Summer is Coming

This is the time of year I both look forward to and simultaneously dread.

 

Am I the only one? 

 

It seems like my TO-DO list always has 10,000 things on it and some of it gets done but it never completely goes away.  When you pile no more school, nice weather, a teenagers social engagements and archery season it already feels overwhelming.

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For us, this is added on top of fighting with the Veterans Administration to complete a claim, trying to find a public servant that feels like taking up our cause, getting an advocate to shuffle us to the top of the every growing mound of cases and trying to navigate the VA healthcare system as a Caregiver, it’s downright maddening.

 

So how do you program in time for the good stuff?

 

I am trying to make a habit this month of carrying the magazines and books with them every where I go.  I put this stuff off but it’s truly on of my favorite escapes and who needs that more than me?  That’s right, ALL OF US.  In doing so, when appointments go from “real quick labs” to “waiting room hell for an hour” I have found that I am actually getting through some of them and it makes me happy!

 

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I started my seeds directly in the garden this year.  It is a bit more risky but it seemed like to me if it worked, it would be a lot easier in the long run.  While I still have mulch to put down and soaker hoses to run, I am on my way and oh yeah, I am getting some sun and fresh air along the way.  As difficult as it is to take time for anything, I finally figured out that I could do some of the work, a little at a time, when I take the dog out.  She has to go out any way so why not multi task? IMG_0186

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s next?

This summer we have archery trips, a teenager getting a learner’s permit, SAT classes, camp and maybe a fun trip.  There will be house projects to finish and new things to learn.  I am already tired.

 

What will you guys be doing this summer?  How do you program in stuff just for you?  What is your favorite escape?

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North Florida/South Georgia Caregivers!

There are upcoming caregiver classes that are being held in Tallahassee if you are interested.  The caregiver office indicated you DO NOT have to be a registered caregiver to attend so please contact Bina and let her know you would like to attend!  I will be there for both classes if anyone has questions or needs anything that I can help with, I am happy to help.

Here is the flyer if you would like to download it =>  Tallahassee 2015 class

The details are as follows:

Course 1: Managing Stress

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

9:00am – 12:00pm

Caregivers will learn a five step approach to problem solving and utilize this approach to address a current problem. Principles of effective communication and techniques such as “I” Messages and Empathic Listening will be presented and practiced in class.

Course 2: Problem Solving & Effective Communication

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

1:00pm – 4:00pm

Caregivers will identify both internal and external sources of stress in their lives and how negative self-talk and unrealistic expectations can contribute to stress. Stress management techniques such as massage, deep breathing, meditation and journaling will be presented. Caregivers will practice these techniques and develop a personal action plan for stress management.

 

LOCATION:

Quality Inn and Suites

2020 Apalachee Pkwy

Tallahassee, FL

 

Please email or call me to register. Thanks!

Bina Patel, LCSW

Clinical Social Worker

Caregiver Support Program

352-376-1611 ext 4751

 

I hope to see you there!

Resilience

I logged on last week to check the status of my Warriors pending claims, and much like many of you have experienced, something didn’t look right. As I clicked through the endless links and parts of the eBenefits website, I became increasingly irritated as I realized the situation in front of me. After the hours I spent online filing and uploading documents, I am met with an all too familiar site. Some of the claims “didn’t go through” and the documents were loaded into “miscellaneous” instead of attached to claims as intended.

This is no surprise but does add to the frustration with the Veterans Administration.

I am computer literate and I have a graduate degree. I know what I am doing. Yet so many glitches and “updates” on this site produces results that directly affect the outcome for Warriors claims that makes it is hard not to feel it isn’t on purpose. What does someone older, less tech savvy or worse; someone with TBI and no support network do when they see this stuff. I mean I know I did it correctly but what if you weren’t confident in your knowledge and skill level.

It would make you think you were crazy.

Yesterday I went back in and patiently entered the things that didn’t go through and attached files where they should be and got the message, AGAIN, that every thing was accepted so we will see in a couple of weeks if that ends up being final.

But it wears you down.

I think that is the biggest reason people just give up. There are so many Warriors that we meet that haven’t gotten through the process because it becomes so difficult to not be angry. Sadly, you can put your life on the line for your country, incur permanent harm but not automatically get taken care of when you return. It’s another battle that most just does not have the energy for. It’s sad.

It requires resilience most of us don’t have.

My Warrior would be quick to tell you, if I had not been persistent, he would have given up a long time ago. I recently caught Madonna Badger on Super Soul Sunday and a lot of what she talks about in her TedX talk, really applies to the caregiver scenario. There has been unimaginable terror, grief and pain in the lives of Warriors and they just have to keep getting up. A lot of times they can’t and that motivation comes from the Caregiver. A lot of times as a result, a Caregiver becomes completely wiped out. It’s a vicious cycle that only keeps everyone afloat because of that resilience that each victory and defeat help us build.

But it is hard!

Sometimes I am really good at it and sometimes I am not. I would love to hear about how you stay positive and what you do to make sure you aren’t stretched too thin. Everyone can always use good advice!

It’s A Throat Punching Kind Of Day

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This statement above cannot over-emphasize the extent of my discomfort with the VA.

Last week was a bad week. When the Warrior struggles, the Caregiver struggles. There is not much that can help that situation but time but it can wear you the hell down, that’s for sure. While my TO DO list contains a number of items, the reality of my situation is that I am lucky to get a couple of things done well and stuff just gets pushed back until that’s the thing I do that later day. For the last two hours I have been on eBenefits trying to upload three letters to ask for reopening and increase on three separate issues that my Warrior has been consistently trying to get taken care of.

Here is the thing: its hard not to get angry. Aside from the fact that you are “acknowledged but not compensated” on almost EVERY SINGLE ITEM, the length of time they take to get back to you in regards to those items is just RIDICULOUS. We had already waited a year for a decision and on two items we received “acknowledgement” of them but that they couldn’t find information supporting them in the records.

The records that were under a year old.

From the doctor that then had to write a letter explaining to them in detail where it was in the records.

A letter it took me two hours to finally get uploaded and I am not entirely sure it’s in the right place.

Let me take a moment to explain that I am not an idiot. Seriously. I am not computer illiterate. My struggle with the eBenefits site is that it is not really user friendly and how you actually accomplish something constantly changes. I am not sure what prompts those changes but when I log on to help with something and the location of it or process for it has been altered, it’s a little frustrating.  Then, rarely does anything go through the first time.  It may take five or six passes for any submission to go through completely.  Then the one thing they do consistently is send you an auto email stating you submitted a claim and you have 365 days to provide information for it before they will close it.  Every time you hit the submit button, even when it doesn’t go through.  EVERY TIME.  Now imagine you are a Warrior without a Caregiver or a Warrior/Caregiver pair with limited computer skills?

It’s not fair.

I think that sometimes we can all sound like tin foil hat wearing, conspiracy theorists but its really hard to not feel completely insane when it seems like THEY ARE MAKING IT HARDER FOR YOU ON PURPOSE TO GET WHAT YOU ARE ENTITLED TO. I can only assume that is so they don’t have to make payment for service related issues? What other possible reason could there be to make it so hard that you want to throw the computer across the room and just give up all together?

Or throat punch someone.

Why don’t I just go in to see someone? It’s just not that easy. Truthfully, as janky as the site can be, its far superior to me actually being able to throat punch someone.

Mostly because I don’t want to go to jail. I wouldn’t do well in jail.  Also, I am resoundingly against violence as an answer for anything.

Any bets on how long it takes them to make a decision on those items uploaded today? I am going to guess about six months because I like to think optimistically.

Today anyway.

No tooth, No problem

My Warrior returned home from class this morning with a missing filling. Just fell right out. While this happens to everyone I am sure, one problem with this one is that it left very little tooth. One side was down to the gum and what’s left over the root is quite thin.

 

But that’s not the biggest problem.

 

When he dialed up the trusty dental clinic, explaining that he cannot eat without pain he is told:

 

“Chew on the other side.”

 

And my personal favorite:

 

“You are lucky, there is a cancelation on October 14th or you would have to wait until December.”

 

No immediately getting him seen so he can eat. No concern about the wait. No offer to refer to a civilian dentist. What average disabled Warrior has the available cash for an emergency dental appointment? That’s right, they don’t.

 

But it’s okay.

 

We appreciate your service.