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The Va And Me
Author: Shiloh

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I started with the VA in 1970 or '71.
All the hoops and processes and appointments you could think of,
over the years, all the running around and back and forth
and inside and outside and up and down....
every once in a while a new raise in percentage granted.
Every time I got a letter from them I would wonder and worry,
is this where they bring me in for a reevaluation and drop my percentage?
Finally, in 2005, I got my 100%
with the two important words, "PERMANENT AND TOTAL."
Without those words on your declaration letter,
they can still bring you back in for a reevaluation.
WITH those words, they won't bother you any more, ever again.
More than thirty years of filing, seeking help, trying different meds,
trying different treatments... seeing shrinks, seeing MD's, seeing specialists,
seeing the DAV, the VFW, the Order of the Purple Heart folks....
but now I can relax.

Except now....
I am starting to have little things wrong,
little things that could be bad, could be big things....
and I'm scared.
I am so scared that I do not want to find out
what this long-term perpetual cough I have is....
or why I always seem to have this low-grade headache on only one point...
or why so many little things are seeming to bother me
far longer than they should....
I even had a ping-pong ball size cancer in my forearm
(that appears as if it was benign, or it would have come back, per my doc)
that I took out of my own arm, rather than go through the VA system....
I did not want them to tell me that I had cancer.
I was fairly sure of what it was, but I didn't want a medical answer.
I just used an X-acto knife and a bottle of Vodka and
a bottle of Jack Daniels, and lot of old towels and took care of it myself.
It was an ugly thing.
But I didn't have them telling me that I was going to die of cancer.
Even if I am destined to that end, I don't want to know.
I do not like doctors or hospitals. Not one damn bit.
I once had ungodly chest pains and went to the ER
and they plugged me in and had me lay on a gurney half the evening
and then I learned I was all right, and I went home,
against their wishes, as they wanted to park me in an open bed
they just happened to want to fill, for the money.
I got a lot of flack for doing that, but I learned -
I will never, ever, go to the ER under my own power, or willingly, again.

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