The Birth Of A Book – “For Better And Worse”

Brian HaydenAs with everything in life, there is good, and there is bad. The same holds true in VA hospitals. There are outstanding VA hospitals (Dallas TX, Northport NY, Manhattan NY) and there are bad VA hospitals (Brooklyn NY). To be fair, I do not know the state of that hospital now. Events I discuss in this blog happened a decade ago. Hopefully the VA has corrected the problems.

You may have noticed that the original publication date for this blog was April 21, 2010. The posts I shared last week were published on April 20, 2010 and the posts I will share with you next week were  published on April 21/22 of 2010.

During this period in my life I struggle to remember what had happened to me. As soon as a memory fills my mind, I go to my office and write it down. Remember, in April 2010 I was  two years out of hospice. Two years without the myriad drugs that had silenced my mind.

As for the writing – well, as you can see I still have a way to go. Nevertheless, enjoy these posts which eventually became the foundation for my first memoir, “Death: Living To Talk About It”.


The worst care available please

April 21, 2010 by brha99

I got through the lung stuff a couple of months ago. Did I tell you I liked going for walks? I loved getting on the sub way in Brooklyn, and riding until I got to the 72nd street station on the upper west side. I would stop at an out-door cafe, have a cup of coffee and watch the people. Then, when I got good and ready I would head into central park. My goal: come out on 5th avenue by the Plaza Hotel. From there, I took broadway into Time square where I ate lunch. If I was feeling ok, I would head down to Greenwich Village. If not I would get on the sub way in Time square and head back to Brooklyn. I did this almost every Saturday. Lately though I noticed that every time I went for my walks, my chest would start hurting. Hurting as in angina. Some times scary painful. It was like that one Saturday, so on my way back I stopped off at the Brooklyn VA emergency room. Unlike the previous visit, I was attended to promptly. They determined that the pain was probably caused by heart failure stuff. I don’t understand. Something to do with pressures and insufficient oxygenation in the blood stream. They hospitalized me. The first night I was there everything seemed ok. I was being tended to appropriately, at least in my eyes. The next morning was another story. Let me start by reminding you I was in a cardiac ward. No monitor or telemetry devise. I press the button for the nurse. I was having chest pain. No response. Pain gets worse, 30 minutes pass and I don’t see anyone. I ring the bell again. another 30 minutes go by and still nobody. I got out of bed, went to my clothes and gave myself a nitro. I was ok, by I was mad as hell. I pressed the button again. Nobody responded, and I didn’t get my morning pills. I never saw a nurse all morning. About 11 am the guy bringing lunches by came in. I asked him where all the help was. His response. “Get out of here. People don’t care around here”. With that, I got dressed, walked to the nurses station yelling and being a mad man. I told them I was leaving. I signed some papers and I was out of there. Taxi…please take me to the Northport VA hospital on Long Island. $120 taxi ride later, I was at the emergency room of a proven friend.

In the arms of someone who cares

April 21, 2010 by brha99

It is hard for me to describe. When I left the Brooklyn hospital, I was sick. I felt sick and in pain. My emotional roller coaster ran its course, but I will admit I stayed mostly at outraged, and for those who know me, crazy mad may have descibed me better. The moment I saw the Northport VA up the road, a strange calm swept over me. Like a wave of warm water, I immediately felt at home, relaxed, and safe. I was back to a place that had taken such good care of me less than 2 years ago. Everything was going to be all right. I walked in the emergency room. Explaining to the triage nurse what just happened, she seemed horrified. I was back with a doctor in moments. I received nothing but apologies from every one. In less than an hour from entering the E.R. I was back in a bed, on the ward. I had already been seen by a doctor. It was still the week-end (Sunday). My old cardiologist wasn’t there. His resident was though. I was hooked up to monitors, given all my meds and went through a battery of tests. The next morning the cardiologist that had taken such good care of me before walked into the room. He was accompanied by the heart failure nurse and a hand full of other doctors. My heart was failing. Slowly, but surely my heart was giving out. They made some adjustments on my medicines and kept me there for one more day. Before leaving, the doctor said it was time for a new defibrillator. The staff at the Manhattan VA would need to do that procedure. They set it up, and I was headed back to my apartment.


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