Ronnie’s VA Care: the Good

There is no shortage of news reports about the care our veterans receive when they are patients in VA facilities. Most of the media coverage is negative and well deserved. Ronnie’s stay at our local VA hospital had its share of negative aspects, and I plan to devote a post to that topic.

However, for this post I want to write about some of the positive aspects of Ronnie’s care, most of which are centered around the people who were part of his daily world for the almost eight months of his care.

People are not perfect, and what I found at the VA was not even close to perfection, but most of the doctors, nurses, and aides were caring and competent. They made sure that Ronnie was as emotionally and physically comfortable as possible.

The doctors were attentive to his needs and my unending questions. They kept up with his changing medical needs and quickly adapted his medication to meet those needs. Because I wanted to be closely involved in Ronnie’s care, I researched every decision the doctors made, and almost every medication they prescribed. I’m sure I drove them nuts, but they never made me feel that way. Instead they treated me as an essential part of Ronnie’s treatment team.

To be continued.


Seeing Ronnie For the First Time Since His Lung Cancer Diagnosis

I had never driven that far by myself. Well, even though I was the only one in my car, I wasn’t alone. God’s Presence gave me strength and peace, and I strongly felt the prayers of my husband and my sister. My drive to Albuquerque went smoothly, and even though I had never been there before, I had no problems finding the VA hospital.  Thanks to God and my gps.

I easily found Ronnie. In a ward with several other veterans,he was thrilled to see me. He seemed weak, but not in pain. Ronnie was emotional about all the events of the last few days, crying easily and frequently. When I began to talk to him about his diagnosis, he cried even more.

Within just a few minutes of my arrival at my uncle’s bedside, two doctors walked into the room and began to talk about his diagnosis, and the fact that some decisions needed to be made. Because Ronnie still had a great deal of confusion, the doctors felt that he was not capable of making those decisions himself.

At this point I did not have medical power of attorney, but because he never married and had no children, and as the oldest of his nieces and nephews, I was considered to be his next of kin.  Therefore, the decisions were mine to make.  The doctors wanted to talk to me alone.

I looked Ronnie in the eyes and asked him if he trusted me to make decisions for him.  He said that he did. I then told him that I loved him and would take care of him to the best of my ability, just as I did his mother.  We both cried.

For about 30 minutes, the doctors and I met and discussed treatment options for Ronnie.  One of the doctors was an oncologist and the other was a hospice specialist.  They were very easy to talk to and had quite a of information about Ronnie’s condition.

Next post: Making major medical decisions on Ronnie’s behalf.