I am doing the A-Z challenge, focusing on places or entities that can be found within Mendocino County. I do not intend to imply that the subjects of my writing are the most significant, only that they have personal relevance to me. Today’s letter is V for Veterans Outpatient Clinic, in Ukiah.
Love: My Drug of Choice
Though I have already prattled on about getting veterans health care, after my school district insurance “ran out,” I want to talk about the facility in Ukiah which provides my care.
I read recently in the San Francisco Chronicle, that the Veterans Administration has come under criticism for the time delays in providing veterans with basic health care benefits. The article described delays of over 600 days in both Los Angeles and New York, for veterans to receive initial health care benefits, after they had applied for them.
I was quite astonished to hear this piece of information, and once again thanked my lucky stars for being a resident of Northern California, where no such problem exists. Originally, when I signed up last August, I was told that it could be as long as three months before I started receiving services, but it actually was five weeks.
My first appointment with Dr. Shepherd, last September, was a complete physical which included a full contingent of basic health care tests. I also was given a flu shot, and a follow-up appointment was scheduled to take tissue for a skin lesion, and have a biopsy performed. The net result from that action was to schedule Mohs surgery in San Francisco, something I wrote about last month in my first A-Z plunge. *
On the day of my first appointment, I also managed to squeeze into the mental health department of the Veterans Outpatient Clinic in Ukiah, where I hooked up with the first of three mental health care doctors. The purpose of my visit was to establish a working relationship with a mental health doctor who could prescribe medication for bipolarism. My long-time therapist in Ukiah, Dr. Mark, is a psychologist, not a psychiatrist, and therefore cannot prescribe medication.
After trying the medication prescribed for bipolarism, I found the insidious side-effects to be far more than I was willing to tolerate, so I scrapped the whole bipolar meds issue. So far, I have managed to sally forth without issue. I attribute this to the greatest power of all being love. For me, love is the drug that best solves issues of the mind.
I have been able to give Annie the full support she needs to get her through the medical challenges she faces. I have been able to enthusiastically accompany her to San Francisco, for the appointments that are necessary, including driving down on each occasion. Annie drives home, so we balance out the hard work.
If I have a “relapse,” I still have Dr. Sherry at the Veterans clinic to fall back on for help. That is one of the most valuable components of this facility for me: the fact that I have the option available, if and when I need it.
The clinic itself is modern, well-equipped with the tools of the trade, and staffed by a full contingent of medical personnel, who are very dedicated to the task of treating those who gave up portions of their lives to serve our country. They are friendly, professional and efficient.
As the director of the VA facility in San Francisco put it, after I had written a letter of appreciation to the staff following my Mohs surgery, “Please know that it was our pleasure to provide your care. You have served this country as a member of the American military, and we feel privileged to serve you in return.”
So when you read disparaging comments about the Veterans Administration, know that I do not share those sentiments; on the contrary, I am thrilled with the medical services I am receiving.
* See “Double Island Pedicle” from March of this year.