Veteran’s Day

Thank you, all who have served in our military.

Repost from last Veteran’s Day.

My grandfather received a college scholarship to play baseball.  He was never drafted, and could have stayed home while others went to do the fighting during WWII.  Instead, he volunteered.  His country needed him.

Like most people his generation, he didn’t say much about the war.  A few stories, though, we loved.  Once he was assigned to teach the non-swimming recruits how to swim.

In the middle of the desert.

With no water.

When he questioned his superiors as to how they proposed he could undertake such a possibility, the swift response was, “That’s your problem, Sergeant!”

Only the army would try to teach soldiers how to swim without any water.

Never one to let details stand in his way, Grandpa lined up rows of benches on the parade grounds.  The men lay atop them and learned the arm, leg, and breathing motions they’d need when they hit the water.  Over and over again, out there in the 110 degree heat, those soldiers practiced and practiced until the day they got orders to their next destination.  Grandpa later heard back that every one of them was able to swim when the time came.

Not all his service was stateside.  He trained with paratroopers in England.  Due to an injury, though, he was in the hospital when everyone shipped out.  Not a single person on that mission survived.

Later he marched through Europe.  He was at the Battle of the Bulge – something he never spoke of other than to acknowledge that he’d been there.

He was injured, and I never heard the details of when or where or how, but doctors told him he’d never walk again.  He proved them wrong.

What incredible things he saw.  What incredible sacrifices he and others like him made.

He chose to go to war, to fight for his country, when he didn’t have to.  Unlike so many others, after the war he got to come home.  His scholarship was no longer available, though, and there was no money for school.  He married, worked hard, and raised a family – on a lot less money than he would have had if he’d attended college.  Life’s goal isn’t to see who can accumulate the most money.  It’s what’s inside that counts.  Grandpa knew that.

Today is Veteran’s Day.  Honor a vet.

The Business of Medicine

It never ceases to amaze me that medical businesses are not run like a business.  Every business cross-trains employees so that if somebody is on vacation or out sick, the critical elements of that person’s job are performed.  Apparently that isn’t true in medicine.

My GI referred me to Virginia Mason for a lithotripsy and ERCP.  I could have the ERCP locally, but I’m told there’s no point since it needs to happen after the lithotripsy anyway.  I have to go to Seattle for this one.

I waited a week, then called the GI back:

Didn’t you say they were going to call me to schedule an appointment?

Yes.  They will call you.

Any idea when?  I had hoped this would be done by now.

Let’s see, I sent that on the… oh, my!  You should have heard back by now.  I’ll call them and make sure they got our fax.

Thank you.  Do you think I could get their phone number, too, and call them myself?

A call to the place I was referred got me the run around, but eventually someone told me that the person who handles referrals was out of the office for a week and a half, so it’s taking a while to get through all the referrals that accumulated while she was gone.  No, they would not schedule an appointment for me until their doctor said so.  The doctor did have my information, and they’d call me in 1-3 days.

Three days came and went.  A week later I called the GI office back and left a message asking if they could light a fire under Virginia Mason.  This isn’t a plea to fit me in sooner.  Just call me and schedule an appointment!

A few days later, GI called me back and said that Virginia Mason says they’re still working on it.  You’ve got to be kidding me!  My nine year old knows how to dial the telephone, talk to the person on the other end of the line, then write something on the calendar.  What is the problem here?

Imagine if your furnace quit working and the repairman said that he couldn’t schedule a repairman, but he’d get back to you in a week or two to arrange a good time for someone to take a look at the problem.  What if it was 20 degrees out, the faucets in your house stopped working, and there was a stream of water running out from beneath the house?  Would you do business with a company who wouldn’t return your phone calls or send someone to investigate the problem, or would you call around until you located somebody who wanted the job?

I asked GI to please find someone who actually wants my business.  Monday I will be on the phone looking myself, even if that means finding a different GI in a different city in order to get a referral to someone who will actually make appointments and see patients instead of sitting on their pile of faxes.  There must be somewhere else that this procedure can be done:  UWMC, OHSU