The primary care doctor should initially help with every issue before it becomes a conflagration of irritation. But, disappointingly, this can often lead to the beginning of a hoop-jumping obstacle course as no dog show has ever had. These PCP doctors want to help their patients with quick alleviation from their ailments. However, they only sometimes know where the line in the sand lies before requiring the attendance of a specialist. The following is my torturous torpid tail as I traveled through the veteran’s administration medical world in search of a rash rescue.
I had a patch of skin on the top of my forearm, slightly smaller than two half dollars side by side. Unfortunately, this rash plagued me with itchy, dry skin and redness that Rudolph the Reindeer would be proud of. Attempting to solve this problem myself, I tried various over-the-counter ointments, creams, lotions, and potions to no avail. Each product resolved one issue but left several untouched, encouraging me to try them all at once, again without relief. I wore the rash like jewelry, all shiny and red, but the itching was brutal, especially when I got into bed.
This attempt at self-healing continued for over a month, trying each lotion for several days or more. I tried this lotion for a week, cream for three days, ointments for two days, and potions for nearly three weeks. My effort at holistic healing was a battle that made for a long and arduous process rivaling any military maneuver. At the end of this time frame, I had nothing to show for it except for more rash and less cream shrinking my medicine cabinet and wallet. Finally, my Boy Scout and Marine Corps first aid training encouraged me to search for a medical professional to step in.
I was sitting in my doctor’s receptionist area, eagerly waiting to hear my name called as I felt I was the next up to bat. To prepare for my Primary care doctor visit, I listed things I wanted to discuss during the appointment, searching for my irritation alleviation. My rash had grown again, making me anxious to show my doctor and receive a rapid remedy to eliminate my excessive scratching. Since my red, bright blemish was the priority for this visit, I put it at the end of my discussion points to allow more time to talk.
Doctor Hernandez was all smiles when he greeted me upon his arrival in the exam room. He was from Mexico and very talkative about VA Hospital politics, the treatment of veterans, and even medicine in Mexico. Hernandez was quite loquacious, making our random conversation last twenty minutes before we got to my list. I tried several times to interrupt our meandering chat to discuss my list, but it felt like fighting a losing battle as the doctor continued our wandering. Finally, the doc drove our conversation back into the center lane to discuss my list and the reason for my visit.
Storing my list on my cell phone, I opened the app and read eggs, milk, and cereal. I realized it was the wrong docket and quickly fumbled with my phone, trying not to waste the time of Dr. Hernandez. Instantly I opened the correct list and began my continual query as to the solution for each thing that bothered me. Although the tabulation was somewhat lengthy, we breezed through all the items until we got to the rash reason for my visit.
I explained that the primary purpose for my visit that day was simply a brutal blemish that marred my arm and caused excessive scratching. Within the span of a blink, the doctor looked at my arm and then looked back at his computer. Then, without hesitation, consideration, or explanation for my consternation, he whipped out his prescription pad and scribbled away. I told him I wanted the prescription mailed to me to avoid the pharmacy, and he quickly replied absolutely.
This topic was a minor, although incredibly itchy, issue that an ointment prescription should have resolved, allowing an open and shut case. However, sadly, my story was anything but open and shut, making for a red tape travesty that took too long. With the Veterans Administration, many redundant and unnecessary steps cause a slowdown in veteran treatment. Of course, many veterans are probably reading this and nodding their heads in sympathetic understanding. Although this is the end of my blog, it is far from the end of my story and the rash reckoning to come.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.