VA-ER


empty stairs-drawn by jay herron 2006

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

Sunday began as any usual weekend day. Then came the pain. It was a horrible pain from the lower right side of my gut-I’ve been having uncomfortable pain from that area for several years-nothing like what was searing through my body on Sunday.

It worsened. I believe I began to hyperventilate-I know I got scared…I dialed 911.

The 911 operator stayed on the line with me as I writhed on the floor-I was literally crying from the pain and fear.

I made the decision to be taken to the VA (Veterans Administration Hospital) Emergency Room. By the time we got there I had some what calmed down,the pain had stopped it’s agony and I was feeling less afraid.

I have never felt right about being a patient at the VA medical center. Because of my ‘duty’ in my few months in the military was so disgraceful I never felt right standing and waiting to visit a doctor next to men who lay in the dirt and mud and misery of war. I always felt I was not rightfully a veteran-other than boot camp my only actual service to my country was the short time I was on board ship,and that wasn’t very long. My duty was lost in a detention barracks.

I was not comfortable going to the VA Sunday. I had not planned to try to resume care there until everything has been settled with my newly awarded ‘service connection disability’. The only thing I had to prove I could legitimatly be a patient at the VA was my papers from the VA judge that state I am-so I carried them with me.

My presence there was less than welcome. By the time I adjusted myself on the ER bed my pain had subsided and my treatment was as if I was taking up space. I was asked to give a urine sample-but the space was open and the front wall was partially glass with the office staff on the opposite side…I am entirely uncomfortable in that much activity to pee, a phobia I’ve had since barracks D.

I explained to the first medical tech I have difficulty peeing in such circumstance and explained my issues with PTSD with hope to get help to go to the privacy of a toilet-his response was that the drape would offer me privacy. I could not pee,so I laid down.

A girl game  in and inserted an IV. They did draw blood. They never checked my blood pressure-it was very high in the ambulance,no one seemed concerned, just bothered that I was there. I laid there for a long time with out any attention. Then the pain returned. I tried to relax myself but the pain was intense and I began to ask for someone to help-no one came. I began to cry-the pain was that severe.  Finally a nurse does show up and asks why I am crying and I replied that I was in pain-and that is why we were here.

I was given an injection of something to calm me down.

My son got me home around 8 o’clock Sunday evening. We spent the ride home talking about how they had treated me there, his word was ‘rude’-he said they weren’t even listening to what I said. The doctor that finally saw me said I “keep walking to the bathroom” as if I made multiple trips-he dismissed anything I said and dismissed me too.

Around 10 o’clock it happened again. I tried to relax-but it wouldn’t stop. The pain was awful and relentless-I called my son and told him something was wrong and he knew it from how I sounded. He called 911 this time.

The ambulance crew told me if they took me back to the VA a second time that the ER will make me sit in the lobby and wait all night and I had made up my mind never to return to the VA again. They took me to a hospital across town.

I waited in their waiting room too-but not all night. By midnight I was in a room with a wall and privacy to pee. They listened to me that I have issues with PTSD-they dimmed the lights because of my eyes.

I was given an exam with what is going to end up costing me a fortune-something I have no money for. They did discover a cyst on my kindney was pressing against a part of my stomach where it appears to be a part of my gut has something stuck in it-to say it as least gross as I can.

They treated me with morphine to ease the pain and sent me home with medications that will ease the pain and some that will work on the problem in my gut.

My son and I talked about it as we drove home from the hospital-the ride was slow because of the early morning Florida fog so we had more time than usual. He remarked how notable the difference in the care that was given. It seems my attacks of pain weren’t life threatening-at the moment they seemed just that. But the difference in respect that was shown-why does it seem missing at the VA Hospital?

I was embarrassed by the treatment I was given by the physician that discharged me. He dismissed me in a way one would shoo a fly from a sandwich-I was speaking to him and my son told me that the man was completely ignoring me. I was relieved that he saw it that way too. My son said he noticed it because a part of his job at the Sheriffs Office is transporting convicts to medical care and that I was being treated like I was one of those convicts.

I had thought that since I recieved vindication from the VA judge that I had an equal right to medical care at the VA Hospital-I see that it is my mistake.

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