Dealing with the Veteran’s Administration again . . .

I am currently trying, once again, to deal with the Veteran’s Administration (VA), to get my left femur replaced.  At this point in time, I have been trying for 38 years to get this problem fixed.

In all of that time, the standard response of the VA has been “the problem is not yet severe enough for us to justify the expense or risk of performing the procedure.”  What that means is, because the procedure would probably need to be repeated in 20 years, they are unwilling to do the corrective surgery before I am old enough to only qualify for it one time.

So, because I became disabled so young (aged 18), I have spent 38 years waiting for the chance to resume anything even remotely resembling a normal life – even though it would only require ONE surgery to deliver that option to me.

My new primary care doctor, at the VA Health clinic in Joplin, was willing to order a new MRI to evaluate the situation, and that has been scheduled for later this month.  However, based on the report of the preliminary X-rays before the MRI, I am not expecting them to agree to the procedure at this time.

IMHO, this is a completely upside down evaluation.  The VA is looking at how many times the procedure may need to be done throughout my lifetime – and what I am concerned about is my quality of life for however long I have left.  The last 38 years have been what should have been some of the most productive years of my life – and of them I’ve spent 28 years doing minimum wage labor, and the last 10 years I’ve been unemployable.  All of this despite the undeniable fact that nobody knows for sure when I will die – whether by an accident, illness, or natural causes.  Let’s not forget, it all started with a bone tumor, and that caused a permanent impairment to my immune system.

If the VA tells me later this month that they are still not willing to replace my femur, my wife is considering adding me to her medical insurance, just to attempt to get the surgery done.  I think that is still a long shot, but we’ll look at it.  If it isn’t viable, I’m considering whether it is time to consider a new body.  Continuing the downward spiral is certainly not going to be viable for very long, and since I do believe in a form of reincarnation, it is worth thinking about.

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.

Veteran’s Hospitals have a math problem . . .

Ok, first let me acknowledge that I DO understand that there are health issues to be concerned with.  Still – this goes way beyond health, into absurdity.

The specific problem I’m talking about is with the prescriptions for Imitrex that I’ve been getting.  Ever since I started getting it – they have only sent me 18 pills at a time, and limited me to one refill every 3 months.  About 2 weeks ago, I sent them a secure message asking for another refill.  So far, they have only given me 25mg tablets, but I know it is available in dosages as high as 100mg, so I asked if I could get either a higher dose, or more pills, or both, since I keep running out.

They replied that they limit the number of pills they send because they don’t want me to exceed the 200mg maximum dosage per day.  So, here is where they have a math problem.

They only send me 18 pills every 3 months.  It takes 8 25mg pills to REACH 200mg for a day.  Each of my migraines lasts 3-4 days, and I usually have about 3 migraines every month.  I run out of pills if – ONLY on days I have a migraine – I only take 1 pill each day.

To actually risk excessive dosage, I’d first have to have enough pills to TAKE an excessive dosage – because running out is a MISERABLE option.  So, 8 pills per day for 9 days a month for 3 months.  The ABSOLUTE minimum number of pills I need for a 3 month prescription is 216, IF I was taking 200mg per migraine day.  Some months I’d need as many as 336 at that dosage level.  Still, even at the minimum – the actual prescriptions they have given me have fallen short by almost 200 pills every 3 months.

And the fools wonder why I haven’t gotten enough help from their treatment protocol to be able to return to work.

Health update . . .

You want to know something?  If it weren’t for the migraines and arthritis, I’d probably live forever with this body.

That’s only partially a joke.

Today I had my annual physical at the VA health clinic I’ve been going to for nearly 10 years.  They drew a fasting blood lab first, and then I went to see my primary care doctor.  He got the results of the blood work while we were talking.

EVERYTHING – Yes, everything, was within “normal limits” except for my cholesterol numbers, which have been elevated since the first time I was ever tested.

When the team nurse tested my blood pressure, she had to do it twice.  The first time it was 128/94 – which I would have accepted.  But, she said she got distracted talking to another nurse, and she and I had discussed the logistics of the VA moving the clinic to another town (which is supposed to happen late next year), so she wanted to do it again.  The second test was 120/87.

Keep in mind – I’m now 54 years old, and take no medication for blood pressure control.

But, when I saw the doctor, he didn’t like the numbers because he said the second one was too high.  So, he tested it himself.

And the numbers HE got were 110/80.

For the first time since he met me, he didn’t even bother asking me to take medicine for my cholesterol.  When he pulled up the blood test results, he did say that it was still high, but when my wife asked him how it compared with last year he acknowledged that the LDL was down 50 points from last year.  So he just told me to keep doing what I’ve been doing, and dropped it.

Keeping it real . . .

I have a confession to make; I have a bad habit.  When I get a new idea, I get so enthusiastic about it that I tend to forget that it might not work out like I want.  For example, when I first started seriously thinking about the femur replacement, I was so thrilled about being able to do serious exercise again that I didn’t stop to realize all the other things going on that won’t be fixed by that surgery.  So, to put my feet back on the ground, I thought I should make a list:

arthritis and bursitis in shoulder

bratwurst sized hernia along the center of my abs

migraine headaches

bad teeth (seriously, I should just get them all pulled and get full top/bottom dentures)

This does not mean that I shouldn’t get the femur replaced – in fact, I am still trying to move forward with the VA about it.  At this point, though, I don’t even know for sure the VA will agree that I should get it, so optimism is premature.  I just want to be realistic about how much my life will change once it’s done.  Yes, I will be able to do more weight lifting and eventually work back into distance running, but I’ll still be curled up in a dark room 1/3rd of each month on average, and I won’t be exercising my abs at all (except indirectly).

Veteran’s Choice and other updates . . .

Veteran’s Choice:

I finally found out the precise process for going through Veteran’s Choice to get any health care.  First, you have to qualify (which I do, they even re-issued the card for me).  Then you have to get your VA Health System primary care doctor to authorize use of Veteran’s Choice for every visit.  Then you get to actually go to the local physician to get taken care of.

In the case of my possibly getting a hip/femur replacement, it means that I have to go to my VA PC doc, he’ll order x-rays, and then put a consult request into the VA computer system for me to be seen by the nearest orthopedics clinic – Fayetteville.  Then Fayetteville looks over the x-rays and visits with me about my situation.  IF they agree that I should have the procedure, then AND ONLY THEN will I get to see if there are any local surgeons who work with Veteran’s Choice – and that doesn’t even start dealing with the physical therapy after the surgery.

Double the doctor visits; double the x-rays, potentially double the wait time for treatment – and this is supposed to be BETTER care?  I don’t think so!  I was so upset by this revelation that I called my dad – and asked him to call his neighbor and good friend: US SENATOR JERRY MORAN to voice my complaint.  He (dad) said he could do that today.

RANDOM STUFF:

We’re in the process of finding a new home for the black leather, overstuffed, love seat we’ve had in our living room for the last 15 years.  We still like it, and it’s not in bad shape (for sharing a home with indoor cats), but we need the space for the weight bench that I got to prepare for if I get the hip/femur surgery.

I’ve been doing some research, and determined that the hip replacement and the femur replacement are almost the same surgery.  The difference would be that to replace the entire femur should actually be less time in the surgery, because they don’t have to cut the femur with a bone saw and screw on the metal replacement.  But it will leave a larger scar.  Oh well, to get full range of motion and weight-bearing capability back, I think I can live with the scar.

The weight bench has a leg curl/leg extension attachment, so that I can start with low weight and insanely high reps to condition the muscles before the surgery.  Then, after the physical therapist gives me the all-clear, I’ll start working up to heavier weight and get these legs back into the condition they were in before the tumor – at least in theory.

The new weight bench was delivered by FEDEX this morning.

Oh, and in the middle of all the other stuff going on this morning – I got a knock on the front door.  When I answered it was one of the city employees who worked on the new sidewalk through our front yard.  He said that the city “came into some money” specifically allocated for shade trees over the new sidewalk, and he wanted to know if we were interested in getting a couple.  I laughed – I was just on the Arbor Day Society’s website yesterday looking at what we might do along that same idea!  Now all I have to do is go out and put some tomato stakes in the yard to mark where the shade trees should be put and the city will do the rest, within the next week!  WIN!

Veteran’s Choice update…

Because I live in Kansas, one of my US Senators is my father’s close friend & neighbor, Jerry Moran.  Because I’m a constituent, I’ve elected to receive his email newsletter.  Here is what he recently had to say about the Veteran’s Choice program:

Pressing the VA to Fix Choice Act Implementation

On Wednesday, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing to discuss the proposed VA Choice Program Consolidation Plan. This plan addresses how the Choice program will function in the future, but Kansas veterans continue to struggle right now with access to care in their communities through Choice. This is because of the flawed implementation of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (Choice Act).  Many of our VA medical facilities in Kansas are only open part-time, or do not have a full-time medical doctor on staff, causing those who have sacrificed for our nation to struggle to receive needed medical services.

During the hearing, I had the opportunity to press Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson on the eligibility requirements for the Choice program, and whether they are being interpreted and implemented correctly. Common sense tells us that if you live within 40 miles of a VA facility, but that clinic cannot provide you with the services you require, or does not have a medical doctor on staff, you should be able to receive care closer to home. I am pleased that Deputy Secretary Gibson agreed that those veterans living within 40 miles of a clinic open only part-time are eligible for Choice. Additionally, Sec. Gibson committed to providing more information on those eligible veterans so we can make certain they are aware of the resources available to them. Veterans deserve a VA worthy of their service and sacrifice, and I will continue to push the senior administrators at the Department of Veterans Affairs to fix the problems within the Choice Act today so we can make certain Kansas Veterans have access to timely, quality care.

_______________________________________

One thought that immediately comes to mind is the observation of how politicians use language to mask realities.  Sen. Moran said there was a failed implementation of the Choice Act – but having read the act myself (and as one who has tried to use it without success) I can tell you that the Choice Act was so specifically written that it was DESIGNED to fail exactly the way it did.  It wasn’t an implementation failure, it was a design flaw.

Rationing Drugs For Sick Veterans. Did The VA REALLY Plan To Do That?

I have been a veteran – dependent on the VA for my medical needs – for nearly 35 years. I thought I’d seen everything in the way of Uncle Sam breaking promises to us. This is a new low.

The Silent Soldier

dAugust 22, 2015

byLorra B.

The Department of Veteran Affairs has known since January that the cost of medications was rising and that it would cause a tremendous financial loss. They have even discussed rationing expensive drugs “after asking Congress for $500 million to pay for the same drugs,” according toWashington Examiner.

VA officials have given Congress the notion that hospitals throughout the nation would be closed unless ‘swift action’ was taken.

Hepatitis C, one of the most expensive medications given to veterans, is one of the drugs the VA is allegedly planning to withhold from some veterans. The Hep C drug can be as much as $1,000 a pill, a price the pharmaceutical company, Gilead, believes to be fair considering what it cost for them to develop the treatments, Sovldi and Harvoni.  

Hep Cis caused by the HCV virus:

  • It is a contagious liver disease…

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Watch Vets Enraged! Controvercy Over Trying To Ban The POW/MIA Flag And Calling It Racist

Liberals aren’t just good at revisionist history – they invented it. There is no stable ground under their feet – even today’s political correctness will be incorrect tomorrow, if that is what they need to further their overall political agenda.

The Silent Soldier

POW/MIA FlagPOW/MIA Flag

August 24, 2015

ByLorra B.

Banning theConfederate flagbecause some deemed it to be an abomination and showed a lack of empathy for African Americans just doesn’t seem to be enough for Liberal America. Now it seems thePOW/MIA flag(fashioned by Prisoner of War families in retort to horrific treatment at the hands of the North Vietnamese) is now in the Left’s radar.

An article inNewsweek, by Rick Perlstein, declares that the POW/MIA flag is nothing but a cult fashioned by Richard Nixon and that the horrific maltreatment of POW’s by the Vietnamese is nothing more than evil folklore useful only to “venal right-wing politicians.”

“Richard Nixon invented the cult of the POW/MIA in order to justify the carnage in Vietnam in a way that rendered the United States as its sole Victim,” stated Perlstein. The POW/MIA flag is nothing more than “political…

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