A new beginning at the VA

The most enjoyable part about my first visit to my new primary care physician at the VA was meeting the team (the doctor has two male nurses) and answering all the questions about myself. I’m one of my favorite topics. There were some interesting moments:

Carl, nurse #1: “Would you like to be screened for HIV and Hepatitis C?”
Me: “I haven’t ever really thought about that.”

Looks me over…
“I’ll put you down for a Hep C screening.”
“Why, what did you see?!”
“Extensive tattooing.”
“Oh.”

“Over the last month, have you experienced a sense of hopelessness, or the loss of enjoyment of life?”
“You mean beyond my general apathy? No.”

“Do you drink alcohol?”
“When I have money.”
“When you drink, how many nights each week do you drink?”
“Seven.”
“You’re drinking seven nights a week?”
“No, I don’t have money now.”
“So how many nights each week are you drinking now?”
“Zero.”
“…. I don’t know what to put down.”

When my doctor was reviewing my questionnaire, he had some follow up questions.

Doctor: “When you drink, how many drinks do you have each night?”
Me: “Just two to three glasses of scotch.”
“I consider 1.5 ounces to be one drink.”
“Oh…. just six to nine glasses of scotch.”
“I’d like you to limit that to 3 ounces.”
“You mean per drink?”
“No, per night that you choose to drink.”
“Oh.”

“Do you take any over the counter medications?”
“Sometimes, if my back is really cramping or I’m really beat up from lifting, I’ll take one of the Valium I have left over from my surgery with 3 Aleve.”
“Okay, don’t do that anymore.”
“It really works well.”
“Yes, I’m sure it does. Don’t do that anymore.”

“Is anything particular bothering you today?”
“Just an inflamed rotator cuff. Can you give me a shot of cortisone?”
“Have you tried rest, ice, ibuprofen and some PT?”
“Never mind.”

I had a lovely prostate exam, and a splendid EKG. I also got my picture taken for my new VA ID card. Rather anticlimactically, it’ll be mailed to me. I head back Monday for some blood work. I’ve already prepped the doc that my cholesterol numbers may alarm him. They can be pretty shocking, but I took myself off statins a few years ago. “You took yourself off them….?”

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