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.

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