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Yesterday's challenges

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It started with a phone call. Normally when I’m at site my phone is off and tucked in my laptop bag, but it just happened to be sitting in front of my face and I just happened to be able to actually pick it up. The woman on the other end told me she could schedule an appointment for me to have my disability rating re-evaluated the very next day. This appointment was a year in the making, so I took it.

Since I’ve been meaning to have an MD look at my knee, I figured I’d ask the doc at my disability appointment to take a look. After all, he was going to be looking at my right knee anyway. Well, I get there, the doc calls me back, and while we’re chatting I ask if he can look at my left leg.

“It’s not on my paper. I can’t look at anything that’s not on my paper.”

“Um, you can’t even check it out? I’m not asking for you to document a rating. I just figure I’m here and you’re a doctor and I’m needing to get this checked out.”

“Nope. And even if I found something I couldn’t give you any kind of diagnosis or prescriptions. You need to set up a separate appointment.”

Wow. Um, okay. So then I went home, pulled out my laptop, looked up the number to the VA Appointment Line, and made a call. I was told that since this is the first time I’m being treated, they have to assign me a Primary Care Manager (sounds easy enough) and that the first available appointment is May 9th.

*cough* *cough* May 9th? Did I hear that right? “I haven’t been able to run for 10 weeks and I have to wait another 6 to be seen by a doctor?”

“Yes ma’am, May 9th. I’ll have the triage nurse call you back in the next couple hours and if the nurse thinks your situation is urgent then we’ll try to get you in sooner.”

Oh, so you can fit me in if someone *tells* you to fit me in. Beautiful. That’s a wonderful policy. How come you can’t just find an open appointment and type my name in it? GAH! But the triage nurse called me back and asked me a bunch of questions within the hour. She said I needed an appointment “today or tomorrow” (Promising!) but when she looked at the schedule she couldn’t find anything. To that she said, “You need to go to the ER in the next 12-24 hours.” I was shocked that she would come to that conclusion and actually asked her if that was her professional opinion. Yup.

So I dropped my boy off with the BFF and headed to the ER. I got to the check-in window.

“The triage nurse on the phone couldn’t find me an appointment in the next 24 hours and told me to come here,” to which the receptionist replied,

“You’d probably be better off waiting for the appointment. Go grab yourself some dinner before the cafeteria closes, honey.”

Sigh….. I bought a slice of stale pizza and some stale mozzarella sticks and then pulled out my book, preparing for a long couple hours. After an hour and a half my name was called. The doctor felt my leg and asked me all the same questions the triage nurse had asked. Then he uttered the following words:

“Your leg is not broken and I don’t think you have a blood clot. You have a soft tissue injury, so I’ll write you a prescription for some Motrin and you need to follow up with your PCM in 2 weeks.”

I practically burst into tears right then and there. This whole experience has been so frustrating for me and the VA was my last hope. I didn’t even want to go because I just knew it would end like this. I shared all of this with him and he got defensive, talking about how *he* wasn’t the VA and he has his own practice outside the ER and, get this,

“Even when you see your PCM they won’t do anything except give you more Motrin anyway.”

Just what I needed to hear. Keep your Vitamin M and give me my discharge papers that say to follow up with my doc in 2 weeks even though I just told you I had to wait 6. Thanks for the offer to let me come back to YOU in 2 weeks, you purposefully incompetent a-hole. I will NOT be taking you up on that. But worse, now I don’t even want to bother with my appointment in 6 weeks. What’s the point? You freaking SUCK.

I held back the tears until I got back to my car and then I just SOBBED for 20 minutes. I’ve been to this hospital three times and every time my visit ends with me sobbing in my car for 20 minutes before I can drive home. I hate the VA.

So after all that I wanted to drink a bottle of wine and drown my sorrows, but I decided to be social instead. I headed out to an HRC event that my friend was speaking at and got a great big bear hug upon arrival. After that I went down the street for the weekly jazz jam. All the heavy hitters were out and it was just a POWERFUL evening. Absolute heaven and exactly what I needed.

So at least I made a point to end my day positively. I’m still back at square one with my leg after putting myself through HOURS of frustration for nothing. But whatever. Whatcha gonna do?

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'm so sorry to hear all this crap you're going through, when you all you want to do is just get out and run. Seems like something so simple to just step outside, lift your legs, and run. It's heart-breaking to not be able to do that. Even just thinking about how much you want to do it, and then have this voice in your head say that you can't... that you're broken... and that there's no end in sight for when you'll be fixed. For almost two weeks I had those thoughts, and even though I managed 16k last Friday, my knee still feels tender, and makes me so worried. It was humbling to feel that way and think about you having to go through this for so long. My heart truly goes out to you. It blows. I'd say still go see the doctor in a few weeks if it's still hurting. You've already had the worst experience possible, so you'll be at least numb to that somewhat, and who knows... maybe it will be more positive. Couldn't get much worse I think. A-hole doctors.
    1186 days ago
    Feel your pain girl it sounds like they run the VA like the world's worst HMO. I don't have VA (hubby does though), I have Kaiser and it turns out that whole fiasco with them changing my asthma meds to one that actually made my asthma worse was that they had a contract w/ Advair and when that was up Dulera was the lowest bidder next time around so Kaiser switched all their Advair patients to the Dulera. It had nothing at all to do with my health and what the Dr. thought would work for me. My asthma got really bad and they were forced to switch me back (after a lot of hoop jumping, bitching and not to mention a co-pay everytime I went in). I got that info. straight from the lips of my Kaiser Pharmacist.

    1190 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/22/2014 6:51:36 PM
    Working in healthcare, I hear your frustration with the system. Not sure about the VA, since that's not my area, but your situation sounds pretty typical in an overloaded system. It is a shame....but at least you know it's not a fracture (probably you already knew that?) and the soft tissue injury will heal eventually. You are such an active, driven person, it must be really hard to have to rest and heal, but that is really the only thing that will help at this point.

    I'm feeling a bit of this now too, as for me, it's just been one injury after another this year, my knee while training for a marathon (which I had to run/walk, but did complete), then my mid back while lifting (had to change up my lifting program, but still able to get through it in the modified version) and now I've injured my wrist! Probably will require I not lift for a bit (or at least really taper/modify what I'm doing) but I do realize in time it will get better, and then something else will likely pop up! And life goes on....
    1190 days ago
    How very frustrating! My hubby goes through hell with them as well, but nothing as vile as what you went through.
    I am proud that you turned your day around.
    I hope that you get this resolved quickly.
    1191 days ago
    I am proud of you for taking the action. The nurses many times know better than the Dr. We all want you well.
    1191 days ago
    I am SO happy you turned your day around and ended it on a positive note with a huge hug!! The dr offices are so dumb! It makes no sense. Why not figure out what is wrong, fix it so you don't keep going back and spending time and money (yours and theirs) to go back over and over!?!? What a concept! Hang in there honey. I know it is SOOO difficult for you. You are so strong and I admire that in you.
    1191 days ago
    I'm speechless! What is the world coming to!
    Well done for dealing with your emotions in a non-damaging way!
    1191 days ago
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