By Larry Alger 5-11-2020
Update 1>> 5-11-20
I did receive a call today from the Seattle VA Dermo clinic. I have had a confirmed appointment there for Friday May 15th. They called to say THAT has been canceled due to Covid. I was once again told that most techs and providers at Seattle are not on site and there is just a skeleton crew there. I’m really starting to get worried. I am rethinking depending on the Mission Act and just heading out to the local ER at a CHI hospital near me. Larry
Ok, Ok I know we are in a pandemic that has overwhelmed our healthcare system. My current issue is a headache. I know, I know how the hell can I be linking a headache to my possible death? What am I CRAZY? Well no, I don’t think so. This current headache is ongoing seven weeks now and I cannot get a CT scan, even though my primary doc at the VA has ordered one about three weeks ago. See, I live in South Sound area of Washington state and my VA is in Lakewood where my primary doc is. Turns out this facility is on bare bones staffing (direct quote from a helpful person in Radiology there) due to, YOU GUESSED IT COVID! So instead of breezing into the American Lake VA for the CT as ordered, I have had to wait for the order from my doc to be sent to Seattle, reviewed and analyzed by someone up there who declared my CT order not an Urgent Priority. After all it’s just a head ache right? Well what the Seattle crew neglected to consider is that sometimes a headache is not just a simple, take two aspirins and call me in the morning kinda deal. And with my health history it is almost never simple for me.
Background: I have been in the VA system for three decades now. I have experience with the VA from Sioux Falls SD to West LA CA. In fact I have DIED FOUR TIMES and the VA has saved my skin three of the four times. There was that one time in 2004 that my heart stopped after a Quad Cabbage by-pass op when I was at home, all my muscles relaxed (including my bowels so I KNOW I was dead) then I fell off my high stool hit the linoleum floor and my heart restarted. But then the VA took care of that issue and so I’m still here today. Don’t get me wrong I am not here to bitch about the VA. I am a BIG VA supporter. In fact, I am SaveVeteranLives.com, how to navigate the VA system to save your own life. I also write for and publish a little website called JusticeNewsNetwork.com and I have done a bunch of reporting on the VA.
Here is a story on VA reality I did last year
This 2017 report was up close and personal account of how I died twice and the VA in Loma Linda Ca saved me again.
So the take away from all that background is this: I know what I am talking about when it comes to VA health care. And I gotta tell ya all that THIS time is different, really different. COVID has the system Upside Down and Back to Front right now. Got it so far?
OK, back to the headache. Remember when I said sometimes a headache can be much more than a simple headache? And I claim to know that because I have experienced the NON SIMPLE headaches that the VA has helped me survive, right? Well here are a couple high impact visual aids I have to back that claim up. OK?
Severe Headache Image One Dec 2017
Severe Headache Image 2 March 2019
So about THIS headache. It started in late March and it has not gone away. By early April, I had contacted my primary doc who had several Teleconferences with me as in person appointments are very limited now. The first conclusion he came to was a possible sinus infection so he had meds sent out to me for that which turned out to be a dead end as the headache persisted and got worse. Coincidentally my blood pressure increased from an average of 120s/70s to 140s to 160s over 90s to 111, so another couple of teleconferences ensued. My doc sent new blood pressure meds and my BP decreased down to 120s to 130s over 70s to 80 in about a week. The head ache persisted. So finally the primary doc ordered the CT. Well I waited to hear back about an appointment time and date which did not materialize. I called back the following week a couple of times and finally got a sympathetic person who explained to me that the paperwork process had been altered due to the Covid situation. My doc’s request for a CT was put on hold by someone in Seattle, as “Non Urgent” to them, but it’s “Urgent” to me (please review headache images above).
Now of course all during this process I have been informed that if I felt it necessary I could always go to a local hospital utilizing the Mission act , or truck up to Seattle, over 40 miles north, to the VA ER there. First I am reluctant to jump into the civilian health care system since the local VA is just about 15 minutes away. The only time I have ever gone outside the VA system was in January, when I broke my left hip. They looked me over did an X-Ray and told me I broke my hip. I had figured that out already and wound up at my VA in a couple of days later for a follow up with an X-ray there, and another script for pain meds. The reality is that the bill from the civilian hospital service is still not paid. I am sweating THAT out as I was told by the hospital, after receiving a letter from them, I was on the hook for that if the VA system did not pay. Follow up on that bill resulted in the VA telling me the paperwork was processed on Feb 14th, and is still in limbo somewhere, and with the Covid situation they are not sure of the payment status.
If I choose to travel up to Seattle VA ER I have no idea how much risk is involved to me from the Covid bug. And with all my Pre-Existing conditions, THAT is why I have been putting off pursuing that option.
What to do? How to play it? What is the source of the pains in my head? Is it a tumor? Could it be a clot issue? Am I headed for a Stroke? Oh God no! Every minute of every day the uncertainty is pressing down on me. What to do? I guess I’ll see if I can get through to my primary doc on the phone once again.
Thanks for listening, I’ll keep you all posted.