Posts Tagged ‘VA hospital’

bedside manner-VA style

August 8, 2010

My anxiety level must be soaring-it has to be the reason I am so paranoid about going anywhere…for the sake of food I finally went to the grocery store yesterday. I forgot about it being Saturday!

I spent the past two days feeling worse stress than my memory can recall. I feel like a fence post is in my throat and stuck at my chest-I am trying to breath around the post! The rest of it feels like a squeeze from some huge hand coming up from behind. Okay…I’ve known in myself something has been wrong for several years. We know these things!

I have mental health issues! I am post traumatic and with that comes anxiety and stress. I spent all day yesterday trying to justify NOT going to the store,but the crumbs here forced the task. It is just that hard-getting out the door sometimes!

There are times when simple issues become quite an ordeal for me to understand. Like the simple word ‘and’!

Recently like other times in other similar situations-I had a verbal outburst about that one word. It was at my bank…long story,and I won’t tell it all-but I was confused over the use of that word (and) on a certificate and could not settle its understanding in my head,so I blasted out at the teller. I have since apologized to her. 

If something so slight as not understanding why the use of ‘and’ can screw me up so bad one can imagine what this letter from the VA regarding my blocked arteries has done.

I wonder what they think? Send out this letter? Why not-no one knows what it means anyway!

What a strange thing to do-really! Is this how private medical care does it…send the patient off for tests and good or bad-they jot the results down in a letter (in terminology not familiar to any lay person) send it in the mail and that is that?

I wonder if the doctor that sent this letter read my record-and saw that I am PTSD and likely to be a sufferer of anxiety-stress? I wonder if any consideration is taken to think what any patient might begin to go through just thinking about it…my heart is sick? My heart is sick? My heart is sick? And with anxiety put in this…my heart is sick 100 thousand times 100 thousand!

Coronary artery disease? Hey…I had to look it up-get some reading in,learn what it is this letter is saying. No doctor has called to say this is severe. My consult date in January 2011,according to this letter. Let’s see? In January 2009 I had to call 911 rescue. The pain in my back-and the nausea I experience ALL the time hadthis time knocked me to the floor. I was taken to the ER at the Gainesville (FL) VA and from that point on I was treated like an interference and an hour later I found myself standing on the curb.

Looking up the symptoms of coronary artery disease on my own I found that the nausea I have described to them (VA) then-and in the past,and the present,and that I lose my breath when ever I simply lay down is included.

I also learned that coronary artery disease has a direct link to ‘post traumatic stress disorder’.  

My friend tells me I never have anything nice to say about the Veterans Administration Hospital.

I have never felt that I had a right to be there as a patient. My military service included just about nothing! I should have been injured in Viet Nam,or in some way connected to being a soldier-or sailor,but being raped in a detention barracks is not the honor from the legitimate wounds.

Interestingly my first knowledge that I could be a patient came from my having severe abdominal pain back in the  1970’s. I collapsed and emergency 911 was called. I was asked en route if I was a veteran…and ended up in the VA hospital ER. The doctors were ready to remove my appendix-but a nurse showed them the hardness in my belly.

From barracks D to this day-I am afraid of public restrooms! My mornings-for every day of my life,the toilet and shower are triggers/reminders. Never a day! Travel and other away from home recreation are not easy for me. The need for special time in the bathroom is an everyday chore.

The nurse back then had discovered I was impacted! Up until then I had avoided the toilet as much as I could-any interruption and I could not relax enough to go. So I quit taking a shit!

I was a patient there for over a week. They gave me something…and I had no choice. It un-packed me!

To this date-I have the blue ID card they gave me.

I have always remembered that-it was back then when everyone smoked and the ladies from the VFW came around and GAVE us cigarettes!

My next experience was about 10 years later. During the deepest times of my practice of ‘damage control’ when my self-abuse was seriously damaging-I ended up in the VA the second time. I had gone out and gotten myself attacked…like a battered wife,I needed to be touched-and the consequences put me there for nearly two weeks. Anyone then could have read my chart-it was not something I would want anyone to read. The doctor at my last consultation was so gentle about telling me what she thought would comfort me-and it was comforting. But I still was doing things out of the normal and right. And did not understand exactly why.

That was in 1982-there about…It was not until 1999 did I find myself back at the VA again.

Even today-I feel I have no right being there. It seems to me all wrong…even though countless others say I do deserve to be there. I have always ALWAYS felt that the description of my military service is documented there for any clerk to see…that is a level of treatment regulated by the level of your active duty service. Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts got the best when grunts and swabs got median care. And my military record had nothing to impress anyone with. Why should I be there?

I’m rambled off the word “and”!

And? What does this letter mean? At what level of worry should I reach? To what degree of ‘preparedness’ should I go for? Is this squeezing in my chest something that should concern me….or am I okay waiting until January 2011? After all,I’ve only been feeling this way for a few years…must not be much! After all-I am sure by now someone would have called me personally!


on my knees so I can look up

July 22, 2010


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

This is what it is…for those that don’t know the whole story-I am writing this online journal to describe what my life as a male survivor of sexual trauma has been like. The nature of the trauma changed the way I lived my life-my gauge to say that is that I was prepared to spend my life serving in the US Navy. That life ended abruptly while I was still just fresh enlisted-18 years old.

I was made promises by the education officer on our ship-there was a program then where certain personnel could enlist for 10 years and trade for college right away and return as an officer-although something like an Ensign.

I believed in the things that were being told to me-and I was very excited.

My older brother was stationed on the same ship (I had requested that myself-in boot camp). He told me that was never going to happen,that the education officer was not telling the truth-I had no idea that it had made him jealous. He had not achieved much in his service.

I can only try to guess what happened the weekend I was arrested. I was on a liberty pass for the New Years weekend of 69-70 but had jumped the gun the night before-trying to use a round trip bus ride to spend a few hours extra with my family in Washington DC-from Norfolk VA-and got stuck in a serious snowstorm. When the bus finally made DC it was too late to try to get back to ship-but I had managed to have myself cleared by having the military liason call my ship-after all…I had a pass! And the ship’s Master at Arms told the liason I was free to go.

It was a day later my brother was sent by the ship to arrest me…I was taken back-and accusations were made based on story’s another sailor had told them. Nothing true-but I was afraid…my brother saw to it that I should be. They kept saying I was going to prison!

That night I was taken to barracks D-a detention barracks. There I was raped-and for two months led around like an object-made to do things hard to describe and repeat.

I was given an HONORABLE discharge at the end of the second month. I have never felt honor.

Over the past several years-I guess five or so…I began writing this journal to try educate as best I could that the term ‘sexual trauma’ is not only trauma to woman,but that men can be victims too.

I would never thought that I would ever write about what happened-I lived with it and all the damage that followed for almost 35 years before any one ever cared! I then began a different kind of pain-one that has taken me by surprise and has caused me to shudder at what has been another form of abuse.

My life since 1970 has been an erratic ride of alcohol and drug and sexual abuse. Sexual being the worst of it…like a battered wife who returns to the husband I went over and over to find injury on me-to repeat the life in barracks D. I don’t think I’ve ever said it this way-this openly here. The pain and disgust of it makes me sick.

I fought for years to separate from it…and at times won-quitting cocaine in the 80’s,finding freedom from drinking off and on. Both contributing to the self abuse-the abuse…and both battles-big battles with lots of work to overcome. I walked away from cocaine in the mid 80’s with the help of counseling and my two teenage sons. I have walked away from alcohol too many times…sometimes good,sometimes not.

I managed to finally find a place where I stopped. My stroke in 1998 helped more than anyone could ever imagine. No more cigerettes-no more drugs…no more drinking. That ended later in the year when an individual wanted by the authorities came in my life-and I got caught up in her case…I quit drinking for 5 years! FIVE YEARS!!!

Then one day at a routine visit to the VA….all the goodness ended!

I was asked if I was ever depressed-the standard interview…and YES by GOD-I am! And I said so…and they gave me pills to take home. The pills honestly gave me a high I can only compare to a mild psychedelic and I felt strange-and dumped them out!

I am free of drugs by then-over 12 years. Sober the longest I’ve ever been!

I explained in a letter why I dumped the pills-that I had fought sobriety for what seems forever…and the pills made me feel high. I explained about my life!

That brought an eventual response a few months later-I was scheduled to begin three years of weekly meetings with a social worker-my therapist!

During that time it was suggested that I validate my injury-the PTSD-by filing a disability complaint against the VA.

That began this blog-journal.

The ‘healing’ that was supposed to come from all of this has become more detrimental to my health than ever! I have constantly explained that my first meeting with the State of Florida DVA advocate brought insults of bigotry…he tried to suggest the rapes were homosexual behavior-and could hardly believe the men involved were not black men.

I hired a lawyer instead…only to receive a letter from the VA saying she cannot represent me-after all,she was not registered with the VA for their approval.

Eventually three years later it is ‘agreed’ that the rapes had happened-and they had disabled me with PTSD. I was given a 70% rating and at that time thought it was appropriate-after all,it happened in 1970!

Strange crazy insane thing! I say that because I am so confused!

I find myself scheduled for a new hearing-like the same one I went to two years ago-having to again prove myself….prove something that has constantly daily affected my life-and has made me who I am because I cannot escape it-and tried to live with it…HEALING? It has never happened.

I am having to defend myself. The whole matter-built up over these years-has exploded inside of me! The anxiety and the pressure of the memories intermingled with the current affairs of what this has done…an institution (the VA) has literally repeatedly offended me in trying to convince that I shall be validated!

I woke the other night (shall I say-came to?) on my knees with my face in the dirt in the woods that surrounds my house. Toxic…again! God I HATE IT…that must have been what I was saying when I was trying to look up!

grumbles about the VA…

March 20, 2008

drawing by-jay herron
Originally uploaded by jayfherron

The thing is….my mind is going in overdrive-and I’m finding it difficult to keep it on one track at a time. I’ve always had this eccentric sense of order. That most likely comes from my life as a trucker and having everything in the tractor cab packed into an order-organized for easy reach and for space.
I’m completely distracted with other things in life and have lost track with writing and the concentration…and I have been crazy busy trying to keep afloat until the next check comes on the 3rd. That’s the day us Social Security recipients get to come up for a breath of air and then start to sink again later that same day.
That’s usually distracting enough-but now I find myself needing to put things in order,an odd sort of task some get and some don’t.

From my Social Security check they take a deduction of about 98 dollars each month for ‘Medicare’. I understand it’s a bit less now because Florida has picked up half the tag. Never the less…for the past three or so years I’ve tried to use this Medicare card at the Shands Hospital in Gainesville-across the street from the Veterans Administration Hospital…and was told I couldn’t unless the VA referred me,which they had not.
I had been trying to explain for almost eight years about this pain in my gut-the VA put me through every test a man could know of and began to reach the point where I sensed the doctors there were not giving me the full answer. One test they actually stopped the test and brought in another doctor and resumed the test and conferred out of my hearing range then said my primary doctor would be talking with me. I had to wait two months for that appointment,and then I think he got it wrong,or wasn’t telling me something.
In my life I never felt it was fair for me to seen at the VA. I never felt that I deserved any treatment there…yet after my stroke in ’98 I had no other choice because I had no insurance and still needed care. I have an ‘honorable’ discharge,so they say I do. But I do believe there are levels of treatment provided by the degree of service….I think I am in the lessor degree.
I finally found somebody that helped me get to see a doctor outside of the system-he listened to me and with a short quick blood test found what he says the VA should have noticed a long time ago.

A lot of people wouldn’t believe me about this Medicare card and how I kept being rejected because I didn’t have a referral. Someone finally called Social Security and from there got in touch with Medicare-this while I was sitting in their living room and waiting to hear the conversation. Even the lady we were talking to professed doubt at what I said so she took the phone number of the part of Shands I had once called-and the Medicare tech returned our call with extreme surprise. “That’s the first I ever heard that” she said. And then she gets the idea to tell me I could go to Tampa ( 125 miles south) and I had to tell her that most of the hospitals in the region are owned by or are Shands. I was even rejected from the clinic they run in our small community….all because of the VA.

The other day on our local news there was celebration for the new VA sub-clinic in Gainesville-one geared for the numbers of post traumatic stress cases result of the Iraq war. Every one is all excited because of the appearance of growth in the health-care-more space and more better you will feel,I guess.
It is more that the expansion of the hospital and renovation is requiring out sourcing office space for various clinics and departments. I have a friend that works for the VA and her office has been relocated to another part of the city….but there was no thrill of excitement nor a news parley in celebration.

So it’s like this-when you cannot tell the entire truth you mix it up with false smiles and handshakes. It’s kind of like wagging the dog when it make it look like something good is happening-something great! It’s due to the return of many injured from the war in Iraq (and just because they are opening more buildings to build onto the one they already have-does’nt mean things are getting better, it means they are getting bigger)

I don’t understand why I couldn’t be given the approval to leave the system when I asked. It is one thing to be ashamed that you are using something that rightfully should be for those who saw combat-but to be caught up in something you can’t get away from because you realize you are being treated like an underdog ( and already feel like one anyway)…is it alike the false pride in something that looks great and sounds great but is only a disguise?