I hang up, wait a couple minutes, and try again.
No answer. I can feel my chest getting tighter.
My anxiety is flaring up.
I try to calm down.
I get a message from my husband. I tell him what is going on. He asks me to keep him updated. He is trying to calm me through instant messenger.
God Bless him.
I get a voicemail.
My phone never rang.
It’s my mom.
My dad’s meds haven’t come and she says he has had a bad night.
His withdrawal is worsening.
Yesterday he even had some tremors from the withdrawal.
We hung up so dad can call the VA Pharmacy.
They say it is on the truck, but the UPS truck didn’t stop.
I am over hundreds of miles away and can’t help. I can’t help take care of my disabled mom or my disabled dad, who is taking care of my mom! I am powerless.”
“I put in my request and the computer system says that it was filled, but it hasn’t shown up yet. Where are my meds?...I ran out on the 3rd, the same day your system says it was filled...it hasn’t even been filled yet?? What are you trying to do? Are you all trying to kill me??...You are a pharmacist! You should know what happens when you quit someone cold turkey on this type of medication!” This was the abbreviated conversation that her father had with the pharmacist.
I start digging around and asking other combat wounded vets that are being taken care of by the VA system if this had ever happened to them.
Combat veteran #1: When I call in med refills with the VA I have to call two times before the due date otherwise they will most likely put the script in wrong or not put it in at all! I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. You have to babysit everything you do over there especially if it’s important!
Combat veteran #2: I had issues with RXs once or twice. But I did get lucky by having them overnighted. I also had to wait hours in the pharmacy to get meds too. What the heck is going on?? Vets having trouble getting meds, especially chronic pain meds, is the last thing these vets, who have been combat wounded in the wars they have fought in, should EVER have to face.
This really pushes my buttons and makes me excruciatingly angry. That could be my husband one day, I think to myself. This has to stop. This has to get fixed. This has to be given some attention in the spotlight, so to speak, so that the Powers That Be (if they even give a rat’s hind-end) can stop this!!
So, back to my friend. She is worried sick. Her husband is deployed as well, making this an even harder situation for her to face. She has called her father’s congressman and that office got in contact with the VA pharmacy chief. He promised it would be overnighted. Her father called the pharmacy when the UPS truck drove by and didn’t stop to deliver meds. Luckily, a second truck came through and his meds were on it.
What can you do? If you or a loved one has had similar issues, please, contact your congressman. Send a letter with the exact phrase “causing unnecessary medical hardship”. That is what the vet advocate at my friend’s congressman’s office said.
***Disclaimer: My friend has asked for anonymity to protect her and her father. Please, do not comment on this story with details that might lead to the identification of these individuals if you know the names of any of the people involved. Some meds that these vets get are high-powered narcotics and their names do not need to be associated with those for safety purposes.***