Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wilmington VAMC Visit

The Wilmington VAMC December 19, 2011

Yesterday morning I visited the Wilmington Veterans Affairs Medical Center.  I had a lot on my plate to accomplish during my morning visit.  I had to coordinate the following:

  • Blood work
  • Dermatology
  • Sign up for MyHealthevet
  • Swollen leg and ankle issues
I get the best care I've ever had in my life through the VA system.  The only problem is that the main medical facility is 82 miles away from me.  The American Legion Post 28 out of Millsboro, Delaware provides a van to ferry us old vets to the Wilmington VA Mondays through Thursday.  The only catch is that we have to finish all of our appointments by 11 am so all us Old Vets can catch the van back to Sussex County, at the very end of Delaware.  Wilmington is at the top of Delaware.  Delaware as you all know is a peninsula.  We're a little like Korea, just a jut of land sticking out in the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay.

My trip from Point A to point B yesterday 

I was dreading this trip because I didn't think I could coordinate everything and see everyone.  I especially wanted to see my doctor (I finally have a doctor who CARES about me) to address the problem of my swollen lower legs and ankles.  When I called earlier int he week the earliest I could make an appointment with him was 1 o'clock in the afternoon, and that would have been too late.  He suggested I do a "Walk In" and take my chances.

So that was the challenge I was faced with yesterday.  Without going into the boring logistics I will tell you that I was successful!  To do the "Walk-In" I had to go to the Emergency Room.  They saw me immediately.  The nurse practitioner looked at my legs and ankles and filled out the required Sheet of Paper that I was to take to Team B.  The Sheet of Paper is required to gain entry.  

Waiting for the doctor to check my ankles, that my records on the computer 

While I was waiting my turn for give blood for my blood work I took the elevator to the sixth floor and the Dermatology unit and was taken care of in a timely manner again.  The Wilmington VA has residents and doctors from Thomas Jefferson University of Philadelphia to make the daily trip from Philadelphia to Wilmington to take care of us Old Vets.  Coincidentally when I was first diagnosed with a pre skin cancer condition twenty-five years ago it was from a doctor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.  At that time I worked at a bank just up the street.  Yesterday the resident found five spots on my face and he burned them off.  Didn't feel good but at least I'm keeping the skin cancer at bay.

I would rather be shopping

Then back down to the first floor to have my blood drawn.  Then to wait for another doctor to look at my legs.  He determined that I should wear special support socks to keep my lower legs from swelling when I stand a lot, which is what I do when I work at the hotel like I am all these week.  He also increased the size of my "water pill" prescription.  

I arrived at the VA at 7:30 am.  I was done with all my business at 10 am and coincidentally the van driver was ready to go.  Perfect timing!

Bill picked me up at the Rt. 1 and 5 pickup point for the VA van and while he was driving me home my doctor called me and discussed my situation, including my upcoming biopsy for prostate cancer.  While I am not looking forward to this biopsy (I'm looking for any excuse to get out of it), I did feel more comfortable talking to a medical professional he seems to care about ME.

It's ironic but my whole life I've never felt I had a doctor who cared about ME.  Never.  In fact I had a doctor who almost caused my death by his negligence and other doctors who seems only interested in Turnover.  What I like at the VA medical system is that the people who work there are not in it for the money.  Most of them seem to work there because they truly care about us Old Vets.  At the VA they don't put you in a cubicle to wait for them because they're trying to get as much turnover as possible to make as much money as they can.  There is a difference.  

I don't have a whole lot longer to go in this world but I do feel comfortable knowing that where I go they do care about me.  That is as long as this government keeps the Republicans out of power.  Once they're in, they will try and do away with the VA medical system and privatize it.  If that happens, then I am a goner.  If anyone ever wanted to know why this lifelong conservative Republican is a liberal Democrat, one need to look no further than when George W. Bush and Company attempted to do away with medical care for veterans like me by charging an annual $2,500 FEE for us to use the VA.  Pardon me while I get on my political stump again but I seem to remember so clearly when I joined the Army, one of the reasons given to me to join by the Army recruiter was that I could have a FREE college education (which I took advantage of) and Lifetime Medical Care IF I NEEDED IT. 

 Well, there came a time in my life when I was without a job (2000) and had to have TWO MAJOR SURGERIES.  The VA performed those surgeries and saved me.  Bill had a ruptured gall bladder.  They took him by ambulance to Philadelphia in the driving snow and SAVED HIS LIFE.  Bill was in Intensive Care for FOUR DAYS.  They didn't think he would make it.  He did and I attribute that to the excellent non-profit motive driven care that he received from the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical Center.  My former dentist's wife had a similar situation where the VA saved her life.  

So when anyone asks me "How can you be ONE OF THOSE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS?" all I can answer is that the VA benefits that I EARNED (just like Social Security that I PAID INTO) saved my life  as well as saving Bill's life when he gall bladder burst during a snowstorm.  If the Republicans were in power and had their way both Bill and I would probably be dead or if we did survive we would be so deep in debt life wouldn't be worth living.  

So there my Republican Friends, chew on that reality.  And by the way, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The beautiful 2 ft by 3 ft watercolor (original) in the VA emergency waiting room


  1. I am glad you finally found some decent medical care, in matters of doctors who care.

  2. Ron,

    Glad your' being taken care of and it sounds like you are fairly healthy. Keep it that way.


  3. I wish I could find a good doctor too! So many doctors but hard to find one that cares and knows what he is doing. It seems that now days, they just want to put you on a pill regimen for life. That is how they make extra money (kick backs from the pharmaceutical industry).
    The LA Times "health section" of last monday has a good article about prostate cancer and screening.

  4. Dr. Spo,

    Maybe the best thing to come out of my current medical situation is finding that I am now receiving the best medical care possible and I have a good doctor. It makes me feel so good. I've never, never had a doctor that I felt comfortable with in all my years. Finally in my 70th year, when I need one the most, I have a good one. I hope it stays that way.

  5. Larry,

    I am very comfortable with the medical care that I am receiving at this time of my life.

  6. Nadege,

    I can really tell the difference from the medical care I receive from the VA which is not profit driven and the private medical care I have received in the past. I am very happy at this time of my life when I will need more medical care that I am receiving the excellent medical care from the VA.


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