Updates . . .

Yes, yesterday was Veteran’s Day. I know that I have posted something about it every year for several years, but yesterday I did something more personal.

You see, I found a limited series on Netflix called “Medal of Honor” – which should be self-explanatory. I spent most of my waking hours yesterday watching that series, and saluting my brothers in uniform who rose to the occasion to deserve the highest military honor the USA ever awards. As one relative of a Medal of Honor recipient said in the show, “You want to think you’d do what they did, but you can never know for sure until you’re in that situation.” I was particularly impressed by the Medal of Honor recipients who have children or grandchildren who chose to enter the military service too.

I can only hope that Netflix will continue the series. All of those stories deserve to be told.

Additionally – I’m only about a week away from my first visit with the local General Surgery clinic where I’m supposed to get my abdominal hernia repaired. I do have one concern – that in the paperwork they sent me they wanted to know about alternative insurance. The Veteran’s Administration referred me to their clinic. I should need no additional insurance. If they are not willing to perform this procedure without some extra assurance of payment, I might have to decline. There is no way I’m going to sign anything that makes me, and by proxy my wife, obligated to pay for a procedure the VA sent me to them to receive.

Qualified Success . . . . ?

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.

Image

Saturday Posts . . .

fyi – My wife found this post on Facebook, and forwarded it to me.  There is only one thing I might add to this – that Bernie’s 52% tax is ONLY the federal tax.  There is still the additional state, local, and sales taxes to be factored into the equation.  If Bernie has his way, anyone making less than $100k/yr will not only be taking a pay cut to fund his Universal Health Care initiative, but they will also qualify for welfare.  It is absolutely certain that anyone making minimum wage right now will be taking home less than they are now if Bernie gets his way.

MyHealthEVet.com . . . .

that is the address for the official interface online between veterans and those who provide health care to veterans, in the USA.

There is just one problem.  It doesn’t work, at least 50% of the time.

For example, I recently contacted my primary care doctor through the MyHealthEVet.com site, about a (potentially minor) health concern, and got a reply back asking about my access to online video conferencing technology.  I responded that I do not use any online service of that nature, and do not trust them to be secure, and the reply was ANOTHER REQUEST for my contact information via the preferred video conferencing services the VA wanted to use to conduct an interview.

I realize that the Covid-19 crisis has placed a huge strain on health care providers, worldwide, and is still continuing to do so.  However, for them to place the burden of compromise on MY shoulders to be able to continue to provide services that they are LEGALLY required to deliver is beyond the scope of acceptability.   Either you can deliver the services you should through the interface already provided, or you need to update the interface.  It is not MY problem, and I will not bend my comfort zone to accommodate your problems!

What is it?

I have a photo (actually 2 of them) to share from a recent experience.  First, I should warn you that the images may be disturbing to some people.

So, what is it?

Ha, ha.  I’ll bet you thought it was my choice of Halloween Costume for this year!  Not even close.  It’s also not photographic evidence of my wife beating me up.  Such a thing has never happened. Here is another view:

Okay, I’ll spill.  Actually, that’s what I did.  I spilled off my front porch Saturday morning at around 9:30 am Central USA time zone. This is an example of why multi-tasking is such a horrendous idea that it should be outlawed.  I was heading out to the front yard to trim some more tree branches, and instead of watching where I was walking, I was thinking about where I was going to make the cuts.  Turned out, I didn’t make any!  What I did instead was a beautiful swan dive off the porch, head first into the sidewalk at the bottom of the stairs.

So, I did have to go to the ER – about 10 stitches in my right eyebrow, and a broken bone in my right wrist. Other than that, there is a lot of bruising that is keeping me uncomfortable, but I’m alright.

Eckhart Tolle wrote a whole book on the importance of “NOW”  Veterans of Scientology would call it “Being in present time”.  It all boils down to this lesson:  Whatever you’re doing, make it the ONLY thing you’re doing, do it well and completely, and only then move on to the next thing.

Saturday Posts . . .

This is a post of updates . . . .

Yesterday was my trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to the VA Hospital for the MRI to see if I qualify for the femor replacement surgery yet.  It was a day of trials on every level.

First, because there were storms throughout the surrounding area, from 7am Thursday until we left  for Fayetteville I only got about 2.5 hours of sleep. I was already uncomfortable, and it was only going to get worse. Just after we passed through Joplin, MO, we drove into a torrential downpour that we continued to drive through the rest of the way to Fayetteville.  However, by slowing down and driving carefully, we made good time overall and got there safely.

When the MRI was started, the machine they wanted to use wouldn’t work – something about the coil for the magnets.  So, they had to use a different machine that was slower and far less comfortable.  The first machine would have been able to do the 4 images they wanted in about 2 hours – the one they had to use took about 45 minutes for each image.  That may not seem like much of a difference, but it’s huge when you’re already in pain, and the area that hurts is the area you absolutely can’t move if the images are going to be useful.  I got through the first image alright, but after starting the second, I had to take a break for a bathroom trip, and that ruined what we already had of the second image.  By the time we finally got the second image finished, I was in such pain I couldn’t  repeat them with the contrast media.  The technician was polite and understanding, but I felt like I had totally failed.  Still, there wasn’t any way to change the outcome.

Fortunately, we had good driving conditions for the trip home, and concluded our day eating supper in our own home with our cats happy to have us back.  I did a little bit of more searching on the internet, and discovered an article on PubMed summarizing recent research into Total Femur Replacement (TFR) surgery (it was published in 2015) which indicated very strongly that I’m almost certain not to get the surgery.  There are significant risks of life-threatening infections post op for patients over the age of 50, and I turn 57 next month.  Combine that with my history of a bone tumor and already compromised immune system, and I’m simply not a viable candidate.

I sort of wish I’d known that a month ago.  I wouldn’t have wasted the time and resources.

Exposed a lie . . .

Yesterday was a very long, but ultimately worthwhile, day for us.  It was my first visit to the new VA Health clinic in Joplin.

Of course, being a new facility, it looked nice.  In fact, it’s so new that the installed TV’s weren’t hooked up to any programming, yet.  LOL! To me, that was actually a good thing – we didn’t have to sit through hours of TV commercials while waiting for my appointments.

Anyway, the new care team I’m working with is AMAZING!  Every member of the team is either a veteran, or directly connected to a veteran.  They all expressed that they want to treat every veteran the way they’d want their family to be treated.

A direct result of that was exposing a lie told by my previous care doctor.  The previous one had told me, many times, that the Imitrex he was giving me was the ONLY prescription for Imitrex he could write.  10mg tablets, 9 tablets per 90 days, no automatic refills.  Yesterday’s visit with the new doc was RUSHED – his nurse said the doc usually wants to spend 2-3 hours working with a new patient on the first visit (I got 15 minutes because of a scheduling glitch) – yet he heard my complaint about the Imitrex and had no qualms about writing a new prescription for Imitrex at 50mg, 18 tablets per MONTH, with auto refill.

I think, in the long term, this is going to be a better experience, with another positive change scheduled to happen in June.  That change will come from Congress, so we’ll see how it works.