Setting up my many doctor appointments after moving to Florida was a dreadfully daunting duty. In Ohio, I saw various “ists” like a urologist, podiatrist, and even occasionally, a phlebotomist, to name but a few. So when it was time to see a VA neurologist, I knew it would be an excursion to the Veterans Administration in a faraway land. Unfortunately, I had to travel just over one hour to Gainesville, Florida, to see a doctor of neurology through the Veterans Administration. Of course, I am not complaining about this travel time because many of my veteran brethren must travel much farther.
Once I had the doctor’s appointment, I scheduled a ride to a place approximately seventy minutes away. They quickly approved me for a VA door-to-door transportation service that uses accessible vehicles. Greeted by the driver, Tom, and trainee Daniel, they carefully strapped me into the minivan like I was a package from Saks Fifth Avenue. The trainee was quiet even when I tried to involve him in the conversation, although Tom was more talkative, which felt like it reduced the distance.
So, after a long seventy-seven-minute drive, we pulled up to a portico where I could exit the vehicle to see this massive building monstrosity. This edifice looked like three VA facilities from Columbus, Ohio, could fit inside the structure with room to spare. Tom unstrapped me from my tie-downs, then Dan pulled me from the van and pushed me into the building, thus concluding the door-to-door service. The receptionist desk was prominent, while the waiting area was capacious and filled with plenty of waiting customers. Donna, the front office worker, helped me check in and then asked me to sit in the lobby and wait for a volunteer helper.
The Veterans Administration has volunteers working to help the veterans navigate their buildings. Volunteer Michael pushed a large empty cart of trays and stopped to guide me to my distant destination. I moved like a snail late for a hot date, so I asked for help pushing, and “immediately” was his reply, and he instantly stored his cart. Mike is the nickname he used instead of Michael on his name tag, but he quickly grabbed the push handles on my wheelchair, and away we went.
Mike pushed me through the building, past mostly anonymously labeled doors when we arrived at the elevator. He caught the elevator’s door just before it closed, and we rode it up to the third floor, where everything looked as clinical as the previous floor. Rolling down the long hallways and making two right turns and a left, we soon arrived at a small window labeled neurology clinic. The receptionist, Cliff, whistled like he had no care in the world. He then explained we were at the wrong neurology office and proceeded to tell us, well, tell Mike where the other neurology clinic was and gave directions on how to get there.
As we departed the first clinic and headed to the second, we made one right turn and two lefts, stopping back at the elevators. Mike and I arrived on the fourth floor as the directions led us to neurology clinic number two, and I began the check-in process again. Although I called her popcorn, receptionist Michelle asked my name and started rapidly tapping on her keyboard, sounding like the corn snack popping in the microwave. Then, she asked me to sit in the waiting area, and I quickly replied with a smirk, “I sit in every room I am in,” Michelle laughed out loud.
I was anxious, so it felt like I waited for hours, but it was less than ten minutes in the hallway waiting area. Finally, nurse Joy took me to a cubicle with medical supplies, a cart with a computer, and just enough space for my small manual wheelchair. The nurse had an exuberant, jovial attitude that matched her namesake, and our amusing chuckles often thundered out of her cubicle. Our laughter was harmonious, though it caused my vitals to be out of sync, causing a ten-minute process to become a thirty-five-minute endeavor.
It was an extremely long and exhausting day that would go in the record books of facilities to avoid because of distance. Thankfully the Veterans Administration in Florida uses video appointments, making in-person meetings rare. My neurologist Dr. Fein prefers that I have an office visit four times a year, yet only one must be in person. Stay tuned for next week’s thrilling conclusion of the visit to my new Florida Veterans Administration neurologist Dr. Fein.
You spin me right ’round like a record.
2 thoughts on “Lost in a Land Down Under…”
Scott, your vivid, humorous writing is both an inspiration and an adventure to read. I feel like I accompanied you on your visit to Dr. Fein. I am a bit surprised that the local VA facility in TV does not have a neurologist on staff. Fortunately, thanks to tele-visits you won’t have to make this sojourn more than once a year.
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your Caroline family. Your “ramblings” are a delight to read. Your warm, friendly personality; your acceptance of your handicap coupled with your tenacity to not allow it to define who you are; and your sense of humor are so admirable and inspirational to me. What a delight you are!
Linda Miller Somma
LikeLiked by 1 person
Wow! Thank you for your kind words and for appreciating my writing. My writing has advanced so much, and if you want to see proof, check out some of my ancient writing, and you can see the growth as apparent as the nose on my face. I continue to enjoy writing and sharing my experiences, and I am always happy when someone enjoys my ramblings. And by the way, you were here in Caroline before I was, so thank you for allowing me to join the Caroline reindeer games.
LikeLiked by 1 person