I FELT LEFT BEHIND, SAYS INJURED MARINE
By CHRIS ENGLISH
Bucks County Courier Times
In the medical books, RSD stands for reflex sympathetic dystrophy.
In Moke Kahalehoe’s book, it stands for H-E-L-L.
The Falls resident and U.S. Marine has been tortured by the painful and debilitating neurological disorder since soon after breaking his left ankle and tearing a deltoid ligament in late 2005 in a martial arts training exercise during basic training at Parris Island, S.C.
Now retired from the corps, Kahalehoe, 26, lives with his girlfriend, Amanda Santacroce, brother Kawika and other family members at the home of his aunt, Carol Lubinski, in the North Park section of Levittown in Falls.
Cared for by Santacroce, family and friends, Kahalehoe spends nearly every minute in bed or in a wheelchair. A vacuum machine that sucks out infection and injects oxygen is attached to his injured leg as he shuttles back and forth between hospitals and doctors offices. The cloud of pain is broken only slightly by daily doses of five different painkillers and muscle and nerve relaxers, including OxyContin and Valium.
"Normal things that people don’t even notice cause extreme pain for me," Kahalehoe said from his bed at Lubinski’s house. "When I can stand, I’ll get a shower, but I have to go four or five days between them because the water droplets hitting my skin are excruciating. I was just outside for a little while in the wheelchair, but I wasn’t out long because the wind was unbearable. Blankets and clothing on my skin are excruciating."
In addition to the physical torment, Kahalehoe has financial worries because of the astronomical and still climbing medical bills. Though 80 percent of the medical costs will be covered by the military insurance Tri-Care, the Veterans Administration has so far said no to covering the other 20 percent, said Santacroce, who plans to appeal.
Citing privacy laws, VA officials declined to comment on Kahalehoe’s case.
Though many of the bills haven’t come in yet, Santacroce estimates they will top $1 million, with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs potentially not covered by insurance.
Santacroce and others have organized a June 30 fundraising dinner for Kahalehoe at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Fairless Hills. The Commerce Bank in Fairless Hills has set up a fund for those who want to help with Kahalehoe’s expenses.