Friday, October 11, 2013

The VA healthcare experience ~ North Chicago

I went to the VA federal facility in North Chicago today. I was expecting a facility that epitomized "shabby chic government" (in other words... cinderblock with gray metal doors). Was I stunned that the main building at Lovell is a brand new facility (Bldg. 133) and as nice as the new Sherman Hospital in Elgin, maybe even nicer than that. Wow.

It is also a facility that combines both Veteran services and active duty services. It took getting used to seeing Navy personnel walking around in Camouflage utilities (with a bluish tinge), black boots and standard cami covers (I thought they definitely were looking very "Marine" in the look versus the previous naval uniforms worn by the Navy while I was in the Corps). I really felt old walking through the hallways to be sure.

Speaking of hallways, they have a tramway that connects the buildings (that is as spartan "cement" that screams "government" as one would expect in a government facility - see video below).

I accomplished a lot while I was there. I confirmed my diagnosis of Gouty Arthritis at the Federal Lovell facility today. New medication has been added to my Rx war chest (in additional to the Allopurinol) and now I get a blood draw / labs every 3 months for the rest of my life (to monitor how allopurinol affects my kidneys). At least, I now have the definitive diagnosis.......
Building 135 on the other hand, was an old cinderblock / beige paint / beige doors with plexiglas sided window air conditioners with small rooms plus old desks type of building (now that felt familiar). The Illinois VSO's there were very helpful (unfortunately, I am still looking at over a year until my Disability Rating claim meanders its way through the process).
So, today was my indoctrination back into the full governmental process that I had left when I was discharged from the Marine Corps.... and I suspect it will be a part of me for the rest of my life.

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