Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Kansas City VA

Since we live in a small community, most of Allen's care has been at the VA in Kansas City, Missouri.  The doctor and nurse case manager from the CBWTU really wanted him to get his psychiatric care at a VA and the one in KC has a good program for this.  There is another VA that is closer to us than Kansas City, but we had not had good experiences there in the past.  Actually, Allen refused to be seen at that particular VA.  

The care we have received here has been outstanding.  We both are very happy with his psychiatrist and his counselor.  We have developed very strong relationships with these two men.  They have both done an outstanding job with his treatment.  They always make sure we are completely involved in his treatment plan and they never make us feel rushed.  It is so amazing that in today's world, we have found medical providers who make you feel like you matter to them! 

 We see his counselor once a week, religiously.  Even if Allen has a bad headache or doesn't feel like going anywhere, we do not miss this appointment.  Jeremy is incredible.  I attend each of these visits with Allen, although I have offered to wait in the waiting room.  Allen really wants me involved in these sessions, and feels that he doesn't have anything to hid from me.  So, I've been to each and every one.  The nice thing is, we have been able to deal with anything that comes up through each week.  Jeremy's philosophy is that if it has anything at all to do with Allen we can talk about it.  We have developed a great trust and respect for Jeremy and both of us look forward to this appointment each week.  Jeremy has helped us deal with all aspects of PTSD through education and awareness.  We have also dealt with other issues that all end up relating back to the PTSD or TBI in one way or another.  We talk about parenting issues, marriage, family, friends, life, everything!  He has made a huge difference in our life and our road to recovery.  He is truly one of our many blessings!

Dr. DeMark is Allen's psychiatrist.  He too is awesome.  He mostly oversees the work we do with Jeremy and does medication management.  We feel that he truly cares about us and our future.  He has always been willing and open to ideas we have in regards to Allen's medications and care.  We are thankful to have him on our team!

While the VA is quite a drive for us, much of Allen's care has ended up being provided through them.  We have also seen an occupational therapist there to help with some cognitive issues.  Kristin was also a wonderful provider.  Allen was already seeing a speech therapist for this same issue here in our own community so we didn't work with Kristin for very long.  However, she is wonderful and does an outstanding job for our veterans.

One doctor that we saw here wasn't our best experience.  I'm not going to mention a name or specialty because I do not want to put that out there out of respect for the doctor.  However, I do feel our experience with this doctor is an important part of our journey.   During our first appointment, this doctor was asking Allen several questions regarding his symptoms for his brain injury.  Many of these types of questions, he doesn't have the answer for.  So, he always refers them to me.  They ask things like what he does during his seizures.  Allen has no memory from these seizure periods so he refers them to me.  This particular doctor was not interested in anything I had to say.  I was actually politely asked to be quiet that my in put was not important.  Neither one of us were happy with this experience as I often know many of the answers that he does not.  Thankfully, this is the only time we have had this happen to us.

Another department Allen sees regularly is neurology.  They monitor him for his migraines and seizures.  They really do not have an answer as to why he is still suffering so often and severely from these, but they do their best to manage them with medication.  Sadly, migraines seem to be a signature injury from this war and are very difficult to manage and prevent. 

One of the best parts of the VA system for us is that we have a whole team of people working for us in the OIF/OEF office.  The KCVA has an entire staff devoted to just OIF/OEF veterans.  The people in this office are awesome!!  They always have an answer and if they don't they can find it.  Terri, the nurse case manager in this office has been a rock for us.  These people show great compassion and understanding.  

Overall, our care at the VA has been better than the care we received at Walter Reed as an outpatient.  After all the bad things you hear about the VA, we are very thankful to have the providers we have.  We have been extremely happy we have this VA to provide Allen with his care.  

Even Now......Gina

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