Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Day at the VA

The Wilmington Veterans Administration Center

Yesterday morning my alarm went off at 4:30 am.  I had an 8:30 dermatology appointment at the Wilmington VAMC (Veterans' Administration Medical Center.)

I have to get up so early in order to get ready to catch the American Legion Post 28 van at 6 am that hauls us old vets all the way to Wilmington so we don't have to fight the early morning traffic ourselves.
The way I look early yesterday morning - not my usual perky self

The van picked me up at Rts. 1 and 5 by the liquor store.  In addition to Tim driver, there were four of us old grizzled vets that would be transported to the gleaming VA in Wilmington this morning.

Traffic was heavy as we rolled onto I-95 then Rt. 141 before we made the final turn on Kirkwood Highway and entered the VA at about 7:15 am.  Construction work was going on outside the entrance to the VA (the VA is building an extension to their emergency room facilities) so Tim took the van around the back of the VA and we entered through the basement past the coffee shop.

Since my appointment wasn't until 8:30, I thought it was a good time to take some random pictures of this medical facility which has taken such good care of me since 2001.
The main elevators at the Wilmington VAMC

All years I had this wonderful insurance at the banks were I've worked I never used their insurance once.  However, wouldn't you know it that once I lost my job at the bank I had some medical problems.  That's when I had no other choice than to take advantage of the promise made to me when I joined the Army way back in January of 1960.  The promise made to me if I joined active duty for three years was that I the Army would pay for my college education (which they did after I got out) and lifetime medical care "if I needed it."  Well, I needed it back in 2001.  Of course I was reluctant to use the VA because I heard all those horror stories about how badly they cared for the veterans who used their facilities.  Well, that may have been in the past but it has not been my experience.  Since I started using the VA, I have received the best medical care in my life.

After taking a few pictures around the VA premises, including on of the pictures of President Barack Obama and General Eric Shineski (the administrator of the VA), that were prominently hanging on the wall in the lobby (what a pleasure not to see the smirking face of our former president George W. Bush whose administration tried every trick in the book to minimize and eventually take away veterans benefits), I took the elevator to the sixth floor and awaited the team of dermatologists to arrive from Thomas Jefferson University of Philadelphia.  As I said, we receive the BEST medical care.
A welcome sight after having to look at George W. Bush's picture for the past eight years

Back in 1992 when I first discovered I had the precancerous condition known as keratosis, I was working at Fidelity Bank at Broad and Sansom Streets in Philadelphia.   The place where I went for my treatment was just a few blocks away from the bank......Thomas Jefferson University Hospital!  A Dr. Uy an his team of interns (he asked my permission if they could look on while he treated me) looked on, he determined that I had a bad case of keratosis which needed topical chemo therapy treatment.  He also told me that for the rest of my life I would have my skin checked by a dermatologist to prevent skin cancer.  This was my reward for all those years of baking on the beach.  The warnings are true!  Early exposure to the sun WILL result in skin problems later in life.  How ironic that I now live in a beach resort area but I never go to the beach because of my skin condition.

The dermatologist who saw me yesterday was Courtney.  She is the same dermatologist who saw me six months ago.  We're becoming friends.  She checked me out and only found a few small spots of keratosis which she quickly burned off (didn't hurt at all.)  She told me I looked good (something I already knew.)  She suggested that since I "looked so good", it probably wouldn't be necessary for me to make a return visit every six months, but instead return annually.  I agreed with her suggestion and made an appointment to return next year.
Courtney, my dermatologist at the VA

I left the dermatology department and returned to the first floor lobby area of the VA to meet up with our driver Tim and await the other veterans who came up in the van to return from their appointments.  We were lucky today because everyone was finished at 10:30 am and we were on our way back to LSD (Lower Slower Delaware.)

The waiting area in the lobby of the VAMC - this is what socialized medical care looks like

Ah yes, a good day.  But my day wasn't over.  Yesterday afternoon I had scheduled for my PC Guy to come over to the house and configure my three PC's.  More about that in a future blog posting.  This morning I have to get ready for my refinancing settlement scheduled for 2 this afternoon.
Tim, our van driver awaits me. This is what socialized medical care looks like. We vets care for one another.  

There always seems to be something going on around the Tipton/Kelly household.  As I postulated before in a previous blog posting.....what did I do before retirement?


  1. Gee, one thing you probably don't say very often is "I'm bored".

  2. Mike,

    I'm not bored. I never really had that problem. Oh sometimes at work when there are only a few guests in the hotel I see boredom creeping around the corner but I always find something to do to amuse myself. Wikipedia usually does the trick. :)



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