Chaz and I avoid the VA. Why?! Because it is always a headache unless we are dealing with our care team only. Our VA care team knows us. They know if we ask for something we need it. They aren't always able to help, but they are for sure on our side. And best of all our care team doesn't treat us like we are a hassle. Our care team treats us like family, which is why we love working with them.
Chaz uses a few medical supplies every single day. Due to the frequency of use, they wear out and need to be replaced. We do not ask for items to be replaced unless they actually need to be replaced. It truly bothers me that we have to go through OT to get these items and when we do we have to have to endure the Spanish Inquisition.
Why so many questions?! Well it turns out some of our veterans are abusing the system. They are obtaining medical supplies and selling them on them online. So apparently the answer to this problem is treat every veteran and caregiver as if they are going to do the same.
We needed a new shower bench. I am not sure if this is the first or second one we have asked for since January 2013, but I really don't care at this point. I threw away Chaz's old shower bench. Why? Because it was covered in rust and mold. He uses it every single day, sometimes more than once a day and it was time for it to be replaced. I know we have used it for quite sometime so I was more than happy to toss it for him.
Since beginning of this journey, we have always had two shower benches. One stays in the bathroom for daily use and one stays packed up for travel. When the one in the bathroom wears out, I toss it and replace it with the travel bench and then we ask for a new one. We get a new one about once a year, it's really not that often and we couldn't remember when we asked for the last one.
I take very good care of his shower benches. They are broken down and cleaned when I clean the bathroom and we wipe them off with disinfectant wipes everyday since that padding directly touches his skin. I was informed this week that his shower benches are supposed to last for 5 years and next time I shouldn't throw it away I should bring it in with me and they will decide if he needs a new one.
Um no, OT does not make the call on infectious diseases. Chaz is prone to collect all sorts of fun stuff. We are still rebuilding his immune system after three flesh eating bacterias, shingles and I can't even remember what else in the span of less than 4 years. This would be why we clean and dispose like we do. That bench needs to be cleaned daily and since we do it breaks down the padding cover. And seriously he and I will determine when he needs a new bench not people who see him for the first time and don't take the time to read the chart. FYI there is no way in Hell those benches will last 5 years with daily use and cleaning. That is just so not happening.
They let us know that the bench Chaz needed had to be ordered, we said ok, then they tried to give him a different bench because they had it. That bench would not work because Chaz needs the padding for his back injury. We tried the cheaper bench while at Walter Reed and it is not as supportive nor is it comfortable for him. We had to once again justify and argue for his needs.
Again new people, not reading the chart trying to decide what needs to happen versus people who deal with his needs everyday. Now take a second and think about our veterans who don't have caregivers advocating for them and insisting on the medical staff acknowledging their needs.
Then I asked for more urinals. Chaz cannot reach any of the toilets here without transferring so he has to use urinals multiple times per day. Those things get disgusting quick. We bleach them and yuck they just have to go. I asked for three and I was returned with "Why so many?" I said because we have three bathrooms and I think he shouldn't have to wait for us to get him one, they should be right there. (Crazy, I know.)
It was at this point I was enlightened about veterans getting equipment and selling it. I informed them that I will sign something agreeing to not selling his equipment online or period. Which would not be a bad idea, just saying. Or actually keep up with the veteran's equipment requests and when you see repetitive requests, then make them bring in the equipment that the replacement request is for. (Yes I'll save the urinals for them and bring them in.) Everything is in the system, you can pull it up and look at it. I've seen Chaz's and I bet they can as well.
If I had it my way we would have three new urinals delivered at least once a month and the bench once a year, but no I have to go through the yards of red tape to get them from the VA. So I just buy them when we need them and request them from the VA when I think about it. Then when I think about it, I regret it.
Here's what I will never understand. If you are so bitter and complacent about your job, then quit. I understand working with people is hard. Working with our veterans can be very hard. Some of them are so angry and it is hard to deal with that anger. However 99.9% of them are amazing Americans. We should all focus on that. Don't let the rotten apples ruin the bunch to where you treat everyone as scammer. We are all so tired that we want to make our VA experience as delightful as possible. We really don't want to be there, so please don't make it any worse than it has to be. Most importantly remember that if it wasn't for our nation's heroes you would be unemployed. Be thankful for them, because they not only served and sacrificed for you, they are your entire reason for employment. And most importantly listen to the caregiver who is with them every single day and knows their needs way better than you do.