Tiny tubular tunnel…

va medI recently received my very first MRI at the local Veterans Administration medical facility. Do not misunderstand me; I have had plenty of MRI’s in the past. However, these scans were all completed at civilian hospitals. For that matter, my entire repertoire of scans like CAT scans, MRI’S, CT scans, PET scans, and X-rays were all completed at private medical facilities.

This experience has taught me the differences between civilian and veteran facilities. Of course, I would not ever criticize the veteran services and their fantastic family of faculty. To be hired at the Veteran’s medical hospitals, you must have two years of real proficiency in the medical field.

All private medical facilities are typically up to date on all of the equipment and keep up with technology. However, that is not the case when it comes to the Veterans Administration. The VA does not have the money that is required to update the equipment regularly like the civilian hospitals.

hos bedI rolled up next to the bed that they wanted me in so that I could mount this mattressed mechanism. The nurse looked at me and asked if I needed help transferring to the bed. Keep in mind that the bed was about a foot taller than my chair height, making a self-transfer an impossible imposition. I knew that this was not the time for comedy conviction, so I bit my tongue and counted to ten. I looked at the bed and then back to her and asked if the bed could go a lot lower. She said no and said that she thought that it was too tall for me and looked puzzled. Let me say that there were four nurses involved in this seemingly simple scene of getting me from my wheelchair to the gurney.

At this point, one nurse came in and looked at me then back at the bed with a look of consternation on his face. I am sure this is what I would look like if I were trying to do trigonometry. They explained to me that at a private facility, several nurses would pick me up and place me in the bed with no hesitation. However, at the VA medical center, they are not allowed to pick a patient up physically.

sara stedyOne nurse gets a standing device and the aid of a different nurse to assist me in the best way that they could. They carefully rolled the wheels of this device around my wheelchair and separated the seat pieces of this mechanism. With the position of this unit open and it pulled as close as possible while lifting one person per arm they simultaneously lifted. As I held onto the handle, these nurses lifted me and then closed the seating brackets under me so that my derriere had a resting place. Now resting comfortably, they wheel me around to the bed where they then reversed the procedures until I was sitting on the gurney.

The next step to having an MRI done is to wheel the bed and me up to the massive magnetic machine. First, they put earplugs in my ears as well as extra pieces of foam to help muffle them from the crashing commotion. They gave me a turkey baster sized ball that was connected with some wires to squeeze if any emergencies arose.

Every MRI that I have had done has been in a cylindrical tunnel that is exceptionally capacious. These cavernous compartments have always been spacious enough that you could fit a couple of people in at one time. They always ask me if I am claustrophobic, but to me, it does not feel like a tightly confined place. These midsized echo chambers feel more expansive then closed off phobia, causing areas.

small mriNow is when the phrase tight fit becomes a massive understatement in this story. As the nurse slid me into this cramped cave, I could tell that there was a limited amount of space even for my small frame. This machine is used for the masses they say, but I do not know how much of a massive person would fit in these dinky digs.

moneyThe continually updated equipment allows a private hospital to show that as the evolution of technology marches forward, so do they. The Veterans Administration does not have the massive budget of these independent institutions. The VA sends all of the men and women who do not fit into these mini machines to non-veteran facilities costing the VA big bucks. I am perfectly puzzled at why with all of the money that they spend sending vets elsewhere why they do not buy a larger scanner.

When it comes to spending, think smarter, not harder.

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