Thursday, July 28, 2011

An Alternate Universe - or am I just dealing with the VA again?

"I have spoken to four doctors and they say you are not in pain"

"A temperature of 103.5? Well, ride it out at home! "
" What if it goes to 105?"
"Ride it out at home"
"What about 107?"
"You would be dead"

"I am the only PIK line person for 7 floors and the outpatients. I have already worked 11 hours with no overtime pay. I still have patients to see…"

"You need to move nearer the VAMC"

"Sorry we can't get a line in. Come back next Tuesday.."

"Yes, this is the crisis line. I am going to give you another number to call"

You will need to drive 180 miles, six days per week for your pain medication.

"The ambulance is just an expensive cab ride. Put her in the car…"

"We cannot give you Morphine, you might become addicted" (This patient was 87!)

"Blood pressure 68/48 Oh that’s a great BP. You must be an athlete. Oh you are feeling dizzy…?"

No I am not making these things up! These are actual statements by medical 'professionals'. Over the past years I have made a collection of these. To any sane or normal person, they are garbage. I wonder how long the VA can go on allowing their staff to spew out this junk. This makes absolutely no sense, and trying to find any logic in this is totally futile.
Is this part of a plan to make us all so crazy that we go away? Is this some covert operation to rid themselves of those Veterans who need help? Do they deliberately make it as difficult as possible for us to hang on to our sanity by a small thread? Or are they all in an alternate universe and trying to drag us there too?
To be truthful I don't think this is part of an underhanded plan. Why? Because I don't think they have enough organizational skills to make such a plan. To care for the vast number of wounded heroes that these recent wars have produced takes careful planning. It needs common sense, good judgment and many different approaches. To be able to integrate all these things into one unified whole takes organization. That they do not have. The whole VA system is like a huge bloated slug. Can barely move under its own weight and leave a trail of slime wherever it touches.
In the past I have tried very hard, as most of us have, to work within the system. Now it is becoming more and more obvious that working in their system is impossible. With statements like these above, they are in another universe. One where I am not prepared to go.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I am a Caregiver. 
Of Caregivers.

And, so are you if you are here 

What we do every single day is to give:  time, support, love, 
funds,and care.  From somewhere above, we are given what we need to provide the (hopefully) right words at the right time to the right person.  We are there for one another.  Some days are up, some days are down, but we are present when needed.  We save or at least enrich lives daily.

And, it is inconceivable that time and time again, we are told "Thank you for your interest", "Thank you for your support", and "How do you do this job every day?"   Is there only Rhetoric in our proud country?  Or, is there Heart, but simply no awareness?  Our hope is that it is lack of awareness rather than lack of caring that spares the action to go along with the words.

Is it possible that once you know that Caregivers even exist ("I thought the VA provided veteran care"), you can still find them invisible?   

Imponderable to us.  And, to many others. 

Caregivers and Veteran Families matter.  After a decade of war, at least three generations will be effected by multiple deployments, fractured families, homelessness, financial strain, joblessness, and injured, ill, or wounded troops.  Can we truly ignore what is in front of us?  Apparently so.

Yet, listen closely and you'll hear a growing number of voices raised together to stop fragmenting families into disparate groups, vying for dollars, and attention. Unity on this issue is important. Please continue to spread the very real needs of Veteran Families.

Because, once you know the need, how can you not help?


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Does Courtesy Matter When Lives Hang in the Balance?

Greetings, friends,

     A common theme has run through VeteranCaregiver since its inception in spring 2010:  caregiver and veteran persistence is needed in order to achieve progress or problem resolution.  Most accept this truth and reality.
     Lately, however, when lives hang in the balance because a "courtesy" is lacking, then we all experience a systemic problem. Throughout VCG, you already know of some serious caregiver and veteran issues that resulted in urgent and immediate coordination and action.  However, what is the protocol when there is no visible after-action?  Calls unreturned, and certainly no proactive follow-up?
    This is not compassionate care. It is not right.  And, it is simple to fix.  

    This VCG community of peers, mentors, friends, and professionals has always followed through.  Caring is abundant and actions supersede words. Please convey the message far and wide that veterans and caregivers cannot and must not suffer or even die because they were not a priority and afforded a "courtesy". 
Thank you for caring, supporting, and reaching out.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Greetings, friends,
So much going on lately that is baffling, and I'm now thinking in riddles. Choose your own words, but here is how I believe we support one another here in our VCG Community:
C  =  Care and caring, considerate, communicating, coordination, collaboration
==>  Compassionate Care Connection
A =  Advocate, articulate, abundant, authentic, augment, awareness, amazing 
==> Authentic Advocacy
R =  Real, rewarding, renewal, renovate, review, rally, refresh, reemerge 
==> Realistic Renewal
E =  Educate, emerge, energize, embrace, effect, epitome, escape, enjoy 
==>  Effective Energy

We may not have control over much, but we are able to live supporting one another and choosing the positive words over the discouraging ones.  You are all amazing in your compassion for others. Wishing you a good day today!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tackling an Assault Course

After struggling to deal with issues with the VA over the past weeks, I suddenly had this vision of a Military Assault Course. You know, the things where you have to run up sheer walls, traverse wires like a squirrel on speed and crawl on your belly with a face-full of mud. The military are very creative when making these assault courses. They are said to build stamina and agility.
Well, dealing with the VA is very much like tackling an assault course. The main difference is that while on an actual assault course, you have a crowd of buddies cheering you on, and you can actually see the end of the course, no matter how unlikely it feels that you will get there. You know that with skill, training, perseverance and the support of your buddies, you can make it to the end.
When dealing with the VA none of this happens. No one is cheering you on. No one shows you the end of the course. If, by some miracle, you actually climb the final wall, they quickly place another array of objects which have to be scrambled over or under or through before you get to the end. In the very unlikely event that you do actually make it to the end, you will find someone standing with a stop-watch, telling you that you were not fast enough at the second stage and you will have to do it all again.
This all comes down to the simple fact that they do not want us to succeed. Veterans and their caregivers must never be allowed to think for one moment that they have arrived. There must be no suggestion that the last hurdle has been overcome or the last problem dealt with.
If I had to chose between dealing with the VA either in person or via the telephone or running through an assault course, just give me the assault course every time. I would haul my aching bones to the end, one way or another because I know that at the very least, no one is going to move the last wall and when I have climbed it, I have arrived!