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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Do you see these 42 Double D's? Do I look like a man to you?

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of my retirement from the Army. I wrote this really great blog about how much my life has changed in the last 15 years. I haven't slept much in the past couple days. My partner/caregiver has a nasty sinus infection. She's been sick for three days now. I feel helpless as I watch her suffering in bed. This woman who is so strong and provides me with such awesome care and unconditional love is down for the count and I can't do a thing to help her. I bought her four boxes of tissues. Two with lotion and two with "Vicks" built into them. I made her a pot of homemade chicken soup, but she only ate a couple of bites before she went back to sleep last night. I bought her a gallon of orange juice. I couldn't go to the doctor with her on Saturday because I'm too scared of getting sick. At least we know she doesn't have swine flu. That's a plus.

Back to my original point ... I was so exhausted when I wrote that blog from not sleeping that when I was editing it I accidentally deleted it. I was going to try to recreate it, but those thoughts and ideas are long gone. They were put to paper (computer?) at 3:00 a.m. I'm lucky I can remember 10 minutes ago unless I take notes.

On the other hand, something happened to me when I was at the VA Hospital last Friday, August 28th, that really made an impression on me. Doesn't it always, Invisible Reader? I was issued a spiffy new walker. It's not the kind that you have to lift up and move with you. I have one of those already. My shoulders are so messed up I can't use that one anymore. The one they gave me is a brand new, shiny, royal blue. It's on four wheels and has locking brakes. It has a seat that I can flip down and sit on if I get tired. It has a basket that I can put my stuff into. I like the basket. That means I no longer have to carry a backpack. Yep, you read that right. In spite of the fact that my shoulders kill me, I carry a backpack every time I go to the VA Hospital. It's the only way that I can take my planner with me. The weight of the planner is too heavy for me to carry in my left hand. It hurts my shoulder. See the catch 22 here? I also need to carry bottles of water with me. The medications I take cause me to drink massive amounts of water day and night.

As always, I had multiple appointments that day. (And now I refer back to my planner because this is where my memory fails me.) My first appointment was with Rehab medicine. My primary care physician is trying her best to get me a mobility scooter so that I can get out of the house on my own. Rehab medicine is one of the clinics that will make that determination. That was a bust. Even though my partner/caretaker works from 1:30 to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, I'm too drugged up to drive and I'm scared to death of walking on my own because I'm afraid of falling and hurting myself, the Rehab medicine doctor recommended against approving me for a mobility scooter. He wrote me a script for the spiffy new scooter. I told him that I will give it a shot, but I don't know that my shoulders will be able to handle it since they are both frozen. I will play the game though. I will give it a try. I hope that one of these days that doctor will be in my position. Completely dependent on others for his care and mobility. Karma is a bitch, Baby.

I had to do fasting labs that day so my next stop was the lab. After giving away what seemed like gallons of blood and doing my monthly urine drug screen, my friend, (and driver for the day) and I went up to the cafeteria to get some lunch. The food in the hospital cafeteria isn't great, but we got a lot of food for $12 bucks. You can't beat the price. I picked at my food but I did manage to get something down.

My primary care appointment was at 2:00 so I had my screening with the nurse at 1:30. For a change, they were running on time and I got right in to see both the nurse and my doctor without having to wait. My primary care doctor was the one who told me rehab medicine disapproved me for the mobility scooter. I still have two more shots at a mobility scooter. I have an appointment tomorrow at the "Falls Clinic." With luck, I can get them to listen to me and convince them I'm scared of falling so they will give me a positive recommendation. The other option is Voc Rehab. My Voc Rehab counselor is still working with my primary care physician to get me a mobility scooter.

First things first. Remember the diluted urine issue? I don't have to worry about going back to pain management for diluted urine anymore. The pain management doctor put a note in to my primary care physician and told her that based upon the large amount of fluids I consume and since all other values are normal, it's okay for me to have diluted urine. One issue resolved.

However, I still want to know why my urine is diluted. I want to know why my legs are swelling. My doctor took my concerns seriously and wrote up a slew of consults. Those should be coming up shortly. I had a good appointment with my primary care physician ... even if she did make me go back to the lab to give another urine specimen for additional testing.

I finished up with my primary care physician and began the process of running the rest of my errands at the hospital. I stopped by prosthetics and was issued a nifty new brace to wear on my knee. Hopefully it will help with the instability and it'll keep me from falling so much. I can dream, can't I?

After prosthetics, it was on to the physical therapy clinic ... and that's where the title for today's blog comes from. It was 3:15 on Friday afternoon. After my knee replacement in 2007, I spent three days a week in that clinic. I know from personal experience that they don't book patients that late in the day on Friday afternoon. They use that time as administrative time. We arrived and the clinic was quiet. There was one person ahead of us and the clinic was dead quiet. There were two PT's and a clerk working behind the desk. One of the PT's came out and picked up the two consults sitting on the desk. I heard her say to the other tech in the back, "I'll take one and you can take the other." With that, she took in the guy who came in after I did.

Okay ... I sat there and did my best not to get pissed off that he was called back first even though I arrived before he did. I was tired and crabby. It was a full ten minutes before the other tech came out from the back and called for "Mr. Goodman." My friend and I looked at each other. There were no men in the waiting area. Obviously she was looking for me since Goodman is my last name. I finally stood up and said to her, "Do you see these 42 double d's? Do I look like a mister to you?" At first, she was stunned. She didn't know what to say. I hit back with, "You do realize there are women Veterans, don't you?" Again, she fumbled for a response. She told me that most of her patients are men. I told her that was no excuse and perhaps in the future she should look at her consults more closely instead of assuming that every Veteran is a man. Did I mention that I was tired and crabby?

It doesn't matter what my mood was like that day. I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me at the VA Hospital. Ignorant staff who don't pay attention to the medical records they are pulling up on the screen. They look only at the last name and assume all Veterans are male. Excuse me ... there are women Veterans and you need to start paying attention to us.

The following showed up in my mailbox this morning. I'd never seen or heard of it before. There is a website to go along with it, too. I never knew that women Veterans who have lost any part of their breast(s) from a lumpectomy all the way up to a double mastectomy or who have received breast radiation are entitled to special monthly compensation from the VA. I sent out a link to the groups I belong to. I'll give it to you here but my friends are telling me they are having a hard time getting to it. If that doesn't work, there is a link to it on my Newsvine page. If that doesn't work for you, email me directly and I will send you a copy of the fact sheet. I saved it to my computer in case it disappears. Again.

I urge all women Veterans who have lost any or all of your breasts to cancer to print this fact sheet, get copies of your medical, surgical and radiation reports and beat feet to your Veterans Service Officer as quickly as you can. According to this letter, you are entitled to Special Monthly Compensation. That's above and beyond what you already draw for VA Disability. They cannot deny you.

Until the next time ...

THE CENTER FOR WOMEN VETERANS was established by Congress in November 1994 by
P. L. 103-446 to oversee Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) programs for women veterans.
The mission of the Center for Women Veterans is to ensure that:
♦ Women veterans receive benefits and services on par with male veterans.
♦ VA programs are responsive to gender-specific needs of women veterans.
♦ Outreach is performed to improve women veterans’ awareness of services, benefits, and eligibility criteria.
♦ Women veterans are treated with dignity and respect.
The Director, Center for Women Veterans, acts as the primary advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on all matters related to policies, legislation, programs, issues, and initiatives affecting women veterans.
♦ Identify policies, practices, programs, and related activities that are unresponsive or insensitive to the needs of women veterans and recommending changes, revisions or new initiatives to address these deficiencies.
♦ Foster communication among all elements of VA on these findings and ensuring the women veterans’ community that women veterans’ issues are incorporated into VA’s strategic plan.
♦ Promote and provide educational activities on women veterans’ issues for VA personnel and other appropriate individuals.
♦ Encourage and develop collaborative relationships with other Federal, state, and community agencies to coordinate activities on issues related to women veterans.
♦ Coordinate outreach activities that enhance women veterans’ awareness of new VA services and benefits.
♦ Promote research activities on women veterans’ issues.
♦ Regularly monitor changes VA-wide and assess the impact these changes may have on the delivery of services to homeless women with children, rural and elderly women veterans, and minority women veterans. Regularly m
♦ onitor VA briefings during Transition Assistance Program to ensure that active duty women are provided access to information on the benefits and services available to them as veterans prior to their release from active duty.
Visit our website at
VA0 Nationwide Toll Free Number (800) 827-100
August 2008
♦ Foster the implementation of a “One VA” approach by facilitating joint training and networking among Women Veterans Program Managers and Women Veterans Coordinators across VA.
♦ Provide women veteran consumers the opportunity to share their concerns and issues with VA managers through town hall meetings, community forums and gatherings, and regional/national summits.
♦ Monitor VA’s research agenda to ensure that women veterans and their issues are included in all VA studies.
♦ Continue to outreach to the women veterans’ community with increased emphasis on outreach to the elderly, minority and those living in rural areas.
♦ Establish and continue relationships with state and county departments of veterans affairs.
♦ Establish and continue partnerships with national veterans service organizations to enhance and increase outreach efforts to women veterans.
♦ Establish and continue partnerships with other federal agencies responsible for providing services to women.
♦ Widely distribute the pocket guide, “Women Veterans - 25 Frequently Asked Questions.”
The Center for Women Veterans is committed to ensuring that services and benefits responsive to the needs of women veterans are maintained and, when necessary, enhanced.
The Center for Women Veterans sponsored the first National Summit on Women Veterans Issues in 1996. Subsequent Summits were held in 2000, 2004, and 2008, with the next Summit scheduled for 2012. The purpose of these Summits was to provide veterans, veteran service providers, federal agency representatives, legislative staffers and other interested individuals a forum in which to discuss current initiatives for women veterans, identify issues of concern to the women veterans community, and share ideas on how these issues might be addressed through legislative, programmatic and outreach activities. Summit Proceedings may be viewed at
♦ P.L. 98-160, “Veterans Healthcare Act of 1983,” established the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans.
♦ P.L. 102-585, “Veterans Health Care Act of 1992,” provided specific provisions for women’s health and broadened the context of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to include care for the aftermath of sexual trauma associated with military duty.
♦ P.L. 103-446, “Veterans Improvement Act of 1994,” established the Center for Women Veterans. ♦ P.L. 106-419, “Veterans Benefits and Healthcare Improvement Act of 2000,” authorized special
monthly compensation for women veterans with a service-connected mastectomy. It also authorized benefits to children born of mothers who served in Vietnam and who have certain types of birth defects. P.L. 107-
♦ 330, “Veterans Benefits Act of 2002,” authorized special monthly compensation for women veterans who have lost twenty-five percent or more of tissue from a single breast or both breasts in combination (including loss by mastectomy or partial mastectomy) or has received radiation of breast tissue. P.L. 108
♦ extend Military Sexual Trauma (MST) counseling and treatment to active duty service members or active duty for training.
Visit our website at
VA0 Nationwide Toll Free Number (800) 827-100
August 2008

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