“We Have a Process” or one TG/Intersexed/Lesbian/Decorated Veteran’s experience with the VHA
I would like to welcome the newest member of our writing team, Lisa O’Connor. In her first post with us, she tells us her story of dealing with the bureaucracy of the Veteran’s Health Administration. Thanks for sharing with us, Lisa!
New VA motto: “In VHA, Nos Pedicabo tu Cruda.” or “In the VHA, We Will Fuck You Raw.”
Very appropriate motto. Not necessarily needed, as anyone who has dealt with the VHA will attest, but it is kinda cool, almost akin to, “Spes, omnes qui ibi intra, – “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” (TY Dante)
Truly, everyone who works there, with a few exceptions, I believe suffer from the most baleful, beastly and blighting case of hemorrhoids. It must be an occupational hazard. There is definitely a lot of sighing to be heard and never any eye contact. Oh, sighing when in person, “No! There is a process!” when on the phone – doing exactly what you were told to do by the sighing clerk earlier in the day.
Today’s real-life example contains many “SIGHs,” as the experience was in-person. Had the experience been via phone, I would have heard, “No! There is a process, Ma’am!”
Today’s Real Life example: “ O’Connor? !”
Me: Smiling, “Hi, I’m Lisa O, 3PM with Dr Kumbarberrycoast. My last four are XXXX.”
VHA employee: “ What’s your name?”
Me: Biting bottom lip, “O’Connor? Lisa? Last four XXXX.”
VHA employee: “ What’s the last four of your social security number?”
Me: Continues to bite lower lip but with different teeth, “XXXX?”
VHA employee: “ First name?”
Me: Confused, “Lisa?”
VHA employee: “Last four of your Social?”
Me: Pouting, “XXXX???”
VHA employee: “You have an appointment???”
Me: Pouting and biting lip, “Yep! 3PM with Dr Kumbarberrycoast. ”
VHA employee: “ For what time?”
Me: Pure pout-mode, “3PM. Is… something wrong?”
VHA employee: “ What’s your complete social security number?”
Me: A flash of murderous rage which I instantly – and miraculously – manage to self-squash, “XXX-XX-XXXX.” (At this point, approximately 15 minutes has elapsed since my name was first called so I could sign in. Meanwhile, my severely arthritic knee is on fire. This after I have just gone through Mephatopheles’ version of “Who’s on first?” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sShMA85pv8M)
VHA employee: “ You are 10 minutes late. Hold on…… “
Me: Now hopeful, “OK!”
VHA employee: “ I don’t know if she will see you. Your chart is in the ‘No-Show’ pile.
Wait one… “
Me: Now I have a heretofore never before seen expression of embarrassment, anger, fear, resignation, sorrow, indignation; did I say embarrassment? “Um…”
VHA employee: “ She will see you.”
N.B.: At no time did the clerk look at me.
Me: “Um, do I go somewhere or wait to be taken to her office or stay here… ?”
VHA employee: “ Take a seat! Someone will be out to get you in a minute ”
Me: As though the thorn was just removed from my paw, “OK! Thank you very much for your help. ”
VHA employee: “”
N.B.: This is for the second specialist visit for a potentially life ending condition, first detected over six weeks ago. No hyperbole. The VHA is quick and efficient if anything!
I have had either that exact dialogue, or a close variation, scores of times, in three different VHA facilities – usually being dragged there by my GF or a dear friend as I do not enjoy the behavior/atmosphere there.
(I’m not sure I am really that lucky to have such caring friends.)
The atmosphere/behavior not only tweaks my PTSD, I have openly wept, in the local VHA, thinking “This is the treatment our returning soldiers/heroes are receiving? The ones with limbs blown off by IEDs? The ones with TBI? The ones with PTSD? The ones who saw their best buddy’s head blown to pieces?”
Thinking, “You… dare… treat… our… soldiers… like… maggot… ridden… pieces… of… meat?”
I have never been ashamed to be a decorated military retiree.
I am slowly becoming one. Let’s not forget, it is a process.
I’m terrifically sorry for your experience. I cannot say that I am surprised, but I am shocked and deeply saddened. There is something deeply wrong with this country when our politicians use our soldiers as a political pawn with one hand, while defunding the VA and restricting veterans’ care with the other.
I can only express my sincerest wishes that you get the treatment you need, and your condition improves. Hopefully, your next experience at the VA will be unexpectedly pleasant and you’ll find people surprisingly helpful. *hugs*
Hugs are always welcome 🙂
Thank you, Katie.
As with most stories, there is another side: the occasional helpful orderly, the physician who actually made eye contact, etc. They do exist and work for the VA. And each time I encounter one, I go out of my way to thank and congratulate them for their work ethic and for helping to make me feel comfortable. (“So many complain about the red lights, they never notice all the green ones.”)
Unfortunately, 90+% of my experiences have been quite unpleasant, even unprofessional. It does sting at a personal level, but for some reason, I can see haggard soldiers seeking treatment and receiving that type of behavior, and I weep.
I pray I am simply an anxious, scaredy-cat on a hot tin roof imagining the sky is falling. I would much prefer that truth than any truth to be found within my tale.
Thank you for reading and such a lovely comment.
Not to pry, and if I am prying then you may have my crowbar, but did they ever find anything? Will you be okay?
Not prying at all.
It seems to be an idiopathic autoimmune disorder. They could test for some other diagnoses, but the treatment would be basically the same – steroids. And the other test would be a biopsy requiring surgery, soooo, I am begging out of any VA surgery if not absolutely mandatory.
Thanks for asking 🙂