The Back Check and Where’s that Murmur

Posted on February 13, 2013. Filed under: Blogroll, General | Tags: , , , , , |

Well as I look forward to finding out about how the problem with my lower back issues goes, I have an appointment for the heart murmur found during my yearly health exam back in November of 2012. The results for the back issues when it comes to being determined if they were service related all comes down to hoping the ship’s medic recorded the incident after I had fallen and made the report to him. The examining doctor stated it would be about six months before I might even hear anything. Mind you, I applied back in April of 2012. My exam was the first part of February, and I had even more X-Rays too.

Up next on the list is the murmur, and that is for February 14th, of 2013 kind of ironic it being Valentine’s Day and what not. My own mother who is 82, she too has a heart murmur the cause of which is a heart valve closing too fast. As for mine, the Doc was not sure which part of the heart it was coming from and had ordered an ultrasound shortly after the discovery it was at that point I was given an appointment to see the cardiologist. Unlike those who have great health insurance or members of Congress who if they get the sniffles; which all the stops are pulled out to make sure they don’t keel over and croak while besmirching us lowly folks in their chambers, we have to take a number.

If you got great health insurance, very low deductibles you will get the great service and you can even set the day and time for your treatment date etc. all the while we lesser folk wait for our turn patiently. Veterans have to be patient, there are a lot of us out there and with the drawdown that Congress seems to be howling about there will be even more since a lot those troops who are likely not needed will be getting out of service to find jobs and will fall under the care of the Veterans Administration which is already overloaded. Congress wants to spend, spend and spend without raising taxes all because they want to have shiny toys made in their districts.

The drone program which has been successful is itself facing cuts, since it costs a lot to keep those things flying. Maybe we can repurpose those machines and turn them into air traffic control aircraft for cities, perhaps putting some over Washington D.C. so when a member of Congress gets the sniffles; we can have it help cover the breaking news of the sniffle outbreak. Even better, give that money to the Veterans Administration so they can treat more Veterans. You have to spend a day at the local Veterans Hospital in Atlanta to understand why there is such a backlog. There is not enough staff, equipment, and space to fit the current number of Veterans who need treatment on a daily basis.

One thing the Veterans Administration is doing and that is embracing technology. I use the MYHEALTH feature on their website; the link will take you there where if you are a Veteran you can register for the site and once verified you can access your treatment records, prescription information, and upcoming appointments and even test results too. We take the appointments given when available; generally the folks are kind enough to note which days are the best for us so we don’t have to miss any work and get us into the system somehow. You got to respect the work that those men and women do, given what they have to work with. It would be nice if that wonky no action Congress would get off their ass’s and send more money to the Veterans Administration. Maybe if they had to take a number to get their sniffles looked at, say the second Tuesday in May of 2014 and their sniffles were found in February 13, 2013 they might do something. But then again Forty-Seven percent of Congress are multimillionaires, so taking away their quick service healthcare likely would not be a bother.

Another thought at helping the Veterans Administration would be to have civilian healthcare facilities help take up the slack when processing treatment needs for the Veterans. There are those that are already howling at that idea, but remember we have hospitals in many states that are several underused and who do need patients. X-Ray’s, CT SCAN’s, MRI’s could all be carried out at facilities that have the abilities to serve and yes help create jobs. Wonder how many Congresspersons would salivate over the word jobs? But then if you mention Veteran’s that drooling would stop pretty darn quick and they would walk away mumbling, “Maybe later.”

Veteran’s served the country, with no expectations of becoming famous. When you serve, you take the risks. Putting on the uniform, you expect that you can be on the receiving end of some lunatic who thinks they will get ninety-nine virgins for killing you. In reality, I think the lunatic gets one butt-ugly looking hag with the clap for his trouble. We take the bumps, bruises, scraps, broken bones, bullet wounds and concussions, and everything else that can happen with the military career and grin and bear it without thinking about a medal to show for it. One weird accident that happened to me while serving on a Navy Guided Missile Destroyer, the USS Richard E. Byrd (DDG-23) was while we were transferring ammunition from the aft magazine to the forward magazine.

I was carrying a 75 pound five inch shell, High Explosive, when I approached the ladder well to go below deck. Mind you that the ship IS underway and we are going through some troughs when I set foot on the top step. When I woke up, I was at the bottom still clutching the shell while fighting some guy who wanted to take it. The Weapons Officer, found me out cold and ripping the shell from my arms raced back up topside and chucked the shell overboard. My brand spanking new boondockers had “lost” their heels while I was standing on the top step and to say the least the rest was history. Embarrassing to say the least and that added to my back woes. I suspect that was the final culprit that eventually did my back in years later. It was a great ship to serve on, but damn falling down hatchways was not my favorite method of getting around ships. Shipmates on later ships wondered why I had a healthy aversion to certain types of ladders and ladder wells, and guy’s is why I hated certain ladders designs.

So yeah, Veterans no matter what branch they had served in could and did get banged up and years later we are paying for it as we age; but then there are moments that make all those things that happened to us worthwhile. A video taken at the Whitehouse before the Medal of Honor ceremony to award Clinton Romesha, a US ARMY Veteran the Medal of Honor showed his young son playing around the presidential podium. If you find it, you will understand my feelings and those of other Veterans when it comes to moments like that. Veterans have given their all, many made it back and many did not. We are still glad to have served, missing friends and family birthday’s, Christmas’s, weddings all because we chose to don the uniform knowing the dangers that are inherent with it.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.

Stephen E Sauls

Chamblee, Georgia USA

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The Long Road to Now

Posted on February 7, 2013. Filed under: Blogroll, General, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

In late March of 2012, I had visited the Veterans Administration Hospital Clinic in Decatur, Georgia where my doctor after hearing my complaint about a lower back problem ordered a battery of tests and other exams at the main hospital. After X-Ray’s, MRI’s and additional X-Ray’s there was no doubt I had a mess of a problem in the lower back. My back end got mangled after a nasty and rather frightening fall aboard a US Navy Guided Missile Destroyer in 1980; that was estimated at about 22 feet. I as a young seaman had walked across the forecastle and had stepped into some liquid, which to my dismay as I later found out was diesel fuel. Some enginemen, while refueling the emergency diesel generator had spilled it but had not cleaned it up; and I stepped in it and as I entered the scuttle which is a small hatch on the top of a larger hatch ended up taking the express route to the bottom.

My butt, smacked to last two steps of the ladder at the very bottom before I slammed feet first into the deck and then bouncing into the anchor windless room of the Charles F. Adams class Guided Missile Destroyer, USS Richard E. Byrd (DDG-23) where I found myself face first on the steel deck pondering just what the hell had happened. A fellow shipmate found me, and helped me to sickbay where the ship’s medic gave me the once over and some aspirin and sent me back to work. So much for that treatment and I would over the years continue to endure the painful reminder of my crash landing on a steel deck that amazingly did not break any bones.

I decided after an additional visit to put in for limited disability compensation, as it was frankly becoming more and more difficult to deal with the pain. I have ended up seeing a pain doctor at the Veterans Hospital in Decatur where I am getting injections to help alleviate the pain. You have not had fun until, you get needles stuck in your spine though once the doctor who is doing the injecting gets done it will at least keep things back there down to a dull roar for the next three months. I put in for the disability in April of 2012, and finally got to see an independent examiner who in February of 2013 took more X-Ray’s, had me try to bend and flex every which way.

Bending and flexing is no longer much of an option nor is heavy lifting the order of the day either. If I have dropped something it is go to the knee’s and hopefully reach it if possible or if at home use the handy-dandy picker upper grabber which unfortunately I can’t carry around one at work so in short it can be a real pain in the back side if I drop something. Being limited now to what I can do, I have not been able to do what I love to do and that is gardening and general yard work. It is hire the local yard work folk and pay them to do it. My trusty John Deere, I have not run in nearly two years now because of the back problems as the pain from man-handling the mower which is self-propelled became too much.

As a Veteran, I am not alone with issues; as other veterans seeking to get disability payments to help with life’s general issues have to go through a long wait and see process. I was told to expect another six month wait for any decision, and there is no guarantee that I will be able to receive the payments. I will have to still endure the pain and get by as best as I can.

I am thankful I am not taking hardcore pain killers, the ones I am taking deal mainly with the nerve and joint pain that is associated with the back issues. Remember the impact that I wrote of? That same impact affected the hips too, and the right side is showing that too now that I am aging. Those that are young and get away with what they think are bruises at first; will be like me when they hit their 50’s. What was I thinking when I did something stupid like that.

    What is next for me? Well I am experiencing both numbness and locking finger joints in both hands, so there is a doctor appoint for a surgeon to examine my hands and arms. I have already had X-Rays too, so problems with my right hand that are growing I have been practicing writing with my left hand. I truly feel like I am back in kindergarten again; trying to write something legible. The results are awful to say the least. Of course as Veteran’s like me age, we face other issues too. Having a heart murmur discovered during a yearly health exam in November of 2012; I had to wait for an exam appoint in February of 2013 to see a specialist. Unlike those who may have insurance that is well off, Veteran’s like me who are now depending on the VA for help have to wait in line.

    As we go forward into the New Year, the government has to of course cut costs. Those that are in Congress are now bitching about those cuts, are the ones with pet projects in their districts. A lot of them seem to forget that Veterans are seeing less support, while the shiny and a lot of times wasteful projects that are being constructed or improved upon seem to be sucking a lot of money away from other issues that need to be addressed. I will hope to see that the wasteful projects are cancelled and the funds being wastefully spent be redirected to the Veterans Administration to help the millions of veterans that need the help. Frankly new and shiny does not always work too well and if the crap costs a Billion Dollars a copy and you want 500 of the stupid things that don’t really work too well at all, then we can send some real estate agents to the Hill and sell them boneheads some beach front property in Nevada. That is of course after we sell off California and break it off at the San Andreas Fault, and the buyer would be China of course since they likely own ninety percent of it already.

    I will keep you posted on my future adventures with the disability issues. The one thing I do want to point out is that surgery is my last option; since the area of the spine in question is the L3 and L4 with a large and nasty cist sitting in there between them. I would have to get full disability just for that option to even be considered. Not a fun thought at the moment.

Have a nice day folks and when you see a Vet, say thanks.

Stephen E Sauls

Chamblee, Georgia USA.

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