“Stop crying and fight your father!”

fight prep

Welp.  I did something today I didn’t think I would.  I reached out to the VA for care.  Granted, M has strongly suggested I do so repeatedly.  As a doctor, it seems it’s excruciating for him to watch my health decline for lack of care.  I also reached out to the Patient Care Advocacy to assist in ensuring I’m not subjected to further abuse.  (They’re but the first in the chain-of-command.)

It’s not the first time I’ve sought their aid.  While the advocate I worked with was kind and recognized the abuse, her efforts, unfortunately, led to retaliatory mistreatment from other VA employees.  It led to my retreating under the rock.  The fact I don’t speak on the phone (and informed them several times) hasn’t helped matters since the online communication tool rarely works correctly.

Most times, I’m unable to respond to messages received.  When I’ve sought technical assistance, I was met with questions about my status, as if I’m new to the VA system.  The few times I’ve gotten through, I was offered phone appointments, much to my fury.  It’s also rare that the same individual reads or responds to anything I’ve written.  It’s a mountain of racism and bureaucratic bullshit I’m facing.

The number of hoops to jump through is astonishing.  I’ve decided to break my silence about the abuse I’ve endured.  I’m going to fight as if my life depends on it.  (It does.)  Fortunately, my education and military service taught me a great deal about how to get results from people who would prefer I crawl back under the rock and rot.  I won’t.

Shout it out

While I anticipate I’m facing an epic battle, it shouldn’t be this way.  There are no excuses for this treatment by the VA.  I’ve done my research, acquired legal counsel, and am as ready as I’ll ever be to fight until my pigmentation level and lack of a penis cease to prevent me from being recognized as a human being at the VA.  I’m so disgusted and traumatized by what I’ve endured.  I can’t even drive past the VA hospital without having a panic attack.

While not everyone at the Sioux Falls VA is vile and dishonorable, those who are have made it a nightmare.  I’m genuinely astonished by the lack of professionalism and decency I’ve witnessed in multiple areas of the hospital.  I don’t want to be another veteran suicide statistic, of course.  However, the mistreatment has repeatedly increased the likelihood immensely.

The irony is a bitter pill to swallow.  Even the medication bottles have stickers to remind veterans to reach out to the VA instead of killing yourself.  They’re proudly displayed all over the place, but none of them inform veterans it could be that very action that pushes them over the edge.  None of them warn of the fact that the VA’s concept of treatment varies tremendously by skin color, gender, and whether or not your provider likes you.

I’ve endured while my PTSD symptoms have worsened and my life has become a shell of what it could be with proper care.  I’ve cowered and raged over the unfairness.  My mind replays each event whenever I attempt to sleep.  Often I end up weeping and give up trying to sleep until so exhausted I can’t prevent it.  Then I’m unable to awaken myself when the nightmares overwhelm.  I’ve forgotten how well-rested feels.

VA crisis line - at your own risk

I’ve kept extensive written accounts of each incident, and plan on being very public and open about everything.  I have no qualms about naming people who’ve mistreated me.  I’ve begun my thesis on racism in the VA and already have interested publishers.  In the light, it will all come out.  I disclosed my plan to Patient Care Advocacy to utilize recording apparatus whenever I enter the building.  (I’ve done so in the past to keep accurate, provable records.)  Beneath the trauma, I’m still a fierce warrior who understands war.  It’s on like Donkey Kong.

“If I like their race, how can that be racism?”

Look.  I’m telling you three times not to read this post if you’re not in a safe place mentally right now.  💜

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t sleep last night.  I just lay in bed grinding my teeth.  It’s not nightmare avoidance, though (for once.)  I got a letter from the VA.  Part of me is in shock.  All of me is pissed off.  It’s not often I find myself wondering how the hell a person can be so clueless.  (I’m too used to being the one who causes others to think it.)  It’s the first time I’ve felt the desire need to resume using F-bombs liberally.

I’m 99% certain the person sent it because they were required.  I subtracted 1% because it’s possible I’m mistaken, and they’re not clueless at all, just vile.   I’d prefer not responding at all.  It’s the most logical, adult thing I could do.  However, I’ve done this dance too many times not to know what’s next.  If I don’t respond, they’ll send the police and call it a health and welfare check.  (Pressing every button on my F*** box; best toy ever.)

Here’s the thing:  I’m a POC with autism and mental illness, living in what was dubbed The Whitest City in America.  Jeff Sessions is the (pressing buttons on best toy ever) Attorney General.  Here’s a lovely photo of a bridge just outside Sioux Falls Christian school.

racist grafitti

Sending the police to my place is more dangerous to my lifespan than lacing a snail mail letter with ricin.  It’s hard to imagine it’s not intentional.  I’m trying, but the benefit of the doubt got tired after the fifth time they did this shit.  (Pressing buttons with feeling.)  Frankly, it would have been more compassionate to add ricin to the envelope.  It would also surpass the effectiveness of any “treatment” they’ve offered so far by a longshot.  It would cure my autism, mental illness, and skin condition.  I’m black; there would be no repercussions.  Here, let me hold up the edge of the rug so we can sweep me under and be done, already.  Win, win whatever.

M. has enough sense to recognize he can’t stay here for a while.  He’s upset because he read my medical records, and knows I’m going to get the (pressing) out of South Dakota as soon as I finish ticking off my (button) already-prepared-because-five-times-checklist.  I’m not kidding when I say it’s 1960 in South Dakota.  If I don’t run for the border and leave my mobile tracking device phone behind, I’ll be handcuffed in the back seat of a cop car again before I can say (remixing like DJ Guetta.)   I’ve been handcuffed (and leg shackled) too many (button again) times for someone whose rap sheet solely consists of a single traffic violation over a decade ago.

Health and welfare check my ass.  Let’s call it what it is, eh?  A microaggressive Get Out note.  Do you want to know what’s rich?  Good, because I’m going to tell you.  It’s the person in charge of suicide prevention at the VA, pretending I can’t read between the lies.  The same one who flat out told me I should move to the east coast because “they’re more compassionate about mental illness there.”  That’s a Get Out note, too.  Get Out notes are what clandestine racists send to POC.  It’s for our health and welfare, see?  (all the buttons)

North American porcupine

It’s not the first person at the VA (in the mental health field) who sent me one. (When it didn’t work, they sent the chaplain in to suggest I meet with the only other black person he knew at the VA.  (Not even a medical anything, IIRC.)  It’s in the manual, I think.  If they don’t bow down, send them to The Other One, so they can explain the rules and nip this in the bud.  (YepI’m that (press) pissed.)  This issue is a part of white privilege I hate with a (button) passion.  I have Caucasian expectations.  I expect at least minimal consideration from other humans for also being human.  I know this is a dangerous attitude for black people on earth.

The Election showed me it’s irrational.  It broke my heart, but whatever.  There’s a furious, mean part of me that wants to move to Plan B, and initiate Operation Knock Knock.  It’s infantile bullshit, but it’s typed up and stored next to my bugout bag all the same.  I’m not literally clueless.  I know how to push the issue and stop this dance.  I think about it when I can’t sleep all the time.  I can make any American cop shoot me in the head.  (It’s a superpower of the oppressed, here in the land of the free. If you want to test it out, tell a cop you’re a different gender than you appear to be ((to the ignorant and hateful.))  I think it would be (press) evil to deliberately pass on my PTSD to a cop as my last act in this reality.  It (button) with them when we make them do what they secretly want to do anyway.

More shit I’ve learned since The Election, that.  It makes me regret being a veteran, sometimes.  I didn’t think anything could do that.  I (press) get it wrong a lot.  (I got rose-colored eyeglass frames so that I can remind myself how I used to view my country.)  You’d think after being in the Army, I’d know better.  But nope.  I thought we at least gave a shit about fellow Americans.  Why was I (all the buttons) risking life and limb for a country where a third of the populace is furious I’m not a slave!?  In my defense, they did show a lot of propaganda videos on the only TV channel we had in English when I lived in Germany.  (Fraud. Waste. Abuse.  It’s your duty to report it!)  Stoners would probably love them.

It snowed again which means I can’t drive (open my eyes wide enough to see outside) until the new snow is dirty.  I’m going to go dry heave for a while.  (One of the lovely perks of insomnia.)  I’ve set a new record for the duration of my fury.  I usually see something shiny by now.  (last press.)

“Nah, we need a medical dictionary! If a patient gets difficult, you quone him.”

I’m having a shitty night.  I just told M. to get the hell out.  I have another kidney stone.  Every time it moves the pain becomes so intense I make involuntary sounds.  I breathe loudly and moan every so often (without my consent.)

It comes and goes in waves.  When the pain subsides, it leaves me feeling drained.  Rinse and repeat until the damn thing passes.  I’m sipping cranberry juice and water between waves.  Good times.  It’s nothing new and nothing to freak out over.  (Especially when you’re not the one experiencing the pain.)

M. suggested I go to the ER.  I told him no, I don’t want to make this experience more miserable than it is already.  I think it may have offended him since he’s a medical professional.  Sigh.

Later, when the pain returned, M. repeated his suggestion. (!!!) I told him he should go sleep at his apartment because this is probably going to continue all night, and I won’t change my mind.  Then he went into doctor mode and started telling me he knows what’s best.

I could feel my blood pressure rising.  M. said he doesn’t understand why I won’t utilize medical care when I should be thankful I’m fortunate enough to have it when lots of people don’t.  (I was curled in the fetal position on the floor, doing something like Lamaze breathing to deal with the pain.)

I crawled to my desk and gave him a thumb drive copy of my VA medical records, dating back to when I got out of the Army.  I (too loudly) told him to read them if he wants to know why I’m not going to the (expletive) ER.  Then I told him to get out.

I regret I was brusk, but I was also preoccupied.  My medical records are a fascinating read.  I’m probably going to publish them as part of a dissertation on racism in the medical field.  It’s a surprisingly thick file considering all it honestly says is, the patient is black and doesn’t count, over and over again.

I’m so lucky to have medical coverage, she said through clenched teeth.