Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Our Story: Room for Improvement


I would like to talk about Chris's C&P exams through the Milwaukee VA.  The doctors said he doesn't have any lasting effects from the TBI, which they admitted he received, so he was denied that claim, and also denied a rating for his migraines since there is 'no service connection.’ They, of course, would not let me accompany him during the exams despite him saying he wanted me there, so they didn't get the information that he had been going to speech therapy for the TBI, been followed by neurology, and seen in the TBI clinic and such. DAV was very upset when they saw the denial since they could see all the paperwork from North Chicago VA (NCVA) showing his disabilities. We are currently trying to get this fixed.

One of the issues we have had at the North Chicago VA (NCVA) has been with Ophthalmology. Chris has PTSD and TBI. He had a field vision test due to the migraines. It showed he does not see in the lower right hand bottom half of that quarter (if that makes any sense). The doctor was not sure what was wrong and wanted to follow up in 6 months to see if it got better/worse/changed. When we followed up we had another doctor who tried to tell me (after having a 2nd field vision test with results identical to the first) that there was a mistake in how the test was performed. I explained it was the same as the last test, so could not be an error. She reviewed the first one, said 'uhhhh...it's ok.’ When I asked about the plan of action she told me there wasn't one. She didn't feel he needed any follow up either. I walked out of that appointment with the doctor still talking I was so angry.

Another issue is how the VA handles sleep studies on site. The room is a tiny room in the middle of the hospital, nothing on the walls, a tiny hospital bed with a flat pillow. I work at a sleep clinic where there are rooms similar to a hotel room. There are TVs, a bathroom, chairs, and full-sized SleepNumber and Tempurpedic beds. We offer four pillows right off the bat and have extras. When he was issued his CPAP by the VA he had a 13 min appointment start to finish, never received any follow up calls or training reviews. Our clinic conducts an hour long appointment and follows up at one day, one week, one month and every three months after that, more so if needed.

As far as the rest of his doctors, I love them. His neurologist (Dr. N. Anderson) is amazing, is willing to explain everything, doesn't just throw medications at hubs and really listens to me. He knows I take care of Chris, and sees value in that.

Chris's psych doctor is Dr. Vadya. I LOVE her! She was excited to see me at his appointments and asked if I would be going to all of them. She encourages Chris to do the PTSD group without being pushy and putting him off. She always asks him how he is doing and what is going on, then asks me if I have anything to add to what he said or if I agree. At one point he was overmedicated (not her fault- totally his since he was minimizing how he was feeling) and when I told her he was an emotional zombie she worked quickly to fix the problem. She does not prescribe unnecessary medication, she slowly changes medications and doses until she feels they are appropriate.

Chris's TBI doctor (Dr. SWAMINATHAN) and caseworker are wonderful and they meet with psychiatry and neurology to discuss cases.  Dr. Anderson almost always consults with psychiatry when changing medications so as not to 'give you a blue pill that will interfere with the red one you're taking that makes us have to give you the green one.’

Another doctor I value greatly is his endocrinologist Dr. Barsano. He sees past the numbers of the tests and bases treatment on how the patient feels (with low T).

Megan in Audiology is awesome. He 'finished' his round of speech therapy with her and after 3 months of not attending I asked for services to resume since he was declining.  She now sees him once a month to keep things 'fresh.’

His OIF/OEF Caseworker Raydene Edenhofer calls to check in on us and to make sure we are doing well. My CSC Pam Rosentreter is amazing as well.  She checks in on us and encourages me to 'stop by' whenever I am around. She put in a Caregiver Corner in the VA. It's a room caregivers can hang out in while the spouse is in an appointment. It has a massaging chair, snacks, TV, computer, a fake fireplace, coffee, tea, water, and is just a great place to relax. (I think it is a HUGE VA DO) She also has yoga for caregivers every other Friday.  Megan is awesome and schedules his speech therapy during that time so I can attend yoga without making an extra trip.

I feel we are extremely lucky to have his doctors and to have a fairly easy time working with them. I never want to think about any of the leaving the VA for ANY reason!

To learn more about the State of Heroes and Families project, please visit our main site or visit any of the following direct project links -

Why This Started: www.familyofavet.com/state_of_veterans_families-why.html
The Statistics: www.familyofavet.com/state_of_veterans_families-statistics.html
Our Stories: www.familyofavet.com/state_of_veterans_families-stories.html
What We Hope For: www.familyofavet.com/state_of_veterans_families-hopes.html

FAQ About the Project: www.familyofavet.com/state_of_veterans_families-faq.html

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