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.