The VA is raining down health care.

How many among us have heard the expression: “When it rains, it pours?” Everyone, even those in Botswana I would think, has heard it. One might be excused for asking: “When it rains, what pours?” Or perhaps others might wonder “When what rains, what pours?”

I could guess with a fair amount of certainty that the adage didn’t originate with Morton Salt’s PR team around the time World War I began to break out. I must confess the Morton Salt girl always flashed some pretty legs. Of course, one must think that one who goes ga ga over inanimate girls’ legs must be a true perv.

Regardless of where, why and when the “When it rains, it pours,” expression originated most would agree the adage generally strays from the subject of water.

Many use the expression that whenever something bad happens, it may often lead to bad occurrences times two or three or 44. The saying could mean those who experience drought will find a drought-ender that wipes out entire valleys with flash flooding. And there are times when something good happens, one may receive too much of a good thing.

Now, I didn’t have to spend 180 words for an introduction. But I did. And I hope it might help illustrate how something good may lead to something too good.

She got legs. She knows how to use them. She walks on them.
She’s got legs. She knows how to use them. She walks on them. — Aussie Waldo Miller (1954-1998)



During the mid-1990s I began using the Department of Veterans Affairs for health care. Then and on into the 21st century I had insurance and had no copay to see a doctor and only $4 per prescription copay,

When my last cervical spine and fusion surgery took place in 2001 I was very fortunate that many of my pre-op tests and doctors’ visits were handled at no charge by the VA. I only paid some $1,000 out of pocket due to reaching coinsurance levels. The surgery itself had a pretty hefty price for the three hours on the table. A piece of hip was harvested and was used in the fusion that also employed a titanium strip.  I spent about four days total in the hospital due to a bladder infection. I should have been released the day after the surgery.

I now believe the extra hospital stay was caused by some nurses trying to jam a catheter into Russell the Love Muscle one too many times. The guy who became my urologist was called to the hospital. That physician confirmed my suspicions as to what caused the unwanted and unneeded malady. When I confronted the hospital on the procedure, the doctor denied his previous statement. The prick! No pun intended.

But let’s back up just a little. I had a non-VA neurosurgeon do my operation. He was very talented. He stopped my hand from becoming numb and the surgery held off the pain for about five years.

Yesterday, an attractive physical therapist speaking with what sounded like some European accent expressed amazement at the surgeon’s handiwork. An incision of less than an inch in a fold of the front neck was made for the procedure. The physical therapist could not find the 14-year-old incision site. The scar made from a cervical laminectomy in the early 90s is still visible. That scar runs from the bottom of my neck, downward about four inches.

On an odd note, even though I could give my neurosurgeon high marks for his work in my 2001 operation, his office staff were all pretty much bitches. I may have to revise that latter opinion, however. I had read that the doctor who did such great neurosurgery was sued by a staff member due to his alleged sexual overtures. I try to give people a fair shake.

The reason I went to a non-VA neurosurgeon was because I was told it would take six months before I would see a VA neurosurgeon. And as luck would have it, I was called by the VA and was told there was an early opening to see their guy. It was scheduled for Aug. 8, 2001. That was the day I underwent Anterior Cervical Disc with Fusion surgery with a civilian neurosurgeon.

It was only until the last couple of years that I started seeing specialists at the VA without having lengthy waiting periods.

It seems I have some specialist appointment every month or so. This afternoon I was called by the pulmonary department of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston to see if I needed oxygen during the day. This is only after having to change two appointments scheduled within a week of each other with the Sleep Lab. One of those is to fit me with an oxygen appliance for my CPAP machine to help me stave off sleep apnea. I will go to the first appointment but not the second one because I haven’t taken a vacation in two or three years. It has been so long I can’t remember.

The physical therapy I am going through is at a local non-VA center that the VA will pay for. Other than liking this nice lady’s hands on my neck yesterday, not much has helped me now in the two weeks I have spent in physical therapy. I am given 40 visits. I don’t know how that clinic will take to the fact that in late October I am taking a week off. I am going somewhere. Just where yet I don’t know. I do have two places in mind. If one falls through, I will try the other. Both are with old friends, one who lives about 800 miles whom I have seen every now and then in the past 30 years. The other, who lives about 350 miles I haven’t seen in about 35 years. I keep up with him now on Facebook. I call the other friend probably once every month or so.

I am glad the VA is finally making more specialists and specialized care available to vets, even if the provider is outside the VA system. If we could see actual specialist each time, without having to specifically ask for them, the situation would be much better.

So often I will go to a specialty clinic and see a resident, or a specialist in training. I don’t mind it depending on the reason for my visit. But if I want to see a specialist in particular I don’t want to see a newby MD or DO who is working his or her ass off trying to become a specialist. Most residents with whom I tell understand. The others, well, they aren’t in my wheelhouse.

Oh, I’ve already made this meme much longer than I had planned. But last night I started having bright spots in my left eye once I turned off the lights. And I began having floaters in my eye, they remain today. I called the VA Tele-nurse, who is one of the really bright spots (pun intended) in my socialized care. The floaters may be something associated with age and eyes. Or the floaters and the bright spots which I noticed after turning my neck to the left, might be something more. Time, and, oh yes, another medical visit, will tell. Hopefully.

When it rains, it certainly pours. But we’re not talking water.

Physical therapy, damn it!

Just Monday I started physical therapy. I didn”t plan it. I suppose one never plans it. The VA is paying for my therapy through its Veterans Choice program which allows veterans, in certain cases, to receive non-Veterans Affairs providers. In most instances the program might allow vets to be seen where VA facilities are too great a distance. In my case, the therapy was set up here because it would cause too much of challenge physically and professionally to attend physical therapy several times a week some 85 miles away in Houston.

I think this is maybe the fifth time I have had physical therapy. I’ve had it mostly for my cervical disc problems. Last year I had therapy for a month after arthroscopic surgery to repair a meniscus tear in my knee.

I have to say that I have never had successful physical therapy. It may make me feel better as I walk out the door or maybe for an hour or so. In my case over the first two visits so far, I have felt much worse than I originally felt. I am receiving treatment for my neck pain after two neck surgeries over the past 20 years. I also am getting treatment for a back pain that may or may not be caused by an inflammation of a spinal membrane called arachnoiditis. And as I have to repeatedly say, “No, it isn’t something caused by a spider bite.”

A physical therapist who, did something or other to me yesterday, said a muscle in my back is causing my problem. That may be but that is now three diagnoses for my lower back pain and the first by a non-doctor who is forbidden by law to diagnose medical conditions.

I had a visit with my podiatrist today at the Houston VA, some four months after I had hammertoe surgery. All is well there at least. I told Doc that I was a reluctant patient in physical therapy. He told me to give it a shot. That is what I am doing.

But as I told my DPM, I have to weigh the pain I have from physical therapy with the pain I have been having in my neck and back. Right now, the pain increase I have from physical therapy is outweighing the original pain. That cannot go on for too long, no matter how generously I am being treated by the VA.

Oh, if you don’t see my writing here very much in the next few weeks, it will be due to someone deciding to “improve” my health and well-being.

Who needs a headline: the cable news networks

CNN winds up on my s**t list every once in awhile. And lately that “awhile” is every f**king day!

First the cable news has a “presidential candidate” with whom it apparently has easy access. Reporter Athena Jones, just now, alluded to his having staying power. It’s what, 15 months until the election and even a year more or less, until the major party conventions.

Donald Trump, garnering more than 25 percent of GOP voters in one recent poll, seems to pop up for every CNN show with perhaps the exceptions of “Death Row Stories” and that of Tony Bourdain’s show.

I cannot remember CNN falling all over a candidate. I believe the interest in Trump and his willingness to spout all kinds of bulls**t via the electronic media is somewhat of a cable perpetual motion machine. It isn’t just CNN’s fawning. What about Fox? Well, I bet newsmen like Shep Smith has to bow and scrape before Megan Kelly.

Okay, it’s the silly season. The proof is in the pudding and desert won’t be served until Super Tuesday. A convention fight at the Republican National Shindig next year would be too much to hope for.

The problem is The Donald has gone beyond all reason and makes up these wild statements. Take for instant, his “plan” to deport all illegal immigrants and even their kids who were born in the U.S. Likewise, while not mentioning — perhaps even not knowing — the Fourteenth Amendment would require change, Trump said he would end an Amercan birthright for foreign babies born in the USA. Today, it sounds as if he was craw-fishing.

There are thousands, well 14, 16, however many Republican candidates. You may hear a bit about Jeb Bush. He would once and for all establish a Bush presidential dynasty. Or sometimes you hear Huckabee because he’s a preacher politician. It is the same with Democratic candidates. You hear how Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is pulling ahead of Hillary. And you only hear of Hillary when she is paired with emails.

Unlike the case with Fox News, I think the Trump fixation is not geared to elect him to the White House. It’s just laziness, going for the low-hanging fruit. Hell, if The Donald offer me a ride on his whirly bird I would take him up on it. Of course, if I had a chance to ride Marine One or Air Force, no matter who the CINC was I would go for it. Or, if Willie Nelson offered me a ride on his bus I would definitely accept. I best leave it there.

That is just how it goes for people who go all apes**t for a never-ending scandal. We don’t have a king or queen but we have our Fleet Street gossip mongers.

Hyper plus, says new doc

Just a note before the weekend. I have been using my tablet in lieu of the laptop I normally use. It is a pain in the ass to be honest.

I went to the new VA doc today. She graduated from medical school in Central America, according to the Texas Medical Board website. The doc seems like a nice lady. I appreciated her calling me after I left with lab results which had not made it to her when I saw her this morning. I was a bit shocked when she told me my A1C results. I kind of knew it would be high this time. I had eaten terribly over the last three months. I didn’t know it would be as high. I have work to do which is to eat better.

The doctor is putting me on a second kind of diabetes meds. I am glad no insulin is in my immediate future. Seem I will have to do the rest.

An hour writing about randomness passes by.

Whatever the phase of the moon may be never really concerns me. Perhaps at a younger age I might have had my suspicions of the chaos that allegedly surrounded the full presentation of that heavely body.

Almost everywhere I have lived were those who believed as I once did that they would be in for the crazy of craziness when that big old moon shined forth. Among the most stident of believers were firefighters, cops and other emergency workers. As a fireman in the 70s and 80s of last century one might have seen an over abundance of calls, including seemingly non-ending burners, or being summoned by the police to remove a naked man from a tree. Just to name a couple of examples.

Some fire or police officers would go so far as to schedule a day of leave if the calendar showed a full moon rising.

More than 30 years later I have accepted chaos as a routine pain in the ass of the universe. S**t happens. As that randomness occurs does it seem we are all fair game for nature piling on upon our misery.

Some of my examples:

My laptop began screwing up late last week. With the help from a HP technician we tried the factory reset but it was to no avail. This has happened to me once before on the same machine. It appears the companywill ship a different laptop or that is what I was led to understand. We shall see. I am fortuante that my warranty was extended during the last round of laptop disruptions.

Yesterday, I took my business vehicle in for body work. The Chevy Cruze had sustained a parking lot dent. One has to look closely to notice it. Stll, it will make the dealership $1,660 and some cents. I am sure glad I don’t have to pay for that.

But wait: Yesterday in traffic my 1998 Tacoma pickup died and would not restart. It has been running poorly for some time. More often than not,  I did not have the money for what I feared a repair job might cost. It turns out that it will cost more than I had imagined. The wrecker ride was $65 and the mechanic quote just a short time ago was a whopping $1,090. Ouch!

What perhaps turns this run of misfortune on its head is, for once, I can afford a hit like that. The money comes from a pool that I hoped will help with retirement but to do anything I need to do, I suppose my “motor-vation” is required.

I took a hit. And I doubt the moon had any part in the bad luck streak. I am not sure I believe in so-called “silver linings” Such inconvenient times though seem to somehow work out. Or else, they don’t.