Nov 162013

I had a good day at the Tucson V.A. hospital yesterday. A very good day. I went in a bit apprehensive and came out feeling much better about things and with a clearer picture of what our winter schedule will be.

Originally I had an appointment at the eye clinic for a long and uncomfortable procedure to “map” my eyes, whatever that means. I have rather large and odd shaped eyes, which may explain my warped view of the world, and every time I have an eye exam and they blow that puff of air into my eyes to test for glaucoma they get a strange reading. And every time they say that I could be borderline for glaucoma but probably not because my eye shape is probably what’s causing it. And every time they do more tests and say there’s not a problem. But on my last visit, back in May, the doctor decided that I needed this mapping procedure just to be sure.

I also have some pre-cancerous places on my face and head that have been getting worse and I had hoped to get a referral from my Primary Care provider to the dermatology clinic to get them looked at. But when I called a few weeks ago, the clerk who schedules appointments with my Primary Care provider said she was booked up until March. So I figured that yesterday, after the eye thing, I’d go over to her clinic and see if there was any chance of squeezing in for just a moment while we’re in town.

But when I got to the eye clinic I found that my appointment had been cancelled and instead I had one for the same time at the dermatology clinic, which shares the same waiting room. Well, that’s strange, but I wasn’t going to complain. The physician’s assistant (PA) looked at my problem areas, decided one spot on my right ear needed immediate attention, and removed it and sent it for a biopsy to determine if it needs any further action. He also set me up with Fluorouracil cream, which I have to apply to my face and ears for three weeks to deal with the other suspect areas. This stuff is supposed to be pretty rough on the skin for a while, but is the first line treatment and hopefully will prevent things from getting worse. I have an appointment again in early March to see how things are going, but the PA seems to think it will be pretty much a formality.

Once I was done at dermatology I went back across to the eye clinic to see why that appointment had been cancelled, and learned that the doctor I had seen back in May who scheduled it had moved on and that her replacement, after reviewing my file, didn’t think it was necessary. So they scheduled me to come back for a routine exam in March, the same day as my dermatology follow up.

With that done I went to my Primary Care provider’s clinic, where I learned her clerk had spotted the eye clinic cancellation and arranged for the dermatology slot to replace it. He also has me scheduled for my annual exam with her in March. So say what you want about government run medicine, the V.A. takes very good care of me.

And here’s a tip for some of you who have told me how hard it is to get things done at the V.A. Be nice to those clerks out front who schedule things. All day long they deal with people, many of whom don’t feel good, have problems, and sometimes have an attitude. Smile, say hello and ask how their day is going. Ask if they can help you figure out your problem, don’t demand that they give you special treatment. You might be amazed at the results. What’s that Mama used to say? You’ll get more flies with honey than vinegar?

So it was a good day at the V.A. I got a lot accomplished and at this point I have a colonoscopy scheduled for December 18 and then nothing until March. Let the games begin!

Don’t forget, our special promotion on Gypsy Journal back issue CDs ends Sunday, so if you haven’t ordered yours yet time is running out. This is a heck of a deal, eleven years of our RV adventures and misadventures, from 2003 – 2013 in PDF format for the amazingly low price of just $50, with free shipping! The back issues are in searchable PDF files that will work on any computer. If you were to purchase them individually from our online download site, they would cost you $198. How can you lose with a deal like that? To order, just click the button below or log onto and make payment to


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Thought For The Day – Was learning cursive really necessary?

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Nick Russell

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  11 Responses to “A Good Day At The V.A.”

  1. Nick, in the “Leave a Reply” space, what is a URI?

  2. Nick, I did the Fluorouracil cream treatment a few years ago. I think they reffered to it as a facelift in a tube, haha. You’ll probably end up more handsome than you already are. Actually it really was quite uncomfortable but tolerable, be sure to take some pictures around day 21 for us to see. Good luck. Max.

  3. Let’s look at the thought for today. “Was learning cursive really necessary?”

    No, of course not, and neither is choosing a real bow tie or a Windsor knot VS clip-ons. Let’s chalk it up to a matter of style, much of which is disappearing in our homogenous society.

    As for expediency, cursive writing is faster than printing, and a letter or note from one who has mastered cursive denotes adulthood, whereas, it remains a mystery as to whether the printed note was produced by a third-grader or someone of just slightly more cranial ability.

  4. Nick, we could not agree more with your assessment of the Tucson VA Medical Center and it’s employees. they are top notch and so is the facility. My husband is 100% DAV and I qualify for coverage as his dependent. I just LOVE my primary physician and the support staff are totally on the ball. As a dependent who uses CHAMPVA as my “medical insurance”, I am referred out to private practices for many things … the VA needs it’s in-house resources for the Vets. I just had my second treatment of Synvisc for my creaky, arthritic knees at a wonderful U of AZ Orthopedic practice. In time, I will need knee replacements, but for now, this is working really well. I saw a Dermatologist last spring, as well. I can’t say enough about the VA Medical system here in Tucson … glad your visit went so well with such good news!

  5. I have mostly good things to say about my care at the VA and I totally agree with your comments about treating the front desk folks respectfully. I have seen too many Vets come in and demand this or that. Treat them with respect and they will reciprocate.

  6. Donna, URL stands for Universal Resource Locator. It is the address of a web page or blog. Each page has its own unique web address or URL.

  7. Interesting that you should mention being nice to the front desk people Nick. It’s amazing how many are rude to receptionists, secretaries, hosts, etc and then complain about how they are treated in return.

    My career was in sales and I learned early on that the gatekeepers are the ones to get close to. They can make you or break you. And usually it all depends on you. If you treat them with respect and just a little kindness they can open doors for you that you can never open yourself.

    One of my clients was the owner of a huge family owned grocery store chain and everyone in the world was knocking at his door wanting to sell him their product or asking for a contribution for something. His receptionist was a woman many called the Iron Lady, Crocodile, or worse because she was very brusk and firm about nobody getting to the boss unless she ran it by him first. On my very first sales call on the company, she came across like a brick wall. No, the man was not available and no, she had no idea if or when he could see me. What was I selling? She’s pass it on to him later and if he was interested she’d let me know. I told her who I was and what I sold and then thanked her for her time and said I would be looking forward to hearing from her. I also said that I’d be back in the area in two weeks and would pop in just in case there were any questions. I also noticed that she had a picture of a tropical island on her wall and another of a a young couple standing close together on a beach.

    On my next visit she was just as inflexible, but I didn’t even ask to get past her, just said I was in the area and my boss required me to stop in, and now that I had I’d get out of her way because I knew she was busy. As an afterthought, I asked where the beach was and she said Hawaii. I told her I had always wanted to go there and hoped someday I would. She immediately went into a long talk about how she and her husband lived there while he was in the Navy and how they could walk to the beach and how she never wanted to leave when his hitch was up.

    By my third visit there was a softening on her part, and two weeks later when I went in it was a cold snowy day and I said, “Why aren’t we all on that beach of yours instead of here?” The ice was literally broken! She told me about how she learned to surf as a young Navy bride and even took hula lessons. And before I left she had excused herself and came back with the boss. He introduced himself and asked if I had time for lunch the next day. Sure I did! I walked out of that lunch with a nice fat order and they became one of my major clients. I can’t tell you how many times I saw other salesmen come in, treat her like a servant and expect to get ushered right in. More times than not their business card went in the trash the minute they walked out the door.

  8. Tom is 100% disabled and has received really good care at the VA. They are so busy in Fl that you really have to make your appt or you are looking at months away. Tom got last dental appt for tooth extraction when he was seen in Sept. Appt. is in Dec. They kindly mentioned that if he misses it the next opening is in March. Good to know info. I have Champ VA but VA here does not see dependents. I am perfectly happy with the outside care. Hopefully the higher beings won’t include Vets in the new insurance “Obamacare”. Good luck with your adventure.

  9. I agree with you about the VA. A good attitude works wonders. I have stage 4 prostate cancer and get oncology in town, but get lots of my other stuff including meds from the VA clinic.
    The dermatology cream works wonders. You will find places you did not know you had. People might think you are dying after your face gets so red.
    Enjoyed meeting you in Montana back in 2011.

  10. You know they don’t even teach cursive writing anymore. I don’t know what the kids today will do – text, I guess!

  11. Nick good luck to you with the skin. I also have freckles and red hair , well used to be now it is white at 60 LOL. I was the guy in grammar school who had the stuff on his face. It is now white but in the old days it was light brown to block the sun. A-Fill it was called.
    My wife is an Army Vet from 30 years ago VN era (Berlin)and said she had been treated many times at the Tucson VA and that she never had a problem there. She also love the one here that she goes to in Sacramento, CA . Its at the old McCellon AFB in North Highlands, CA. Never any problems. Good people

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