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Friday, April 24, 2009

We're (almost) off!

We're leaving in about ten days for our (projected) seven week trip through the Great Plains states. We're thinking of calling it "Antiques Road Show" because we're 65 and 56, our transportation, Van O'White, is 17, and our eldest dog, Nick, is 14. We hope the little ones, Stella, who is five and three-year old Ollie, will be patient with us.

Here we are at the beach last summer:



Our route, if we make it the whole way, will go something(!) like this:

Tampa - Tallahssee- Mobile (outskirts) - Jackson (outskirts) - Memphis - Branson- Independence - Des Moines - Clear Lake- Mount Rushmore - Wisconsin Dells - Springfield, IL - LandBetweenTheLakes and home again. If we don't kill each other first. There's a lot of wiggle room in there for detours to various "Little House" locations which we have recently become obsessed with. I read all the Laura Ingalls works as a kid, but Joyce didn't, and just now we have both (re)read them. So we'll be stopping here and there to see the sites/sights. We only have three "real" reservations where we plan to stop for a week at a time. For example, we'll be a week, including Memorial Day, in Custer, South Dakota, because we don't want to travel on that weekend. Another week in Wisconsin and a third in Kentucky. The rest of the time, we'll just amble along and give the kids a chance to poop all over the Great Plains. We will also stop and see friends we first met on the internet.

So we'll see how we like an extended road trip. and if we survive, maybe we'll take another one someday. Joyce just thought, in this economy, it would be better to do a "pay as you go" more or less trip, instead of having to plunk down megabucks all at once.

Stay tuned!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Tampa VA

Here's a complaint I recently sent to the Veteran's Administration in Washington DC. Thought I'd share it with the world.


I am really, really, getting tired of the bullying going on at James A. Haley, and I suspect, elsewhere. It seems every time I need to use the VA facilities, I encounter angry old men off their meds. I am not looking for special treatment, but these guys are insane, and they're allowed to get away with it because they're vets. No. Unacceptable. I am also a vet. I don't appreciate their snide, sexist remarks and threats in the halls and waiting rooms and parking lots.

There are really two issues here. One is social and cultural, the other is medical.

First, these men are from a time and a place where women were not respected, and they are still dragging it around with them. I am a relatively young veteran at 56, many of these guys are in their late 60s and 70s. I am well-educated and a former officer; they are not. So they need to be brought up to speed. How about some posters all around the hospital, not just the women's clinic, reminding everyone that women have served, and are still serving? How about some seminars for hospital staff to learn to transmit these values to patients when they hear this kind of abuse? How about flyers and blurbs on appointment cards reminding people to mind their manners?

Second, I don't doubt that a lot of these men are suffering from undiagnosed depression. As we age and lose our ability to reabsorb seratonin, we get cranky. When I realized it was happening to me (menopause-related symptoms), I had it treated! I take a pill! These guys need treatment, too. All male veterans of any age should be screened for depression the same as women are. If you think you already are addressing this through some sort of questionnaire or laboratory testing, guess what. It's not working. You need a more vigorous approach.

Since we want our vets happy and we want to honor those who served, let's get these crusty old fellows taken care of, so we crusty old gals can be left in peace on our hospital visits