I'm back!

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I'm back!

Postby Elaura » Sat Dec 26, 2015 4:23 pm

Did 'ja miss me? (don't answer that)

In case Jac didn't mention it, I had an emergency appendectomy on the 16th. Appendicitis is an interesting phenomenon, really. All appendicitis is considered life-threatening and all appendectomies are considered emergency surgery. This is particularly convenient when getting the VA to pay for something done outside of their facilities after the fact. The thing is, appendicitis can go from mild to ruptured within 72 hours and the speed of it varies from person to person. Fortunately, mine was almost a textbook case and I was in the ER by 6 pm, in surgery by 11 pm and out of the hospital the next day by 9 am. I say almost textbook because of what the surgeon saw with his little camera.

Now that I'm lighter by one superfluous organ, I'm feeling surprisingly better. Although the appendicitis can't be blamed for my downward spiral this year, something the surgeon found can. Ladies, take heed. Gentlemen, take off unless you want to learn about women's inner workings. The surgeon said, offhandedly, that the only complication to the surgery was that my abdomen was full of menstrual blood. No shit. It could have all been from the period which had just ended two days before the surgery, or it could have been there for months. Either way, as anyone who has ever had a bruise can attest, blood where it isn't supposed to be hurts.

The doc said that after he flushed it all out, everything looked pretty good. A small cyst on one ovary, but the adhesions from a thirty year old case of endometriosis were minimal. The cyst indicates I still have eggs and they're still being released. A surprise to be sure. So, is the reason I only ever got pregnant once because of the backflow that no military or VA doctor cared enough to find?

The whole point of this post is to point out that I've been trying to get an appointment with a gynecologist to investigate menstrual anomalies and abnormal pain for three years. I've been denied the referral by my primary care doctors because they could do my PAP tests themselves and those were coming back normal.

Well, when I got out of the hospital, I contacted the VA's national women's health department. They, of course, were very sympathetic and told me what I needed to do . . . contact my primary care physician and get a referral to a gyn. :facepalm: So, having done this most recently in October and getting nowhere, I contacted the Oklahoma VA Patient Advocate instead.

Get this:

I could have enrolled in the private care option if my home was 40 miles or more from the nearest VA facility. We're 37 miles out. Now, the catch is, this is regardless of where I have to be sent for treatment. This means that although the Lawton/FT Sill clinic has no Gyn and I'll have to be sent to OKC (way more than 40 miles away) it doesn't count because my NEAREST VA facility is less than 40 miles away. My government loves me. There is another way to get to see a private physician: if the VA can't get me in for an appointment within 30 days of determining I need one.

The catch here is two-fold. They get to determine *if* I need an appointment and who with. Therefore, They called and scheduled me for labs on Tuesday. This is good, it's always important to have follow up labs after surgery, especially since I have a copy of my pre-surgery labs for them to compare to. My primary doctor is out until the 7th of January. The second half of the catch becomes apparent: when do I start counting the days? From the day I contacted them? From the day they called to schedule my labs? From the day of my labs? Maybe it'll be from the day I'm scheduled an appointment to see my primary care doctor? Or, will it be from the day my primary care doctor finally admits he's in over his head and schedules me to see a gynecologist?

So, what have we learned?

  • Don't let yourself fall through the cracks; if you do, you just haven't been loud or persistent enough.
  • No matter what they say on TV, the VA does not have a realistic plan to take care of "Our women veterans' special needs".
  • The US government cannot handle healthcare. Regardless of political leanings or who is in charge, they've never gotten it right. Their only plan is to put it off and hope enough patients die that they can put band-aids on the ones that don't.

Post Script: my surgeon did a rotation with the VA. He told me if I'd waited to be transferred to the nearest VA facility capable of performing an appendectomy, I definitely would have ruptured, requiring open surgery, massive doses of antibiotics, and an extended hospital stay during which my likelihood of acquiring a hospital-caused condition would have risen exponentially. In short, my government could have loved me to death.
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Re: I'm back!

Postby Drakkmore » Sat Dec 26, 2015 8:26 pm

Wow Elaura, I'm glad you're okay, and feeling better. My older brother had his appendix out when he was 16,and wanted to go back to work that same afternoon. He was made to take a week off, but was out of the hospital the next day too.
I don't know much about the policies of the V.A., but the nearest V.A. Hospital to me is almost 120 miles from here. We do have a clinic that I have to take my dad to every so often for check ups, and appointments, but in an emergency the V.A. Nurse line always tells me to take my dad to the nearest emergency room which is still 16 miles away.
Also being a guy I've got no clue how it feels to be a woman with all the perks,and frustrations that come with that, so I've got no right to say anything about any of that. Having no right to say anything though I will still say this, They need to pull their heads out their asses, and reassess the way they treat the female service personnel from all branches of the military. I will also go out on a limb here,a nd say that the reason women don't get treated the way that they need to be treated is due to the gender of the policy makers both past, and present. Generally most of those have been "Y"s, and every one knows that when it comes to women's needs us "Y"s are all a bunch of clueless idiots.

At any rate I do hope that you have zero issues while recuperating, and I'm glad you are okay.

Also, no Jac never told us anything. :ninja:
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Re: I'm back!

Postby fleet » Sat Dec 26, 2015 8:54 pm

Glad the surgery was successful.
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Re: I'm back!

Postby fable2 » Sun Dec 27, 2015 3:46 am

Good to find you back, Elaura. And complete agreement, based on the little I know (from a brother-in-law vet and a wife RN) about the disgusting horrors of VA medical care. The two parties of the wealthiest 1% have a lot to answer for--not that they'll ever be brought to account, but still.
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Re: I'm back!

Postby neildarkstar » Sun Dec 27, 2015 10:31 am

Wow, sorry to hear about your issues Elaura, but I'm glad the operation apparently went well, and I hope your issues get taken care of ASAP. Personally, I find it frightening even considering government operated health care. The government has never been able to find a problem area in life that they can't make worse with a little effort....
"If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans." - Movie "Flypaper"
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Re: I'm back!

Postby Spirited Treasure » Sun Dec 27, 2015 2:27 pm

Welcome back. -s-
I am but a fragment cast apart from the whole.
A bit of flotsam to cling to in the storm.

I am a fly in the ointment, I am a whisper in the shadows.
I am also an old old woman. More than that you need not know.

Step carefully. No path is darker than when your eyes are shut.
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Re: I'm back!

Postby Adul » Sun Dec 27, 2015 3:52 pm

Welcome back, E. I'm glad you're feeling better. Though health issues are almost never fortunate, surgeries that hit two birds with one stone are a good thing.

I've heard many horror stories from family living on the other side of the big pond and I don't envy having insurance trouble to deal with. Undergoing surgery is enough of a headache by itself.
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Re: I'm back!

Postby Elaura » Thu Jan 07, 2016 1:19 am

Thanks, everyone! I very much appreciate your support. So far, so good, but Friday I have another VA ultrasound. Although the last one was never looked at by my primary care doctor because he left and I wasn't assigned another one for over a year, at least there is something to compare this one to.

It's been less than a month since my appendectomy and my menstrual cycle has come and gone again (too soon) with returning lethargy and pain, though less intense. Now I'm starting to worry about how the VA will handle anything particularly serious. My faith in VA care is not just a little shaken. Frankly, I'm worried they'll use some antiquated technique, probably due to the fact that when I described the sinus surgery I had in the Army to Jac's doctor, he said he hadn't used that procedure in over ten years.

If I end up in the hospital in OKC, Jac won't be able to come every day to see me, either. He can't leave his 80 year old mother here alone with the animals and he can't bring her with him and get a hotel because the animals can't be left alone. While it is nice not to have to worry about payment, there is definitely a huge gulf between the care and consideration afforded under private healthcare and what is offered by the VA. If we lived three more miles away from Ft Sill, then I could go to local doctors and if I need anything done it could be done at the local hospital. As it is, for anything more complicated than standard maintenance, I have to go 2 1/2 hours away to an overcrowded and understaffed facility and pray nobody on the ward has a communicable disease, staff or patients.

Jeeze, as if being in a hospital wasn't scary enough! If I get that zombie disease I'm coming back here to share it. :zombiegrave:
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Re: I'm back!

Postby neildarkstar » Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:47 am

I'm telling ya, it isn't much better in the private health care area. I temporarily lost my health care this month because the insurance company doesn't accept debit cards as of this month. So much for my automatic payment... You see, the state of Oregon pays my health Insurance, and they do so by giving me (and the other state employees) a debit card to use to pay our bill...

On top of that, my doctor had me wear a heart monitor for a month... uncomfortable, and painful because it seems I'm alergic to the adhesive on the back of their little suckers that hold the electrode connections. After a month it looked like I'd been making love to an octopus, eh? :) In any case, it never showed anything at all regarding my heart.

Anyway, today I get a bill for that bit of technological dazzlement. It seems they charge me 7500 dollars for this useless experiment in discomfort, my insurance only covered about a third of it, they worte off some of it (they had exceeded their contract with the insurance company) and sent me a bill for a little over $2,000. If my doc had told me to start with that this test would cost me 2 grand personally, I'd have told him to strap the damned thing to his ass...

It drives them (doctors) crazy because I'm a particularly healthy dead guy with a defunct defibrillator implant that should have been removed in 2007 or 2008 at the latest. My doctors don't like my attitude, because I usually tell them that I rarely have issues unless it is over something a doctor does or prescribes. VA or private, I'm convinced doctors main function is to destroy your health...
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Re: I'm back!

Postby Elaura » Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:19 pm

neildarkstar wrote:. . . doctors main function is to destroy your health.


There is no doubt about that. I was taught in college (another practically useless institution) that there was a doctors' strike once and the death rate plummeted. Ultimately, though, it is the patients' fault. My parents and their parents grew up believing a doctor's word was gospel. If *HE* said you needed something, a drug, a surgery, or a change of diet, then you took it, had it, and did it - AND - if you didn't, it was your own fault if you got worse.

Occasionally in my life I have had the good fortune of speaking to people who have no reason to perpetuate the lie. I have a good enough background in biology and chemistry to wrap my brain around the less than popular truths. Those truths like a woman *does* have nerve endings in her uterus and cervix and they are, for many women, essential to orgasm. As a matter of fact, it has been proven with color video that the cervix and uterus actually move and contract during orgasm and that when they are removed, the change is noticeable. Another inconvenient truth is that people die during surgery and from complications afterwards . . . more frequently than anyone wants to talk about. Hospitals are dangerous places for the sick and people should spend as little time in them as possible. A friend of the family, a neurosurgeon, once told me that no one but a neurosurgeon is actually qualified to do surgery on a person's back, not even so much as stick a needle in for a spinal block or tap. He said nearly all complications during elective surgery are a result of surgeons doing procedures outside of their field of expertise. Complications after a successful surgery are directly proportionate to the amount of time the patient is exposed to the hospital environment.

My mother and I used to discuss this very thing. Once, she fell out of her scooter racing to the telephone because her doctor's office was calling to confirm her appointment that afternoon. She didn't end up going because she was injured in the fall. After she had her AAA repaired (abdominal aortic aneurysm), the surgeon wanted her to have regular CT scans with contrast to follow her progress. However, he also told me not to worry about what to look for if things went bad because there was nothing to be done. So, the CT scans, which directly affected her kidney function, were to satisfy his curiosity? Her death was directly caused by a bug she picked up at the doctor's office for her Medicare mandated pain management appointment. She had to go every three months to continue to receive her pain medication and she got a cough which tore open the AAA graft.

One of the last things my mother told me was not to have a hysterectomy unless the alternative threatened my life. She had a sixth sense about this sort of thing so I'm searching for any possible alternatives. I know there is no such thing as routine surgery and I'm worried that the VA will tell me they can't do anything for me except yank my insides out. Since it became a possibility, I've been researching the after-effects of so-called "female surgery" and it isn't exactly a step up in the quality-of-life department. Sure, what you don't have can't cause you pain (usually), but the side-effects are far from purely "psychological" as the medical community wants us to believe.

Regardless of how wonderful a life without pain looks to be, I have to think to myself, is reducing my pain worth risking my life? Should I grab for the golden ring when missing it could mean everything gets worse? Even if I manage to decide, will I be able to stand against the pressure of people asking why I didn't just have the surgery and get on with my life?

Any thoughts? I truly respect the opinions of those here at Wolflore, because I know you are all thinkers who look at all angles and don't fall for media hype.
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