Thursday, January 31, 2008

Newsflash: The VA doesn't always suck

1:45 PM -- Spencer gets on the bus to school.
1:46 PM -- I get in the PT Cruiser and hit the road.
2:20 PM -- I arrive at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis. My appointment is scheduled for 2:20.
2:22 PM -- I check in at the Podiatry desk and tell her I am running to the ladies' room.
2:24 PM -- I come back from the ladies' room to find a nurse waiting for me. She escorts me to an exam room and tells me to take off my shoes and socks. I do so and realize I forgot to bring my book. I have spent up to 40 minutes here waiting for a doc in the past.
2:27 PM -- The doc comes in and (miracle of miracles) produces the x-rays from my clinic here.
2:28 PM -- The doc looks at the x-rays, confirms what my civilian doc said, and tells me he will cast my feet right then for custom orthotics. The same orthotics that, in the civilian world would cost $521, are FREE to me as a veteran. He casts my feet, discusses shoe brands with me, shows me what the orthotics will look like, and informs me that I can have a pair every 6 months. They last 5 years or more. He says Aleve and Motrin (up to 2400 mg per day) are fine to use for pain relief, and he gives me little clear silicone arch supports to use in sandals this summer. He suggests several simple exercises and stretches to do to keep the ligaments loose, and tells me he will see me in 3 months to see how things are going. If the inserts are comfortable he will put them on permanent hold so I can order new inserts when I need them without having to be recast.
2:45 PM -- I am in my car with the x-rays (won't my clinic be surprised that I can be trusted to hand carry records!) and on my way home with a new lease on life.

I feel SO much better. Not once did the doc say anything about my weight. He asked if we wear shoes in the house. When I told him no, he said that would have to change and that was a large part of it. No support when trucking up and down stairs hauling laundry, standing in the kitchen for hours on end baking and canning, vacuuming, or doing the thousands of other tasks that make up my life. Does my weight make a difference? I am sure it does. But it isn't the root cause and it didn't even merit a mention from the doc. Whew.

Thanks again to all of you who have emailed, called, sent cards, brought meals (oh my goodness, Tracy, when you send that lasagna recipe can I share it here? It was SO good!) and all the other things that made a dreary few weeks a little bit better.

The only thing that could have improved the doc appointment? If he would have recommended Clarks. No such luck. *Sigh*


  1. Hey, that's great! I am glad they had help for you and that it came so fast too!

    You can still buy Clarks you know. That shoe outlet in Medford sells them...prices aren't horrid.

  2. I too have to wear shoes in the house now. I have an ankle situation and my ankle will puff up if I trot around in my bare or stocking feet like I used to. It feels weird to wear shoes in the house at first, but now I'm used to it. There are some great orthopedically friendly shoes out there (Dansko, Naot, Haflinger to name a few). They are spendy, but I try them on in the "real" store to make sure I know the right size and then look for them on Ebay. Great deals can be found. Good luck!