It took me about 10 seconds of reading the Road to Veterans Day Action Review from November 6, 2014 to determine my topic of the day, Rebuilding Trust.
I won’t lie; the road through the #VA treatment experience has been difficult. There were times during this process where my husband had appointments every single day of the week. It CAN NOT be said that we have not tried. We tried for treatment, for normal, for relief, for sanity… forever.
The first VA system #IllianaVA found nothing, and couldn’t get any of his symptoms treated effectively in 2 years. Diagnoses he ended up with were hopeless; Migraines, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, PTSD. His records from this time are incorrect, among the most obvious and egregious inaccuracies include records that are clearly from another veteran; information that he lived and served in places he’s never been, and stating that he has children that we don’t have.
The last straw for me occurred when he was hospitalized for VA negligence in medication management. Which sounds benign, possibly. This particular event consisted of intense abdominal pain. Pain, that caused him to writhe on the floor of our bathroom. He was crying out in pain. He was holding his breath so that he would pass out to stop the pain. Pain that the triage nurse on the phone was clearly upset by.
So, we have a choice. Drive over an hour to the VA emergency room, which is through the middle of nowhere, or drive to the local emergency room where I will have to fight more than a year to get the hospital bills paid by the VA, and to this day we still get harassing phone calls from the hospital. The hospital also reported it to the credit agencies damaging his credit, even though it is paid. Fabulous(sarcasm). All this before I mention that taking PTSD to the emergency room is always a trial. He ends up testing positive for Pancreatitis. So, he is asked repeatedly and continually, by the commercial hospital, and by the VA hospital once he is transferred there, how much he drinks. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t smoke. Nobody believes him, or me. I bring in the outside sources. I have evidence that his medication dosing in way too high, and in conjunction with another medication that limits his ability to process the first medication. He is on 10 medications at this point; he is on 10 medications currently. The medical student at the hospital is willing and able to listen to my information and understand what the problem is. The doctor, however, is unable to hear anything. She wants to remove his gallbladder. He hasn’t eaten anything but ice chips for 5 days. He is still in pain despite the morphine derivative IV. He gets pneumonia. We learn nothing and he is discharged, with his gallbladder. That VA is FIRED.
The VA has a long road ahead of them to regain my trust.
Thank God for the #RoudebushVA #IndianapolisVA
My Veteran wasted too much time with the IllianaVA to be considered for the STICC Clinic for OIF/OEF/OND Veterans in Indianapolis, which I feel partly responsible for and that breaks my heart. But, he was able to get in to mental health there. He has a provider that he is starting to trust, and my personal VA hero, Denise Leisure, has gotten him straightened out on his medication to a point where he can smile sometimes again. Providers there, except for his primary care, believe him when he tells them what is going on with him. The VA in Indianapolis offers spousal support in the form of the PAIRS program, retreats and research studies. During our participation in a research study a VA employee scooped me up and enrolled us in the Caregiver Program, which has been a Godsend in so many ways.
One way that the #NEWVA could bolster my trust would be to have the care teams meet. Mental and Physical healthcare combined so that providers communicate and make one treatment plan. If a treatment team could “see” the whole veteran and treat the whole veteran that would be tremendous! Include input from the Caregiver, provide self-reports for evaluation at home between appointments. Use us! Do NOT underestimate the commitment we have to our veteran’s health. Most of us have given up our lives to care for our husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, or children.
We have all chosen to stay and we are in it for the long haul. Personally, I made a promise, including but not limited to ‘sickness or health’ and ‘better or worse’ until death. Can the VA match or exceed my commitment? #ICARE