Walter Reed; the happiest place on earth

| July 28, 2012

As most of you know, I spent the last four days in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda and it was a great time, well, as great as it could be. For those of you who don’t know, my left foot quit working the way it’s supposed to almost two years ago. At first the doctors thought it was ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), but I’m still alive, so it’s not ALS in it’s traditional occurrence. And there’s no family history of it, although that isn’t much of an indicator.

So the doctors wanted to run a butt-load of tests and they invited me to spend the week with them so they could run them. Some of you might remember that I was very critical of the admin people at the old Walter Reed and I predicted that would change when they moved to Bethesda, and that prediction was borne out this week. The troops who end up there are finally being treated like they should have been all along.

Before I was admitted, the doctors laid out for me an elaborate scheme of the tests they hoped to accomplish. I figured, based on previous experience that I’d be laying around waiting for four days, but that wasn’t what happened – it four days of real medical investigation.

The room they put me in was one that would make many patients envious. A private room with private bath, room service meals, and the Red Cross came by constantly to make sure I was entertained.

The nurses were polite and helpful. The doctors were efficient and explained every step of the analysis. The enlisted folks were just as amiable and proficient. Even the people at the desks of the various clinics were polite, something I criticized the old Walter Reed for constantly. I felt that there was an actual team of medical professionals working towards finding a solution and treatment for my ailment.

I never had any complaints about my treatment by the doctors at Walter Reed, but now it seems like they’ve finally made all of the support people at the hospital as efficient and proficient at their respective jobs.

Yesterday, I gave a presentation of my condition to about twenty neurologists so they could all consult with each other and figure the problem out. Because with ALS, there are no tests for the disease, only the elimination of everything else. I haven’t heard anything back from them yet, but I’m confident that they’ll be able to arrive at a conclusion among all of those brilliant minds.

Category: Walter Reed

Comments (21)

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  1. ArmyJ says:

    Jonn, best wishes for recovery. Take care!

  2. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    Jonn, wishing you the best. I’ll light a candle for you at mass tomorrow. If a candle is good, maybe I’ll just burn down the whole darned church!?!:o

  3. John Miska says:

    Tell me before you head there next and I will drop by and tell you some funny stories about when I was a patient there 38 years ago///the old old WR

  4. AW1 Tim says:

    I spent a lovely 2 months at Bethesda in the fall of ’83. Great staff and doctors, and I felt as if those folks actually cared about ME as an individual, and not as a name in a room in a ward.

    Jonn, I’ll light a candle for you as well. You have my number and info, so if there is ANYTHING that I can do to help out, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

  5. Jabatam says:

    Ditto on what ArmyJ said

  6. SnafuDude says:

    Hope they figure it out for you,Jonn,and Get Well soon.

  7. Thunderstixx says:

    I am glad they straightened that whole mess out. Our troops deserve the best care anywhere !!!

    I am lucky here in Milwaukee. The VA hospital is a great hospital and they work tirelessly to make sure you stay alive for a long time.

    I am living proof of their good work.

    Take care and God Bless you John !!!

  8. SJ says:

    My stays at WR and Bethesda were memorable because of the young service members. You’d see them playing grab-ass in the halls and doing what young soldiers everywhere do…except these were missing limbs etc. Lots of ball busting among them in the PT clinic. No slack. Any self pity I had was erased immediately. The other was of Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld dropping by without any entourage or publicity. I saw Rumsfeld stay in rooms on the ortho ward for long periods of time; just him and the soldier and family. All 3 were there so much that the Ward staff paid no attention to them and carried on with their duties.

    Another lit candle for your challenge.

  9. Jumpmaster says:

    My second son was born there in December 2009 before the consolidation. The facilities and staff were all first-class and even as the spouse of a retiree, my wife received the same level of service as any active duty member.

  10. Old Trooper says:

    Well, I can’t fault the Minneapolis VA at all. They saved my dad’s life back in ’78 (had serious issues due to his wounds in Vietnam) and they take pretty good care of yours truly, also. Sure, there is the usual stuff about waiting, mixed up appointment times, etc., but for the most part, they do a great job (for those needing vascular/heart treatments, they have some of the best cardio folks in the country, who volunteer their time).

  11. Parachute Cutie says:

    Very happy to know that you are back home. Also very happy to read your report about how well you were treated, Jonn.

    Now…let’s get those test results so that they can start treatment to get you up and running. Heck, Jamie and I might get married one day (not to each other) and you HAVE to dance at our weddings.

    Love you!

  12. Heh, Jonn said “butt-load”. I knew all he needed was a high colonic!

    Glad to hear you were treated well.

    Thanks for the update.

  13. Hondo says:

    Zero: Never figured you for one to channel “Beavis and Butthead”. (smile)

  14. J.R. says:

    The problem at Walter Reed wasnt with the medical care. That part was great. It was with the red tape bureaucracy associated with the Army Med Board process. I was a patient at the old Walter Reed for 9 months in 2006-7 when the whole “scandal” period erupted. It had nothing to do with the medical care and everything to do with out of touch back office admin folks or shit-bag delinquent Soldiers whose only job was to screw up your paperwork or lose it entirely so you had to start all over (some appointments, like a physical, expired after 6 months). Guys would get stuck there for 2 years due to paperwork screw-ups, or the fact there is no SOP for getting things done. My PEBLO was once caught sleeping at her desk in the middle of the day rather than doing our paperwork. I hounded her on almost a daily basis. If I hadnt I guarantee I would have been there at least a year. People were constantly falling through the cracks. Its gotten better, but the one-size-fits-all Army approach is far from perfect.
    The VA is a whole other animal with a lot of different facets to deal with, at least in Minneapolis where I go. Some are excellent, like my TBI dr. Others are terrible, like prosthetics. I fought for over a year to get a new arm out of them to no avail. I was actually looking at paying my way back to Walter Reed from Wisconsin to get a new prosthesis. It wasnt until my congressman got involved (I knew him from Reed) that I was wearing a brand new one (within 7 days). I was in there a few months beforehand for repairs and they didn’t even know how to take my arm apart. I had to tell them.

  15. OWB says:

    Well, if you MUST do the hospital thing at all, glad it was not too bad an experience. Or even rather pleasant.

  16. Smaj says:

    Wishing you the best, Jonn.

  17. SJ says:

    JR: a salute from an old Soldier.

  18. RunPatRun says:

    I think J.R. and Jonn both made the same point, medical care was good at the DC Walter Reed but support peeps and bureaucracy were sub par. My experience was pretty much the same.

    Over the course of two years I had tests and procedures at both Bethesda and Walter Reed for back and hip problems. The docs were always top notch, but some of the clinic staff at WR….well I’ll just say it seemed like patients were an interruption, one they didn’t want to deal with. Glad to hear the service at the consolidated facility is top notch. Hope they figure it out, Jonn, and can take care of you. Best wishes to both you and J.R. as you continue to seek the care you deserve.

  19. Josh says:

    Ask the DR’s about dystonia. It has both traumatic and non traumatic occurances. I got hurt in basic and my wholenleft leg quit working to the point where people thought i was crazy. I went to a civilian specialist and a VA dr and they ruled it out threw some parkinsons meds at me and it strted to straighten out. Hope that helps. Best of luck.

  20. tim l says:

    Hey there I too was there during the scandal and to be honest it wasn’t near as bad as it was being protrade. The soldiers that were in bldg 18 were the soldiers that could walk thatdidnt have an amblitory conifition I was was in the hotel there on wramc and we were treated like kings but just like with any unit u have shit bags so there is always gonna be issues. Instead of them buying us big screen TV s and new laptops send the money down range. U also r in my prayers

  21. I hope your foot is better. Like you, I spent 4 days at Walter Reed. But, this was in 1973 and I was 14 years old. 4 days I will never forget. It was as close as I would ever get to the front lines. I learned a lot.

    1) Learned to like green beans. Because they are better than starving.

    2) Learned that people can have very strong political beliefs. When I was out on the balcony and one of the soldiers asked me a question about what I thought about the war. It took a couple of other soldiers to keep him from throwing me over the railing. I was 14 so what the hell did I know?

    3) Learned that morphine makes you loony and makes the orderly laugh real hard at the stupid stuff you say on your way to surgery.

    4) Learned that there were very few visitors coming by to spend time with the 40+ soldiers that I was roommates with.

    5) I kept on learning about the war(s), the veterans, and especially the wounded veterans. When my cousin and his wife were killed on 9-11 (Flight #77) I learned to appreciate those who were enlisting because they felt the need to so something.

    For those wounded vets reading this, thank you for your service. You really ARE appreciated.