Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think VA hospitals should be called hospitals because they are not like any other hospital I have ever been in. About ninety percent are great people but there are some employees that are just a mystery to me how it is they ever got into the medical field. They obviously don’t like people or taking care of them and they are very angry. There are doctors who refuse now to give people with chronic pain like myself anything that helps with the pain claiming that too many veterans have committed suicide. However, I fail to see how that can happen if they are the ones dispensing the medicine. It’s a crazy environment at times.
The first VA hospital I was in was in Minneapolis. I had my back surgery there. They did fusion on my back and then they went into my spine, without permission, and they said they enlarged the cavity due to stenosis. Then when I left the hospital they forgot to refer me to physical therapy and so that is part of the reason why my back is so bad. But while I was there some strange things happened. The day after the surgery a young man came into my room and said it’s time for your appointment, get into the chair. I said, “I just had back surgery and I can’t walk.” So he said, “Hey, Charlie, come here and help me with this guy he can’t walk – we need to get the sling.” Now if I had not said that I did not now of any appointments he would have hoisted me out of bed too soon and could have crippled me for life is what the doctor told him. I found out later that he had just gotten into an argument with the janitor and he got the wrong room. The janitor said he was an asshole. I think I would concur.
Then I had trouble urinating so they wanted to put a catheter in me. I said okay and the nurse didn’t put any lube on the end of the thing and shoved it in my poor member hard and I screamed and she said, “Oh stop being such a baby.” I said, “Hey, how about I shove that up your…” well you get the idea. Needless to say me and nurse ratchet parted ways and they got me a new nurse.
Then also after I got out of the hospital the neurologist forgot to order physical therapy. And then when I called in and told my doctor he said to walk. I said, “It’s extremely icey out and cold and I can’t walk in that shit because it makes me hurt and I am afraid I will fall. I do after all have a lot of arthritic condtions. ” The doctor didn’t care so I called the neurologist and he says, “You should be in pt -you mean your doctor didn’t put you int physical therapy?” So then I went round and round between those two about whose job it was to assign physical therapy and I never ended up getting it which at the time I did not reaiize how much that would messs me up further.
The next day I was made to get up and walk around which I know you have to do. I have learned that the last thing you want to do is lay around with back pain. I try to stay active but they did what they just did to me in Ann Arbor – they pushed me too hard too fast. They didn’t believe me when I told them how much it hurt and that I thought they were pushing me too hard. Where am at now is much better. They explained to me that this is a rehabilitation center and that the VA uses forced physical therapy and I believe that. They go, “Come on, push it – go, come on – you can do it.” And if you don’t do it then they get short with you and make you feel like a wimp just like boot camp all over again. Except now – I’m not in the military anymore. So why should I be made to feel like I re-enlisted every time I go to a VA hospital? Should I suit up and get on my boots again every time or could I possibly be treated with just a little human dignity and respect. Don’t think it’s a lot to ask for all of us.
The next time was in Las Vegas. I had a strict Phillipino nurse who didn’t want me to take pain meds. Her logic was that if I slept during the day I must not be in that much pain. She didn’t realize I had only gotten about four hours of sleep. That was the first time I learned how to use a patient advocate but all they did was give her a stern talking to. Big deal.
Then I was back in Wisconsin and got yelled at for having pain again. I brought a pamphlet into the room with me that I found in the VA waiting room that said, “Speak UP!” It was great. It was all about speaking up if you are in pain. So when he said no I showed him the pamphlet so he increased my pan meds to a stronger one and I am not going to say what because I am sure that they will read this or some mother of a veteran or wife in Cleveland or something will be e-mailing me about how I should not take those drugs! But I was pain free for the first time in a long time. for the most part and that’s all I ask for. I know that I am never going to be down to zero pain level but I am tired of living up at seven to ten.
So then when I got down to Florida I was sent to the pain clinic where this doctor told me that Florida was tired of being considered the pain capitol of the country and would not be giving me any more narcotics for pain. They sited some news stories about veterans commiting suicide with narcotics. I never saw that story and got the same damn speech this last time four years later from the pain clinic here in Michigan. I’ll be damned if I’ve seen this story. I searched for it online and all I could find was some sporadic suicides by narcotics, but not ilke the epedemic they make it sound like. They want to use the ‘new age’ way of curing with a friendly smile and a shaking of the head they wave away and turn up their noses at anything that might actually help me. They then prescribed citalopram which I told them I did not like and would not take again because it made me more depressed and does not help with pain but they did it anyway. Of course. God forbid that the patient have rights at a VA facility as a veteran with a bunch of dumbledorfs who could not find their ass with two hands, a flashlight, and a mother-fucking search team.
And to top it all off – they put some wonderful things about me in my record. Apparently it is a crime to move from one city to another when you are going to a pain clinic because then you are using “multiple pharmacies” and then I have gone to several providers seeking narcotics. What they did not write is that I did not break the law. I moved up from FL in August of 2015. I went to an ER and he prescribed enough to get me to my provider. Then he prescribed me enough to get me to my pain clinic and I have been hospitalized twice and told pain clinic doctor this but he sees so many patients that he has no idea about me and assumed the VA was right and told the he agreed and now I have no idea if I can go to a pain clinic or not. I am going to go ape-shit on somebody if they leave me with nothing.
This may sound like a conspiracy theory and you can discard if you want but what I really think is happening is that they are discarding veterans with pain from the Gulf War just like they did the Vietnam veterans because they don’t want to admit to their mistakes and on top of that – the whole veterans suicide theory is bullshit. I think they want us to commit suicide from lack of pain relief and nights of fitful and lack of sleep. Pulling your hair out because you hurt so much so you either take a handful of something non narcotic like the VA’s favorit go to – Neurontin or the generic name Gabapentin and say goodnight or you blow your head off. It’s a victory for the US Government because that is one less veteran they have to treat and possibly pay for the shit we were exposed to.
I tell you fellow veterans – DO NOT GIVE UP THE FIGHT!! Hold on and we have to stick together. We can’t beat them alone, but together we are an army and that’s exactly what they want. We need to coordinate with the old duded from Nam and figure out a way to get our broken asses up to the capitol to protest and there is a lot of good research being done at Georgetown so maybe while we arae there we can go by there and get some godamn answers! I am sick of the bullshit. It’s time to get some feet on the ground out there in the nation’s capital and protest the treatment of veterans with Gulf War Syndrome. We could make the press and stay there until we get what we need to get by. I am calling the fucking VA on their bullshit!
I want to hear from you out there dear readers. I know I can’t be the only veteran who feels this way. I want to hear your experiences and maybe we can get together some petition or something. They have some goo stuff online for that these days. But we need a physical presence in D.C. to make a difference. I know that people read this blog so I need to hear from you. E-mail me at email@example.com and say hey, Dave – we need to do this shit and let’s figure it out. I don’t have any money but I do have a six year pending claim and finally got an attorney and they just filed a brief to try and get me my shit so if I do I will be buying a Winnebago and heading up there and I hope that somebody will be joining me. If not I will roll up in my chair out there and stay until I am heard. Like the guy from the movie ‘Born on the Fourth of July.” Ron Kovic. I will tell them, “In the great words of Ron Kovic, I am your yankee doodle dandy on wheels, I am your sad reminder of war that nobody wants to face or something like that.” I am paraphrasing because I forgot and I am too damn tired and lazy and in pain to look it up.
I am now in a nursing home and unable to walk. Haven’t taken a dump in two weeks and now I have to catheterize my pecker when I am in too much pain to punch out a piss because my prostrate is too damn swollen. I don’t know if I will be here a week or a year but I am not giving up.
I have tried it all. I contacted my senators. I wrote to the President and I even called the big poobah himself, the honorable secretary Bob. I got a few letters saying how concerned they were for me and how much they want our veterans to get the help they need and their hearts all go out to me and wish me well. I think it’s a form letter that they all have with a rubber signature stamp. I got a few calls when I contacted Secretary Bob and they tried to help but it’s like they don’t get it. They are healthy and they don’t seem to understand what is like for those of us with multiple conditions that make it impossible for us to work and causes so many side effects from multiple medications and some Gulf War vets have even got MS or Lupus or ALS and so far I thank the lord that i don’t have that at least, but I don’t know what the future brings and I know one thing is for sure – I will not be going to the VA hospitals ever again. I am so glad I have Medicaid after my separation.
So here’s my final thought on a solution. Do away with VA health care all together and give us all the best health plan in the country and all veterans are given preferential treatment at all hospitals in our country and if they are in pain they get what they need and if they want tests – they get the damn tests and we might even find a damned cure for this curse of a disease ! but then I woke up.
Contact Dave now with your thoughts on this article if you are a Gulf War veteran or family member of one at firstname.lastname@example.org.