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.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 ~ We are up to 8 tickets sold. Also, Social Security listens and works with us. =)

We are up to 8 tickets out of 100 having been sold so far in the first 6 days of the raffle (so the amount is presently at $1,025.68 of the $12,500.00 goal).

For those people who have purchased tickets, please spread the news (the only way the raffle works is that all 100 tickets get sold). 92 more tickets to go.   =)

Social Security

We went to Social Security yesterday to go over Travis' hours at Walmart. Apparently, his income from Walmart is subsidized... which allows him to earn more money. We just have to figure out the % of the subsidy so we'll know just how many hours he can work. This threw us for a loop, but Social Security now has enough information in which to make a decision (hopefully within the next 3 to 5 months)..... depending on the government shutdown of course.

We also continued the effort for Social Security to re-open Penny's claim for Social Security Disability. We are trying to bypass "Res Judicata" as Social Security did not have all of her medical records and didn't have enough info to make their decision in 2008 (and since she did not have an Attorney then, I have to make it a priority to find a Attorney and fast to open that slim door).

VA Healthcare

I am going to North Chicago tomorrow for my Rheumatologist and Urologist consults. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed that they ultimately find the medical problem and come up with a plan to address it (and resolve it). I remain hopeful that my medical issues are not insurmountable.

Monday, October 7, 2013 - a successful start to our Corvette raffle plus my unemployment issue has been partially resolved

Regarding the Corvette fundraiser.

5 tickets out of 100 have been sold so far in the first 2 days of the raffle.  =)

For those people who have purchased tickets, please spread the news (the only way the raffle works is that all 100 tickets get sold): The site is now easy to remember (I got the domain name from GoDaddy 99 cents for one year.... wow!!!!) now points to the website directly so it is easy to remember.

95 more tickets to go. In the interim, here are a couple of more pictures showing the Vette's excellent condition).  =) 

Regarding Penny's medical coverage.

So far, we still have Penny's "Cobra" covered so she retains Blue Cross / Blue Shield..... however, we are scrambling to find alternative insurance as her "Cobra" ends soon (its already been over a year). This is due to the uncertainty of Obamacare and the Marketplace ( ). Unfortunately, the Illinois marketplace website seems to be permanently broken. I've been trying since Midnight on October 1 (at least 6 times per day) to access the site and each time, the site doesn't accept my credentials.... the login site states that many are trying to access and to wait..... or the system is down for maintenance. I am trying to weigh my options, and I cannot move forward without knowing what those options are. Very hard to do when one cannot get past step 1. Considering that Penny's next Cystoscopy is in December or January, we have to have everything worked out, and a broken / horribly designed website is preventing us from moving forward.

Oy and Vey!!!  =(

Regarding my unemployment.

Today I called IDES (Illinois Unemployment) in Springfield as I was getting nowhere with the Elgin IDES office. Springfield indicated I was only on Tier 2, not tier 3 (the statements never show which Tier someone is on). Unfortunately, my next check will only be slightly over $100.00 (the end of tier 2) and tier 3 doesn't kick in until 2 weeks after that at the normal "sequester" funding level. Unemployment will end tho on 12/28 (no matter what) unless Congress extends EUC after 12/28 (so we will not know anything until the last minute). So in the interim, we will be short over $580 next week (which hurts.... a lot).

So, time to get creative...unfortunately, a yard sale isn't possible given the rain predicted for this coming weekend (it has rained 2 weekends in a row)... so I will have to figure out something else (as the mortgage & utilities won't wait for the state to wire us a check).  =(

Regarding my traversing the VA Healthcare system.

I will be seeing the psychiatrist at the VA clinic tomorrow (and I go to North Chicago on Thursday to see the Rheumatologist and the Urologist). The hunt for what my medical problems are continue....

Regarding Social Security.

We received a slew of paperwork from Social Security (which we filled out this weekend). I will be faxing that paperwork to them tomorrow morning. I suspect we won't know anything for at least another 4 to 6 months (as the Government Shutdown will affect claims processing).

Regarding the VA Disability rating claim.

We are into month 6 and no word on the claim process. I suspect we won't know anything for at least another 12 months (as the Government Shutdown will affect claims processing at the VA also).


So, that's where we stand at this point. "Hurry up and wait" (while the world and creditors won't wait to take their pound of flesh) ...........   =(