5 appointments . . .

This is a true story about an ongoing struggle to get me to keep an appointment at the VA clinic I go to.

Beginning at the end of last October, I had an appointment to be seen in a specialty clinic. The appointment was on a Monday morning, and beginning the previous Friday we started getting severe heavy rainfall that continued all weekend. When I went to keep my appointment, the clinic had been flooded, and all appointments had been canceled.

The VA sent me a secure message through MyHealtheVet.com to reschedule, with several optional appointment times to choose from. I chose the one that worked best for us, and sent a reply accepting it.

When the day came, there was extremely heavy wind, with a high chance of severe weather. I didn’t think our car could handle the conditions, given that we needed to travel at least 45 minutes each way at highway speeds (55-60 mph) with the high winds. So, I sent a secure message asking to reschedule. We agreed on a new date, which would be attempt number 3 to get me into the clinic.

A few days before attempt number 3 was to happen, my wife and I were exposed to strep throat, and needed to quarantine to protect others. So I sent a secure message explaining the situation and asking for a further extension. After a few messages back and forth, we agreed on a new date.

Then, a few days before attempt number 4, my wife had to go to the local ER. We thought that she was having asthma problems, but it was diagnosed as Covid-19. So we had to isolate ourselves for 2 weeks, and I had to ask for another reschedule.

The most recent appointment was yesterday – but because of extreme weather in Fayetteville, AR, all of the satellite offices of the Fayetteville VA healthcare system were closed, and the VA asked me to reschedule.

I’ve sent them a message asking when the next available appointments are that we can choose from, but at this rate, I have no idea when I’m going to be able to keep an appointment. It almost feels like the universe itself is trying to keep me away from there.

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Many Apologies . . .

I must apologize for missing both last Saturday’s Post, but also not posting anything about New Year. The Wednesday before January 1st, my wife started having respiratory distress, and as the days passed, it became more pronounced.

When I got out of bed on January 1st, she was in severer distress, and I told her to go to the local ER. It was 6pm. She went, and at about 9pm (all local time) she informed me over the phone that she’d been positively diagnosed with Covid-19. We don’t know how she was exposed to it, but she was released from the hospital, and was given an array of prescriptions.

Since my focus has been on taking care of my wife, I missed both the Saturday Post this past weekend, but also didn’t post anything for New Year’s Day. That’s fine, since I didn’t have anything about resolutions or otherwise profound thoughts to share.

Because of her diagnosis, my wife and I are in isolation for the next 2 weeks. I expect a full recovery for her, and so far I am not having any trouble that I can attribute to that infection.

Good News . . .

In our postal mail delivery yesterday, I received a report that I feel overjoyed to share.

Last week I had a scheduled visit to the VA clinic that I usually go to. My primary care provider had asked me if I’d agree to get a Carotid Ultrasound – as a routine procedure because I’m almost 60 years old. I told her that it wouldn’t change any of my decisions in the Advanced Directive or Living Will, but that there didn’t seem to be any harm in knowing what it may reveal.

The letter that I got about the results stated the following:

“Mild atherosclerosis with normal flow all velocities bilaterally and no evidence of significant stenosis.

Carotid Ultrasound results were normal no significant carotid artery disease.”

So, it looks like my wife is going to have to put up with my jokes a while longer! LOL!

Perhaps, and I can’t be certain either way, part of the reason for this outcome is that I’ve been mostly a vegetarian since January 1st of this year. I say mostly because living in this area limits the options for eating vegetarian when I travel – even the relatively short distance to the VA clinic. Also, I’m terrible about using supplements – and almost everything I’ve read or watched has said that Vitamin B-12 is impossible to get without eating meat. So, I’m mostly vegetarian, occasionally eating meats to get my B-12 fix.

Communicating final decisions . . .

I’ve written several times in the past about the importance of making an Advanced Directive or a Living Will, or both, for the purpose of controlling your last life decisions. Ever since the USA case of Teri Schiavo, (my apologies if I misspelled her name) it has been obvious that clearly communicating your plan for the end of your life is of paramount importance.

I already have a legally binding Living Will, and another legally binding Advanced Directive. But, I’m choosing to take the entire matter one step farther. I’m getting a tattoo in the center of my chest that will read “NHM – see medical alert bracelet”. The medical alert bracelet has digital copies of both the Living Will and the Advanced Directive on a flash drive contained within it, and the NHM stands for “No Heroic Measures”. As far as I can tell, this is the final step in making absolutely certain that ALL first responders will know exactly what my wishes are.

The whole point of this is to prevent the first responders (EMT’s, paramedics, Law Enforcement personnel, and other people who might initiate life-saving actions) from taking actions that may result in bankrupting my wife if I’m involved in a catastrophic event of any kind.

Yes, I want to live – but not so much that I want to live with the assistance of expensive equipment that can’t guarantee my chance of recovery. My wife’s future is more important than my survival.

Saturday Posts . . .

I have been feeling very disingenuous about my relationship with my parents. Ever since I reached out to my mother to try to rebuild the relationship that was broken more than 20 years ago, I’ve been questioning myself as to why.

The last couple of times I talked to each of them, it has become CRYSTAL CLEAR.

I have the highest IQ in my family. My dad’s IQ is only 1 point lower than mine, but I have specialized training in areas none of them have ever studied, like the fact that I was a US Army basic field medic who was being fast-tracked to Physician Assistant school. In addition to that, when I took the exam at the Armed Forces Entrance Examination Center back in 1979, I was offered the chance to choose whatever job I wanted by ALL 5 branches of the US military. I have the learning capacity to be fully capable in ANY skill I choose to study.

Despite those facts, NOBODY in my family respects my opinion about anything. I vividly remember a confrontation between my mother and myself more than 30 years ago that occurred in HER HOME where I tried to tell her the truth about the origin of the Christian Bible. She called me a liar – so I pulled her own Encyclopedia Britannica off of her shelf and opened it to the article that discussed the exact event I was telling her about. I showed her how HER OWN ENCYCLOPEDIA confirmed in black and white that I was telling the truth. Rather than admit I was right, she said the encyclopedia was lying!

Every blood relative I have has always responded to everything out of my mouth exactly the same way mom handled that event. They are all STILL doing it.

I can’t fake this anymore. I’d rather live honestly without them than grin through my hat at them. We’re done. My relationship with that family can’t be saved unless they are willing to bend. Pretending they don’t remember the events of the past isn’t enough.

New Year Resolutions . . .

I originally wanted to post this yesterday, because it was January 1, but after learning of Betty White’s passing I didn’t want to take away from the memorials to her life and achievements. So, I’m posting it today.

In addition to reading the books that were recommended by my dear friend Anita, I’ve also been watching several very good documentaries on Netflix. This post is about those documentaries.

In no particular order, the Netflix documentaries I’d recommend are:

What The Health

[Un] Well

Salt Fat Acid Heat

Down To Earth with Zach Efron

Kiss The Ground

Fantastic Fungi

The Game Changers

The Bleeding Edge

If you have access to Netflix – especially Netflix streaming service – you owe it to yourself and the planet to watch these documentaries. Together, they build a compelling argument against the currently accepted “traditional western diet”. They also present a very good foundation for building a defense against Global Warming.

While thinking about New Year resolutions – I’m compelled by having watched these shows to make the following commitment – I’m going to spend the rest of January 2022 as a vegan. If that succeeds in reducing my arthritis and other body problems, I’ll commit to that lifestyle in perpetuity.