Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The VA, Full Service

I get all my meds through the VA and I'm very thankful for it. Recently I did experience all the wonderful problems that a rationed care/socialized care service offers however, and it was not pretty.

I went on vacation... I take medicine every night for sleep. I've taken it for years and when I stop taking it I can't sleep. When I stop working ER then it will take me some time to stop but that's just part of the deal.

All my meds come through the mail and they usually arrive on time but they did not this time. I called the pharmacy at the VA and they were kind enough to tell me they would fedex the meds to where I was going. Cool.

It's two weeks now and the medicine is in the post office where I WAS. The VA told me to call the post office. They will not send me more. I have had pay for two different physicians in the meantime to obtain my ambien. I went two days without it and didn't sleep. Believe it or not the post office doesn't care. It's coming for you too, along with little boxy government cars that will be almost as good as the Zil limos from the old USSR.

Good thing I have connections in the medical community or I would be one hurting pup right now. If I were on benzos, which the VA loves to prescribe, I might have had a seizure or died. Not exaggerating, just explaining to you what socialized medicine will be like. Hope you like it.


  1. Unfortunately a classmate was just yanked off high doses of xanax by the VA since they moved up his redeployment and they claim there wasn't time to do it properly so I doubt they really care so much about discontinuation problems

  2. being yanked off xanax is like being yanked off a fifth of vodka per day. it commonly causes seizures and can cause status epilepticus which can kill 'ya. this is malpractice. we often see jail patients on their third day of incarceration or so who HAVE been 'yanked off xanax' and they inevitably seize. some fall from the top bunks and crack their heads open.

    xanax is a wonderfully dangerous drug. it works like a charm but has a dangerous withdrawal syndrome and a high addiction potential.

  3. oh, and you can't sue the government.... so i'm going to get a job with them asap because i'm feeling particularly malpractic-ey right about now.

  4. you were able to find and speak to a living person at the VA? What is your secret?

  5. i called between 8 and 4, navigated the phone tree, waited ten minutes, and spoke with a pharmacy tech. my experience with the post office was not as good.

  6. I can understand your vitriol towards socialized medicine. I guess. It's understandable. I live and work in Germany, and, well, I haven't had a problem. I recently started here, so maybe I haven't had enough time to get beaten down by the system. When I got my insurance card, I went to an Ophthalmologist, because it's been a while since I got my eyes checked. Walked in, got an appointment for the next day, came back, got a full workup. No problem. I did the same thing with a Gen. Physician for my physical and workup. Got an appointment for a week later, came back, and got all the diggs, minus a CT Scan, MRI and all that. Even did a stress test the same day.

    Maybe Germany's just got the whole socialized medicine-as-a-bad-thing turing the corner. Maybe not. Thoughts?

  7. It's easy to use examples and anecdotes about how great socialized medicine is in countries that 1. are relatively small, both in pop. and size ( Deutchland 1/5 pop of U.S., France,Sweeden 1/6 to 1/7), 2. Are relatively homogenous (granted, the Arab pop is increasing throughout Europe, but still comp. less than 1/10 of the pop.) 3. have been programmed over 40 years to believe that big brother knows better than you. It is much easier to keep 4 dogs on a leash and under control than it is to keep 20-25, especially when those dogs have become accustomed to running free. It will take a lot to convince me that centralizing Anything and letting the government and its layers of bullshit is better than free market forces (except of course the military; Hoorah) (VA, post office, Social Security, DMV) Just starting this business and going through the layers of local, state, federal, taxes, OSHA, work comp, blah blah blah, has made me want to take a big old dump on the whole thing.

  8. Thats the great thing about the Drackman get-to-sleep technique, don't need no stinkin prescription, just a strong left arm and active imagination, don't cost nuthin either...and just let em try to tax it...


  9. Frank, did you know that Dracula had hairy palms?

    911, Ambien was my best friend for a long time. I weaned off of it watching 24 Desert Storm coverage. Best sleep I ever had in my life was with Ambien.

  10. Cat,

    Not to mention we technically subsidize both European Militarys and a good amount of their industrial scientific development(such as in pharmaceuticals). Not directly mind you...but the reason why drug companies can develop so many new drugs is they can sell in the US for outrageous prices(and Americans will buy).

    Yet another way we subsidize is in our safety regulations as well. Basically, drug companies(and others) know that they have to develop products for the American market(the cash cow). Despite Europe being more socialized, we have the higher regulations for new products. Basically, our anal regulations makes sure that things are safe(perhaps overly so).

  11. "being yanked off xanax is like being yanked off a fifth of vodka per day. it commonly causes seizures and can cause status epilepticus which can kill 'ya. this is malpractice. we often see jail patients on their third day of incarceration or so who HAVE been 'yanked off xanax' and they inevitably seize. some fall from the top bunks and crack their heads open."

    He's already been shot three times and shakes uncontrollably (not a good quality for a nurse) A fine way to treat our veteran. Add a side of seizures for good measure.

  12. I've been on Ativan for awhile. Stopped taking it. Had an absolutely shitty week - pressue in my head, weakness in my hands, tightness in my chest, some twitches when falling asleep. I figured, wrongly, I guess, that breaking the cycle for a little while would be a good thing. Guess not.

  13. Another great thing about the "Drackman Method"...no withdrawal...Sure, you might get a little short tempered and moody, a little PMSy if you will, but nothing requiring detox...and....it cuts your risk of Prostate Cancer...theres EBM to back it up, and even if it doesn't....

  14. OK, here's my socialized medicine comment/query: My girlfriend works for a small business (plumbing contractor) that is so slow they have announced they are dropping insurance. I'm a fee-for-service type, pay cash, and treat insurance as something for catastrophic events. For her, insurance is a payment system that reduces co-pays for steady consumption of health care; you can guess how she votes.

    Anyway, even trying to acquire insurance on her own is problematic, given stuff like this?

    Given that she recently had her gall bladder out and has other issues listed in that link, what would be the fee-for-service/private sector solution that might make her less enthusiastic about the promises of socialized medicine? I appreciate your thoughts.

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  16. amy 65-c,
    indeed you are correct. in fact, i have, as a rule, less trouble with the VA than i did with private insurance, i mean, how can i pay MORE for a perscription for ambien WITH insurance than if i pay CASH?

    my point is this... how did it come to this? i have an answer and i have a fix though it is unpopular. all of us with insurance are funding all of those without. those without are taking the system for a ride and i don't get how the fix for this is to make the system MORE centralized, and to take responsibility for one's health further away from the individual.

    along these lines see link from april fool's post.


  17. Oops, I had removed my post, I thought you were going to get mad at me... :-)

    I fully agree that somehow - and I have not found out how yet - people must be held responsible for their health. Fat diabetics should lose weight, people with arthritis should exercise, etc.

    The earth must have turned on its axle, I find that we agree more and more,hmmmm.... could be blame it on global warming?

  18. I am working in the VA system as a locums, going on 8 months now. They were furious when I gave out our fax number and direct unit extension to patients I needed info from. There was a meeting wherein it was said that the antiquated phone tree cannot be fixed or it "will bring the whole system down." So hit 3 all you want, you aren't getting anything but an endless recorded voice circle...
    Oh, and they have just started massive service cuts - gone are chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, a boat load of medications, specialty consults are being absolutely denied...

  19. dear cjrun,
    sorry, took me a while to get back to you. there's no argument to make with your friend if she sees her health care as a right and not a resonsibility. in addition, because people with insurance pay ridiculous rates to fund those without insurance who often abuse the system i don't have an easy answer. but here's a quick fix. charge everyone that uses the ER $5 cash, and everyone that rides the ambulance $10 cash. that would cut our ER visits by a huge percentage and as a result insurance rates would come down. the whole debate about whether work should provide insurance is an interesteing one as the only reason it started was because of fixed wages during WWII when companies wanted to entice workers so they started adding health benefits rather than paying folks more. for many, me included, keeping catastrophic insurance and a HSA is a reasonable option but the only thing i could think to tell your friend is that any kind of nationalized system will be rationed care and as long as she doesn't get a horrible disease or tumor then she'll be fine until she gets old, and then her options will decrease and she will, ultimately, be encouraged to die with 'medical management' for her coronary disease that would otherwise have been treated surgically or her brain tumor that would otherwise have been treated aggressively. family members... parents, will face this grim reality sooner. that's it.