Saturday, January 18, 2014

Blood & B-Vitamins: Adventures at the VA Hospital

Patience has never really been one of my virtues, when someone tells me they're going to do something I think it's perfectly fair and reasonable that they either actually do it or at least make the attempt. Since I'm a Veteran, under my Honorable Discharge which grants me access to health-care at any one of our nation's VA Hospital Campuses, I'm exempt from having to purchase any form of health insurance under the new Affordable Care Act (Which, I'd like to note, isn't perfect but at least it's a start.) I can purchase extra if I want to, but it is not required under the new law. It had taken me a good long while to get myself an appointment to begin with, largely my own fault due to procrastination, but I did EVENTUALLY get there.

It's a very long drive from where I live into Fayetteville (Arkansas, that is) so I was awake the moment sunlight infiltrated my bedroom window. Since this was my first time going to a VA Hospital, I had previously been told that I would need two appointments in successions of each other: The first one was originally at 9AM, to draw blood and do other lab-work, the official processing appointment was at 11AM for actually speaking to a Primary Care doctor. Despite us driving as fast as the law would let us, I was ten minutes late for the first appointment: I'm rarely late for anything, but I had to consciously remind myself that this isn't Fort Huachuca, and that being a sneeze late no longer carries an instant Company Grade Article 15. 

The first desk I came to so happened to be the Emergency Room reception area, from which I was directed to the Primary Care office on another floor. However, it would seem that due to some renovation and repair work being done, the elevators weren't working. I was directed to a stair-case, which upon my search for them, were nowhere to be found according to the first set of directions given to me. I did, however, have the good fortune of finding a small group of people headed to the same place and they let me follow them.

Good for me, until I got there.

Already a bit panicked inside for having been (Gasp!) late for my appointment to begin with, when I tried to check-in with the receptionist he told me I was at the wrong office: The Women's Clinic was on the other side of the building. Wrong again, I guess. It's happened before, but I was getting very irritated at this point. Huffed, I walked down a very long and open hallway until it reached the end... a dead end. Um, what am I doing wrong, here? A nearby attendant pointed out to me that there was a wooden door, admittedly not very visible, near the corner of a wall. I found it, the desk of the Women's Clinic (well enclosed within the confines of the building, presumably for a feeling of privacy) awaited within.

Composing myself, I checked in at the desk and waited for my name to come up so I could get my blood-work out of the way before the main appointment. I was three chapters into Richard Dawkins' "An Appetite for Wonder" before I noticed that several women who'd arrived after me were, indeed, seen before me. This struck me as extremely odd, and when I verified my appointment with the clerk she confirmed that it was at 11AM.

Nooooo... I was supposed to have a needle jammed into my arm on or around 9AM, it's now 10:30. Either I screwed up really hard, or no one in this hospital knows anything about anything at all.

I do my damnedest to maintain myself when I'm frustrated or upset, despite my "erratic" reputation I really do try to keep my shit together when I'm mad. Despite my best efforts, though, I think the clerk picked up on it right-quick. She brought me to a set of elevators not far outside the wooden door, brought me to the correct floor and essentially escorted me into the lab itself (for which I was actually rather impressed for being so thorough in her effort, good on ye lass.) Though I had originally been told that the lab-work would take at least an hour, I was done in about ten minutes.

Another crisis averted, I guess. Despite the hustle and hurry of the morning's events, the rest of my time there seemed to go according to plan. After putting away my Kindle, I happened to glance at a small wooden table bearing a display of tracts and prayer cards: So the VA is outwardly endorsing the messages and ideals of a chosen religion now, is it? Really? Let's get one thing straight about me: I don't have a problem with people having beliefs on their terms, so long as it doesn't bleed into my ability to conduct myself. But I find such things being advertised and endorsed by ANY government organization to be wholly inappropriate. 

This is a federally funded medical institution set up by our government to care for the people who served for it: A HOSPITAL is not, nor ever should be, A CHURCH.

Sure, it's annoying, but that's not what I'm here for. I COULD start ripping up the tracts and tossing their remains into the bin, but at this point it would just seem counter-productive. Yes I am an atheist, a very loud & outspoken one at that, but I'm trying very hard not to be an asshole about it. I have more important things to do with my time than wander around this place and rip up anything with a bible verse printed on it, though were I in any position to do so covertly, I totally would.

Once my name is FINALLY called (after all of this running around) I'm sat down in a doctor's chair and asked a series of questions not unlike those typically asked of me by medical staff back at Fort Huachuca: Are you having thoughts of harming yourself or others? Have you ever attempted suicide? The like, which of course THIS TIME AROUND I had given several different answers than I would otherwise have done were I still in the Army. There's no fucking way I would have told those burn-outs in Arizona that I had tried to off myself in Iraq, I think on some level if I had done this (or even succeeded with my attempt) it would have only served to give my Unit exactly what they've always wanted: ME out of the way.

To my rather pleasant surprise, they are very thorough and efficient here: The analysis of my blood is already in their computer system by the time I actually get to see the doctor. It does reveal that I am a bit B-Vitamin deficient, B-12 to be specific: The doctor said that everything else on my panel looked pretty much perfect, she almost didn't believe me when I told her that I'm a vegan. Though apparently it makes sense, she said she'd seen some B-Vitamin issues in vegans & vegetarians before, though she said this was nothing too serious for the time being she insisted that I get a B-12 injection before I leave for the day. I am also told that while it's not mandatory in my case, that after I told them everything that happened in Iraq it was very highly recommended that I speak to one of their psychiatrists (something they STILL don't have at Fort Huachuca, to the best of my knowledge) so that after I was done with my business at the Women's Clinic they would bring me over to the Mental Health office and set up some initial appointments for me.

Surprise-surprise, we were BOTH misdirected to the wrong building afterward. 

Look, I can appreciate people who really want to make sure that their job gets done AND does it right, but the fact that nobody (so far) seems to know where each department is in relation to what service they provide... that's a NO-GO. 

But if THAT'S the worst thing that has happened since I've been here, I can live with it.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fuck the Pope

I always get a little giggle in my heart when I start taking (arguably deserved) cyber-hate for smashing modern-day "Idols" online, I can think of few more deserving than Pope Francis. I get it, he wants very badly to re-create the Vatican's image from horridly corrupted child-fucking wealth-mongery to simple and humble child-fucking wealth-mongery. He's making public appearances left & right decrying poverty and violence, but all of this pomp and public fluffing doesn't change the publicly acknowledged & well documented fact that the Vatican under his administration has done damn near NOTHING to crack down on the Catholic Churches' long-standing pattern of abuse against children. And yet, who's the asshole for pointing this out? ME. But I'm fine with that, I really am. It says nothing about me or my character, if only that I am at least capable of backing up my claims with actual evidence instead of just telling people what they want to hear.

A polished turd with gold filigree and gemstones delicately inlaid into it is STILL VERY MUCH A DAMN TURD.

This is the thing about people who are put up onto pedestals, for good or ill: You can't blindly worship anyone, or ANYTHING, while conveniently ignoring the things about them that you so happen to not like or want to talk about. Public image aside, Frankie is no different and no better than the child abusers themselves as long as he insists on protecting them as hard as he does: If you purposely enable evil, you ARE evil. 

These are the same people who will also cry out "Oh, well nobody is perfect!" Okay, fine, you're right about THAT, so then what's the point of having a damn Pope then? Furthermore, if you acknowledge that no-one is flawless, why does pointing to someone's wrong-doing upset you so? Just because you happen to like their particular brand of bullshit? Nope, sorry, but if "no one is perfect" then that means that NO ONE gets a free pass for being a shit person.

Leonardo DaVinci was a brilliant artist and inventor who was, arguably, centuries ahead of his time in many ways: He was also a prolific and ravenous pedophile. He even, at one point, had a warrant for his arrest after "assaulting" one of his male models.

While this does not invalidate any of DaVinci's discoveries or creations, it does shed a pretty fucked up light on who he was and where his priorities were. Helicopters or no, he still did (quite a few) very bad things. If personal achievements granted absolution of wrong-doing, people would be worshipping Mr DaVinci instead of an old man in a very expensive hat & robe. They're BOTH still very bad people at heart.

And it should go the other way around, too, if it were true that saying or doing a few things to public benefit absolves one of being an asshole: Adolf Hitler was a very strict vegetarian: ABSOLVED! Saddam Hussein was a wildlife conservationist (I've personally been to one of his old "habitats" complete with fish-ponds and water-bird nesting grounds) ABSOLVED! Nero was an avid patron and supporter of the arts: ABSOLVED!... they are/were still very bad people. 

No big shiny hat nor rank on your uniform will EVER accurately reflect who you are as a person nor wether or not you have anything vaguely resembling character or virtue.

I've done some pretty bad shit in my day, sure: Drugs, violence, I was an asshole as a teenager. I used to be an outspoken and virulent homophobe in my youth, but I eventually got a hard dose of reality and swallowed my pride, I learned from my extremely embarrassing mistake and rose above it. But the ultimate difference between ME and somebody like FRANKIE is that if I caught one of my employees hurting a child I'd shut that shit down in a heart-beat and make sure that poor child got the help he needed.

Oh Tim Minchin, you ARE a delightful squid...

I really don't like having to rely on celebrity words to better substitute mine, most celebs are fucking idiots but TIM MINCHIN makes my brain-pussy wet and quivering. But Tim DOES pretty much summarize my issue against "Idols" in general, that people love them SO MUCH that they apparently do no wrong, even when they DO do horribly and cruelly wrong.

Besides, if people could REALLY think for themselves, would we still have Popes at all?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I'm not going to bother with a stupid joke about my screen resolution, I've already blown off going for a jog this morning because I got diarrhea. Hey, I'm honest, even to my own detriment. Every New Year people make up goals they want to achieve and work towards only to watch them fizzle within a few months, maybe weeks. So for the most part, I don't invest TOO MUCH energy in the idea of New Year's Resolutions because I know exactly how severe of a procrastinator I really am. A LOT of crazy things happened in 2013, a lot of people are very angry about the state of our country and I can't rightly say I blame them. In the case of the Tea-Tards, I think a lot of their anger is extremely misguided, but I've given up trying to have conversations with people that only want to drag others down into the muck with them.

So instead of coming up with obtuse goals for myself that I have no way of knowing wether or not they'll work out, I have a list of things I WOULD LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN in 2014. Do I have the power to make any of them happen outright? Probably not, it's wishful thinking for the most part.

  1. ABSOLUTE ACQUITTAL for Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.
  2. Some sort of court case or even a Senate Hearing for evaluating whether or not to revoke tax-exemption status for our nation's all-too-many mega-churches, because let's face it, religion is a booming business these days. If these institutions want to tell people how to vote, they can pay up like the rest of us.
  3. I would really like to see some serious progress being made on solving the problem of mass gun violence WITHOUT infringing on the rights of law abiding citizens to own and carry fire-arms. I'm a gun-owner myself, but I am not unsympathetic or uncaring regarding the number of people who didn't need to die because of some lunatic who got a hold of a weapon. I'm a firm believer that we can stop, or at least greatly curb, the cycle of violence without feeling the ineffective need to ban or confiscate ANYTHING.
  4. Our military has put too many Band-Aids over the ever-pouring bullet-wounds of rape and sexual harassment within their ranks, now that a glimmer of hope has begun to shine from within our Senate (one of the few things they seem to have TRIED to get right in all of 2013) I hope to see not only the number of incidents drop dramatically, but for serious prosecutions of ALL OFFENDERS, Officers or Enlisted, male or female, and that they get their asses handed to them.
  5. Enough with the goddamn Reality TV shows whose casts are made up from the bottom-feeding dregs of society, already! Nobody worth a damn GIVES a damn about these fuckers!
  6. Progress, if not completion, of thoroughly decriminalizing & legalizing medicinal & recreational use of marijuana in the United States: Save prison cells for the murderers and rapists that truly deserve to be there, not for some college kid who got caught with a bowl in his car by a bored and burned out "cop".
  7. More space missions, seriously. THAT would just be awesome for EVERYONE!
I know it may seem a tad short, but it's only the first of the year and I want to be as fair and reasonable as I can.

People are going to do dumb things, politicians will try to get away with as much dumb-fuckery as their corporate sponsors will let them, religious extremists will keep trying to sell the same propaganda that they always do (and keep using the same tired excuses for it, too) so I really don't think THAT is going to change at all in 2014. I do, however, think that people who are already tired of this nonsense will finally raise their voices and do what they can (hopefully within the realm of the law) to make some serious changes and make life better for themselves & everyone else.

Enjoy the new year, kids!