Saturday, September 20, 2014

It's getting better...

After a couple of years not going farther than the VA - I am taking my life back, dealing with the issues and venturing out, albeit a bit shaky on the walking part.

Found a fantastic Training and Boarding facility, One Command K9 in Lacey, WA, and was not only able to leave Sadie, Ginger and Tucker there for my first trip - Tucker got some training on-leash while I was gone. Woohoo! He's now much more a gentleman when we walk. Thank you, Joon.

Dove right in to a four day whirlwind vacation with my daughter, Angela, and my youngest granddaughter, Kaila. We really "did" Seattle. Had very nice rooms at the Camlin World Mark and they were reasonably quiet considering all the construction around us.

Hit the Pike Street Market first - an absolute must in Seattle. It's almost against the law to not get cheese curds at Beechers! So we got curds and their mac & cheese - to die for. Also left with hom bau and dim sum, gorgeous bouquets of fresh flowers and a promise to return the next day. We did.

Spent a day at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, WA and had the time of our lives.  Kaila will no doubt become a veterinarian rather than a people doctor as originally planned.  Her love of critters is so amazing. Either way, she'll become a force to be reckoned with when she finishes her higher education.

We then had a glitchy day so extended our stay by another day and did the Seattle Zoo. Missy K was at the height of her element. In so many instances, it was her first time to see so many of the species live and in person. It's a wonderful zoo - as zoos go. But it was also hard to see all of these wonderful creatures confined and on display. Personally, I wanted to send all of them back to their original habitats where they could flourish.

I understand the theory that natural habitats are approximated, they have more than adequate food and fantastic vet care but... they're still confined.  It was sad for me.

Other little side trips along the way made the entire trip perfect.

So twice in a week, I'll be on yet another short trip. My nephew and his wife are moving to Texas. He received an amazing job offer in Austin less than a week ago and within the next few days will have packed, painted, cleaned, sold their condo and be on the road.

Headed to Oregon to see them and my two great nephews for the last time until I move to Texas myself - in about a year. Thank goodness for texting and calls.

Before any of this could happen I had to come to terms with my health issues and the lack of or completely inadequate care provided by the VA. Not only is their care poor, it's even worse if you're a woman veteran.

So I've decided that since I have only this life and this body, I can choose what to do with them. If I don't get moving I'll lose that ability gradually and altogether.  So look out world, I'm setting myself free.  My gait will be unusual to look at, my memory won't be as good as it used to be and my endurance level is going to be taxed to the highest levels.  Beats sitting at home or accepting defeat.

For the first time in years I feel different.  Energized. Planning. Doing. Going. It's wonderful!

It's a good day.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I am tired of keeping quiet.

I was raised by wonderful parents who always did the right thing by everyone. They never met a stranger because after just minutes they became friends.

Daddy served in the US Navy and was involved in the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway; he served as the radioman for Admiral Nimitz. He later worked for what was then called the ATC - Air Traffic Control - until he retired. He was a Purple Heart recipient. It took 60 years before he was actually given his medal.

Mom stayed at home until my younger sister and I were both in school. She worked at a local high school for years and then for the Social Security Administration until she retired.

My sister, a victim of being a "down winder" in eastern Oregon, died twenty five years ago after losing her battle of seven years trying to beat the cancer. 

I have very good reason to doubt the veracity of VA Medical system. 

My daddy turned 91 on 1 Jun three years ago. His health was good enough we were planning a month long vacation to visit relatives and he was excited about seeing his family again. On 2 Jun, he had a botched, simple procedure at the VA Hospital. On 3 Jun he BLED TO DEATH.

I submitted a wrongful death to the VA but it has been denied because it was submitted on the wrong form - the form they provided me.

Now I have the privilege of using the VA medical system. I have the use of treatment, most of the individuals are wonderful caring people but "system" is broken.

The wait time for appointments can seem like forever. Not all "employees" are compassionate or caring. Treatment and medications are you get what you get. Sometimes you get nothing.

Imbalance has plagued me for now over three years. At one point, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I researched potential medical help, meds, treatment and tried to live with the diagnosis.

Not necessary. Three months later I was told that, in fact, I did not have the illness. Probably the only person I know to have MS for only three months. A huge relief in one way but I had to once again attempt to learn what was wrong.

I fall a lot, have broken bones and life as I knew it has ceased to exist. The broken bones in my foot were missed on an xray by a "temp-sub" doctor and although swollen, black and blue and rendering me unable to walk, he told me to go home, keep it elevated and aspirin should help with the pain.  The doc I saw a week later was shocked because the breaks were so obvious; it was too late to simply reset them and surgery would have to wait. I'm waiting. Still.

I continue searching for an answer. 

One potential answer is Ft McClellan, Alabama where I did my basic training in 1977 at age 30. Yes, an old enlistee but it was what I wanted to do with my life.

Ft Mac is, and was then, probably the worst toxic waste dump site in our nation. The sheer number of victims from the waste is astronomical. It was finally closed early 90's but the devastation continues. Pressure on the government for answers is consistently rebuffed and my fellow veterans are dying from their own "undiagnosable illnesses".

No compensation has yet to be discussed by our national leadership because all efforts to bring this to the attention of the American people are rebuffed.

So I suffer, with so many others, from an undiagnosable illness. Some days I don't want to get up. I know it will be more of the same.

Is this feeling sorry for myself? No. 

It's anger and frustration with the broken system. I have lent my voice to any petitions I could locate asking the government to do something to change the way we are treated, joined many groups specific to Ft Mac illnesses and signed their petitions, attempted to bring this to the attention of people who could help if they wanted to and legislation languishes because it's stopped in committees and never reaches Senate nor Congress.

Is an end in sight? Doubtful. If the Ft Mac victims can be stalled long enough, we'll all be dead.

Add us to the number of other veterans who suffer from their service overseas and at home -it's obvious why they don't want to spend the money; it would be too costly to provide for those who have been willing to give our lives to defend our country.

I'll add this....

-Daddy was a Purple Heart recipient who died a wrongful death because of a botched procedure at a VA hospital.

-He was honored just months before his wrongful death by having the Spokane International Air Traffic Control Tower renamed the Ray Daves International Air Traffic Control tower. This is the only tower in the United States to be named for an individual. So done by an act of Congress followed up by a letter from the President of the United States.

-A nationally released book was written about him, chronicling his service, life and career.

Whew, I feel better.  Doubtful anyone will read this because it's long and probably boring. But if there is just one person who makes it to here and will help by any means possible, I've accomplished something.

Support your local veterans. Speak out if you see something not right. Sign that petition. Talk with family, friends and neighbors about how to help the homeless - too many of them are veterans. Keep your eyes open.

Volunteer. Donate. Provide food to your local shelters and food banks. 

Do something - do anything to help.