(Transcribed by Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12.5)
So ladies and germs, for the past two years or so… Maybe 2 ½ years… I've been dealing with a problem in my right hand. I have an issue called “gooseneck” of a finger, in which a tendon is slowly shrinking, pulling the finger out of its socket.
Now I've already undergone an operation (October of last year), which, for whatever the reason, apparently failed.
Fast forward to this past October, and I get a consultation from the surgeon who performed the first operation.
I explained to him that I just want the damn thing cut off. This seemed to upset him, at least, to an extent; and he suggested that there were alternatives. He also indicated that what could make it problematic was the presence of arthritis in the main finger joint.
So, we discussed options, and I got talked into an additional operation. Wife looks at him and says, “…so, Doctor, how long is it going to take to make this operation happen?”
Doctor says, “two months.”
Well, two months was up on 24 December. Having gone that long without contact from the Veterans Administration, I actually called them early last week to find out what the status was for scheduling the procedure and when I was going to go through their evaluation process, much like the evaluation process they put you through before any operation.
Imagine my surprise: I was not on the schedule, there were no slots available, and I had been put into this new program called “veterans choice.”
Veterans Choice was the response from the Veterans Administration to the time-honored practice of ignoring, diverting, generally not taking care of veterans, and handling it all by paperwork. What made this problematic is that it’s alleged that dozens of veterans have actually died from this practice.
I freely admit that I am not going to die because my hand issue remains unaddressed. I also understand that in the hierarchy of need, those poor kids coming back from Iraq, Afghanistan, or other combat climes should be in front of me. I don't begrudge them that in the least, nor would any other soldier under the circumstances. It is, after all, a finger. In this instance, however, I am dealing with this all the time. And all the time means since the injury happened, which if memory serves, was in June 2012.
Right now, I'm reduced to wrapping paper tape and a Popsicle stick around my finger to keep it straight.
Additionally, I was put into this program (Veterans Choice) without anybody telling me. That this procedure can take place after the elections were completed was a bonus. During the holiday downtime would've been an outstanding opportunity to get this taken care of. Hopefully before session started, which takes place in mid-January of every year.
Instead, I was put into this program without anybody bothering to tell me, and I heard from no one concerning the status of the procedure on my hand. So now I’m in this program, and I have been verified for eligibility, and they tell me, that I will hear back with them within five business days.
So here I am seven business days later, Or more. And I haven't heard from anybody.
I pick up the phone this morning on the 26th and I contact the veterans choice number. The veterans choice people tell me that there’s nothing they can do, because they are waiting for the Portland Veterans Administration hospital to upload my notes and examinations via computer, so they can make a determination as to which doctors in the area might be qualified/authorized to operate on my hand.
I ask, “so how long does it take to get these notes sent up to you?”
I am assured that the computer transactions from all of the hospitals to the veterans choice program take place on a daily basis.
As I hear this, I’m thinking to myself, well, they apparently don’t because you sure haven't received mine.
So I go and I tell my wife what’s going on here to keep her in the loop and I was going to call in the office that I've been dealing with on this issue and asked them if they can just upload the notes in question… If anybody’s there to answer the phone.
She said something to the effect of, "…someone will be there, it's not a holiday."
I said, “don't be surprised.”
So I contact the Portland Veterans Administration and get an operator. And he tells me that today is, in fact, a holiday. And that they just found out “this week.”
Odd isn't it? The VA is so well funded and thus patients are so well taken care of that they can cavalierly hand out holidays to those whose charge is to make sure that what is happening to me right now does not happen at all.
The entire basis for this program, veterans choice, is because of delays, of being put off, of a lack of slots available, and so we are supposed to be able to take many of our medical issues out to, what we used to call “the economy.”
Here I am. Remaining within the VA system, I have no operation scheduled, I’m nowhere on the board, and there’s no opening, at least, that anyone will tell me about.
Outside the VA system, I have no operation scheduled, I’m nowhere on the board, and there’s no opening at least that anyone will tell me about.
Additional billions have been set aside and will be spent on this program. And I have to ask myself, "if MY finger is being treated this way, what about the big stuff? What about cancer, what about neurological issues? What about what about what about?"
What’s wrong with this picture?