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A message from the battle front…

Good evening, Netizens...

I have done this in the past, and with the news from Bob Kirkpatrick, my friend, continually getting worse, he is contemplating ending his life with dignity rather than continue living it in pain and anguish. While I support his right to exercise that option, I will absolutely be horrified if nothing else can be done to help him.

For you see, I too hold the VA in contempt for the slip-shod manner in which they provide services to American heroes in their care. So I am enclosing Bob's message to them  from on his blog in the hope that others will listen with their hearts and perhaps bring their combined leverage to bear on them. and I quote: 

To: Sharon Helman, Spokane VAMC

By bk

Dear Ms. Helman;

I am a 100% service connected Multiple Myeloma victim and I am dying. I am seeking a Washington physician to help me end my life under the state’s Initiative 1000 because I have absolutely no confidence in the VA’s ability to keep me cared for and as comfortable as circumstances permit. I do not want to die, but that choice has been taken from me by the Vietnam war and the VA.

I read your defense of the Spokane VAMC doctor(s) in reply to the Spokesman Review. You really missed the mark. All the best doctors in the world are useless if a patient cannot access them in a timely manner. With an average wait of six weeks to two months to get to see a doctor at the Spokane VAMC, and then the doctor has a maximum of 20 minutes to spend with the patient, the medical care you offer to patients like me is ridiculous. It is no better in the ER; my visits causing me waits of at least 4 hours and waits as long as 14 hours being the status quo. This is a horrendous abuse of cancer patients like me who cannot be exposed to a waiting room full of sick people for extended periods. I take pain medications every three hours and so waiting any longer than that means I am in excruciating pain for hours because I cannot get pain help until I see the doctor. This drives me out of the ER and back home where I can get access to my pain meds. Your policies do not permit patients to bring their own drugs to the ER so we are left defenseless. Even if I get the opportunity to see a doctor, they won’t provide enough pain medication to do the job. In spite of my medical record being available showing the level of morphine I take, they all provide only minimal (read:  ineffective) pain control. On top of it all, the people in ER reception are often rude and unswervingly uncaring about patient situation or discomfort; their attitude has literally driven me from the ER on one occasion.

I do not see a whit of concern for the different situation we face. I have a prognosis from three separate VA doctors giving me six months to live. I don’t need to be told my problems don’t matter or that I have so little time left that there isn’t much use in trying to help. Yet I have heard these things from the Teams reception as I try desperately to see my doctor after a significant change in my circumstances.

I can feel each acceleration and progression of my disease and it moves a lot faster than the VA does. So I have no confidence whatsoever that as I go into the end stages of Multiple Myeloma that the VA, my only choice for  , will be there to give me care and comfort. The pain I feel now is excessive and has on more than one occasion driven me to wish I was dead. In these times, the VA has demonstrated a complete lack of compassion or action. I do not trust you and so I am working on arrangements for euthanasia.

It is time for a change. I don’t know how many patients you serve that face a similar situation to mine. It isn’t a large number though. I, for instance, am your only Multiple Myeloma patient. There is no reason at all why you cannot have a small staff to care for the few of us who require more than the average vet. It is owed to those of us who have become sick as a result of our contribution to the country. That, or give us a referral to local medical care which can be responsive to our specialized needs in ways the VA cannot.

The VA is killing veterans. I know this statement bothers you but it’s true. Look at what you have done to me.

(end quote)

I could not have said it better.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.