The VA can move when it wants to

I took the morning off for what I assumed was a pretty standard visit to ENT after the radiation oncologist. Getting towards 11.30am we got called into the office. As usual the nice resident asks some questions and plays the good doctor in the good doctor/bad doctor scene. In comes the middle aged experienced ENT doctor, swiftly getting down to the business of looking down my brother’s throat.

In less than 3 minutes she says he needs a trach…now…today…

Literally, people start flying around and she says someone else will have to cover her clinic for the afternoon so she can do this. She says his airway is so occluded that they can not do the usual procedure as I’ve seen hundreds of times. He will have to be awake with just the area numbed until they can secure his airway.

The surgeons are called to see if they can do a feeding tube and port (for chemo) at the same time.

Here’s an interesting side note: the surgeon comes in and we both agree we know each other. We compare hospital backgrounds but no match. I conclude that I think he took care of my step father about 3 years ago and have no qualms telling him my step father died.

I am very impressed but in a scary way how quickly everything has moved for my brother within a notoriously slow healthcare system. My uncle had MS which was 100% service connected and he received all his treatment at this same VA hospital. My step father was a Viet Nam veteran who received his care at this VA hospital but it seemed like they waited ages for simple appointments. I worry that the speed at which this is moving along suggests the realness of this diagnosis. They offer some rehab accommodation before surgery and I ask if he is interested as there will be a lot of adjustments to having a trach….no, no, no, he says. He will just come home after surgery

My brother does go to surgery that afternoon-about 4pm.

He wakes up trached, pegged and ported. The first thing he writes, because he can’t speak is:

“I think I should stay in the rehab for a week or two”

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