Let me begin by saying I am an Army Veteran with service connected injuries. In 2011, I was experiencing occasional chest pain and shortness of breath. At the time, I was seeing a VA physician in TN. I shared with my doctor that my father, mother, brother, uncles, and aunts had all had coronary bypass surgery, and that many of my relatives had died from heart related issues. She sent me for stress tests, but would not refer me to a cardiologist until I threatened to see a non-VA doctor. The VA cardiologist took one look at my family history and sent me for a cardiac catheterization at the Nashville VA. About 10 minutes in, the doctor stopped the procedure to inform me that I had a “horrendous blockage” in the LAD. The doctors immediately called surgery and informed me that I would not be able to leave the hospital for fear I would die at any minute. The blockage was 99.9% and ran the entire length of the “Widowmaker.” They checked me into the hospital and began administering the blood thinner, Heparin. As it turns out, I am allergic to Heparin, and developed a condition called Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia or HIT. The disease has a high mortality rate and forced me to stay in ICU for 32 days. With the help of a specialist, I finally recovered and was allowed to return home. My VA doctor saw me shortly after I was dismissed from ICU and admitted she had only sent me to the cardiologist to “shut me up.” I requested a change of physician, but it took six months to be approved. The Internist I was assigned at the new VA was great! She seemed genuinely concerned with my care and everything was good for nearly two years. Unfortunately, though, health issues with one of her children have caused her to resign and I was assigned a Nurse Practitioner who began changing the medicines I was taking – all over the phone! To make this long story short, the mix of medications I was given caused my kidneys to fail and I very nearly died. Doctors had told me that my case needed supervision by a physician on a four month visitation rate. After being assigned the NP, I was put on a six to eight month visitation schedule. After the medicine mix-up that nearly killed me, I was assigned to see yet another physician. She informed me that I would need to see a non-VA doctor for pain management and stopped the pain meds Dr. M. had prescribed. She then told me that she would only see me once per year. The non-VA doctor I went to see agreed I needed the pain medications I had been prescribed but told me he would need a letter from the VA admitting they preferred he manage my pain. Of course, the VA will never admit sending me outside the system for treatment of my pain. Now I am made to look like a drug seeker, but am in reality just another vet allowed to suffer by a poorly run, uncaring Veteran’s Administration.

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