clear, though, my main concern is my history. I think I can get off the medication and stay off. What I'm concerned about is
    1. Will I have to disclose all this medical history even if it's all in the past and resolved?
    2. "Case by case basis" is very scary sounding, knowing something I care so much about is going to be on someone's biased (as all humans are) judgement and whim. How will they look at a medical history like this?

    How picky are they?

    I'm shooting to get a Ph.D in physics - I've heard before that if you fail a medical, then you're denied a sport even though all you need for a sport is a drivers' license. I love the heck out of flying, always obsessed with sims, and found I loved the real thing just as much. I had big anxiety in the past because of huge life decisions, but when it comes to technical operations, I'm actually very comfortable. I'm a certified SCUBA diver and never fear, knowing I've taken all the proper precautions and that's that.

    How would AME's respond to something like that? Despite a history of IBD that involves several big surgeries?

    I'm considering maybe just getting the Sport - I really want to be able to fly higher and faster one day, but maybe I'll save that for after I have a Ph.D - I think that would be a strong point to help convince an AME that I'm mentally/emotionally fit enough to fly, at least.

    Who's Dr. Bruce Chien? An AME, obviously, and a google search actually brought up contact info o_O but what's a proper way to contact him? How binding/consequential is said contact? I don't want to get rejected and then lose the possibility of a Sports' license.

    1. No overlap at all.
    2. Early 20's.
    3. 19.
    4. Sertaline and Wellbutrin, as mentioned here, are my only exposures to SSRI's/antidepressants.
    5. Not bipolar, FYI, though you said I don't actually need to share that - do I not need to share that with you or the examiner?

    There is a psychiatrist.

    I go to college out-of-state, so in each state I have: two specialists I visit two or three times a year to follow the IBD, and a family doctor (typically, specialists are booked for many months, so if I have a flare-up and need to see someone that week, the family doctor can be someone I can visit at shorter notice.

    For further info, the most rapid and worst onset was like catching a flu in terms of how quickly it developed. As it is, I do know better than to fly if I'm feeling poorly. Both from SCUBA and working as an engineer on a high-powered rocketry team, I know not to "fear" dangerous and daring situations, but to respect them, stay aware and give them the proper safety procedures - that's how you make mixing dangerous chemicals in rocket fuels reasonably safe.

    As for my psychiatric history, I am well enough to SCUBA dive safely and design and handle rockets fueled by dangerous chemicals that launch a 60-pound vehicle to 10,000 feet AGL. If anything, technical procedures and challenges are calming yet exciting to me.

    It has hurt my ability to do schoolwork a bit, but I'm catching back up on that very well. I'd say a B and a few C's in addition to relativity work on the side and a rocketry team isn't too bad.
     
  10. Mason

    Mason Pattern Altitude

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    You are not at risk of a denial until you actually submit the forms and start the physical. A CONSULTATION about your issues and what the FAA will want would be the place to start. This is not going to be an easy path, from what you have stated so far. Merry Christmas.
     
  11. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter

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    His screenname is bbchien, in fact you quoted him in your post. His contact information is in his signature. When he said you do not need to share a bipolar diagnoses, he meant on this board. You would need to share it with the AME. Good luck.

    http://www.aeromedicaldoc.com
     
  12. Unit74

    Unit74 Final Approach

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    Sounds like alot stacked up to overcome. If it were me, Id be tooling around in an LSA and be done with it.
     
  13. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So here are some reference materials for certifying ON the SSRI. But the key is:
    If your psych thinks you have major depressive disorder and it has recurred
    or if he think you are dysthymic--->SSRI is the only way they will consider you.

    If your psychiatrist doesn't think you have a life long psychiatric condition )(as in neither of the two above), if he thinks you can come off the meds, when you are 60 days stable of the meds and he is after 60 day assessment is that you are doing well, you can apply for a special issuance. If you are stable off the meds for a whole year, you can apply for a regular issuance. No AME can issue this- it's a defer, and send-in-the-documents-situation.

    You will need to be willing to send your whole record into FAA, warts and all. You cannot have had any past history of suicidality, either.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. SkyHope

    SkyHope Guest

    Okay, so I wait a whole year and send in the application, and it will be deferred and request the documents, and I send in the whole record? Is that what the "No AME can issue this" part means?

    Honestly it really does look like an absolutely daunting amount of paperwork and stuff, and it's not particularly encouraging to see that I could be taken to court and federal prison for losing track of something in all the mess, or just have my dreams crushed in general. I might just take Unit74's advice and go Sport for the time being for those reasons; and I don't really need any aircraft larger than that, anyways. At least for now. After I get a Ph.D I should have more time and money, though, and I'll probably come back to you as a point of contact to get a "bigger" license.

    A huge amount of thanks for helping out, though! It means a lot to me to have some hope for being able to get flying.
     
  15. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    That's not exactly what Dr. Bruce said. I read him to say that off the meds you can apply for a SI after 60 days if documentably doing well. The "after a year" part referred to REGULAR issuance, but many pilots fly on SIs and there is no reason you can't, if your need for the meds is in the past and you meet the other specifications that Bruce listed. "No AME can issue this" means that you will be deferred and it could be a long wait before your SI is approved. (He'll correct me if I read him wrong.)

    Though for a different issue, when I started flying I had to wait several months for a SI to come through before I could solo. From what you've said this is something you may be able to do, if you want it badly enough (and it sounds like you do). Now whether you will have time (and especially MONEY) to focus a lot on flying while going to graduate school is another issue! ;)

    BTW what area of physics is your research in? Mine was in AMO, specifically electron-molecule scattering processes. But I didn't start flying until I was already working. Don't know if I could have done it in grad school.
     
  16. lbfjrmd

    lbfjrmd Line Up and Wait

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    good luck ... Dr Bruce!
     
  17. SkyHope

    SkyHope Guest

    Oh, that's good news!

    Only an undergrad at the moment.

    I'm looking to specialize in general relativity - looking into cosmology, but especially field propulsion concepts. They're usually considered somewhat "out there", but I think they deserve some serious thought, and I've got an interesting original (I think?) question to ask with regards to exotic energy and energy density gradients relevant to such concepts. I'll probably do that for my senior thesis since it would be nothing more than solving the EFE's and geodesic equations for a particular mass-energy distribution or three.

    And hey, there's no FAA or any other kind of regulations regarding vehicles propelled by gravimetric drives as far as I know! :p

    But that's why I'll probably settle on Sport at the moment: I probably won't have the time or money to get a much nicer plane, anyways, until after my Ph.D. It might be nice to fly myself to and from college during Christmas and Summer break, no big-airport hassle and get to enjoy some flying, but also might not be worth the extra travel days and costs. I'll have to see. I certainly don't think I could afford anything much faster than 120 knots, anyways.

    I'll be looking at a list of LSA's - I'm really pleasantly surprised by their range - and see if this couldn't be practical.