I’ve written several times before about how I’ve been frustrated by my attempts to get the US Veteran’s Administration Health System to help me by fixing a hernia that runs vertically down the center of my front abdomen.
Yesterday, I had my annual physical with the VA. The night before, my wife and I talked (again!) about my plans for the visit, and I told her that if my doctor still wouldn’t listen to me about why I need to get my hernia repaired, I wanted to ask for a new doctor. She suggested that, should it come to that, I should ask to speak with the Patient Advocate, which I agreed would be a sound strategy.
So, I arrived yesterday on time, got all of my blood work drawn up, and sat waiting for the visit with my doctor. Much to my pleasure, the doctor I’ve seen the last few times has retired. I had a new doctor – or to be more precise, a Physician’s Assistant.
We went through the usual song-and-dance about my “high cholesterol” and her concern about my negligible cigarette use (I smoke, less than 2 packs per week, and sometimes only 3-4 cigarettes per day). Then she asked if there was anything specific that she could help me with, and I told her that I was still interested (because I’d talked to her predecessor about it a few times) in getting the hernia repaired.
Up to that point, she’d been mostly focused on typing my responses into the computer. When I mentioned the hernia, her head snapped around, and she exclaimed, “You have a hernia? Where?” So I leaned back slightly and lifted my shirt to show her. Her eyes became the size of saucers, and her jaw hit the floor. After uttering a very uncharacteristic epithet, she again faced her computer and exclaimed that she could get a surgical consult for this right away – AND asked me if I had a local hospital I’d prefer to have the procedure done at.
So, it isn’t fixed yet. And there is no certainty about how the billing will wash out. But, there is progress, and I’m hopeful for the first time in years that the hernia will finally be repaired.