Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Guys, I am working on several stories.  My regular readers know I am big on verification.  I am happy to report I have several governmental officials - federal, state and local all working with me, and in some cases guiding me.  Starting August 5th, the first of many hard hitting investigations will be revealed.  My readers just need to learn to be patient.  August will also see a series of hearings related to Villalobos, Eddie Lucio (his former law partner) and possibly more indictments.


Even if you are healthy, when you get to a certain age, you will have no choice but to confront the problems of aging.  I am personally helping manage 4 people with major health care problems ranging from Alzheimer's/dementia, initial indicators of Alzheimer's/dementia, and sever disability due to neurofibroma.  I have  come  to learn, family sometimes are the least prepared to deal with these issues - which is tragic.  For me, while taxing, it is not very bothersome.


On balance the VA Harlingen has many great doctors.  The problem is they are overworked, understaffed, and no longer capable of keeping up with the work load.  Congressman Vela has learned he can demand all he wants, but if there is no money in the budget, he will be ignored.

At the administrative level in Harlingen, short of firing the top officials from Arlington (Regional Office) to Harlingen nothing will change. 

The other day I took a senior to VA Harlingen - He ran into a friend who was clearly a bit disoriented and not very sure why he was there or what he needed to do.  This gentleman got on line only to be dismissed by the clerk.  A supervisor told him to get back in line and to see the same clerk again and to be more assertive (no - it was for the supervisor to take the clerk to task for incompetence).  The gentleman goes back to the same clerk who tells him to get in line a third time to see a different clerk. 

I intervened and told the gentleman that he needed to see the clerk my friend was seeing.  No one on line had a complaint.  They all saw how poorly this gentleman was treated by the clerk - twice now - with no help from the supervisor.

I have discussed this issue at the highest levels within the VA system - the clerks need to be trained to work with a large number of geriatric patients - the administrators will have nothing to do with it.

Myself, the other day after a root canal at a private dentist chosen by the VA, the clerk refused to process the paperwork which verified I went to the dentist chosen by the VA, not me.  The clerk  admonished me  for seeing a dentist in Harlingen and not Brownsville.  The VA has one approved dentist for root canals - he in in Harlingen.  Her supervisor explained reality to her.

[Side note - most veterans do not get dental - I get VA services because I developed ulcerative colitis while in the military.  Any veteran with a gastrointestinal service connected health problem gets dental - for reasons I do not understand the VA defines service connected as any healthcare problems you developed while in the military, whether the military had anything to do with it or not - personally I would change the law to make service  connected more narrow and truly related to military service]

Far too many veterans just give up and walk away from all of this nonsense


Over a month ago my testosterone level fell to 35 - for my age group anything below 195 requires treatment.  I do apply Androgel every day.  It would seem to me my testosterone would be 0 without the Androgel.  After several weeks of pushing for a new test to verify the results I finally got approved for a new test.  This time it came back at 94.  If I were not myself pulling my test results no one would know there is a problem.  After a week of trying to get follow-up care I have given up.  Begging people to do their jobs does not work.  When Veterans have to beg for care it is fair to say there is no care.  The VA created a system known as secure messaging.  The doctors and nurses are so overwhelmed they do not have time to  communicate with the veterans through the secure messaging system.

Over a month ago, Dr.Ortegon, told me he was putting me in for an MRI - an x-ray and neurological exam verified problems at L4 an L5.  This has actually been going on for months with Dr. Ortegon refuses to follow-up or respond to any secure messaging.  The last appointment occurred after a complaint.

Not only has Dr. Ortegon taken zero action to schedule the MRI, he has taken no action to prescribe Lyrica - the neuropathy is back which is caused by problems at C4 and C5 - I cannot take gabapentin - it  causes suicidal ideation.  Dr. Ortegon knows this and does nothing.  He also said he would put me in to go back to SA to see the same pain management doctor who successfully treated the neuroapathy last time.  When the burning is so bad I cannot sleep I take some old gabapentin and deal with the side effects.  Dr. Ortegon knows this and does not care. 

For weeks I have sent numerous secure messages to Dr. Ortegon - even this morning after sending a stern message yesterday all I can get is a message from his nurse - she will remind him he needs to respond - this has been going on for months.  Why would he change his behavior now?

I know of many veterans who have stopped going to Harlingen because the quality of care has dropped significantly.  The doctors are overwhelmed and have reached the point that they cannot handle their work loads.

Think about it, after a doctor orders testing there is not follow-up.  It is up to the veteran to pull the test results and then send a secure message to their doctor and ask for care based on the test results - based on a test requested by the doctor.  The doctors are so overwhelmed they do not have time to check the test results and then take appropriate action.

Someone, anyone - tell me - how are seniors who have no access to the internet and who are not even registered to use secure messaging to manage there healthcare? How many senior veterans are being denied healthcare and in fact dying because no one checks the test results?

Of late I have been telling families they need to go to the VA and register their parent with myhealthyvet and then get the necessary passwords so the family members can manage the healthcare for their senior parent.  I myself have taken several senior veterans and gotten them registered.

VA ID cards have become a disaster - there are a growing number of veterans who have been more than a year without an ID - they simply have a printout - why?  The VA cannot seem to process the ID cards properly.  In one case I have taken back the same man numerous times since 2012 - and still nothing.  The supervisor gives the same lame excuse every time "we are aware of the problem and will look into it."

For over a year I have been waiting for a follow-up after testing showed pulmonary hypertension, obstructive pulmonary disorder, and elevated blood pressure on exertion.  Nothing - I have personally dropped off all of the test results with medical records and the specialist - it took over a year for medical records to finally enter the records.  The specialist absolutely refuses to use secure messaging so the veteran  cannot get information on follow-up.  After I gave up trying to get an outside voucher I tried to find a doctor on my own.  The specialist I found will not treat veterans who receives treatment through the VA  - period.  So on days I sit at my desk out of breath from just typing.  There is absolutely nowhere to turn.

Oh, for sure I can complain to the General Counsel for the VA - but then when I walk into the VA clinic in Harlingen I will be treated like shit.

In my view it is just time I pay for my own healthcare because the VA in Harlingen is basically shut down.


Alzheimer and Dementia are ruff.  For well over a year one woman's family could not help her because of the abuse which comes from the anger and paranoia.  It is hard to be yelled at every time you visit your loved one and be accused of everything under the sun.  In this case, the anger is finally gone, but so too is any semblance of who this woman once was.  The family ill equip to deal with her healthcare, lost over a year of time with their family member because of their lack of understanding.

People, it is not their fault - when they are yelling at you and accusing you of stealing everything they have - it is not them - it is the disease.

I am now dealing with a second case where the person is entering the anger and paranoia challenge and the family members are having a hard time with it.  It is not easy - there are days it is taxing - you think you have a problem solved only to learn several hours later they do not even remember the phone call.

I have a  third case wherein the person seems to believe they are not getting long in the tooth.  It is hard - every word has to be gaged so as not to cause a negative reaction.  In this case the family is doing better than the other two families.

 A fourth case involves the end of life problems associated with neurofibroma.  His kids have abandoned him.  Neither he nor his wife can care for themselves.  The only good news is, he has embraced his situation and seems to be doing very well from a mental health perspective.

People, when your senior family members develop any host of end of life illnesses you do not walk away from them because it is hard.  You deal with it, even if you have to see a family counselor to learn how to deal with it.  But walking away is not an option.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God Bless You. Dealing with your health issues is a major task. Dealing with other people's health issues is a Major Task with your hands tied behind your back. God Bless You and those you Love. :).