Saturday, May 26, 2012

This one time in Iraq...

For a long time after I was deployed to Iraq, I felt like I started off conversations or my thinking pattern included the statement, "this one time in Iraq..." I worked hard to stop doing that. Sooooo, why am I writing about it in my blog about Hashimoto's?  I don't know.  It may have something to do with Memorial Day coming or the fact that I got a visit today from my old platoon Sergeant and a fellow Soldier, or it may even have to do with my recent visit to the VA.  No matter how much I want to negate my feelings about that deployment, the truth is that there is life before Iraq and then there is life after Iraq.  I spent a year of my life in a foreign country and although I never saw combat (well besides those mortar rounds, but that doesn't really count), the experience forever changed my life. I am different.  I see life differently. I view the people that I deployed with as my family.  Frankly, some of them rate a little higher than family. There are no words to express the love I have for not only the Soldiers that made it to Iraq with me, but also for those that simply experienced being taken from all that he or she knew and placed at funky ass Fort McCoy or strange land Kuwait. No matter how much time passes the love never diminishes.
Me on our convoy into Iraq

Okay, so this does have to with Hashimoto's in a way.  I got a call on Thursday from the VA to go see a Rheumatologist the very next day.  I had no idea what was going on, but I do know that I had labs done and I assumed the appointment had something to do with that.  First of all, I get there and the triage nurse is speaking to her friend about the tongue ring she wanted to get last summer (this chick had to be in her 60's) and after watching me stand at her desk waiting to be called, she glanced at me and said, "here is your pager, I'll call you when I'm ready".  I swear to you, 30 seconds later she buzzes the damn thing and calls me over.  It took her about 60 seconds to get my vitals and then I saw the doctor for all of 10 minutes.  I sat down in his office, he tells me that they think I have Lupus or some other Autoimmune disease and they are going to do a full blood panel.  He then asked me about 5 questions and sent me on my way.  How the hell does he know anything about my case in 10 minutes? The only answer he can get about my health is from blood and frankly, that's all he is allotted by our government to care about because he is part-time for all of North Carolina with high number of patients.   I waited for 45 minutes to get my blood work done.  They guy in front of me, a man who clearly had Parkinson's disease had been waiting for over an hour.  There was only one phlebotomist and she was responsible for all the blood work for all of the speciality clinics, which include oncology, rheumatology, sleep disorder, mental health, endocrinology, and neurology.  By the time I got to the front of the line, the lady informed me she was diabetic and needed to take a break because she was getting the shakes.  I couldn't even be mad at her.  I kind of felt like the whole visit was a waste of time.

My bed for a year
I don't have to go to the VA medical center.  I have medical insurance.  I go because I can and because I now know that the more doctors you get to look at your case, the better.  However, the man who was waiting in front of me, proudly wearing his Vietnam Veteran hat does have to go to the VA.  It is unacceptable that he receives the care that is given to him.  How is it even considered care?  Appointments are scheduled 6 months out.  The doctors are overworked.  The phlebotomist are understaffed.  The whole place is run with a skeleton crew.  I was a new patient and my discussion about my health lasted all of 10 minutes. Do our veterans deserve this type of care?

There was a time I didn't get why people put so much emphasis on veterans, until I became one.  A veteran is someone who signs up to put there life on the line, as well as take lives for his or her country.  Forget the politics and the rhetoric spewed by elected officials and think about being taken from your family to a hostile foreign land with the idea and in some cases, fact, that you will never come back home alive.  These proud men and women who walk the halls of the VA medical center have all made that sacrifice, so why is it that in their time of need, our government has given them inferior care.  I don't get it.  I simply don't get it.

Burning feces...
What I do get it is that I am forever bonded to the men and women who have served this country, especially the ones I deployed with.  When I look at the American Flag, I don't see war.  I don't see Republican or Democrat.  When I look at the American flag, I see those who have passed on. I see those who have made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.  I see blood, tears, sweat, and camaraderie.  I see Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Sailors, and Guardians (Coast Guard). I get emotional when I hear the Stars Spangled Banner because it means something to me.  It should mean something to everyone in this country! So, when you're enjoying your Memorial Day, take a minute to remember all those that have sacrificed and those who are still sacrificing (with their health) for this country.  Never forget!

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