Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Nearly Postal at the VA.

For days and days and days I've been planning going to the VA to get my dad out of there. I've talked to Social Work every day. They were supposed to have the following equipment ready when I arrived: Wheelchair, Walker, his meds, a shower bench, a raised toilet seat, a weighted wrist cuff to help stabilize his tremors for eating and writing.

I arrive, on time, 15 minutes early actually (I'd always rather be early than late) and he's there, in his wheelchair, with a GIANT and I mean GIANT bag of meds. No walker. No bench. No toilet seat. No cuff. And the night staff has no idea where any of this might be.

They call the one social worker on staff, who isn't familiar with my father. He says "Oh, I'll go look him up in the computer and see what the notes say. Maybe they've got it put away somewhere." I thank him, and we wait. And Wait. And Wait.

45 minutes later, he hasn't returned, I walk down to the nurses station. I ask where he is. "Oh, he's on dinner break. Try the employee lounge."

I'm positively STEAMED at this point, my dad is freaking out, thinking he can't go home, he's nearly in tears, he wants his walker, he wants to go home and thinks he can't.

I knock on the employee lounge, he's in there stuffing his face.

"Hi." he says.

"Hi. I'm Sara, John B....'s daughter. You were supposed to check on some equipment for me?"

"Ohhh, oh yeah. I looked. Nothing. You'll have to call Mike in the morning. Sorry." And back to his sandwich.

So I'm thinking this is just brilliant. He's ready to go home and I have next to no equipment. I decide, fuck it, I'm getting him the hell out of here now.

I take him to the car. There's no one to help me get him in, this is okay, I can manage. I then have to try to figure how the hell to collapse/breakdown his wheelchair, because even though I had arranged for someone to show me how to use his equipment they didn't show up either. I manage to do this, shove it in the trunk, pack the rest of his stuff and get in the car. My dad's so happy he almost is in tears.

"It's so good to see something other than the inside of the hospital. I missed the clouds and the trees." He smiles and is like a little kid, eagerly drinking up the scenery on the way home. I instantly know I made the right decision. I'm racking my brain, trying to think of somewhere that would have enough medical equipment (its like 7:30 at this point) to get us through the night. I decide to ask the people at the Assisted Living when I get there, its their job to know what to do, I'm still learning.

I get there, they are there, just like they promised, just as scheduled. They are positive and tell him they are excited he's home. He's very happy. I pull the night nurse aside and tell her that I'm sorry, the VA effed up, I have no equipment, I couldn't leave him. He's upset there's no walker, he says he wants to walk to breakfast in the morning, not wheel in. Its a pride thing for him. His neighbors saw him walk unaided.

She looks at me and smiles. She says that they lost a resident this week, and while it was sad for that family they donated all of this resident's equipment to the facility for other residents to use. And that we can have it. For free.

She has the kind of walker he needs.

She has a shower bench.

I'm so thankful and grateful I almost cry.

The rest can wait until later.

She says she has to go on her evening med rounds, can I wait and go through his meds with her in an hour or so. Sure, no problem. I unpack him, he asks for a beer and peanuts - this makes me happy, this is my daddy I know. He watches ESPN and drinks a Coors Light.

Around 9 she comes to get me, I grab the huge bag of meds and go to the nurse's station. We sort through it. In the bag is a bottle of 300 Oxycodone. He's slated to take TEN A DAY. No effing WONDER he's been so out of it. We are both shocked - she asks, "Is he just now coming out of his surgery?" I say, no, its been two months. She's also appalled at the dosage. She explains to me that she needs to follow the instructions on this med until she hears otherwise from the hospital, she suggests I call the docs to get permission to cut the dose back or to make it as an as needed basis. He's also on Tylenol for pain. I understand his clot is painful, but I think I've just pinpointed the cause of his "hallucinations and memory problems".

I didn't walk in my apartment until 10:10 last night. My mother, thankfully, came over and let my dog out for me yesterday afternoon.

Fucking bastard VA just drugs these old guys up so they are complacent. ARRGH! I'm so effing mad!

So I've already put a call in this morning, asking about the damn toilet seat and cuff (its really the cuff I'm interested in at this point, I'll go buy a seat if I have to) and why the hell my dad needs 10 oxycodone a day.

It makes me furious how shitty the VA is. My dad fought in the Korean War. He's 100% service connected, which means that his medical problems (technically its his other hip and his arthiritis, not his Parkinson's) are linked directly to his years of service. So no, he doesn't have to pay a dime for medical care. But I don't see how sending someone home with no equipment and major drugs is "medical care". Our veterans deserve better. And my heart breaks for those veterans who just don't have an advocate to check up on them.

I want to write a scathing letter about my experience but I have no idea where to do it. I thought about writing an essay/article and having it published. I have to do something. You can bet this girl will bring the noise. As soon as I get some damn sleep.

No comments:

Post a Comment