I am an honorably discharged veteran service in Army 1982 - 1991. Currently 80% compensible. Ortho dept suggests total knee replacement all other avenues have been taken to no avail. Been officially on "list" for 16 months. Today denied because receiving mental health assistance, MST. Patient advocate office says there is nothing they can do, no one can make surgeon do it. Meanwhile, I have no quality of life. Suggestions please where does a veteran go for help?
|Facilitator, Veterans Issues|
Do you have Medicare or private insurance?
No I don't have medicare I'm 47 years young, haven't worked since 2008 dealing with VA orthopedics "lists" and lack of care.
I have had a total hip replacement, and 3 ankle corrective surgeries during the past few years. Ortho put in records to do tkr however, excuses, too young, other surgeries first, all has been done. Don't know where or who to get help from.
sorry new on here, but no I am not with medicare nor do i have insurance.
You may be in a pickle since you are getting compensated by the VA for disability. So that would rule out you being able to go on a "indigent health care" program that may be provided for people with limited incomes or no insurance by your local hospitals and possible religious type clinics.
For those who could afford it I know a few that went to civilian doctors for knee replacement when the VA turned them down. Seems they still had to be disabled to a certain degree before they were accepted for surgery..Heck, a couple couldn't walk. I don't know about all their particulars issues or complaints, but are doing well now, or the last time I seen them. Then again I met some vets that were sent here from other states to have knee replacement surgery. they were getting around better than others that were turned down. A couple of guys stating that our hospital was connected to one of the best sports medicine hospitals in the country in Indianapolis, Indiana. Three were up here from Florida. Local fancy sports clinics here did me no good cause I could not afford to go to them or get referred to even. Most have to be sports celebrities and the like to get in easily.
I have been denied knee implants too, for both. Too young, and according to them not crippled up enough. In a way I'm glad about it. I can still walk but can't do stairs, knee bends, too much walking or standing and etc. I already have artificial joints in both big toes due to a botched bunion surgeries on both feet which later required the implants. This was done just after the military and by civilian surgeons. The military just wanted to fuse the bones together leaving no moveable joint at all, and chiseling the bunions off. Which would make me walk funny and not be able to run, so I decided to live with the pain and they offered no pain meds beyond aspirin or Tylenol. Then after I was one of the first to get artificial joints so I'm glad I waited and read about a podiatry hospital in Chicago starting to do this kind of new surgery. Then asking my Pod doc at the time about it, then him referring me there and giving me rides both ways to do it so he could also stand-in during the surgeries.
The first set of artificial joints went bad and bones grew over them and were replace by civilian docs which were put in wrong, too short, and created a ton of other problems for me. Requiring about thirteen surgeries to remove cysts, and cut other bones out of other toes to try to get my feet to displace the weight function as a normal foot would. Didn't work. The VA says it would take a "foot rebuild job" and replacement of the joints but they won't do it. Again I'm kinda pleased since there are no guarantees on any improvements and would create more scar tissue and possible more of those cyst I tend to get and requiring more surgeries.
Having artificial joints will not stop arthritis pain or gout either. It was explained to me that that forms of pain and joint damage also concerns soft tissue in the area and not specific to the joint itself. That is why I am still left with alot of pain in the fake joints. And on a pill for gout.
When I could no longer work it took years to get on social security disability. By the time I finally got on my pay benefit was dramatically cut. I also had to file bankruptcy just for health bills. Presently I make two dollars over my states amount to get 'medicaid' here, or food stamps. Even though I am considered under the poverty level. If not for other health care cost even the VA claims I make too much money and have co-pays. I make too much for any indigent health care aid or considerations like others seem to get by with or special care concerns that women are entitled to and their specialized clinics here. Medicare and my not being able to afford such a thing as "Medigap" insurances which cover cost that plain Medicare does not cover leaves me still with huge medical bills from having to be treated by so many "specialist" or doctors. So I am left with the VA and their many restrictions and their own pharmaceutical list of drugs allowed to being used on us unlike civilian health care uses or is prescribed. And been told this a few times while others say no their medicine list is the same as all others. So like me you may find yourself in a pickle... and I have spent years and years trying to get help and make sense of many things but there are no easy answers, few to ask for help, few to point you in the right direction - or allowed to, and few straight forward questions answered.
Like me perhaps a trip to the podiatrist would help you... a little. That is the best clinic and doctors I have dealt with at my VA. So far, they just changed me from a doctor to a student. I could barely walk before seeing them. They set me up with inserts for special shoes and helped distribute my weight properly and walking more correctly, and treated my other problems. Some that civilian doctors were truly incompetent at while treating me for previous years and years doing me more harm than good. Those inserts/orthotics and special shoes alone actually helped my ankles (totally ruined too) knees and lower back problems a bit, and every little bit helps. I can especially tell the difference in my bodies positioning and movement or like in walking when walking barefoot which I cannot do easily, wearing house slippers, regular shoes, and then wearing those special molded inserts with the shoes they provide for me (SAS shoes). All seem to position my joints differently, switch pressure points, and distribute by weight differently.
Good luck to you. I hate to think others have to go through the hell I have to try and get help or find out what is going on in dealing with many things in this bureaucratic mess filled with red tape and ambiguity. Being told so many different things from different sources. What a mess it can be.
Thanks for your response, I am so damn tired of of the VA and our US Government saying they take care of the veterans. So far it has been a bunch of BS. Who in the heck are they taking care of????? We have to be in total financial ruin, they don't tell us that when we sign up. I finally got a lawyer who is requesting 2 meetings with the VA. I have been at 80%, can't get a damn job...get to final interview me (disabled) and someone not.....guess who gets hired? Anyway making myself sick thinking about this crap. They wonder why veteran suicides are increasing.....they need to know the crap we go through...thanks again for your response.
And this is why we really need the "Affordable Health Care Act"! Too many are falling through the cracks and not getting the care they need, especially those that are not eligible for SS and Medicare and served our Country. Have you checked into Medicaid? Is that an option? Have you applied for UI with the VA?
I think if the Affordable health care act works the way the VA system works or NOT. Everyone is s.o.l on getting any descent care. Make too much for medicaid, food stamps or any other government help. VA is slick when 100% was making $3000 a month.....80% isn't even half of that 1,470 a month. Not enough to live off of, but too much to receive any other assistance. I served my country....VA is supposed to already take care medically, however when they say you are too young. So for 3 more years I get to suffer everyday pain med Tramadol I am on doesn't even work anymore it is pathetic. A lawyer has taken my case vs VA, unemployability was denied, but I should be at 100% anyway. Thank you for your response. All information appreciated.
|Facilitator, Veterans Issues|
A knee replacement currently lasts for 10 to 15 years. That means at 47 your would need at least 2 to 3 operations during you life span. That is why they will not do it at this time.
If you can not work, you can apply for Social Security Disability. If you recieve that, you then get Medicare after 2 years. That will give you options.
I guess the Denver VA isn't caught up with outside knee replacements that last longer. I'm sure they have to keep costs low. They don't know that I will need another one. Hey when I broke my back (yes while in the service) they knew 10 to 20 years you will be in a wheelchair. Its been over 20 years now I may be limping but I'm still walking upright. I wasn't too young to have a total hip replacement in 2009. Because I needed it, VA wants vets to get tired and quit bothering them.....SSD denied twice, I have a brain, and a couple degrees to go with my brain. PTSD is not "really" considered debilitating unless you have gone to war and are missing a limb...So again I thank you for your response, but as you can see I have tried knocking on all of these doors since 2008 and it keeps getting slammed right back in my face. Thanks at this point I have stopped "using VA" medical. I just don't get any and deal with the cards God has given me.The lawyer seems to think I have a valid complaint to disagree with most recent decision. Shall see what happens, trying not to have stroke, heart attack, or kill myself falling because one of my knees gives out. Don't laugh I got a concussion last November for exactly that. All info is appreciated.
|Facilitator, Veterans Issues|
The VA is up to the standards and the Denver VA is affiliated with the medical school. The information I got was from the latest standards of care. You can not predict longevity of a replacement except based on history. The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons is saying the new ones should last more than 15 years, but only time will tell.
Sorry I didn't reply before now. I forgot to set notification for this thread.
You said... "I just don't get any and deal with the cards God has given me." My exact sentiments too. I'm pushing sixty years old and have been fighting this stuff and much more crap coming from the wood-work for twenty years. What may work for others doesn't work for me so it is all 'in the cards.' Yet people seem to think if they got something or managed to slide-by then all others must be treated the same way or attain what they did. Like my going to Vocational Rehab and seeing others going through the process and having computers given to them. They just told me I didn't qualify back then when I was trying college yet ALL others were getting them. Being a vet gave me points but apparently not the same points that females and minorities were entitled to. All I could get was my books paid for, period. There again I just stopped dealing with them while I hear about the changes made and all those others sliding by smoothly with plenty of support... and information that I learned later that wasn't even mentioned to me. Why I don't know. Having a Voc Rehab social worker that couldn't speak English very well sure didn't help matters. But being advised to re-train and the only way out was college I fell for it and again more things went wrong and left me heavily in debt for student loans. This is long after my GI bill expired of course that would have helped. I learned not to listen to some others... and their gospel, or expect to get what others can seemingly get with ease.
I am also single and out-lived my nuclear family and many friends, so being alone in all these struggles really suck and creates more problems. Making us sometimes lean on people for some help, to feed pets, only to have them take advantage of our situation and my coming home to find I had been burglarized, food gone, even fuses out of the old fuse box were stolen. Too much gossip about where a person is at and the home is easy prey. Murphy's Law. Then most people can't and won't try to understand the plight and situations of others. Too much BS and propaganda out there, and too many thinking they know what's best for us. That everything is a .. one size fits all in various situations and see things only from their perspectives or very shallow life experiences. Like my VA psychologist who thinks a person isn't supposed to complain, stand up for ourselves, to engage in any conflict, but just sit back at tolerate everything... oh... and smile. Even though we may be in situations to discover we/I have no rights or freedoms full circle.
So hopefully you can dig around on-line or locally and find some 'good' support and others who are in the same boat as you. In my vicinity making new friends to finding a supportive group has been impossible. Mainly because I simply cannot afford, or physically able, to go and do what others are doing.
Then dealing with the present health issues at that time, more surgeries, then more health problems falling from the sky didn't help matters. Then the college not working with me concerning my classes and my access to them back then. Like I was told my class rooms would be in buildings with elevators, not stairs, or on the ground floor. Wrong, the majority of them were in buildings that were not disabled compliant. Plus not being able to find close disabled parking then having ten minutes to get across campus, or town, for the other classes and so on and so forth. Anything that could go wrong did. My crack-head tutors I had to hire was another trip to deal with concerning the typical college party scene. And me being an "old stick in the mud" cause I stopped drinking twenty one years ago, and didn't drink then. So not cool. No staff or senior student volunteers led me around campus and helped like they did others or like they did with with older ladies or with someone related to someone teaching or working at the college. And I'm a damned nice, polite, mannerly guy too so I don't get it. Just in those damned cards I suppose. My life is ruled by "Murphy's Law." Being a male, an American, vet, gimped up, numerous health problems, caucasion, labeled an "old dawg" or "pops," labeled a "non-traditional older student," plus a "townie" sure didn't help matters all the way around and involving tons of issues. And some of my questions in dealing with some issues seemed to be very offensive to the politically correct crowd when I started noticing things and doing some comparisons about me and how others were being catered to and allowances made for them. Nothing like they show on TV about happy people smiling, having good tutors, the young students around them and happily helping and supporting them, and receiving all that love (lol) from students and staff. Just the opposite.
Fighting the above and having health problems that weren't diagnosed or cared much about yet compounded things. But no-one would listen to this un-educated idiot that was trying to get certain tests done but the experts thought it would be a waste of money and not necessary. Turned out I was right years later. So so much for my trust and belief in so-called professionals and others who think they know it all. Or tell me how simple things are. Like the new veterans Evet website that seemingly I'm the only one having trouble with it and getting messages about them having "techincal difficuties." Must be in my mind since I'm being treated for depression, and started speaking up instead of being a door-mat for all others. If something is wrong, or not functioning, it just is.. and not me or in my mind. But others have to put on a facade of everything being perfect and them putting up constant defenses for the slighest question or issue.
People also don't consider while we fight our health issues with all that encompases and can be hell on Earth to deal with, and trying to exist there are many many more problems and propaganda to deal with. There were jobs I could do, others with disabilites could do, and applied for many but was turned down for employment because of having..... "pre-existing conditions." No insurance coverage .. no employment and legal. So many times hearing about rights for the disabled is a bunch of hooey. City and county jobs that are well suited for the more elderly and disabled went to younger healthier people who had connections or related to government/political types (nepotism). Then us having to pay millionaire attorneys four hundred dollars for ten minutes of discusion to be told how screwed up and legal things are is another woe and adding insult to injury. (No, no free legal aid to be had here either. Not for me anyway.) Or to ask them about heat/utilities being shut-off in the winter months when I just left the hospital for home, but on TV the utilities are so kind that they can't do it and would not do such a thing. More hooey. Or to hear that doctors that messed you up got by with it due to "statute of limitation "laws. Or other MDs would not testify or try to help get the doctors to do the right thing and fix the problems due to... "professional courtesy." They won't confront the quacks. Or how they lied and fanagled me into signing a large chunk social security back pay away for the most part to doctors that wouldn't release my files or sign needed paperwork for my disability claims unless I signed a contract with them through a lovely law abiding attorney. To which I guess is another legal/illegal rip-off.
Of course while losing other houses, fighting city hall for grass cutting and other city ordinances, can't pay their fines or do what they think I can do at the time. The animal rights people slicing my tires and harassing because I raised my own meat animals like chickens and rabbits which are easily kept but I'm a murderer, un-American, and hater for eating meat.. a bunny killer. Then having to deal with them brings in other feminist groups and it all snow-balls from there. Can't even get a break from activist and special interest groups and people think its funny. Of course I'm the enemy for not being "politically correct" and not living up to the expectations of others. That includes them calling the fire department on me for cooking 'bunnies' and fried chicken over a campfire I have in the backyard of my last home since utiltities are shut off and I'm trying to live as a gimped up, broke, breaking, throw-back to primitive days..which I can do if need be. But today would probably die because of no electric power means no CPAP machine and croaking in my sleep. LOL
Can't forget about constantly being dragged into court harassed and threatened for non-payment on medical bills and etc. And damned on court days the stinking elevator always seemed to be broke down and had to worm my way up three long flights of stairs and down again, and then home to bed for two weeks or longer for doing that to only have to do it again. To see those smiling judges and attorneys. Not being able to afford doctors to pull fluid from my knees for doing stair-case acrobatics, and not wanting to go through the hassle and costs of the emergency room I go to the farm surplus store and buy a 24 gauge hog syringe (I think it was 24, been a while back) and pull fluid off of my knees. Hell seen it and had it done enough times, no problem. Or spending a weekend in jail for not being able to meet a court order to pay a huge amount that the bill collectors attorney set up. You don't go to jail for non-payment of 'medical bills'... but for "violation of court order." Semantics ya know. Then told that is supposed to be illegal and un-heard of.. but advised from that angle it is legal. Duh! More to that story but I have to cease. More money and billing to try to protect myself, to exist, from this predatory government, judicial system, health system, and society at large seemingly. Christ, I feel like I'm living in the old Soviet Union under a side-order of political correctness and expected to be totally silent about any wrongs or mis-treatment. I've exhausted all attempts and every avenue of talking to anyone over the years. We have little to no say in this un-caing throw-away society unless we are connected somehow or know somebody with insider info or willing to give us info. What freedom what rights?
Told we must be our own advocates then told to merely accept things, or expected not to be advocating for ourselves.
And God have mercy on the poor person who is forced while ill or staggering, limping around, to have to go out into public/modern society, the drug or grocery store, court house, to be hassled by cops or others who quickly think you're doped up or drunk or acting funny due to a drop in blood sugars, migraine attack, or something. Be tossed around by cops and hand-cuffed, never spologized to, but told later that "we aren't social workers ya know." Forced to our bad knees and cuffed "for all our safety." In the new America we can't even pull to the side of the road and puke or else we are a domestic terrorist or up to no-good. So the normal BS and "be tolerant" of others or to "not to write letters" or "create problems" 'just keep a smile on your face" crap from the local VA psychologist who must not have experienced much in life can be a bit hard to swallow or listen to. Or to hear that "others have never had to deal with any of these issues." So all of it must be my fault in my thinking to my voicing opinions of disaproval or opposition to how things are. To thier belief that one should never say a cross word about this government, so-called social services, or VA health care since they are so perfect and profesional and so so so caring. That their co-workers (and society) are just so great and marvelous that they'd never show attitude or dis-respect to anyone. Crazy. I sure didn't see my senior years like this or dealing with the multitude of issues and people I am today.
So I thought I would share last update. Denver VA patient advocate response to complaint. I made complait January 30, 2012. Ltr dtd April 17, 2012. We have notified and informed the following departments to contact you. Orthopedic, Mental Health and your primary care. What the heck is a Patient Advocateanother VA joke. Also, moderator I agree you cannot predict the longevity of a replacement.
Patient advocates didn't really help me. They just gave excuses and discussed my problems with the doctors and clinics I was having issues with. Which resulted in one doctor refusing to see me any longer and telling the Patient Advocate then telling me there was nothing more they could do... washing their hands of me since their doping methods weren't affective.
Seems some issues they can get resolved, some not while playing mediators which all it seems to me it was. You are still dealing with a room full of them (so I was told) and their expectations, defenses, and rules and you by yourself. Or with a Patient Advocate you have only talked to over the phone. So then having my PA call me and tell me after discussing the issues with a bunch of people around a table discussing me they were only doing what they could do and what was in my best interest according to them.
Even if some of them were found to be in the wrong nothing happens to them, you will get no apologies, or at least I didn't, and those involved simply have the right to not see you or treat you again. Those you thought would testify for you since being there.. will not for their own sakes. You'll/I'll have no further contact with them.. problem solved, according to them.
Hopefully you will get a better outcome. My advice is to people dealing with the VA is to do what I'm going to do, illegal or not. I'm going to start doing what they expect of me. Keeping track of times, dates, people, discussions... to even recording people and visits I think I will have problems with. Like I'm supposed to have all these facts from years ago. And will put a recorder on my phone since I'm so sick of 'attitudes,' lip-smacking, deep breathes, condescending wavering hateful, snippy, cocky tones and etc, then being told by others how wonderful people they all are. I'm just really tired of it all.
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