This weekend at the Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward, WI I won my 8th log rolling world title. Here is the final match, minus the second fall Darren Hudson got on me (for some reason it wasn’t filmed).
I think I did a pretty good job of covering everything that I wanted to say when I was given my award. Well, almost everything. I would also like to say something how the VA health care system once again failed in its obligation to provide me with the necessary care and nearly cost me 2.5 months of training and my 8th log rolling world title.
After spending Monday and Tuesday in our local (private, non-VA) hospital with my wife as she gave birth to our first child, I finally succumbed to my deteriorating condition and complete exhaustion and went to VA urgent care in Minneapolis. That night I spent 6 hours waiting because they apparently they ran out of doctors and had to call some in (they then had the audacity to ask me to be “extra nice” to the doctor because and was only supposed to work on weekends but got called in midweek). I had trouble understanding how they were “backed up” when there were only four of us waiting.
Despite the fact I had been bitten by three ticks two months earlier and had nearly all the symptoms of Lymes (and was suggesting the entire time that I have Lymes) I was sent home empty handed pending an out-of-state blood test (that may or may not reveal that I have Lymes Disease, even if I have it). Had I not consulted with medical professionals outside the VA and acquired the necessary antibiotics my condition would not have improved enough to compete in the Lumberjack World Championships, let alone win another log rolling world title.
As much as I would like to give the VA the benefit of the doubt, I find myself unable to do so based on their prior track record of being unable to provide me with the necessary medical care. It took me over a year of waiting and a congressional inquiry into my case until I was finally given a prosthetic arm to replace the one I received at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. (I received a new one within a week of the inquiry). I bounced around the VA system for year and a half by myself before I was finally assigned a patient advocate to help with my transition from Walter Reed Army Medical Center. During that time I was unsure how to acquire meds, make appoints, or go through the disability rating process. And despite my many calls to VA personnel to find out when the appoints were for disability rating, I was informed that after months of waiting I had missed all of them because the “system” made the appointments without sending me a letter or issuing a call notification. After these repeated displays of incompetence, I cannot give the VA the benefit of the doubt any longer.
To me the moral of the story is clear. The VA is incapable of providing adequate medical care in a timely fashion. The system is too big, too bureaucratic, and apparently has no oversight whatsoever. I have finally learned that if I’m going to receive adequate medical care I need to go elsewhere, even if I have to use my disability payments to pay for it. It’s a shame that I had to risk 2.5 months of training and my 8th log rolling world title to realize it.