While in the US Army from 2009-2013, I got to experience and listen to many stories from individuals that had received sub-par medical services at the hands of Army Docs. Anytime one of us had to visit a military facility, there was constant harassment of the atrocious things that we believed would happen to that poor bastard when he went in. And it was always funny as long as you weren’t that poor bastard. These jokes didn’t come from nowhere however, and the ranks were full of true stories that made our jokes hit just a little too close to home. Here are two of the best ones that I have heard. Government Healthcare at its finest. While the situations are undoubtedly serious, it wasn’t me in that chair. So you can laugh, cringe, cry, or sob at these, but I knew these guys. And I think it’s funny.
…Staff Sergeant Johnson, of the US Army, laid back onto the large chair in an Army dental office while the doctors and assistants bustled about. He watched them as they busily moved equipment into and out of the room in preparation for the procedure. An IV stand here, a tray of instruments there. Everything was sterile and ready to take care of the man. The nurse finally approached the waiting patient and prepared the gas that would render him unconscious for the duration of the dental work. The assistant asked if he was ready and lowered the mask onto his face.
“Just take a few deep breaths and we’ll see you in a little while Mr. Smith”
Mr. Smith? That’s not right. The Staff Sergeant was fading quickly and barely mumbled,
“I’m not Smith I’m Johnsonnn….”
And that was the last thing he remembered until he woke. Unfortunately for Mr. Smith, he was scheduled for a root canal. Luckily for our Sergeant Johnson, the assistant heard his last minute confession and searched his pockets to find his ID. After confirming they had the right guy and the right file in the same room, they performed the correct procedure. I think the story would have been more fun if he would have gotten the unnecessary root canal.
The next story is one that could have been much more serious than a sore jaw, but the remedy to the situation was much more personal.
…Sergeant Akers knee was swollen to twice the size it should have been before he decided that it was time to go in. His wife drove him to the clinic and he hobbled into the ER. It was a busy night and they waited… and waited… and waited. Finally he was taken back to be seen and a flustered doctor blew in to the room a few minutes later. After a quick examination and few questions, the doctor concluded that all was needed was for Akers to “man up” and put some ice on it. Not happy with the answer, but with no other recourse, he hobbled back home.
A few days later, his leg would no longer fit into his uniform and nothing was getting better. It was time to go back in and try again. This time it turned out much differently for him however. Akers had an infection in his knee and was only a day or two away from facing an almost certain amputation. Long story short, he had to have what is called a PICC line inserted. A PICC line is essentially an IV that can be used for an extended amount of time and goes almost directly to the heart. So Akers is getting this inserted under his left arm and they start pushing fluid into the PICC line. This immediately caused him to lose his vision and fade to unconsciousness rapidly. Not normal. When he came to a short time later, he was understandably leery of trying again. The doctor however didn’t feel the same way. He looked at Akers, shrugged, and said,
“Hell, lets try again. See what happens.”
Akers can be a little rowdy anyways and at this point was having no more. When the doctor reached for the plunger, Akers reached out and got a firm hold on his manhood. Looking him right in the eyes, he calmly told him,
“We’re not going to do anything that neither of us want, right?”
Now that he had his attention, they sat there awkwardly and waited for the commander of the hospital to pay the two new best friends a visit. Turns out he was allergic to the medication that was being given to him and the situation was just as serious as Akers believed. Good thing for Akers he wasn’t shy.
These stories are just two of many such experiences throughout our armed forces. However, don’t misinterpret these stories. The armed services are full of consummate professionals who are excellent healthcare providers. These stories are simply a product of the system that they are forced to operate in. Overworked and understaffed is many times the norm in these facilities. These stories are meant to be humorous, and not meant to demean those in the medical services. However, the stories are a product of Government Healthcare and should also serve as a warning to those that believe it would be a good idea.