Tag Archives: VA Hospital

My Visit With My New Doctor & Compliments to Lake City, FL VA Hematology Clinic

I had an appointment at the Veterans Clinic in Lake City, Florida today. I was a bit apprehensive about this appointment because I have a new Primary Care doctor. Those who know me know that this is my 5th Primary Care Doctor in the past two years. I have never had so many doctors, in such a short time. What happened was the doctor assigned me when my old doctor got promoted quit because she did not like all the computer BS the VA makes the doctors do, and they had a hard time replacing her. Of all these doctors, I only saw one, back last year, for a whole 5 minutes. Needless to say, I felt like I was being put on the back burner, all the while my health kept declining from an already diminished state. I was in and out of a local private hospital because the pain of the pancreatitis, which they now say is chronic, was too much for me, and the medications I had would not touch the pain. The last time I was hospitalised, June of last year, on top of all the medications I take routinely, they were having to give me 1.5 mg of Diladud every 2 hours. I was very miserable until it cleared up. I could have taken care of things at home had I had something for the intense pain, other than what I already take for the myriad of problems I have. Moreover, I were in the middle of a dose adjustment when the doctor who was supposed to be my new doctor quit. I did okay, for a while, then I needed another adjustment, yet had no doctor who knew me to call on.

The Primary Care Doctor is very important in the VA system. They are the proverbial Quarterback of the team. When you have a severe health problem you do not want second string replacements, you want a real Doctor who is going to stay, get to know you, and you them, so as to develop that special relationship a severely ill patient needs with their doctor.

I am glad to report my new Primary Care Doctor seems to be a good one. It is going to take time for her to get to know me, and understand fully my problems, but we had a great start today. She did not pull any punches with me, and gave it to me straight. I respect that. Moreover, she discovered some medications I had been taking for a long time that are not exactly good for a man’s prostate, and discontinued them, lest I develop prostate problems. I appreciate that. I go back in 3 months. I will see how it goes, but thus far, all is good.

My blood has been tired for over six years now. I had a significant GI bleed back in 07 that created many problems for me. I want to take this time to tell whoever reads this how nice, compassionate, professional, and efficient the Hematology Clinic at Lake City has been to me. I truly appreciate them. Of note, is a nurse named Amy, and an NP named Ruth. They have bent over backwards to accommodate me, and I am truly grateful. Stacy deserves an honorable mention as she is another one who has helped me. Kudos to these front line troopers. The VA needs more like them, especially Amy, and Ruth.

As I have mentioned, my health has been giving me fits. I now have chronic pancreatitis, and it hurts like hell. Most of the time, about 70 percent of the time, my regular meds work, but the rest of the time I am in sheer agony. I had to go to the ER last month for a pain shot. I also am dealing with the crohns (from Accutane given me for my service connected disability), the effects of 11 abdominal surgeries, 5 surgeries to repair a broken bone in my face (Army injury), sacroilietis, fused disks in my neck, myofacial syndrome, osteoporosis, joint pain (severe in my hips), and neuropathy. I am dealing with more than this, but to list it all would take more space than I wish to use. Suffice it to say, I need your prayers, if you pray. Anyone wishing to send cash, that will help too, although it will not take the pain away. I have been in constant pain now for 25 years, 15 of those being severe up to now. I hope that together my new doctor, and the pain team can come up with a workable, practical, and EFFECTIVE treatment. I am grateful for what I have now, but I know they can do better.

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Filed under Crohns Disease, Life as a Disabled Veteran, Personal

Delivering Excellence To America’s Veterans – Unsung Heroes At America’s VA Hospitals, and Clinics

For the record, I want to point out not all Veterans Administration employees are bad. I became a disabled veteran, service connected, at a very young age. I was only 20 years old when the US Army sent me home, on a jumbo jet, broken, beat down, sick, and a jumble of nerves. Had I been serving in today’s Army I would not have been sent home in the shape I was in. I was sent home with nothing but my honorable discharge, my stripes, one months pay,and absolutely no access to any health care.

Fortunate for me, my father was a disabled veteran, which was ufortunate for him, because he was paralyzed, and non service connected, on what is called aid, and attendance, home-bound. I knew the system, so to speak, from the huge ordeal my family went through, to get my dad health care at the VA.

I tried my best to heal up, on my own, so to speak. I got a job, and paid out of pocket to see a doctor for my most pressing problems. Open sores, all over my body, that would not heal. I would wear a shirt one time, and it would be ruined from the blood, and junk oozing from these sores. The doctor gave me some really strong anti-biotics. I was not able to take all of them, and could not afford another visit, so I went without health care. The pills I was able to take seemed to keep things from getting any worse, so I trudged on. I had a job where I worked outdoors on a sod farm, basically by myself. I was such a wreck, I do not think I could have worked with others. The only reason, and way I got the job was because a friend of mine worked there, and gave me a very strong reccomendation. We all knew there was more wrong with me than the outer wounds, just not what it was, or how bad.

I worked the job at the sod farm as long as I could, and between being accused of stealing a pan of ribs at a company cookout, and other issues I was facing I could not hold up. I did not steal the ribs, and lucky for me I saw who did, and told the General Manager. It was his assistant manager who stole the ribs, and he was forced to bring them back. However,  I couldn’t handle the pressure, so I quit without notice.

I was a wreck. I remembered my Battery Commander telling me I should have been given a medical discharge, that in addition to my physical problems, I had what he described as a stress related break down. In other words, I was in shell shock from a battery of our 155mm howitzers opening up on the hill I was observing from, and I had a break down, of sorts, when my first wife, and I split over all the crap I was going through. Stuff that could not be left at work. Asking for help was a definite career ender back then, so it all came crashing down at about the same time.

I needed help, and needed more help than one doctor’s office could give me; furthermore, with the symptoms I was having, I needed help from people used to dealing with military injuries. I went to what was called, back then, the “Veterans Administration”, or “VA”, as most people called it, and still do, in spite of the name being changed to the “Department of Veterans Affairs”. I went to the VA Hospital in Gainesville, Florida. When I arrived, I went to an area they have since closed. I do not remember what they called it back then, but it was basically there to determine if one was eligible for treatment. A very nice man assisted me. I gave him my DD 214, my Honorable Discharge, and a letter the 9th ID made me sign saying I waived my right to VA treatment. They told me if I signed it I would be stuck in limbo for months. I was having so many problems, all I wanted, and wanted more than anything was to come home. I informed the man of this as I handed him the letter. He looked over everything, and politely asked me to wait. He then went to the back office. I could still see him, and a group of people discussing what to do with me. Eligibility was an immediate issue because the rules had been changed when I went in that a person had to serve 2 years (24 mos) to be eligible for VA health care. I was discharged a couple of weeks shy of this threshold. I had no idea this rule was in place. I was screwed over, and did not even know it. The man helping me would not take no for an answer, and pulled out a very large book from a cabinet, turned to a page, and showed it to all the others deciding whether or not I could be seen. They all agreed on something, to this day I do not know what it was, and the man came back to his desk, and told me I would be getting a letter in the mail within a week stating when I was to report to the hospital for treatment. Had it not been for this one employee not only doing his job well, but knowing his job I would have been turned away, and only the Lord knows what would have happened to me.

Looking back, with all the health problems I have had since that initial hospitalization, the VA has saved my life. Just the crohns disease alone would have killed me in the private sector, due to me being uninsurable. Had it not been for the VA seeing me in their GI clinic, operating on me in their surgical suites (multiple surgeries), and filling prescriptions for medications I could have never afforded, I would indeed be dead. Yes, I have had some problems with individual employees along the way, but the overwhelming majority of the employees, at the VA have gone far beyond the call of duty helping me with scores, and scores of problems, and issues. I am grateful to these unsung heroes. I wish I knew all of their names, I would most definitely print them out, and send them to  the President as examples of great public servants. They know who they are, and I am very grateful to them for not only doing their jobs, but going up, over, above, and beyond the call of duty to help me, and even to save my life.

Thanks to all the worker bees at the Department of Veterans Affairs Hospitals, and Clinics for showing up every day, and doing a great job, in spite of the few rotten apples. When you visit a VA facility you can easily recognise these heroes in healthcare. They are indeed compassionate, have a smile on their face, genuinely care about the patient, and follow through on whatever is needed to help the veteran patient. I salute all of you!




Filed under Crohns Disease, Health, Life as a Disabled Veteran, Personal, Political, Veterans Issues